Introducing Cats in the Most Effective Way

This month we’ve been talking all about introducing new pets to the home. Previously we covered introducing dogs to an existing dog home, and at the beginning of the month, we talked about just introducing a pet to the new space. This time it’s all about bringing a second cat into your home and the steps to take to integrate!

How to Find the Right Cat

  • Don’t fixate on gender. Age and temperament are the most pressing factors for cats.
  • Adults cats tend to accept new kittens much more easily than a new adult cat. Cats are territorial and another adult may be seen as an intruder.
  • If you’re picking from a group of kittens, any kitten that is growling, hissing, or is unfriendly with the littermates is probably going to do much better alone than with another cat.
  • Looking for an adult cat instead? Successful integration here is largely on the personality of your current cat. If they are laid back and the new cat is similarly relaxed, you’ll have little trouble introducing them so long as you do so correctly.

Introducing Cats to Their New Home and Roommate

It’s important to always remember: cats are solitary creatures. They’re also very territorial. If it were up to them, they’d probably be running the wilds, defending their turf all alone. But they don’t get to have it their way, because they are pets. But remembering that this is their nature is the only way you’re going to be able to successfully navigate the introduction process.

For many cats, it takes weeks or even months to adapt to changes in their environments. Because of that, it’s critical that the first impressions of those changes are all positive. If the first time a cat meets another feline it turns into a fight, those two might never get along.

Follow these steps to introduce your cats slowly, carefully, and hopefully, successfully.

You should have already done this if you were following our previous blogs, but in case you haven’t, create a safe room for your new cat. This is their space with everything they need and they will stay in here until they are comfortable and the introductions are ready to go to the next stage.

Then, feed your cats on opposite sides of the same door. This will help your cats associate the presence of the other cat with something pleasant, the eating of the food. Slowly move the bowls closer while feeding. When they can eat calmly with the bowls being directly opposite each other on the door it’s time to open the door, a crack. Again slow, baby steps.

Next, let the new cat begin to explore the home. When the new cat is comfortable, move their things into a new space in the home and move the resident cat into the previous room. This will help the  cats to exchange and get used to the new smells of each other without any direct contact. Some people also exchange bedding for a night which can help, if your cats use specific beds. 

Soon you’ll be introducing the cats directly, supervising each encounter. If they start to hiss or fight, distract them and then separate. If an actual fight starts, throwing a towel on top of them will distract the two enough to fully separate them. When they’re separated, move the newer cat back to their safety room to allow them to calm down. Let them have a few days to cool off.

Continue to monitor each encounter as the cats acclimate. Have treats on hand to reward good behavior and help put them at ease. Soon they’ll associate each other with good things and fully relax around each other.

As always, just remember how big of a change this is your for current cat. They have had their routine and space settled for awhile, they still need those routines, those safe places, and the time with you. Also remember that success doesn’t necessarily mean that the cats are best friends. It might just be that they avoid each other and live their lives. That’s good enough for most cats. Again, they are solitary creatures, it’s the way of things.

While you introduce your new pets, make sure you are following up with all vet appointments they need as new members of the family. If you’re in Tucson and need a vet, give us a call here at Acoma Animal Clinic.

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