Bringing Your Newly Adopted Cat Home
Get life started on the right paw and set up a slice of kitty paradise for your feline friend! You’ll want to choose a quiet space for your cat to adjust to their new home, where they can get to know you and your family gradually.
A quiet room, consider a spare bedroom or even a bathroom
Food, water, litter box, hiding space, toys, and treats
Here at BARCS your cat has been eating Hill's Science Diet Adult (unless on a prescription diet/kitten food). You are getting a sample bag to take home, if you choose a new brand of food for your new pet its best to mix what they are currently eating with the new food over a period of time, to avoid an upset stomach. For example, start off doing 75% old and 25% new for a few days, then 50/50 for a few days, then 75% new and 25% old for a few days, then finally 100% new.
Set up the “cat room” with everything they’ll need. If you’re bringing your cat home on the same day as adoption, leave the cat in the carrier while you get things ready. You’ll want to give your cat somewhere safe to hide, like a big box turned on its side or leave the carrier open and covered, but block off any tiny spots that may be unsafe or where you might not be able to find them later.
When the room is quiet, open the carrier door so the cat can walk out on their own. If your cat doesn’t immediately walk out to say hello - that’s okay! Cats can be easily overwhelmed in new spaces, so you’ll want to take things slowly and follow your cat’s lead. Patience is key.
Sit on the floor and let the cat come to you. Don’t force things, the cat should always be the first one to initiate. If hiding, avoid trying to pull the cat out of their safe spot. Use toys and treats to encourage the cat to engage or play. If the cat walks away, they’re letting you know it’s time for a break but you can hang out for a little while or check back later!
Once your cat shows interest in trying to leave the room, or is begging at the door to come out, they’re ready to explore the rest of the house! Most cats will adjust within one to two weeks. If you have a multiple-animal household, it may take several months for everyone to fully adjust. Please see our cat-to-cat and cat-to-dog introduction sheets for more tips!
Your cat won’t come out of hiding: Some cats need longer acclimations than others. Help your cat relax by providing new hiding spaces in the middle of the room, which can help draw them out from corners or under the bed. Use treats, toys, or a cat pheromone spray, like Feliway, to increase your bond.
Your cat didn’t eat or use the litter box*: This is a common reaction to stress. Try sitting with your cat at mealtime or use an extra stinky snack to peak their interest. If your cat is still not interested, try reducing traffic in and out of the room. They may need it to be more quiet during visits in order to feel safe, and they may need the same person to visit them so they become comfortable.
Your cat is hissing or growling: Cats may hiss or swat when feeling scared or overwhelmed. Give your cat some private time and make visits short and positive, leaving behind a few yummy snacks or a new toy. Please see our undersocialized kitten sheet for more information on acclimating kittens.
Cats should go no longer than 48 hours without eating or using the litter box. Please reach out to your veterinarian IMMEDIATELY if lack of appetite continues.