How Long Does It Take For a Cat to Settle Into a New Home?

When you get a new cat it’s important that it settles into your home and gets attached to your family. It varies a lot from cat to cat and owner to owner.

The length of time it will take your new cat to settle in really depends on several factors. It depends on the cat’s personality, their previous experiences, your home environment, and how you help them to settle in. The cat’s age may also be a factor.

Helping your cat to settle into their new home is very important for both you and your cat. The sooner you can get him happy the sooner he will become a much loved integral part of your family.

How Long Does It Take For a Cat To Settle Into a New Home?

What to do to get your cat to settle into your home.

Top Things You Can Do to Help Your Sat Settle in Quickly

Before Your Cat Arrives

There are several things you can do to help your cat to settle in when it first arrives.

Make sure you have everything that they will need already set up for them.

If you have the room you can enclose them in one room so that they get used to that first and don’t feel too threatened. To do this you will need to make sure they have enough food and water and of course their litter.

Make sure you check for things that are hazardous to cats. It’s easy to overlook things that might be. You don’t really know your new cat yet so you don’t know what it’s going to do. Check cables are out of the way and safe as your cat may decide they want to chew them.

Check for any plastic bags they might get into that might suffocate them or they might actually eat them. My cat absolutely loves plastic, it’s a nightmare.

Check your plants and cut flowers are safe for your cat. Many indoor plants are not and they will eat them. Lilies, for example, are very dangerous even being near them can be deadly.

If you have an open fire with a chimney it might be a good idea to block it off I’ve seen an absolutely horrendous situation where this poor woman was completely distraught that she had left her new cat in a room. It was so scared it ran up the chimney. It took them a good couple of days to get it out. They tried all sorts. bribery, chimney brushes, all sorts, in the end, they had to get the charities in to help them they did finally get this poor pussycat out. So if you got anywhere I like that I recommend you block it off. Even a tiny hole.

And sometimes it is not the place that you would think. When I first had Boo he decided he was going to go behind my white units. I thought I’d put them back enough, but apparently not, he went past the back of the fridge and the freezer and ended up getting stuck behind the washing machine. This meant I then had to struggle to drag it out while trying very hard not to squash him in the process. So, just be aware that they can get into the most peculiar and sometimes very small places.

Set Up Your Cats Space

They really need their own space even if you can’t give them a whole room my house is too tiny for a whole room so if you can give them their own space

If you can bring something of theirs with you with them because this helps because it’s got their smell on it.

Make sure you set up everything they need. They will need a litter tray, a food tray, a water bowl, and a scratch post. You may also like to provide some form of bed or bedding if you haven’t got this already. They love, absolutely love cardboard boxes, so just pop some nice comfy blankets in there.

If you think your cat might be highly strung or stressed when it arrives you might like to plug in Feliway or a similar item. It helps to keep them calm. You can get them from your local vets, pet stores, or here on Amazon. (Affiliate link)

The Journey Home

Cat’s, for the most part, make really bad travelers. The movement of the car really doesn’t suit them. If you can help them have a comfortable journey it will help.

If you use Feliway or something similar for Amazon or your vets you can place some of this in the carry case beforehand this will help the cat to relax and it’s less like to be stressed during the journey. You need to get the one you can spray. (Amazon Affiliate link)

When I was younger getting a cat just involved popping it in a cardboard box, popping that in the car, and bringing it home.

Now I think back, I think, “good grief what were we thinking”. These days course it pays to be more prepared. Either buy or borrow a cat carrier. You’re going to need one anyway.  You may want to put an old blanket in so that it can easily be thrown out or cover it with newspapers because the cat may poop from stress.

Also, it helps the cat to feel more secure as they do not slip about so much if there is something on the floor of the carrier.

Make sure your car is secure. If you can, put a seatbelt around the carrier or have someone hold the carrier to keep it secure and make the cat feel less stressed.

Now That Your New Cat Is Home

When your new cat has arrived it may be a little bit stressed. Each cat is different so it will behave in a different manner. Some may settle in quickly while others may not. Do not push your cat or have the whole family descend on it, let it decide what it wants to do. It will come to you when it is ready.

Your cat will decide where it wants to sleep. No matter how many expensive cat beds you have it may decide it doesn’t want to use them and sleep somewhere that you think is uncomfortable. If it’s happy there and safe and you can leave it.

As tempting as it is ‘cos they are so adorably cute’ do not force them, leave them alone to settle quietly have a cup of tea or coffee and let them chill. Cats find staring threatening so just ignore it.

It’s not uncommon for a cat to hide behind furniture finding the outer reaches of your room. That is where it feels secure and it can protect itself. Do not try and pull it out from its hiding place this is a natural behavior. Let it stay there until it feels confident to come out.

Other Things to Help Your Cat Settle in

There are other things you can do to help your cat in its first few days in your home.

For the first few weeks when your cat is in its new environment make sure you keep things as consistent as possible with what it is used to. Do not replace the food it’s already on and try to buy the same type of litter if you can.

You can change these later if you want to, however, this takes time and there are ways to do it to make it easier on the cat.

Try to keep your cat in a calm environment do not let any children pull it around.

Introducing Your Cat to Any Existing Cats in The House

Keep your cat separate from any existing cats and introduce them slowly using tried and trusted methods. A cat will take time to adjust to new family members.

How do you know how long it will take?

The length of time varies. Settling in can be a matter of days or even months. They may seem to settle in but after a few months, you notice a change in them and realize they were only partially settled before.  Below are examples of my family’s actual cats settling in so you can see the differences.

I totally believe that how long it takes a cat to settle into depends on each individual cat, its personality, and its circumstances. It also depends on your circumstances and how compatible you are. If you picked up the one that wants to be the center of the universe and you have three children two dogs and another couple of cats, it may not settle so well. If on the other hand you’re the only person and it loves lots of attention from different people and you could be in for a rough ride. So, it pays to start by doing your best to choose a cat that suits your situation and that of the cats. They will settle in much easier. Your adoption center should be able to help you. Spend some time with the cat at the center if you can.

To help show you the differences in personalities of cats and how they settled in I use an example of my family’s cats; my mum’s cat, my cats past and present, and my two sisters’ cats. Each has settled in at different rates and each of them has different personalities they came to us all at different ages and all with different backgrounds. I believe these all made a difference in how well they settled in and why.

Examples Of My Families Cats Settling In

Boo Boo

Boo, is my indoor cat. I’ve had him for a couple of years. He is very laid back. He had quite a rough ride before he came to me as his previous owner hasn’t really considered much of his needs he also lived a week with another owner who decided he was just too much for them.

He was 11 when I got him.

Boo took about a week to settle into the house. He was affectionate from the moment my sister and I met him. He is just the most loving cat you could wish for.

The first week was a bit trying he cried all the time, and I mean all of the time. It took me a while to see why and to fulfill his needs to stop him. This helped him a lot.

He was so used to being shut out of the way and in a corner that he would just lie by the wall. While I appreciate that’s quite standard for a cat who is feeling uncomfortable, he didn’t strike me as uncomfortable. He just wouldn’t sleep in his bed. He’d just curl up and a little ball. If he wasn’t sleeping by the wall he was sleeping right under my feet while I was working. I was afraid he was going to get squished

The first thing I did was take out the center of his bed and put it next to him to try to get him to sleep on something other than the floor. Then I decided that I would do some rearranging I waited till he was upstairs asleep and quickly rearranged the furniture so that he could sleep next to me. He just would not use his bed so I adapted his carry box and made it up into a bed for him and he pretty much sleeps next to me most of the time. He’s there now.


Willow is my mum’s cat she had been an indoor cat all of her life. She was 8 years old my mum got her. She had lived with lots of other cats, up to 20 I think, in an institution.

I felt she settled in really quickly and easily. Mum asked lots of questions and is as good as gold with her and did everything she needed to to get her to settle down. Mum said she didn’t think Willow was completely settled for a year. She was quite calm very quickly and sought laps and played and seemed happy enough.

Katniss & Scarab

Katniss and scarab are my sister’s cats. They’re not indoor cats they came to her as kittens and only spent the first few months of their lives as door cats. They have very different personalities. Scarab is really laid back and easy-going. Katniss as a kitten was very wild. She wanted to climb everything and was not content with being in one room and was definitely not content with being in one house. She did not take very well to humans either.

Scarab, on the other hand, was loving and affectionate from the start. He settled in very quickly. Katniss took a year to tolerate everyone. And another year before she was completely happy. She is a wonderful cat. She’s amazing now and we believe this is partly due to their natures and partly due to the fact that because Scarab is so easy going he was given much more attention while Katniss was a bit of a handful. If you were to see her now you would realize that it doesn’t matter what they start off like it’s how you treat them that counts.


Holly is my previous cat. Officially she wasn’t an indoor cat but as she got older and older she became more of an indoor cat. I fostered her when she was 16. No one wanted her as she was so old. She came from a really loving background, she clearly loved her daddy far more than her mummy. She went from a loving background to the cattery, to the vets, to the cattery, and then to me in a matter of a couple of days. She did not settle in well. She did not particularly like being with a woman and she did not like my house.

She didn’t settle for 6 months when we left and moved to our new house. She settled in immediately. As for getting attached to me, I think it took 4 years! It was well worth the wait for that one day when she showed she cared.


Maisie was another laid-back easy-going loving cat she cried all the way for a 20-mile journey home. I let her out of her box she had a look round, curled up in front of the fire and that was it. She was settled she was always loving and quite happy to be there except for the next-door neighbor’s dog who was evil to her.

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