Adjusting to a new home can be a tense and frightening experience for a cat. Your patience and understanding during his initial adjustment period can do a lot to help your new cat feel at home.
The ride home
Riding in a car can be traumatic for cats. Your cat or kitten should be confined to a carrier during the ride home as well as during subsequent trips to the veterinarian. Do not let your new cat loose in a moving car or allow children to excite him. Do not leave the cat unattended in the car or stop to visit friends, shop, etc. Keep your cat in his carrier until you are safely inside your home.
The new home
Consider your companion’s past experiences. Your kitten may have been recently separated from his mother and litter mates. The kitten or cat has had to cope with the transition of a shelter and the stress of surgery. The adult cat may have been separated from a familiar home and forced to break a bond with human companions or other animals. Now he must adjust again to totally new surroundings.
Allow your cat several weeks to adapt. During this period, the cat or kitten should be carefully confined indoors. He needs to get used to you as the provider of love, shelter and food. Be sure that all windows and doors are kept closed and that all screens are secure. A scared cat can easily get out of a high open window. PAWS strongly advocates keeping cats indoors for their entire lives, but if you choose to eventually let your new cat outside, it is imperative that he stay totally indoors for at least one month, and the new kitten until he is grown.
It’s not uncommon for cats to display behavior problems during the first days in a new home, but these usually disappear over time. New cats and kittens often bolt under furniture. Some may spend hours or even days hiding. Sit and talk quietly to the cat. If you must take the cat out of his hiding place, carry him gently to a quiet protected area where he will feel secure. Be sure food, water and litter box are nearby.
What can you do to train your cat to behave better around the home?
Jackson Galaxy—a cat behaviorist with more than 20 years of experience, and the host of Animal Planet’s hit show My Cat From Hell—explains in his entertaining video The Best and Worst Ways to Train Your Cat: