Adapting Cats to Their New Home

Following best practices ensures success    

The biggest challenge in rehoming outdoor cats is effectively adapting them to their new home so that they do not run off when released.   Cats are very bonded to their home territory and if they are immediately released upon relocation, they typically leave the unfamiliar surroundings.   Adapting cats to their new home is the key to successful adoptions.  There are several important factors that are associated with successfully relocating outdoor cats.

  • At least 2 cats placed together:  Cats are much more likely to remain at their new home if there are 2+ cats, especially from the same originating area, i.e., cats that have lived in a colony together previously.  
  • 2 – 4 week confinement for adaptation:  This serves to make the new location and caretakers familiar to the cats, so that they bond with their new home, gain trust, and upon release, are much more likely to remain.  Also, any other cats or resident animals can become adjusted to the newcomers while the cats are confined.   
  • Canned food twice a day during adaptation and for a period of time after release:   Canned cat food is preferred by most cats and helps them associate good things and a reliable food source with their new home and caretaker. 
  • Frequent attention and interaction:  The more familiar the cats are with the smells, sounds and sights of their new home and caregivers, the more likely they will bond with the place and people.  Interacting with the cats at least twice a day in an adaptation setting near where the cats can see people and activity helps to acclimate the cats and prepare them for release.  
  • Comfortable, escape-proof adaptation enclosure:   The cats must be confined for 2 – 4 weeks in an escape-proof enclosure.  For relocation at stables, an empty horse stall that is made escape-proof is often used.  Since the typical 12′ X 12′ stall area is quite large, the cats can easily be confined for a longer period, i.e., 3 weeks or 4, depending on the situation.  If that sort of escape-proof enclosure (stall, shed or garage) is not a possibility, large dog cages that we supply are used, placed in a protected area, out of the sun or inclement weather.   
Tenth Life Foundation is a full service organization that will help you throughout the adoption and adaptation process.