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How to Help Your New Cat Adjust to Their New Home

My company has cared for Max for about a year and a half. His dad, Jim, had called us because his wife was in a rehab facility. Jim had Parkinson’s and was not able to care for Max. When Carolyn, Jim’s wife, came home, we continued to care for Max.


Jim passed away a few months ago and Carolyn recently joined him. My boyfriend, Ryan, and I have made the decision to adopt Max to ensure he is loved to the full extent of Carolyn’s wishes for the rest of his life. Carolyn’s whole world was Jim and Max. We are happy to fulfill and honor Carolyn’s last wish.


Even though in the past I worked at an animal shelter and felt prepared to help Max transition to his new home, (I explained to countless families how to ease their cat into a new environment) I couldn’t help but second guess everything I was doing! I wanted to make sure Max was as comfortable as possible during this difficult time in his life.


I wanted to take this time to share Max’s adjustment story to hopefully help you transition your new cat.


During my time at the shelter, we always told adopters to keep their new feline confined to a bathroom for the first 2 weeks. Keeping your new cat in a space with very little hiding spots essentially forces them to socialize with you and get used to their surroundings.


With Max, we opted to keep him in a spare bedroom that doubles as a home office. Ryan works from home and spent time with Max each day. Max is very social and he and I already had a relationship. It was great that they could spend time together. He stayed in the bedroom for 3 days.


On the 2nd day, we decided to introduce Max to our dog, Teddy. We put Teddy on a leash and put Max in Teddy’s crate. Teddy kept running to the front door because he thought he was going for a walk. Max was trying his hardest to open the crate and get out. The goal is to make sure that neither the cat nor the dog get fixated on each other. After a few minutes of Max and Teddy ignoring each other, we put Max back in his room and agreed it was okay to start letting Max explore the rest of our condo.


Later that night, after Teddy and Ryan went to bed, I let Max out to explore our condo in a quiet setting. When I opened the bedroom door and invited Max out, he had no idea what to do! After a moment, he took a few steps out and ran back into his room. It seemed Max gave himself a pep talk and he came out to explore very cautiously and curiously. After a few minutes, he ran back into his room and was ready for bed; his adventure was over.


The third afternoon Max was here, after spending the day in his room, we decided to open his door and let him come and go as he wanted. It wasn't long before he came out to explore further. He stayed out longer, took in all the sights and smells, and found all the good nooks and crannies to hide in.


After making sure Max felt safe to explore, we shut our bedroom door to go to bed. Teddy was still warming up to Max and we did not want them to have access to each other unsupervised. As soon as we shut the door, Max started meowing and putting his paws under the door. After about 10 minutes, we decided to open the door and keep a light on so we could see Max. Teddy is 14 and a half. He is going blind and losing his hearing. Teddy sleeps through the night and without a problem and Max was keeping his distance from Teddy so we felt it would be safe. We had no incidents.


Max mostly stayed put in his safe room for the next few days. He would come out every few hours to check things out, but ultimately stay in the same few spots throughout his safe room. He would retreat to his safe room every night after taking a lap around our bedroom and the rest of the condo.


I was worried about how Max would do in our condo; he had always lived in a large, single family home with an elderly couple and now has to get used to a small condo with young kids that live upstairs, his new dog brother, and 2, active adults in their late 20’s.


By the 7th day, Max was the king of his new castle. He has his routine down and knows his new family. He has even started to tease the dog. He sleeps in the cat tree in our bedroom every night. He hops in the bed a few times a night to get in a cuddle or two; he also gets into bed every morning for morning snuggles. He's at home.



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