Planning on bringing home a cat from your local pet shelter, or just recently brought one home? First of all, I wanted to say thank you for helping out animals in need. There’s nothing like introducing an ignored animal into a loving family! It’s a true win-win. The method for bringing in an adopted cat, especially a rescue, follows two big steps: trust, and bonding. Within getting trust and bonding, there are smaller things you need to do in order to accomplish these steps. It’s a rewarding experience, and you’ll be much better off for it.
The biggest tools you will need at your disposal are:
- Tasty Treats
Patience is going to be the biggest key in gaining trust with your newly adopted cat. If your cat has been abused, it could take weeks for them to come around to you. So I will tell you to just be prepared. From my own experience and from speaking with others and getting their advice, I’ve found that there are several key inclusions to make if you want your cat to gain trust in you.
- Use treats and tasty food to encourage them to come to you. Your cat will probably realize that someone that wants to feed it, isn’t going to hurt it. As I mentioned, patience is key.
- Keep a low profile. I don’t mean to never be around, I mean that when you are going to be near your cat, try not to stand over it. Get to ground level by sitting down, or lying on your knees. It will feel a lot less threatened, and that is crucial for getting it to come to you.
- Leave a “safe space” for your cat. Build out a small home where your new cat won’t be disturbed. It’s trying to process a lot of changes all at once, and having an area where it will feel secure will do wonders.
- When it comes close to you, give it kisses on the face/eyes. Pets can tell when you are kissing them. From what I’ve been told, (I haven’t tried this one myself) kissing a cat on the eyes or forehead makes them trust you more. I took this information from someone who I trust regarding rescue cats, so it will definitely work!
If Your Cat Hisses/Attacks You
If your cat hisses at you, stay calm. Don’t approach it any further. Over time, it will feel more trust by you leaving food out and by having a comfortable space for it to be in. A cat will only attack you if you ignore the hisses and it feels threatened.
Once your cat has gained trust in you, the next step is to cement that trust by bonding with them. Now is the fun part! I like to bond with cats by playing with them, and luckily, they also enjoy playing too. The best toy at my disposal (and also the most satisfying to watch!) is a laser pointer. You should have other cat toys too, but for best value, it’s hard to beat a trusty laser pointer.
- Use toys. The type of toys doesn't really matter, in my experience. It’s the thought and action that comes into account. This will help your cat acclimate to you better.
- Play with the cat. If your cat associates fun and pleasant memories with you, it will bond with you at a much faster rate.
- Always remain calm and friendly. Pets have a funny way of taking on your emotions and your mood, so you need to always be in a cheerful state. You might have noticed this yourself. I have personally seen nervous pets that have nervous owners. While your cat might have had issues in the past, over time it will become more and more like you in temperament.
- Never force anything on your cat. This one can’t be emphasized enough. If your cat seems uncomfortable, stop immediately. Trust is something that needs to be built up, and the bonding process is a way of cementing this trust. If you do anything that scares your cat, it will take even longer and you may even need to start from the trust-building process again.
In conclusion, there are two big steps to successfully integrating an adopted cat into your life. The first step is to win its trust with food, safe spaces, and environmental cues. The second step is by bonding with it by playing with it, keeping a calm mood, and by never forcing anything on it. I hope that these steps helped you! Please feel free to post your own experiences and tips in the comments section.