Preparing for your new cat.

“Time spent with a cat is never wasted.”
—Sigmund Freud

Felines are very sensitive creatures so will need time to adjust to this wonderful change in their life. We recommend setting up a “Sanctuary Room”. The Sanctuary Room is the space you have chosen to allow your new pet to adjust to your home. Follow the steps set out below to ensure the smoothest possible introduction.. It is important not to create unrealistic expectations as there is no ‘normal’ timeframe for cats to adjust, the timeline will be set by your new cat’s comfort levels. It can take a few days, a few weeks or even months. The first meetings between the resident animals and your new pet can set the tone of their relationship, so slow and steady is best. 


Sanctuary Room

This can be somewhere like the laundry or in the bedroom of the person they are primarily bonding with. Ideally this room will be quiet and calm so if there are young humans in the house make sure they don’t bang on the door or scream as this can affect how well the pet adjusts. The Sanctuary Room needs to have:

• Secure doors and windows – to confine the cat& keep out existing animals

• A safe place to hide – a box, the carrier or under the bed is fine

• Food & water bowls – as far away from tray as possible

• A litter tray with some newspaper underneath to catch flicked grains

• Toys / scratching post 


Sensory Overload

Whilst it is exciting welcoming your new family member home, be mindful over introducing too many changes too quickly as this could be overwhelming. Moving house with strange humans is hard enough, but encroaching on another animal’s territory can be terrifying. 


1. All the animals can HEAR and SMELL each other through the closed door. You could even feed the animals on either side of the door to encourage a positive association with each other. Read their body language. When everyone is showing interest but not aggression move on to step 2.


2. When your new cat is showing signs that she’d like to explore the world beyond the sanctuary, put the existing animals in another secure area to prevent interaction. Your cat will then explore your home at their own pace, taking in all the new scents. Upon their return to their sanctuary, the other animals can be released and allowed to track movements. Again watch for signs of hostility.


3. If there is an area in your home where the animals can SEE each other through a glass or screen door, use it. Praise & treat all involved for positive reactions. Don’t do it too long. Gradually build up the time together. If not follow step 4. You will need 1 human per animal but introduce 1 at a time on different days. Dogs should be on leash.


4. As the animals get used to seeing each other, open the

barrier / door a paw width initially. If just sniffing or paw

playing occurs open the door further. Always allow an animal

the opportunity to retreat safely so make sure there is plenty

of room for everyone to escape if needed. You know your

animals best so go at the pace of the most cautious animal.

Gradually open the door wider while both animals are calm

– may be minutes, hours or days.


5. Once they are happy to see each other calmly, extend the period of time they spend together under supervision. With cats try playing with them or feeding them in view of each other. Each cat should have an escape route. With a cat and dog, ensure the cat has a higher place to retreat or a baby gate barring the dog from the sanctuary should the cat feel overwhelmed.


6. Once you feel satisfied that all the animals can exist harmoniously allow them to mix freely. The Sanctuary Room will usually remain a safe place for your new cat even years down the track. The time it takes to reach this step is dependent upon your animals and your diligence. Some families can reach this final step within a week, for others it can be a few months. Patience is the key.


IMPORTANT: If at any time, now or in the future, you need support please contact WAPP by emailing 



One piece of advice to new pet owner from Georgia S:


Cats aren't as low maintenance as everyone says!

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WA Pet Project is a Perth based cat and dog rescue focused on improving the lives of pets and their humans. 

© 2016  by Alexie Green.