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Home > Cats > How to Socialize an Adult Cat: 5 Easy Tips & Tricks

How to Socialize an Adult Cat: 5 Easy Tips & Tricks

black and white cat approaches and sniffs white and brown cat inside pet carrier

Adopting an adult cat is a wonderful and rewarding experience. It offers a cat a second chance at a loving home and a much better quality of life, so first of all, hats off to you! Unfortunately, in some cases, adult cats up for adoption weren’t socialized by their previous owners.

This lack of socialization can result in a cat that feels uneasy or even fearful around people, other pets, and, in some cases, certain objects like grooming brushes. Moreover, cats with traumatic pasts (i.e. neglect, abuse, etc.) may need to be re-socialized to feel comfortable around other beings again.

In this guide, we’ll share some methods of socializing your adult cat to increase their confidence and help them feel secure in their new home.


How to Socialize an Adult Cat

1. Let Your Cat Come to You

mom and son releasing from pet carrier their new adult gray cat inside the house
Image By: Best smile studio, Shutterstock
What you’ll need:
  • A separate room
  • Food and water bowls
  • Litter box
  • Cat bed

When you bring your new cat home for the first time, it can be tempting to fuss and cuddle them. However, it’s best to let them come to you and explore their new home on their own terms. Prepare a calm, quiet room that contains everything your cat will need (food, water, litter box, bed, hiding spots, etc.), and put their crate in it when you first bring them home.

Steps to Follow:
  • Step One: Open the crate but don’t force the cat out. Let them come out when they’re ready—this may take a while. If you like, you can sit near the crate and speak to the cat in a reassuring tone.
  • Step Two: Over the next few hours and days, let your new cat explore and come to you at their own pace (encouraging them with a few tasty treats might help).
  • Step Three: Once they’re comfortable coming to you, try stroking their back gently. It’s best not to go for the head or face straight away as this can feel like too much too soon for some cats.

2. Meet with Some Cat Lovers

women meeting with their adult cats
Image By: Africa Studio, Shutterstock
What you’ll need:
  • Some calm, cat-loving friends
  • Treats

One of the best ways to socialize an adult cat is to invite some cat-loving friends, family members, or neighbors over to spend time with them. Follow these steps for the perfect socialization session:

Steps to Follow:
  • Step One: Pick one or two friends to come and meet your cat. If your chosen guest of honor is of the noisier variety, instruct them to speak in a calm, quiet voice around your cat.
  • Step Two: Supply your chosen guests with your cat’s favorite treats.
  • Step Three: Have your guests wait until the cat approaches them and then feed a treat but avoid touching the cat immediately.
  • Step Four: If your cat keeps their distance but seems curious about your guests, they can try throwing treats over to the cat to encourage them.

3. Introduce Other Pets Gradually

two domestic cats playing with cat toys in the living room
Image By: Magui RF, Shutterstock
What you’ll need:
  • A separate room with everything your new cat needs
  • A towel or blanket

When introducing your new cat to your other pets, it’s important to do so gradually and not go directly to visual contact as this is too overwhelming for everyone. Instead, try swapping scents between your pets before they meet each other physically.

Steps to Follow:
  • Step One: Prepare a separate room for your new cat’s arrival with everything they’ll need as described above. Place your new cat in this room immediately when they arrive home.
  • Step Two: When your new cat has settled in a little (this may take a few days), take their bedding and place it where your other pet spends most of their time hanging out. Likewise, take your other pet’s bedding and place it in the new cat’s room for them to sniff.
  • Step Three: If either pet reacts badly to the bedding (i.e. hissing or spitting), put it instead near their food bowl, moving it a little closer to the bowl every day. This way, they start to associate the other pet’s scent with eating.
  • Step Four: When your cat and other pet are used to each other’s scent, you can start introducing them physically. Let them see each other from a distance at first, like behind a baby gate or something similar.
  • Step Five: Feed each pet treats when they see each other from a distance to create positive associations.
  • Step Six: When sniffing through the barrier, if you spot any signs of aggression from either pet, they’re not ready to meet face-to-face yet. Keep on letting them meet through a secure barrier until they’re more relaxed.
  • Step Seven: When the pets start to sniff each other through the door and are calm and relaxed, you can progress to introducing them face-to-face.
  • Step Eight: If your other pet is a dog, keep them on a leash for the first meetings until they feel more comfortable with the new cat and vice versa.
  • Step Nine: Always supervise to make sure everyone stays safe.

4. Get Your Cat Used to Brushing

woman brushing the Persian cat
Image By: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock
What you’ll need:
  • A grooming brush/comb
  • Treats

If your cat hasn’t been well cared for in the past, they may not be used to necessary grooming objects like brushes and combs. If this is the case, here are some steps to follow.

Steps to Follow:
  • Step One: Bring the brush out and let your cat approach it, sniff it, and/or paw at it—whatever they need to do to get used to it.
  • Step Two: Wait until they seem comfortable around the brush/comb and then give them a gentle brush on their back. If they move away from you, let them go.
  • Step Three: When the cat comes back to you, give them another gentle brush. Offer a treat to create a positive association. Take your time and do this daily in short sessions, extending the length of time you spend brushing as your cat becomes more comfortable.

5. Play with Your Cat

cat playing with owner
Image By: Dora Zett, Shutterstock
What you’ll need:
  • A few toys

One of the most important socialization steps is spending quality time hanging out with your cat and playing with them. Games that appeal to a cat’s hunting instinct are great for building their confidence, so try something like wand chasers. Be sure to let your cat win now and again so they feel a sense of reward.



If you’re feeling apprehensive about socializing an adult cat you’ve recently adopted, we get it. The good news is that it’s never too late to socialize a cat and as long as you take things slowly and at their pace, you should be fine. If you’re having trouble socializing your new cat and would like some extra support, it would be a good idea to seek the help of a pet behaviorist.

Featured Image Credit: Magui RF, Shutterstock

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