Concerned about your cat’s behaviour? Behaviourist Nicky Trevorrow took to our national Facebook page recently to answer live questions from cat-lovers. This time, she heard from a new owner who was worried about their indoor cat.
"I have recently adopted a cat from Cats Protection. He’s eight years old and an indoor boy. How long should it take for him to settle in? I realise all cats are different. We are at work all day and are concerned that he might be lonely. He is not very affectionate."
Thanks for adopting a cat – what a wonderful thing to do! Cats can take a while to adjust to a new territory as they rely on scent signals and familiarity to keep them safe. To help him settle in, provide lots of scratching posts for him to leave his scent and try to keep a routine.
Some cats may never be fully affectionate towards people. They may not have had enough positive contact with people during the crucial socialisation period of two to seven weeks old. Having time alone is probably a good thing – make sure you allow him to come to you on his own terms. Make sure he has plenty of places to hide as well as places to get up high and perch. This will also make him feel safe. If he does choose to hide, sit quietly in the same room and gently talk to him in low tones. Don’t force him to come out.
As long as your cat is eating and using the litter tray, there is no need to worry. If he is particularly shy, he might not want to come out to eat. In this case, try moving the food bowl closer to his hiding place and leaving the room.
For more advice on settling your cat into its new home, head to www.cats.org.uk/help-and-advice/bringing-a-cat-home
Best of luck!
Note: If your cat begins to display any behaviours that are unusual or develop a change in personality, the first person to speak to must always be your vet. Many changes in behaviour are due to illness or pain and so you should arrange an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.
Other seemingly ‘odd’ behaviours that don’t have roots in a medical condition can be explained by understanding the natural behaviour that makes a cat a cat. For these behavioural issues, we would recommend a referral to a qualified behaviourist from the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC)