Introducing Your New Cat to the Home

Dr. Ragen T.S. McGowan, PhD
By Dr. Ragen T.S. McGowan, PhD
Updated: 5/10/20242-4 minutes
Owner and cat Bringing a New Cat Home

Introducing your new cat to the home is exciting. Whether they’re ready to snuggle or needs time to adjust, you’re starting a potentially long and fulfilling companionship.  

Keep in mind that moving into your home is a big deal for your cat. There may be new people, pets, spaces and routines—it’s a lot to manage.   

Here are some important tips to help ensure a smooth transition for your new feline friend. 

Create Consistency & a Sense of Familiarity for Your New Cat

When bringing a new cat home, help them adjust to your surroundings by keeping some consistency and familiarity. Whether they came from a residence, shelter or somewhere else, bringing belongings from the old home, like a blanket or toy, provides a familiar, soothing scent.  

Also, continue to use the same cat food they’re accustomed to eating, at least until they have a chance to settle in, and develop and maintain a consistent feeding routine. 

Give Them a Room of Their Own

If you have the space, provide your new cat with a room away from other pets and people. This way they can comfortably explore a small area before being introduced to the larger house.  

Give them a litter box, food, water, toys, bed and a hiding place to keep them company. An unused scratching post may also provide comfort, as scratching is a soothing activity for cats.  

If you find your new cat or kitten isn’t eating much during the first couple days, try giving them a feline favorite food such as canned fish. 

Get to Know Each Other

One of the perks of introducing a new cat to your home is the opportunity to bond. Spend plenty of one-on-one time throughout the day so they can get used to your voice and scent.  

Sit on the floor and allow them to investigate but keep the visits short during the first few days to avoid overstimulation. For a shy cat, you can still visit their room to talk gently to them. Stay patient, and don’t force them if they don’t want to interact. 

Let Your Cat Explore the Home

After your cat has become more comfortable around you, it’s time to let them out of their room.  

Gently encourage them to roam the house—with one caveat. Too many new spaces may be overwhelming to experience all at once. Keep some doors closed for now as they get their bearings. After a little time, you can open additional rooms.   

Slowly Let Your Cat Meet the Whole Family

Once your cat has adjusted to life in their new home, spend plenty of one-on-one time together. It's also a good idea to give your cat pieces of a towel or T-shirt from each family member, so they will begin to know each person's scent. 

Teach Your Kids About Cats

If this is the first cat in your home, prepare your kids for the change. Talk to them about how a cat should be handled, then lead by example. Use a quiet voice and soft touch when handling your cat—and instruct your children to do the same.  

Explain that cats don't always like to be squeezed or hugged and remind your children that slow and steady is the best way of petting their new pet. If you have young kids, supervise all interactions with the cat.  

Introduce Your New Cat to Other Pets Carefully

Bringing a new kitten home may cause your other cats or dogs to become territorial. If you want your pets to be best buddies (or at least tolerate each other), it’s important to integrate them gradually and supervise initial introduction. 

Swap Scents

While you keep your new cat in their own room, give the other pets an item to smell with the new feline’s scent, and vice versa. Then you can prompt interactions through the door and offer treats to establish positive associations between pets. 

Let Them Meet Under Close Supervision

After sharing scents, put your pets in the same room but keep them away from each other. (For dog introductions, keep your canine leashed while holding or crating the cat.) Once your furry friends can be in the same space without showing signs of fear or aggression, let them move closer to sniff each other out.  

Get more tips for keeping your cat safe and comfortable at home from our experts. You can also visit our Pet Expertise page.  

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