How To Introduce Cats To Their New Home

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 18 December 2014

Planning on adding a new furry friend to your household? Cats are creatures of habit - and whilst you just can’t wait to rush them into their new house, they will need some time and support to adjust to their new home.

So to ensure your cat’s introduction to family life is as seamless and stress-free as possible, you can make some small preparations. Remember, patience and a calm environment are key to help your kitty settle into their new home! 

Cute Kitten sitting on table

What to do before the cat arrives…

New household cats can be a bit overwhelmed at the introduction of their new house. This means they might not be as careful as they usually are, and run around with reckless abandon! Therefore, you as a cat owner need to look at your house, and remove or hide any potential cat hazards. This will include things like:

  • putting away or securing any loose cords

  • putting things over any holes in your house where a cat might crawl in

  • take a look at your windows - are there any places where the cat could get out?

  • make sure you remove any baits you’ve left out for rats or rodents. These can be very harmful to an unsuspecting cat!

Before you bring your cat home, you should also make sure their feed bowl, water bowl and kitty litter is already set up. Put them somewhere the cat has easy access, and also an area that they’ll feel comfortable being in.

The first introduction.

To ensure your cat is comfortable and feels safe from the get-go, there’s a few preparations you can make. Don’t assume that your cat will happily adjust to everything in their new environment straight off the bat - the process in reality will be more gradual, and you’ll probably need to make a few adjustments along the way. It’s worth it to have a happy, healthy cat!

What you’ll need:

  • a large cat carrier

  • a small cat bed

  • feed, water and kitty litter bowls

If you’ve had this cat before and are moving it to a new home with you, make sure you bring all of the cats favourite things. Toys, blankets, things that smell and feel familiar to them. This will bring the cat comfort.

Where to start

Bring your cat in by using a portable cat-carrier. This should be large enough that you can fit a small cat bed inside, where your cat will most likely make their home for the first couple of days. Place the carrier in a central room such as the living area.

Your cat will probably either do one of two things when you open the cat carrier. The first is it will run out at full speed (which is why it’s incredibly important that you’ve cleared up all the hazards before the cat is introduced.) The other is, it won’t come out at all. It’s hard to predict until you open the door, really!

Enticing a shy cat out of the carrier

If your cat is a little cautious and hesitant to leave the carrier, then you might need to gradually entice them to explore their new environment. The best way to do that is to scatter some fun toys around the room. You can also gradually move their food bowl further away from the carrier - there’s no motivation like food, right? Also, try and keep noise/commotion to a minimum - this will not make a very enticing environment for the cat to come out into!

Indoor cat playing with toys

Establish a common area for your cat

It’s a good idea to establish a ‘home’ area for your cat to keep coming back to, so they can explore at their own leisure. This means putting the food, water and litter box somewhere comfortable and calm for them.

Settling in.

When the cat seems to be more at ease with exploring their new home, remember to play with them and show them affection. This is a family home - your cat should enjoy living there as much as you do!

In the first couple of days, try and spend some time around the cat, doing activities such as reading or watching television nearby. This will help re-assure your furry friend that everything is normal, and there’s nothing to fear.

If you decide that you need to move any of your cats belongings from where you’ve originally placed them, do it gradually. Instead of moving their bowls from the kitchen to the living from straight away, try doing it over a few days, a couple of feet at a time. Otherwise, your cat might not find them when they really need it - and trust us, you’ll want them to be able to find the litter box!

For the first week or two, keep your cat inside the house. This allows them time to form an attachment to and be comfortable in their new environment.

What about outside?

Outdoor Cat enclosure playpen

Want to let your cats outside, but want them to stay safe? Well, getting them a cat enclosure for outdoors is a great way of giving your feline friends fresh air when they need it. Your cat will soon adjust to the outdoor enclosure once you put them inside - it’s got everything they could ever want. A place to curl up and sleep, a shaded area, an area for sun baking - plus they’re big enough to put their feed bowl, water bowl and kitty litter box in (plus a few fun toys!)

If you want to let your feline friend enjoy the fruits of fresh air and outdoor life (whilst ensuring they don’t roam where they’re not wanted), then a cat enclosure is the perfect solution. The Paws Parlour, Kitty Kastle and Purrfect Palace are all options your cat will love!

Introducing a cat to a new environment can be stressful for them - cats are creature of habit, and generally resist change if they can help it. With time, patience and preparation, your cat will grow to love their new house as much as you do.

Sources and further reading