It’s no secret that Aussies across the country are spending an increased amount of time at home, or that pet adoptions have been high as a result. It’s one of the few amazing side effects of the pandemic.
While pets – especially cats – are purrfect for combating social isolation, they can perplex the best of us. Ensuring that they have a safe transition into their new home is crucial and paves the way for a fantastic relationship with their new family.
“While most cats are pretty laid back there are some who stress as soon as the doorbell rings,” said veterinarian Dr Zara Boland. “It’s important to integrate methods to make all cats feel calm, de-stressed and safe in their new forever homes.”
Here are some of Dr Zara’s examples of how you can help your cat adjust to their new home and make a real difference to family life for everyone.
Set up comfort smell ‘messages’
To help your cat adjust to any stressful change, it can be really helpful to plug in a pheromone diffuser. This helps to calm your cat by sending new happy, calming smell messages into the environment, thereby reducing overall levels of stress and anxiety.
Find healthy stress outlets
Be sure to fill your home with activities for your cat to enjoy. Scratching posts are great for keeping claws sharp and for providing an outlet to help release excess tension safely.
Cat trees and high platforms provide your cat with the ability to jump and use the vertical space in their environment. Fishing rod toys are another great way to help your cat let off steam, by fulfilling their hunting instincts and if you have outdoor space don’t forget to grow some cat grass or catmint!
Provide a targeted diet
We all feel more secure when we know where our next meal is coming from, and cats are no different. Ensure that you provide your cat with a high-quality diet appropriate for their age and health status. A great diet promotes good health and a plentiful supply reduces stress – just like us!
Specific cat food, such as Pro Plan® LiveClear™, can also help reduce the allergen load that your cat carries. This means that anyone in the home that is sensitised to feline allergens might be able to physically interact more and forge a deeper bond, thereby also reducing stress levels for your new feline companion.
Stick to a schedule
Although rolling lockdowns and safety precautions have thrown many of us into disarray, a set schedule is crucial to a seamless transition to home life. Cats respond really well to routine – feeding time, playtime and sleep time all contribute to an overall sense of control, belonging and wellbeing. This is true of people, too, so set up some routines you can both enjoy.
Identify a point of privacy
Just as we need our privacy, so do our cats. Providing plenty of kitty hiding places (including use of vertical space) provides an opportunity for some always welcome R&R. Time away from other members of the household is well-earned and a necessary form of escape within the home, especially if your cat isn’t used to having company 24/7. Create a relaxation or ‘zen zone, making sure that it’s set up away from loud noises.
Given how important pets are to our wellbeing, it’s important to remember their needs when welcoming home our newest furry friends. Treat them gently in this transition and they will reward you with lifelong companionship and love.
About the Author:
Dr Zara Boland is a clinical vet with over 15 years’ experience in pet nutrition and a very strong interest in pet behaviour. She has served as a Board Director for the British Veterinary Association and worked with Purina all over the world from London to sunny Spain and even America’s mid-west, but she’s now happily back in Australia again.
She is proud to call a “petite” Bernese Mountain Dog called Rhumba and a rascally rescue cat called Scamp part of the family. Zara is currently Purina’s Veterinary External Affairs and Scientific Communications manager for Australia and the AOA Region.
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