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Bringing your cat home

After the ride home your cat will most likely not be in the mood for fun. To make his transition to your household as comfortable as possible, select a quiet, closed-in area (bonding room), such as your bedroom or a small room away from the main foot traffic, and provide him with a bed, a litter box, food and water, toys, and a scratching post. Make sure all windows and doors are fully closed. If you want to ventilate the room during the next few days, put the cat back in his carrier for the time being. Let your new pet become acquainted with that limited area for the first few days.


Be sure to spend plenty of time with him in that room, but if he’s hiding under the bed, don’t force him to come out. If necessary, sit on the floor to talk to him and offer treats, but don't try to pick the cat up. Cats feel vulnerable when picked up and some cats - even very affectionate ones - may not like to be picked up at first.

Young children should always be accompanied by an adult in the bonding room, because they may become too excited and slow down the bonding time. If the cat is particularly nervous, you may find the first few visits, or even the first few day's worth of visits, consist just of you going in to put down food and water, and to change the litter, then do a little more talking to the cat, and then going away again.

Be aware that some cats, if they are particularly nervous, will take longer to come out of their shell. Winning round a nervous cat is hugely rewarding, when finally he comes to trust you and lets you stroke him for the first time.

Getting to know the house

Your new cat will let you know when he is ready to explore beyond the bonding room. On average a new cat may stay in the bonding room for between two and seven days, but generally the cat will let you know when he is ready for the next step. He will come to you when you enter the room and will be comfortable in your presence, and when he is ready, may try to follow you out.

Before allowing the new cat out of the bonding room, make sure all doors and windows are closed, and if you have a cat-flap, make sure it is locked - he will need a couple of weeks getting used to your home before being allowed outdoor access.

When you feel the cat is ready, open the door to the bonding room and let him/her explore the house. Leave the door to the bonding room open, so that he can return if he wishes. Don't chase the cat; just let him/her explore and get comfortable.

Going outdoors

A new cat should be kept indoors, ideally for the first 6-8 weeks, to prevent him straying, getting lost or run over. Kittens should not be allowed outdoors before the age of 6-8 months. All cats should be vaccinated and of course neutered. You should also ensure your cat is micro-chipped or has an ID collar (or both!) before being allowed out.

The first time you allow him outside, it should be just before a meal, so that he is hungry and has a good reason to come in quite soon! Let him out, but stand at the open door; let him sniff and explore the garden for a few minutes, then call him or rattle the dry food box to encourage him back for his meal. A few small outings like this, over the period of a few days, will ensure that he is familiar with his immediate vicinity, and that he knows where home is!