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Welcome Home: Preventing Problems
from Day One
By Sheila Segurson, DVM
Congratulations – you’ve decided to adopt a cat! In order
to ease integration into your home, take into consideration
where your cat came from. Was she staying in a cage, in a
room, or in a foster home? Were there other cats living with
her or was she alone? Was the environment noisy or quiet?
How often did she eat and where did she sleep?
Changing all of these factors in her environment all at once
can be very stressful. In order to integrate your new cat into
your house and life as smoothly as possible, you must be
able to recognize the signs of stress while changing her living
situation slowly over time. With this method, you are initially
maintaining her previous routine, while changing to your
routine over time.
Recognizing Signs of Stress
Your new cat will likely be stressed initially. Signs of stress can include decreased
appetite, decreased grooming, hiding, lack of interest in attention or affection, and
sleeping in unusual locations. A stressed cat may be more quiet than usual, which
can be difficult to notice. Very stressed cats are more likely to behave aggressively or
If you’ve adopted a cat from a shelter, this is most likely your cat’s third “home” in a fairly
short time period. Even though your house is probably much more comfortable than the
shelter where she came from, change is stressful. Watch for signs of stress, and if you
see them, make certain that they lessen over time. If her stress is not slowly decreasing
every day, you should seek the help of a behaviorist or your veterinarian.
Your Cat’s Environment
Many cats are fearful when introduced to their new home; being moved from a small
enclosure to an apartment or house is a big change. Your home also has different smells
and noises than the shelter and the home where your cat lived before. Initially, confine
your new cat to one room. Your bedroom or the living room often works well for this.