after a year of thinking it through i am ready to bring a cat into my home. I am going to see a cat tonight whos owners are having to rehome it due to emigrating and i just wondered how i will help it to settle in to its new home. It is 7 years old so it has obviously been with its family a long time and i realise it will take time to adjust and just wondered how best to help it have a smooth transition.
I have asked the usual questionjs about food, going out, kids, health etc but are there other questions i should ask?
I just want to make sure i am fully prepared and that it is a happy moggy living with me.
Well done goddess for wanting to rehome an older cat- they are so often overlooked and yet make such lovely pets if lovingly cared for. As with any new pet, it is alway a good idea to initially restrict where they can roam indoors as it will seem quite scary being transported to a strange new place with strange new people and smells.
Definitely keep your new charge indoors for a few weeks if intending to let it free-roam later, to make sure s/he is familiar with you and your home.
Be quiet but friendly but not too pushy at first: let it come to you rather than you picking it up - not all cats like being picked up or may feel threatened. If s/he does not sense threat you should soon have a friendly and affectionate companion.
Show your newbie where its food, water, litter tray and bed will be and then let him/her explore. If you have a quiet room, it's often a good idea to put your new cat in there at first - maybe leave a radio on low and dont make any sudden sounds or movements if you enter or leave the room. Make sure windows and doors are firmly shut- cats are fast and adept at escaping.
Try to stick to the same food and litter the cat is already used to at first- this avoids any upset stomachs or additional stress - you can always make small changes gradually later on.
At 7 years old, this is still a relatively young cat and may want to play and fuss - you never really know until you get to know it. You might want to consider its diet after it has settled in- around 7-8, a lot of vets recommend cats move over to a senior diet depending on their condition and teeth - but many cats live to a ripe old age so just because its dietary needs might be classed as 'senior' your cat will not be an old dodderer just yet.
Keep us posted - Medusa is our resident cat expert and I'm sure she and others will give lots of helpful advice. xK
I agree totally with katkin- too much space too soon is a big threat to most cats. Start with one room- make it a quiet one and prepare by closing windows properly and blocking up all access to anywhere dangerous. Cats can fit into incredibly small gaps, so be really thorough in blocking access up chimneys, under floorboards and any other dangerous spaces. People often don't think of the dangers underneath things, but a stressed cat can really hurt themselves by trying to fit through small spaces (one of my friends has a cat who tried to run under the freezer and cut through all of the tendons on one of her front legs on a sharp bit under the freezer).
Once that's done (and assuming that the cat's from a family home and not feral or anything) then it's just a case of not trying to push anything too soon. If you can bring anything that smells of his/her old home and old owners to your house then that will help in the short term.
Go into the cat's room and spend quiet time in there over the first day, offering loves if they would like them, then retreating to allow them to explore a little. If they're calm and OK with all of that then after a day or two just leave the door open a little so that they can come out if they choose, and take it from there.
Another thing that will be helpful to your cat is to scent mark their new territory for them. All you need to do is to take a small cloth with you for a snuggle, and rub it over his/her forehead in front of the ears a few times (in a non-scary sort of way). When you leave the room just wipe the cloth over the prominent areas of the furniture and door frames that are at about knee height off the ground- legs of dining chairs etc. That way when s/he leaves their little room the house will already smell of them.
You also need to be really careful with going outdoors. Don't let your little one outdoors at all for at least 3 weeks (or until you think they're settled and happy) and when you do let them out start doing it 10 minutes before dinner so that they're ready to come back when you call. You can also dig a little of their dirty cat litter into your garden when they start going out since that will give them a smelly homing beacon in case they get a bit disorientated in their new surroundings.
I'm really glad that you're giving an older furry a new home. Since the oldest recorded cat lived to 37 and the average is now almost 20, you could still have this little one for 15 years or more (so that's more than enough time to have a lasting love affair!).
thanks for your really helpful ideas it will help me to ensure that ollie will settle in with the least fuss possible. I live in quite a small place so there aren't too many places for her to get in to danger, but i wouldn't have thought to keep her in one room for the first day or so. I also wouldn't have thought to keep her in for quite so long i'd thought about a week but as i'm off work(i work in a school) it wont be a problem to keep her in for longer and it will give us time to get to know each other. Apparently shes a good mouser! I will ask the old owners to give me something of theirs that she can smell and will definitely scent round my place so when she does feel comfy venturing out it helps her.
I have always had cats but only ever from kittens so this is new to me and i'm excited but nervous too. I thought about having a kitten but as i work felt i couldn't give them the amount of time and attention that it would have needed, thats not saying ollie wont need time and attention but maybe not quite so much.
Thanks for you advice and i'll keep you posted.
just to let you know that ollie arrived yeasterday and seems to have settled in well. She has beeb sat on my knee purring and with her nose running(my other cats used to do this when they were really happy!). She has been eating fine and using the cat litter tray. Ollie has even let my daughter stroke her but then hid behind the dvd player until she had gone to sleep!!
Overall she seems to be settling in well and is such a loving pussy cat.
Only one prob she has fleas, i know about frontline but you can only get that from the vets and ant to traumatise her by taking her just yet until she has been here and settled a bit longer. Any other suggestions? Her other owner put a collar on herbut she scratched it off.