Taking home your new cat: decompression 101

Thursday, June 8, 2023

You've done it: you've adopted a cat, and brought them to their new home!

But, the thing is, they don't know that yet. As much as we want to think that cats are grateful for being rescued, for them it can take a little time to understand that they are home now. Even the best animal shelter environments can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for a cat, and they need time to relax and recuperate. Decompression is an important part of the post-adoption process, and this is the time that your rescue cat needs your patience and empathy as they begin to understand their new life. Remember, they just went home with a stranger in a strange car to a strange home that may have other strange critters and people in it with new rules and different routines. Most cats don't enjoy change, so that's a lot of changes all at once for your kitty to handle!

So, how can you help your new rescue cat? Here are some tips to help your shelter cat decompress.

Start Small

Give your new cat a single room that they can get comfortable in. A smaller space will help them feel safe as they explore all the new sights, sounds and smells. Provide them with a bed, blankets and toys in their new room. As they begin to relax, you can open the door to allow your cat to explore other parts of the house – but leave the option open for them to come back to their safe space!

Help Them Hide Out

Don't forget to add places for them to hide throughout their spaces; cats love boxes, beds, cat trees, etc. to curl up in and observe their home from a safe hiding spot.

Provide Play

Provide your new cat with toys, scratching posts, and easy access to their food and water. Spend time in interactive play with them. An engaging play session before bedtime will help ensure fewer nighttime disruptions from a naturally nocturnal creature!

Snuggle Sessions

Spend time hanging out with your new feline friend, but let them choose to come to you for snuggles. Sit with them in their initial decompression room and read a book or scroll on your phone so they can get used to you being around.

Things to avoid

  • Placing litterboxes in highly- trafficked or loud areas.
  • Introducing too many new people or animals too soon .
  • Raising your voice at unwanted behavior: cats don't understand why you're yelling! Redirect their behavior to a positive solution.

Remember: you rescued this cat! In time they will learn that you're their new BFF. You've got this!