How Long Does It Take for a Cat to Adjust to a New Owner?


When you welcome a new cat into your home, it’s natural to wonder how long it might take for them to settle in and feel comfortable. The adjustment period can be a significant concern, as it impacts the happiness and well-being of both the cat and the owner. Various factors influence how long it takes for a cat to adjust to a new owner. As such, it’s crucial to understand what they are and how they can affect your new little ball of fur. Let’s look at the broad answer, then we’ll dive in and explore the topic in more detail.

How Long Does It Take for Cats to Settle In to a New Owner?

The time varies depending on factors like the cat’s age, personality, and past experiences. Typically, it takes 1-2 weeks for a cat to settle in and adjust to a new owner. However, it can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks or even months for a cat to fully adjust.

Factors Influencing Cat Adjustment Time

Cat’s Age

Kittens often have an easier time adjusting to new environments and people, primarily due to their innate curiosity and adaptability. They’re more likely to explore their surroundings and establish bonds with their new humans. In contrast, adult cats may require a longer period to feel at ease, as they have established preferences and habits. Senior cats, particularly those with health issues or mobility limitations, might need even more time to adapt to their new home and owner.

Cat’s Personality

Each cat has a unique personality that influences how they react to change. Some cats are timid or anxious by nature, which may make the adjustment period longer as they need to build trust in their new environment and owner. Conversely, outgoing or sociable cats might acclimate more quickly, as they’re typically eager to interact with their new human companions.

Cat’s Past Experiences

A cat’s history also plays a significant role in how long it takes for them to adjust to a new owner. Cats that have been abused, neglected, or experienced trauma may require more time and patience to develop trust. Cats that have been rehomed or spent time in shelters may also take longer to settle in, as they’ve faced multiple disruptions in their lives. Previously stray or feral cats often need additional time to adapt to living indoors and forming relationships with humans.

New Owner’s Experience with Cats

First-time cat owners may have a steeper learning curve when it comes to understanding and meeting their new pet’s needs. Experienced cat owners, on the other hand, might have an easier time anticipating their cat’s requirements and making them feel comfortable more quickly.

Is It Stressful for Cats to Change Owners?

Yes, changing owners can be stressful for cats. Cats are creatures of habit, and any significant changes in their environment, routine, or caregivers can cause anxiety and stress. The degree of stress experienced may vary depending on the cat’s age, personality, and past experiences.

Do Cats Miss Their Owners When They Are Rehomed?

Yes, cats can miss their previous owners when they are rehomed, particularly if they had a strong bond with them. The sudden change in environment and caregivers can be stressful and confusing for the cat. They may experience feelings of loss, anxiety, or sadness during the initial adjustment period.

Do Cats Get Depressed When They Change Owners?

Yes, cats can experience depression or sadness when they change owners. The change in environment, routine, and human companionship can lead to feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression. Symptoms of depression in cats may include lethargy, loss of appetite, reduced grooming, hiding, or changes in behavior.

Do Cats Get Attached to New Owners?

Yes, cats can develop attachments to their new owners. Like any relationship, the bond between a cat and its owner forms over time through positive interactions, trust-building, and consistent care. Cats have individual personalities and preferences, so the degree of attachment and the time it takes to form that bond may vary.

How To Train Your Humans Ad - Sing For Our Supper
Winston getting ready to come to his new home

One day a long time ago, I decided to find a new place to live. My old place was dirty and there wasn’t much food. I found a human and he took me with him. It wasn’t scary at all. Only babies get scared. Everything smelled different but it didn’t take me long to find all the best hiding spots. And the food. It took a little longer to train the Mom and the Dad but it’s not their fault. They’re just peoples. #ToughKitty #KittyIsInCharge #TinyButMighty #NewHomeNewAdventures


How Do You Help a Scared Cat Adjust to a New Home?

Introducing a scared cat to a new home can be a challenging experience. It’s important to understand the unique needs of a fearful feline in order to ease their transition. Following are some effective strategies to help a scared cat adjust to their new home and build a strong bond with their new family.

Provide a Safe and Comfortable Environment

Creating a welcoming space for your new feline friend is a critical step in helping them adjust to a new owner. Ensure they have access to quiet areas where they can retreat if they feel overwhelmed. Set up a comfortable room with all the essentials like food, water, a litter box, and a cozy bed. Maintaining consistency in their daily routines, such as feeding and playtime, can also help them feel more secure.

Gradual Introduction

When you bring your cat home, allow them to explore their safe room at their own pace. Keep the door closed initially to limit overwhelming stimuli, and gradually introduce them to the rest of the home over time.

Provide Hiding Spots

Scared cats often feel more secure when they can hide. Offer hiding spots such as cardboard boxes, covered beds, or even spaces under furniture to help them feel safe.

Be Patient

Give your cat time to acclimate to their new surroundings. Don’t force interactions; instead, let them come to you when they feel ready. It’s essential to be patient and understanding, as every cat’s adjustment period varies.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Rewarding your cat with treats and praise when it displays positive behaviors or interacts with you can help strengthen the bond between you and your new pet. Encourage bonding through play, as it allows your cat to build trust while also having fun.

Seek Professional Help if Necessary

If your cat is struggling to adjust despite your best efforts, don’t hesitate to seek help from a cat behaviorist or veterinarian. These professionals can offer valuable insights and guidance on how to help your feline friend feel more at ease.

Signs That a Cat is Adjusting Well

As your cat adjusts to their new home and owner, there are several signs that indicate they’re becoming comfortable in their new environment. These signs include seeking affection from their new owner, exploring their surroundings with confidence, establishing routines, and engaging in typical cat behaviors such as grooming and playing.


The time it takes for a cat to adjust to a new owner varies significantly based on factors such as age, personality, past experiences, and the owner’s experience with cats. It’s important to be patient and understanding during this transition, recognizing that building trust and forming a strong bond may take time. Remember, investing the time and effort to help your cat adjust will pay off in the form of a happy, well-adjusted companion who enriches your life for years to come.

How Long Does It Take For A Cat To Adjust To A New Owner?

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