It also reduces Kitty’s stress a lot if their foster carer takes them to their new home and helps settle them in.
On this page
- Why do a home visit?
- What to look for during the home visit
- Help your kitty feel safe
- Prepare your adopter
- Avoid Alien Abduction Syndrome
Why do a home visit?
A home visit is a great service to provide to your adopter, as you can guide them on creating suitable hiding spots. It will make ‘moving house’ less stressful for their new family member, so they’ll be able to enjoy their company sooner rather than later.
During the visit, you can also identify potential escape points as well as hazards which could injure their new cat – and lead to very expensive vet bills, or worse.
What to look for during the home visit
Territory is everything to a cat. Losing their old territory, and starting from scratch in a new place, is a huge deal for them. They will automatically want to flee. It’s important to make sure that they can’t.
Consider all escape points that may appeal to them when they first arrive in their new territory.
- Could they get out through an open window?
- How easy would it be for Kitty to bolt out a door? Up a chimney? Down a vent? Or by tearing through a flyscreen?
- Could they jump from a balcony?
- Are there children or housemates who may leave a door open?
Yep, all of this has really happened when timid cats have moved house! Some cats have lost their lives as a result.
What chemicals could Kitty access?
Are there any cords from blinds? Could your cat strangle themself on them?
What about string, dental floss or fishing line lying around, which your cat could ingest, causing a life-threatening emergency and expensive vet treatment?
Other household members
Will housemates and their visitors be coming and going? Are they as interested in the cat as the adopter or are they likely to leave a window or door open?
What about children?
Look for unnoticed holes — sometimes even in upmarket homes, there may be small and inaccessible gaps which may lead to a panicked call that their cat is missing.
Will the cat have pleasant views from windows? If they can’t reach them, can the adopter make them more accessible – a scratching post next to the window? A window bed?
Being an inside/outside cat may not work for a timid cat, as they will be easily spooked. If they’re not too frightened, and after they’ve lived there for say six months, this may be an option.
So it’s worth assessing if nearby roads could be busy at times eg peak hour, school drop off and pick up. You can get an idea of this beforehand by using Googlemaps to do an aerial review of the roads – line markings are an indication of how much traffic there may be.
How hot will the home get in summer? How will Kitty stay cool? If it’s an upstairs flat, this may be an issue.
Help your kitty feel safe
Once you know it’s a safe and suitable home, it’s time to make sure there are scaredy-suitable hiding spots. This is really important.
Create hiding spots
If the settling-in room doesn’t have enough hiding spots that will appeal to your cat, help the adopter create them. They could:
- move furniture to create a larger gap behind it
- leave a wardrobe door open
- hang a blanket over a table or desk.
Give guidance on likely hiding spots
You know your cat well. You know whether they’re likely to hide on the ground, or go up high. As you walk around the home, keep an eye out for spots Kitty is likely to hide in during their first weeks and let your adopter know.
This could save them the stress of thinking their new cat has got out.
Prepare your adopter
Explain to your adopter what you will have already discussed during the meet and greet – how to help Kitty settle in.
- Kitty will take longer to settle than an ‘instant cat’
- hiding is completely normal
- they will need to start off in a comfortable sanctuary room
- Kitty will do best if they’re allowed to stay in their hiding spot and room until they feel safe
- just hanging out in Kitty’s sanctuary room will help break down barriers and build a bond
- once they’re settled and regularly approach the person for pats, love (and treats!), they can gradually introduce them to the rest of the house.
Remind them of the magic trick to winning over a cat – yummy food! Staying with Kitty when they’re eating and hand feeding with something extra special, like roast chicken, will speed things up.
Telling them about this page may help.
Take them there yourself and avoid Alien Abduction Syndrome
There’s a reason parents take their kids to school on their first day – it’s easier for the child (well, OK, and the parent). Likewise, it’s a big help if Kitty’s foster carer – the person they know, love and trust – takes them to their new home and stays with them for a bit when they’re first let out in their room.
Otherwise, they’ll have nothing familiar and might think they’ve been abducted by aliens.
Once bitten, twice shy
We had one rare experience where – against our normal practices and to our regret – a home visit wasn’t done. Also for the first time, the foster carer didn’t take the cat to their new home.
It didn’t work out well.
The adopter called the next day, very worried. The cat had been hissing. He was also trembling with fear. He had never done this before, even when he first arrived at his carer’s home, straight from the streets.
When we went over, we could see the problem – inadequate hiding spaces. The only safe place he had was a ‘cube’ at the bottom of a small scratching post. It was open on three sides and didn’t give him enough security.
Not only had he lost his familiar territory, and human, he had nowhere where he felt safe.
The person was so concerned about his behaviour that we took the cat back. Although we emphasised the importance of time and patience before the adoption, and good hiding spots, their other cat’s unusual confidence had led to certain expectations – he was out exploring the house within an hour of coming home!
We determined to avoid doing adoptions without a home visit and to have the foster carer always take the cat to their new home to help them settle in. It works out better for everyone.