It takes time

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It is not unusual for a cat who seemed comfortable in the shelter to come into its new home with you and immediately disappear under the nearest piece of furniture and stay there for hours, or sometimes even days.

You have to remember that cats who come into the shelter may have experienced a few disappointments in their lives and this can make them distrustful and nervous in new situations. Every cat is unique and will adjust and respond differently.  Some may walk in and make themselves at home straightaway, but for others you may need to give them time and patience to settle. 

The 3-3-3 rule is often quoted as a guideline for what you may experience when you adopt a cat or dog from a shelter.

3 days to decompress

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • May feel scared or unsure of what’s going on
  • Not yet comfortable to be “himself”
  • May not want to eat or drink
  • Shuts down and/or hides under furniture
  • Tests the boundaries

These first few days can be a particularly stressful period for new adopters who may wonder whether they have made the right choice. 

3 weeks to learn your routine

  • Starts settling in
  • Feels more comfortable
  • Realises this could be his forever home
  • Figures out his environment
  • Gets into a routine
  • Lets his guard down, beginning to show his true personality
  • Behaviour issues may appear

3 months to start to feel at home

  • Finally feels completely comfortable in his new home
  • Begins to build trust and a true bond
  • Gains a complete sense of security with his new family
  • Sets into a routine

An investment of three months of time and patience seems like a small price for your new best friend and member of your family.

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