Introducing Your Cat to New People

August 2019

Audience: Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers

Have a plan in place for when you have visitors and want them to meet your cat. Make sure to balance your guest's enthusiasm with your cat's needs. Provide your cat with a quiet and low traffic room in the home where they can retreat to if they are not feeling social. Allow your cat to acclimate to visitors slowly. Allow them to choose to come out of their room and greet your visitors at their own pace.

Whether it is at the top of a cat tree, over a baby gate, or in a quiet room, all cats need to be able to get away when they want to. Teach your guests to respect these hideouts. Your cat should know that they are not going to be dragged out of these special places. A cat who is picked up when they are trying to get away is likely to scratch or bite your guests either by accident or in a defensive manner.

Teaching your guests about cat behavior is very beneficial. Teach them basic body language so they know when the cat is happy and a break is needed. Teach appropriate handling and keep kitty's nails trimmed. Tell your guests not to disturb your cat while sleeping and using the litter box. You can make it fun for your cat and the guests by using food or a favorite toy to play and create good memories. These positive interactions will make both the cat and the guests feel good!

Be a good role model by demonstrating what your cat likes best. Never roughhouse with your cat in play. Supervise every interaction at first, as you know your cat best. Watch for inappropriate behavior from both feline and humans, and be aware of how the cat and guests feel about each other. These steps will help your cat and your guest to enjoy a positive and safe relationship!

This document created by the San Francisco SPCA with a grant from Maddie's Fund®.

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