How Long Should I Keep a Cat Indoors After Rehoming?

Adopting a rehomed cat is a generous way that you can give an old cat a second chance at a good life. If the cat that you are adopting is used to being an outdoor cat, it can be tempting to let them continue exploring the outdoors as soon as possible. However, your new cat will need time to get comfortable with you and their new home first. Letting a rehomed cat out too early can confuse them and they may try to return to their original home and become lost in the process.

Most vets recommend keeping a newly adopted cat indoors for at least two weeks and up to four. However, this is just general advice. You should be waiting for your rescued cat to become comfortable in their new home so they will want to come back to it after a session of prowling the outdoors. Read on to find out how to get your rehomed cat ready to explore their new neighbourhood.

How to make a rehomed cat comfortable in their new home

Before you let a cat outside, they need to settle down inside. Your cat needs to understand that your house is their new house. Usually, adopted cats are recommended to spend at least two weeks indoors in their new home to get adjusted. We think that this is a bit short, some organisations recommend extending this time to 6 weeks.

On average, a rehomed cat will probably take more time to get used to their new place. Unfortunately, a lot of rehomed cats are coming away from houses where they may not have been treated well. They may have been mistreated or neglected in their past home. This may mean that they will be mistrusting of you and take longer to feel comfortable.

Make your rehomed cat feel comfortable in their new home the same way that you would with any other newly adopted cat. Through food, safe spaces they can claim as territory, and play. You may need to be more patient if they are apprehensive of you at first. Make sure to form a positive association with you and their new home. Providing regular feeding times and play will make your cat come to depend on you. You can make the home inviting by giving them spaces to claim as their own where they can spread their scent and feel safe in.

How to tell if a rehomed cat is acclimated to their new home

Cats that have become comfortable in their new home will be more confident. Confident cats will spend time in different areas around the house and generally not feel the need to hide. A good sign of when you have earned a cat’s trust is when they start sharing spaces with you. If your new cat is comfortable enough to sit near you while you are at home this is a good sign. Them showing affection by greeting you with meowing or rubbing on you with their heads is even better. Other positive signs include resting positions like the cat loaf, purring, and kneading. A comfortable cat won’t necessarily come to you for petting. Some cats just like to be touched by you and some may take many months to grow comfortable with you to the level that they will enjoy being pet.   

Rehomed cats may develop behavioural problems as they are settling in. Its important to understand that your cat is going through a very stressful change that they have no control over. Be patient with your cat and speak to a vet to rule out medical causes of behavioural problems. Unfortunately, there can be a lot of different things as to why a rehomed cat is misbehaving and they can do lots of bad behaviours like swatting at you, spraying indoors, and meowing through the night. There are way too many problems to go through in one article alone so we encourage you to do your own research or ask a professional.

How to prepare a rehomed cat to go outside

At the minimum, make sure your cat’s microchip is updated with your details as a point of contact. Getting your cat a collar will also give an easier way to be contacted if somebody finds your cat lost or injured. To protect their health, you should also make sure that your cat’s vaccinations are up to date for the location that you are in. Allow your cat to explore the outside in their own time. If your cat doesn’t want to go outside, you shouldn’t force them. Cats can live longer and healthier lives indoors if you care for them properly.   

How long should I wait before letting a rehomed cat outside?

Rehomed cats will be ready to go outside when they have become comfortable in their new home. If you have a good introduction with your cat, most professionals say that this should take somewhere around a month. However, this time will depend on your cat’s personality. Some cats will adapt much quicker and some will take longer. You should be looking out for signs of your cat becoming comfortable rather than waiting for a pre-determined amount of time.

If your newly rehomed cat is obsessed with going outside at first we would recommend distracting them from the door with play and entertainment at first. They may be desperate as they are unfamiliar and scared of their recent move with a new human and are trying to escape to find their original home.

Conclusion

Our advice on how long to keep a rehomed cat indoors may seem extreme compared to other resources, but we like to take a cautious approach to our cat’s health and happiness. Being diligent but patient with their needs often pays off in your favour. The happier your cat is the happier you will be too. Rehomed cats need special attention due to their backgrounds.

Rehomed cats should be kept indoors until they show that they are comfortable. This normally takes about four weeks, but the exact time will depend on your cat.