5 Things Your Shelter Cat is Thinking
As the new owner of an adorable shelter cat, you're a lifesaver. Feels good, right? So why is your sweet kitty peering skeptically out at you from under the bed? Shouldn't she be sitting on your lap, superbly blissed out?
It's not that she doubts your cat parenting abilities. She just needs to get a few things straight before entering blissdom.
So in honor of Adopt a Shelter Cat Month and cats everywhere, we asked Janet M. Alger and Steven F. Alger, husband and wife sociologist team, and authors of Cat Culture: The Social World of a Cat Shelter, to help us decode a newly-adopted cat's thoughts.
1. "I'm scared."
What your cat is doing: A big, unfamiliar space can be hiding all sorts of dangers. If you let your new cat loose right away, he'll try to find a small, safe place to hide. Try to keep this from happening. You'll lose valuable bonding time.
What you can do: Set up a small room with all the amenities and no hiding spots that you can't reach into. Let him explore this space for a few days before introducing him to another part of the house.
The Algers installed a screen door in the room they use to introduce a new cat. This way the latest addition can watch the household activities from a comfortable place.
2. "I miss my old pad."
What your cat is doing: Your new cat might have taken on an odd habit that the Algers call "search and cry." It means she walks restlessly around and around her new space, meowing and looking for something familiar.
What you can do: Let her get it out of her system. Don't try to force her to calm down, but do keep her comfortable by staying close by.
3. "I want to be a part of the family!"
What your cat is doing: Since he's probably still a bit spooked in his new environment, your cat might seem distant at first, but cats are social by nature. The misconception of a solitary cat exists because felines that are ignored, eventually grow aloof.
What you can do: Talk to your new cat and spend as much time as you can with him.
If he's a kitten, it's good to have another cat at home or people around during the day. If he's older and was a solitary cat in his last home, it's okay for him to be a solitary cat again. But remember that food and play are the fastest ways to his heart.
4. "Sorry, but I need to scratch."
What your cat is doing: She's scratching your stuff. She has to. She's not doing it to spite you. Think of it as filing her nails.
What you can do: Train her! It's easy. First, provide her with a few different things to scratch on, and place at least one next to whatever it is she wants to scratch.
Second, cover the furniture she's scratching with a sheet. Third, take her over to her new scratching post and scratch with her. We know it's silly, but try it. She'll catch on.
5. "Nice place you've got here. What can I jump on?"
What your cat is doing: Hopping up on everything. Running all over the place and being generally hyper.
What you can do: Encourage the exercise! Add lots of variety to his environment. He loves things to climb, windows to look out of, and toys! Even if he seems uninterested in those toys, studies have shown that cats play with their toys when mom or dad isn't around. So spoil away, and congrats!