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advice for transitioning new cat

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hello, I'm new here!

I'm in the middle of moving from one apartment to another and in about 1 week, after the moving is complete, I'll be introducing a new cat into my life!

He will be my first. His name is Merlin, he is a full-grown (about 2 years old) small black cat who at present belongs to a good friend of mine. Right now he's living with two other cats and two dogs, all of which bully him to the extent that my friend sometimes has to hand-feed him to make sure he gets adequate nutrition. Right now he is mostly kept in one room but is allowed to roam the two story home periodically during the day.

So I just want to emphasize that we are moving Merlin from a very busy and large house to a one-bedroom apartment where I'm afraid he's going to get lots of individual attention and possibly become incredibly spoiled. My husband doesn't want the cat in our bedroom for now, so that gives him the living room, the kitchen and the bathroom. To make up a bit for the small space I bought him a 6-foot multilevel piece of cat furniture and I plan on getting him one of those window perches... and of course, plenty of toys!

My question is essentially how to ease this transition. So far these have been some of my ideas: I have spent a little time with Merlin already--after we extracted him from under my friend's couch he proceeded to sit on my lap for a full 10 minutes and even let me brush him before he wandered off, so I believe he is reasonably comfortable with me. I also plan on feeding him Pro Plan indoor cat formula, but will be taking a small amount of his regular food from my friend's so that I can ease him into the new food instead of suddenly changing it overnight. My aunt suggested I put catnip on anything that belongs to him--the cat furniture, the litter box, etc--and the litter box I have bought is similar to the one he's accustomed to (both are covered.)

I'm just not sure how he's going to react to a sudden change of scenery and lifestyle. I'm not sure how to treat him if he acts afraid--if he "hides," for example, should I just let him hide until he's comfortable enough to come out? Is it possible there will be problems with him being away from other cats after being so used to such a rowdy crowd? Would it make sense to take him on periodic visits to my friend's house to play with his old friends?

I know these are a lot of questions. I just imagine it would be very frightening to have such a major life change without being able to comprehend the circumstances, and I want to help him adjust as quickly and as gently as possible.

So if anybody has any advice or if any of the things I have done don't seem right to you, please let me know. I am really excited to have a new family member and want him to feel as welcome as possible in our new place!

Olives Always,
post #2 of 7
Congratulations on bringing Merlin into your life, house and heart!

When you bring him to your new home, remember that you have basically turned his entire world upside down. He's in a place that he doesn't recognize, with people he doesn't really know, and without his feline friends. Even with their feline and human families, moving is traumatic on a kitty because they are territory based animals. So be prepared - he will most likely hide. When he does hide, only check on him to make sure he is OK and otherwise just leave him alone to get adjusted to his new world on his time frame. He will come around, but he has to feel comfortable with the place before he's going to feel comfortable with his new family.

Generally speaking, the smaller the space you can release him into, the better. A large, unfamiliar space is overwhelming to a cat. Although the bathroom may seem too small for you, it may be just right for him. Go in there and spend time with him while he adjusts - read out loud to him, talk to him, but don't force him to come out and cuddle or get pets. Let him come to you when he feels comfortable. Your bond will be better in the future if you allow him his time and space in the beginning.
post #3 of 7
Welcome to The Cat Site!

Congratulations on your new addition! It sounds like you have thought this out quite well. In addition to what Heidi mentioned, would it be possible to bring something from his old home, a bed or blanket perhaps, to help ease the transition?
post #4 of 7
I don't have any new advice. I'm sure he will be fine! I just wanted to say Hi and welcome! We love pictures, so please post some of Merlin in his new home when you get the chance!
post #5 of 7
Sounds like your Merlin will probably metamorphically "breathe a sigh of relief" once he's escounced in your/his new digs.

Just leave him in peace to get use to the new surroundings. If he hides, he'll come out when he's ready for company or exploration. He's obviously timid and wary. It'll take him some time to figure out and believe that around that blind corner won't be a pouncing bully!

It sounds like you've figured out the necessary physical logistics for Merlin's care. So just be patient; it possibly may take a few days -- or a few weeks.

Ann Demi
"Solutions to Cat Behavior Problems"
post #6 of 7
I agree that it sounds like Merlin is going to thrive in your household! I think that if you follow the suggestions of the previous posters, you'll have a successful transition.

Let us know how it goes!!
post #7 of 7
I am sure that Merlin will be very happy living with you, you truly sound like a cat-spoiler

As the others say, he can probably act little bit afraid at first, but as soon as he gets familiar with his new home he will turn around. My experience with cats that are afraid is to speak to them in a soft tone what a great cat you think he is... I know it sounds crazy but those buggers understand that, and no cat can turn away from kitty-bum-kissing I have been through transitions with cats many times before. I own 6 cats that all but one came as adults from shelters and homes, and believe me, it doesnt matter how afraid a cat can seem at first, with little bit of time and TLC they will become the embodiment of purring happiness sooner then you thought would ever be possible. Frankly I think Merlin will only be happy to get out of the former home because of the bullying from the other cats and dogs, and to go to your home that will literally feel like heaven for him, and a place where he can be the king of the castle. Bullying from other pets is really hard on animals, because they have to live in a constant stress-situation.

I have an idea on how to make him accept his new house more. You could take f.ex. a towel and leave it in his old house for few days, then take it home and rup his kitty places with it. By doing that you transfer his old home scent on his new home. You can also do vice versa, rub a towel with your home smell and put it f.ex. in his bed in the old home.
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