Settling in Your Rescue Cat

Rescue cats can come with a host of issues, but treat them sensitively and they'll soon become and important part of the family. Here's how...A new home can be a very daunting experience for your new cat or kitten. Rescue cats can often be a little harder to handle. In some upsetting cases, cats may have been abused and will need a very understanding and loving environment to start a happy life. In other circumstances, people who could no longer take care of their cats did the kindest thing. Whatever the circumstances, each cat or kitten will be completely different and have a unique personality and needs.

Cats and kittens pass through the doors of rehoming centres throughout the UK daily. Rescuing a cat from one of these facilities can be extremely rewarding. If you have decided that adoption is for you, the information below will help the process run smoothly when you are given the green light to pick up your new feline friend.

You Rescue Cat’s Background

When you are planning to rescue or adopt a cat, the staff at the rehoming centre will essentially vet you. They will visit your home to check it is suitable and ask questions regarding your working hours and whether you have any children. Sadly, some of the cats up for adoption have been poorly treated. Therefore, it is imperative that the cats get the best new start in life and the staff for these regulations in place to ensure that this will happen.

However, also find out everything you can about your cat. This will help you better understand its personality and needs. When you visit an animal shelter, interact with the animals and don’t just go for the cat you think is the most adorable. There are a lot of factors to consider. If you have a dog, speak to the staff, as there are likely to be some cats that interact well with other furry friends. If you work from home and have a quiet household, a cat that has had a tough start in life could be your ideal companion.

It is important for both you and the shelter staff to create a match between cat and owner, as cats can become distressed easily and they do not need to end up being rehomed for a second time.

Travelling Home

If the adoption process has gone well, the likelihood is you will be travelling home with your new cat at some point in the near future. The journey home should be a smooth transition and as stress-free as possible.

Whilst travelling home, do not remove your cat from the carrier. The dark can help keep your cat calm. If your cat becomes distressed, talk in soothing tones and get to your destination as quickly and safely as possible.

For whatever reason, if your cat escapes the carrier and is roaming free in the car, stop immediately. Furthermore, cats should never be left alone in an unattended vehicle.

Be Prepared for Your Rescue Cat

When your cat first enters their new home, select a room in the house which is quiet and used the least. Some rescue cats can have a nervous disposition due to poor treatment with previous owners. Therefore, having a room that is all theirs and equipped with litter tray, food, water and a hideaway is essential. Obviously, toys are a necessity.

Sitting quietly in the room and letting your cat do his or her own thing is a great way to start the bonding process. Your cat will be naturally curious, but some are bolder than others. Be patient and let your cat adjust and explore their new surroundings in their own time.

During their time in this room, ensure windows and doors remain closed and block anywhere in which they could get stuck. Chimneys and washing machines are not a cat’s best friend.

Your cat will soon let you know that they want to start exploring other rooms of the house. This could be after a matter of hours, or a couple of weeks. It is best to go with whatever your cat is comfortable with. They can be vocal creatures and will let you know what the plan of action is!

Interacting With Your New Cat

Before letting other pets and family members say their welcomes, let your cat have some one-on-one time with you. Rescue cats may not have had much human contact so could be shy of affection. A confident and friendly cat will understandably be more trusting than a timid cat, who may be cautious, fearful and even aggressive towards other pets and people.

Sitting down and being on the same level as your cat will show that you are not threatening. Also, do not make any sudden movements. Offering a single hand and letting your cat initiate the first contact is the best course of action and will create a solid foundation for bonding. Softly repeating your cat’s name and offering soothing words of encouragement as he susses you out will keep your cat calm.

Only stroke your cat if they offer themselves to you or are purring. If your cat nuzzles into you or sits on your lap, you are on the road to a great relationship. Gentle grooming can also help your cat feel at ease.

If your cat is hiding or cowering away from you, don’t panic, you haven’t done anything wrong. Your cat may have been hurt in the past or is very nervous. If your cat is permanently hiding, simply make regular visits, call their name softly and encourage them to come out. This can be time consuming but your cat needs to know they can trust you in their own time.

Your Rescue Cat’s Diet

In the early days, feed your cat little and often. Meal times present a multitude of opportunities for you to bond with your cat further. The staff at the rescue facility will provide information on what your cat likes to eat and any dietary requirements they have.

Make sure water is available at all times for your cat. Many people think that cats can happily drink cow’s milk, but this is not true and can lead to severe diarrhoea. Alternatively, you could try a brand of commercial cat milk if you want to give your furry friend a treat.

When your cat is relaxed and comfortable, they will happily eat with you present. At this point, you can reduce their meals to two a day and increase the quantity.

Making New Friends

Once you have created a confident relationship with your cat, they can start meeting other members of the family. Keep contact to just humans at first, but make sure that children understand that the new cat is not a toy. Try to inform your children and other family members of your cat’s history, as it will better help them understand how to best interact with the new addition.

If you are bringing your adopted cat into a home with other feline residents, allow the introduction to happen naturally. Most of the time, a resident cat will at the very least tolerate the newbie. This will be a delicate time for all cats involved, and there can be initial jealousy as a new hierarchy is established. You cannot rush this process, so let them get to know each other at their own pace.

Dogs and cats have been portrayed to not get on, but this is not the case. Obviously, when rescuing a cat, it best to take on a cat that is familiar with dogs. At first, meetings should be supervised and the dog should remain on a lead. As time progresses, the lead can be removed. Most of the time, cats and dogs can live harmoniously together.

Worrying Behaviours

Whilst your cat is settling in they may show some of the following behaviours:

  • Hiding
  • Diarrhoea
  • Spraying
  • Scratching
  • Not eating
  • Not interacting
  • Vomiting

Do not be alarmed if any of the above happens in the first week or two. These symptoms are usually a sign of feline stress and a calm and patient environment will help resolve these issues. Your cat needs to be in a peaceful environment and it is essential your cat has a hiding spot. Having a dark place away from everything makes your cat feel as if they have a sense of control over the world.

Most of the time their behaviours will subside over time as your cat becomes more confident and settles in. If you are worried or if these carry on for longer, make an appointment with your vet.

The Great Outdoors

Once your cat has made himself at home and is happy interacting with any family member. It is time to let your cat explore the garden. Understandably, your cat should have had all their appropriate vaccinations and be microchipped before this is an option. Usually, the time to let your cat venture outside is at around three or four weeks after arrival. Some cats will be different, however, but do not rush them.

When beginning to let your cat outside, it is best to let them out before their evening meal, as this can ensure their return! Do not worry if your cat absconds further than you would like. Chances are your cat has had enough of being cooped up and wants to explore their new surroundings. They know their way home and won’t go far.

Whatever your personal circumstances, chances are there will be a kitten or cat to suit you. Taking a cat out of a rescue facility and giving it a forever home can be extremely rewarding, and addictive. There are thousands and thousands of cats in the UK which need new homes and, if you go ahead with the process, utilise the information above to make your cat’s transition into your home as comfortable and stress-free as possible.

Rescue cats can come with a host of issues, but treat them sensitively and they'll soon become and important part of the family. Here's how...