The Classic Comprehensive Handbook of Cat Care


Once a cat arrives at his or her destination special care is needed. Cats removed from their homes frequently try to return to them if they are allowed free access to the outdoors shortly after arrival. Confine your cat to a single room with food and water bowls, litter pan, and a bed until it is clear that he or she is calm. The more familiar the items you place in the room from your cat’s old home the quicker the adjustment process will be.

Open the door to the room and allow the cat to explore the rest of the new home on his or her own terms only after your cat seems completely at ease in the smaller space. Be sure free access to the original room is available in case your cat becomes frightened and agitated. Leaving the travel crate in the room with the door open provides a safe haven that many cats seem to appreciate while adapting to their new abodes.

Do not force introductions among cats already on the premises and the newcomer. Left to their own devices most cats work out appropriate territory sharing without engaging in serious battles despite many episodes of snarling, growling, hissing, spitting, and caterwauling. It is extremely important to provide each cat with his or her own litter pan and food and water bowl to avoid permanent and serious territory battles. If necessary, a veterinarian can provide both the newcomer and the previously resident cats with tranquilizers to calm them and help with the initial adjustment. However, tranquilizers are usually needed for a very few days, if at all, since most cats adapt well if handled with sensitivity.

Do not allow a newly moved cat to roam outdoors without close supervision. Keep your cat indoors for at least one to two weeks to discourage attempts to return to the previous home territory. Then allow outdoor access gradually and with caution. A cat must gradually become familiar with his or her new outdoor territory to avoid becoming lost if startled and to avoid battles with neighborhood cats. Some cats have traveled hundreds of miles in order to successfully return to their previous homes when they were lost in transit or were allowed outdoors before complete adaptation to the new environment. Most cats in this situation are lost forever.