Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How to Help Your Cat Adjust to Change

By Langley Cornwell

Most of us have heard the old adage “the only thing constant is change” and we all know how true that is. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the type of person who embraces change and looks towards different circumstances as a new adventure, or you’re the type that dreads change because you thrive in familiar conditions; change happens.

If you have the privilege of sharing your life with cats, change happens to them too. While you can intelligently process the reasons for the change, your cat(s) cannot. All they know is that things are different and they are not sure how to deal with the newness, whatever it may be. They need help managing the stress that comes with change. There are steps you can take to help your cat successfully adjust to new circumstances.

New Home

If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, when you move plan to keep him indoors for approximately a month so he can become familiar with his new surroundings. For an extremely sensitive cat, it may be wise to establish a single room as ‘his’ and confine him to that room until he becomes more comfortable with the new home. Make sure the cat has access to a clean litter box and fresh water at all times. Whether your cat has the run of the house or is limited to one room, keep all the doors and windows closed and locked. Additionally, make sure your cat wears an I.D. tag at all times. A fearful cat can easily slip out of an open door or window and run away.

Keep distractions to a minimum; restrict the access of other animals and children to the cat as he is settling into his new territory. When cats are transitioning, they need assurance that their sources of love, shelter and food are still available. Therefore, spend more quality time with your cat than you used to, as he is adjusting to his new home. Talk quietly and reassuringly to him, and be patient. Your cat may display behavior problems during the first few weeks after a move but these issues usually clear up over time.   

New Baby

If this is your first human baby, your cat is probably used to your undivided attention and will likely feel a type of sibling rivalry when the new baby comes home. To get your cat accustomed to receiving less of your time and attention, The Humane Society recommends gradually reducing the amount of time you spend with your cat during your pregnancy. Additionally, encourage another family member to spend more time with the cat so that person can develop a closer relationship with the pet. That way, the cat will still feel special, loved, and cared for while you are busy with the new baby.

Before the baby arrives, accustom your cat to infants and infant-related smells and sounds. Ask friends with babies to drop by so your pet can experience what it’s like to have a child in the house in short spurts. Create baby smells; smear baby oil or sprinkle baby powder on your skin and let your cat smell the new smells on you. Make baby noises; push up and down on the bouncy chair, turn on the mechanical swing and rock in the rocking chair. You may want to go as far as occasionally playing a recording of a baby crying. When the baby is born, have a family member bring a blanket or piece of clothing—with the baby’s scent on it—back to the house for your pet to examine. Once you are all settled back into the house and getting into your new routines, remember to spend one-on-one quality time with your cat every day.   

New Dog

Generally, cats don’t react well to the introduction of new animals. They consider other pets as intruders in their territory. And, unlike dogs, cats do not have a built-in social system that helps them peacefully share their territory. Therefore, you must organize any introduction carefully so your cat feels safe and has a pleasant experience when he is introduced to the new dog. Follow the guidelines in my article on introducing a new dog to a household with cats, and the meeting could be the beginning of a long and satisfying friendship.

Some cats react better to change than others. As your cat adjusts to his new circumstances, reward his good behavior with FELIDAE TidNips™ to make the transition a positive experience. If you approach this process with love, patience and knowledge it will be an easier adjustment for all the humans and animals involved.

Photo by Wilson (Army Gal)

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell


  1. Great advice. It's so important to prepare cats for change.

  2. That is some really good advice. I found that if I moved my cats, I kept them shut for a week and as long as I was around after that, they were all right outside. Cats seem to establish their safe haven and then they are fine.

  3. Good advice. I've noticed with mine that he will adapt better and quicker if I remain constant and as much as possible his routine.


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