Congratulations! You must be so excited about bringing your newly adopted cat or kitten! I imagine that’s why you’re here, reading this blog article about the 1st day with your new cat (or kitten). Maybe you adopted one already from a shelter, and are just waiting for him (or her!) to get fixed so you can go pick him up and bring him home. Or maybe you’re getting ready to adopt, and want to know what to expect on day one with a new cat or kitten in your home. As a cat and kitten rescue foster volunteer, and an adoptions counselor at a shelter for a decade, I’ve had a lot of both first- and second-hand experience with what it can be like on your new cat’s first day home. Here’s what to expect and how to prepare, so you can be ready to make the first day the best it can be, and get the rest of your life together off to a good start!
Speaking of getting off to a good start, here’s what you can do to prepare for your new cat or kitten’s 1st day:
1. Get basic supplies: a nice big litter box (low sided for kittens), cat litter, cat food, a food dish and a water dish (preferably stainless steel or pet-safe ceramic), toys, scratching post, nail clippers, cat brush, and a cat bed or pillow or blanket. To learn more about the best food for your cat, check out our nutrition page!
2. Setup starter room. Many cats are very scared in a new environment at first. Starting them out in small starter room, like a small bedroom, big airy bathroom, or other room with a door you can close, will help them get used to a smaller space first. Put all their supplies in the room. Set up the litter box with litter in it according to the litter label’s instructions. Check to make sure windows any any other possible escape routes (like loose vent grills) are securely closed. Unplug or securely tape down any electrical cords, and remove any small ingestible or breakable objects — pretend like you are childproofing for a 2 year old human!
3. Bring the new cat home! When you bring your new cat home, close any other pets (and humans!) in a separate room, and carry your new cat into the starter room while he’s still in his cat carrier. Set the carrier down, and open the carrier’s door. Allow the cat to come out (or not) at his own speed. Leave the carrier in the room with him if he wants to hide in it.
4. Take it slow. Some cats will be walking around wanting to explore right away on the first day. But more typically, cats will take 1-2 days to a couple of weeks to adjust to a new home. This is totally normal! You do want to make sure they are eating and using the litter box daily, even if they are hiding. With a fresh-from-spay or neuter cat follow your vet’s instructions on monitoring their behavior and health. If you can, avoid friends or other pets meeting your new cat until he is relaxed and happy in his new home. See our articles on
Here are some more articles that will help your new cat or kitten on its first day, and beyond:
- Litter box location
- Top Tips on Introducing Your New Kitten To Your Current Pets
- Introducing Your New Cat or Kitten to Resident Cats
- Help! My new cat is hiding and won’t come out!
- Many more articles on Adopting a Cat or Kitten
This article was updated from its original version, published on April 13, 2013.