(PET CARE/CATS) Welcoming a new cat into your home can pose a number of challenges. Here are some tips to help make the transition as smooth as possible. – Global Animal

Cats don’t always want to be petted. It is important to always read your pet’s body language, and proceed carefully.

Animal Planet, Kathy Blumenstock

When a new cat comes to stay, it’s an exciting event for every member the family — including the feline. The kinds of adjustments your pet will undergo are generally the same, whether it’s a new kitten arriving in the household or an older shelter cat joining the resident feline. A few simple steps will allow Fluffy to ease into the family circle with confidence, ensuring a happy and comfortable feeling in a new home.

1: Teach Kids About Cats

Young children usually want to hold and cuddle a new pet, but cats are not always huggers. Teaching your kids how to behave around the new cat will help them form a real friendship. Emphasize that the cat likes quiet sounds and soft voices — loud noises will upset kitty. Let the cat come to you while you sit next to your child, and then take his or her hand and show how and where to stroke the cat gently — on its head, under the chin. Allow the cat to sniff the child’s hand. Always remind kids to move slowly when interacting with the cat. When your child has finally gotten to know the newest member of the family, have everyone play with her and offer a treat.

Photo Credit: Leigh Henningham

2: Keep Things All in the Family

Once the cat is comfortable with you, introduce it to other family members in turn. Giving the cat pieces of an old towel or T-shirt, each rubbed on a different family member, allows a scent preview of new human housemates. Let the new feline meet one person at a time, and follow the same routine until it “knows” the next one. It’s tempting to rush because you’re all eager to welcome the new cat, but patience will make the transition easier for the cat. It may take a week or more, but you’ll eventually have a cat that’s happy to see every member of the new family. On each brief visit, let the cat explore, by scent, sound and touch, just who’s who in this new world.

3. Get To Know Kitty

Spend time with the new cat in its room — holding it, petting it, learning its personality quirks. Let the cat come to you, exploring your clothing and getting to know your scent and voice. Kitty may feel energetic and want to play; it may prefer a cozy nap on a new lap. Visit with your new cat a few times a day for short periods to prevent any overstimulation. You’ll soon be welcomed as a fun playmate who offers grooming services and tasty treats.

4: Set Up a Private Suite (Room Service Included)

Get to know your kitty by observing and interacting with them on their own terms. Photo Credit: Sacramento SPCA

Give the new cat a room of her own, complete with litter box, food and water dishes, a night light, one or two toys, and a bed. Keeping the cat confined allows it to adapt to the new place at its own pace, hearing and sniffing what’s happening before becoming part of it. A few days or even a week will enable your new cat to feel at home. If you have a resident cat, you might want to let the veteran sit outside the room, “investigating” the newcomer from behind closed doors. This way, they’ll get acquainted even before they meet face-to-face. Expect a few hisses before they settle into the routine of new roommates.

 5: Less is More

Because everything has changed, from her food dish to the sights and sounds around her, the cat may feel stressed by so many new things to see and explore. Limit the number of changes during the first few days at home. If the cat’s been eating a particular brand of food, be sure to continue offering this, at least initially. This will minimize any digestive problems that can come from an abrupt change in feeding habits. A toy or bed from an earlier home will retain its own scent and provide a familiar feeling.

More Animal Planet: http://animal.discovery.com/healthy-pets/cat-health-101/5-tips-for-getting-a-cat-used-to-your-family-02.html