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By Kellie Benz, PAWS Staff

That first night. Oh, that first night.

Okay, I’ll admit it. I spent the first night that I brought Henry home (at PAWS he was Gru) just staring at him. I took pictures too and some video. I loved him instantly.

Henry, on the other hand, spent the first night testing each item of furniture. He tested the bed for stretch-ability. Could he get a full length body stretch across my mattress? Check.

AACM-Blog-First-Night,-Henry-landscape

Then he tested the couch for comfort. Was there an equal amount of room to curl up and sink into cushions? Check. Could he knead the blankets deep enough for his claws not to touch surface? Check. Was there enough distance from this odd lady who kept staring? Check. Double check.

While I was madly in love immediately, Henry was still assessing the situation. While I was posting to Facebook about my new family member, he was one-eyeing me with uncertainty. For me, we were family. For Henry, the jury was still out. He seemed to think it best to sleep on the final decision overnight.

Can't see Henry kneading in the video opposite? Try watching it on our Vimeo channel instead.

Taking a new "baby" home can be a little nerve-wracking, and with cats you’re never quite certain if you meet with their approval.

For all of you—like me—who made adopting a cat a priority for Adopt-A-Cat Month, here’s a little "first night" primer for what to expect;

Do you have all the essentials?

  • Water
  • Dish
  • Fresh food – dry and wet
  • Litter box
  • Litter

Want a full rundown of what to expect? Check out this information in the PAWS online resource library. Once you’ve got the essentials for his or her first night, what should you expect from your new fur-family member in the way of behavior?

“A cat needs to know its surroundings, so he or she is going to spend a lot of time sniffing,” explains Steph Renaud, PAWS Cat City Supervisor, “and perhaps, sneezing.”

That’s right, cats react to new smells and irritants too.

“Give them a chance to adjust to their new surroundings. This is their home and they’ve got a lifetime to discover it, so let them go slow and find their way on their own time.” Steph encourages. And, if they keep sneezing (like Henry did), bring that up with your vet on your first visit.

AACM-Blog-First-Night,-Henry-portrait

Naturally, you already know that every cat is unique and—of course—your new darling is the most interesting being who has ever existed. 

For any questions about his/her behavior, the PAWS Resource Library is a thorough hub of online articles for most every cat preparation need you might have. 

If you’re introducing your new cat to another cat, take the time to read this. Same goes for introducing a new cat to its new canine sibling.

“There’s no better solution than love and patience.” Says Steph, “If you can remember this, then your latest family member will transition nicely to his or her brand new surroundings.”

As for Henry, he suffered just a few days of ‘everything’s-new-itis’, and it only took a little more than 72 hours to discover that he’s probably a birder at heart – more interested in cat food with bird as the base than fish (lucky for my local wildlife, Henry’s also an indoor cat). 

Phew-y, gross, ick fish – according to the tiny panther I now work for.

Suffice to say, Henry’s home now and lucky for me, he seems to like it.


Looking for a feline friend? Browse our available cats here. 

Check out our Adopt-A-Cat Month special here - fees waived on weekdays in June for adult and senior cats, thanks to Road to Puppy Bowl funding from Animal Planet and the ASPCA!

Have your own homecoming story to share? We'd love to hear it! Email us or post a message on our Facebook page.

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