A Safe Room for Your New Kitty


You’ve just adopted your new kitty and are excited to bring her home. You’ve been told to make a safe room but aren’t sure you want to designate a whole room to her. What is a safe room and why is it so important?

Cats are creatures of habit so change can be stressful for them. They do best with one new thing at a time.

Introducing your new cat to your home all at once is overwhelming. Creating a safe room will allow her to happily settle into her new home with as little stress as possible.

\A safe room is a separate room where she can start to explore her new home. Offices are ideal as you can provide shallow places for her to hide instead of under a bed, but a spare bedroom will work too, or even a bathroom as long as it’s not the main one. We don’t recommend using a utility room because noise from the washer or dryer can scare your new cat.

You’ll need to make sure she has access to bedding, food, and water as well as her litter box in the safe room. Something from her previous space that smells like her, like a blanket, scratcher, or toys, will also help her feel safe.

Hiding is normal, and you should provide hiding places for her. A blanket draped over a chair, desk or a cardboard box make excellent hiding spots. Don’t be discouraged if she hides for several days. As she adjusts to the sounds and scents of your home, she will start to come out. Some cats just take more time than others.

Be patient. Let her initiate contact with you in the safe room, and then add treats, petting and playtime. Pay attention to your new kitty when you interact. She may fear certain toys or not tolerate petting in certain places, for example, because of her past. Eventually she will display positive behaviors like stretching, grooming, and purring.

As she becomes confident, you can introduce her to more of your home. Ideally, you’ll want to let her explore one floor at a time.

If you have other cats or dogs, go very slowly when introducing them. If you have or can borrow a baby gate, drape it with a blanket or sheet so the animals only smell each other at first. You can slowly bring them closer together by feeding on either side of the gate while closely monitoring it so no one jumps over.

Then you can switch the animals by carrying your home cat or dog into the safe room while the new cat gets out to explore and rub on things to mark appropriately, then back again for several days. This will ensure your home smells like all the animals, allowing everyone to get familiar with each others’ scents before they first meet. To a cat, this is like meeting someone over the phone before meeting them in person.

When you first let them meet each other, please try to have someone monitoring each animal so no one moves too quickly. Please make sure to avoid letting any pet chase your new kitty, as that will set her up to be afraid of everyone.

Please leave the door to the safe room open so she can return if she becomes nervous or scared. Territory is very important to cats, and they bond to their location. In stressful situations, the safe room can be your cat’s panic room, a place your cat will return to if she becomes anxious. You can put her there during disruptions in her normal routine such as a summertime home remodel or noisy parties, especially during fireworks on Independence Day.

The safe room is also a good place for your cat to retreat to during thunderstorms, if they make her afraid. For any animal with thunder fear, it’s best to go act as normally as possible, going about your regular routine. You don’t want to accidentally reward your pet’s fear by either coddling her too much or punishing her for a very normal response to scary things.

Remember, cats can’t hold fear and play in their brains at the same time, so if you can get a good play session going, that will help calm her. Clicker play is also a good way to get her out of her fear state and what better place to do that than her safe room?

Make your new kitty’s safe room a happy place and she will probably always like being there…remember cats are creatures of habit!




Other Blog

Just say NO to cat allergies: new solutions

Just say NO to cat allergies: new solutions

It’s that time of the year when allergies can strike any of us, even those who desperately want a feline friend. Doctors often grab the easiest solution to cat allergies and recommend that people give up their cats. Fortunately, there are many options for treating cat...

read more