Bringing a new cat home is always exciting, but if you already have pets you may also be feeling some stress around introducing a new kitten or cat to other animals. If you’ve been wondering how to introduce a new cat to other pets, we have some tips on the best way to introduce cats.
What to Look For When Getting a Second Cat or Kitten
The beginnings of a smooth transition start even before you bring a new cat home, by choosing the right pet for your household. You’ll want your new cat to have a similar temperament to the animals you already have. Energy levels may be a better indicator than age.
Diana L Guerrero, author of Resources for Crisis Management for Animal Care Facilities, says to base the decision to add a new cat to your home on your present cat’s personality and its predisposition towards other animals. A shy cat likely won’t appreciate a playful and intrusive cat coming into their home. On the other hand, a kitten recently separated from a litter might be thrilled to have other animals around the house.
If you’re adopting, try to find out as much as you can about your cat’s previous living situations. Having already lived with other cats or dogs may make the adjustment easier. You also want to be aware of any special needs your new cat may have based on their background and health.
Before You Bring A New Cat Home
It’s a good idea to have both old and new pets checked by a vet before introducing them, to make sure everyone is in good health. Talk to your vet about whether they have any concerns about you introducing a new cat to your current animals.
Be sure that new and resident pets will have safe and private spaces to escape to if they’re feeling stressed. If you don’t already own a scratching post, now is a good time to get one as cats tend to claw when they’re anxious. You want to provide your pets with as many outlets as possible to help prevent them from becoming destructive during this adjustment period.
Until your new cat is socialized to other animals, you’ll want to keep them in separate rooms. Allow your new cat to adjust by keeping them in a small room, along with their bed, bowl, litter box, scratching post and toys. While preparing, bear in mind that you want to avoid disrupting the routines and patterns of your other pets as much as possible.
How to Get Cats to Like Each Other? The Smell Introduction
Smell is a huge part of the introduction process, and many of the early introduction steps revolve around letting animals get used to each other’s scents. A simple first step is to bring your new cat home in a carrier and, after they’re safely situated elsewhere, let your other animals smell and explore the carrier.
To build a positive association for each animal with the smell of the other, feed your resident pet and new cat by placing each of their food bowls on one side of a door. Start them at a slight distance so that the scent of another animal isn’t overwhelming, then slowly move the dishes closer over the course of a week or two.
You can use this same tactic with toys by tying toys to each end of a string, then placing a toy on each side of the door. Even though they can’t see each other, your new cat and resident cat can now begin to play together.
Once your new cat is comfortable eating and using their litter box, you can now start to introduce them to the rest of the living space. Confine your resident pets to the new cat’s room so they can further adjust to the scent while you supervise your new cat’s exploration.
It’s best to introduce your new cat to only a few rooms at a time, then slowly give them more freedom.
After your new cat has had a chance to explore and get to know the space, you can return the new cat to her room and use a door stop to wedge the door open enough for animals to see each other.
You can repeat these steps over multiple days until both you and the animals are comfortable.
Face to Face
When you finally let your pets into the same room, be prepared for a variety of reactions. Some cats may immediately take to playing with or grooming each other, while others might hiss and walk away or ignore the other cat entirely.
If things don’t go so well, and cats start to display aggression (like flattening the ears, growling, spitting), distract them with a loud clap or by throwing a pillow nearby. If the interruption doesn’t lighten the mood, separate the cats and wait up to 24 hours to allow them to cool down before trying again.
How long does it take for cats to get along? Unfortunately, there’s no way to be sure. In the best circumstances the process might only take one to two weeks, but socializing a new cat could take months.
Things to Remember When Introducing a New Cat
Don’t try to break up fighting cats by picking them up, as you could easily get hurt.
You can help ease tension by giving each cat their own litter box, plus an extra one, while they adjust.
If you’ve been a one animal household, be aware that the cats or dogs you already have might not appreciate sharing your attention— be patient, and be sure to reserve some alone time for your original four-legged friends.
Be prepared for some changes in your relationship with your original feline as they get to know the new cat you’ve brought home. A cat that wanted a lot of affection may be less interested when there is another cat to play with or a usually aloof pet may need reassurance in the form of extra attention. After the new cat bonds with your original cat and with you, everybody’s happy.
All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and reflect the views of the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the organization. Redbarn Pet Products makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Please note that each situation is different, and you should always consult your veterinarian should you have any questions about your pet’s health.