a cat visiting a veterinary clinic for adoption

Adopting a cat: what to expect when rehoming a rescue cat

So you’ve decided to adopt a rescue cat?

That’s great news, and an amazing step towards reducing the number of homeless pets in the UK.

Once you’ve chosen your new feline companion, you’ll want to welcome them to your home and get them settled in quickly and easily.

Cat adoption: what you need to know

Adopting a cat can be satisfying and rewarding, but you may need to be calm and patient - especially if your new friend has behavioural issues. Moving to a new home can bewilder the best of us, and most rescue cats will be disorientated by their new surroundings.

The rescue centre or shelter should provide full details of your cat’s history, including problematic behaviour if appropriate. Cat behaviour can vary in different environments - they may behave very differently when they're alone. 

Behavioural problems can derive from lack of care from previous owners and may be easy to overcome with the right love and attention. Some, particularly fear responses, can be difficult to overcome. In these situations, a rescue cat may just desire a quiet life and to keep to themselves.

Common behavioural problems with rescue cats

blue eyed cat peeping behind wall

Helping your rescue cat settle into their new home

Start slow. Establish their trust by teaching them that they can feel safe and secure in your home, with your family.

Spend the first few days bonding with them, but provide plenty of space if they need it. Establish a daily routine, including regular meal times, outdoor time and playtime, so they know what to expect.

You’ll want to focus on toilet training as soon as you bring your cat home, but start slowly, be patient and stay positive, as progress may be slow.

Settling in and looking to the future

Most shelters provide rehabilitation guidance to help you address your cat's behavioural issues or problems. It’s a good idea to introduce them to your vet early on, but not for a couple of weeks if they appear stressed initially. After all, your vet is the one person you’ll need if you have concerns about your cat’s health or wellbeing.

Of course, there’s no way to know how your rescue cat will behave in your home, and it may take several weeks for them to show their true self. With patience, kindness, consistency and understanding, you should have a long and happy life with your feline companion.

Want advice on rehoming a rescue cat?

For expert advice on adopting a rescue cat, contact your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.

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