Introducing your Cat to Other Cats

posted on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 in Pet Help

Introducing your new cat to your other pets at home can be a tricky process. However, it is one of the most important things to do correctly with your cat or kitten. Here are some hints to ease the change.

Take your new cat into your home in a cat carrier. Many shelters, including the Animal Rescue League, provide you with a cardboard carrier when you adopt a pet. Carry the cat into your home in this carrier. Immediately confine the newcomer to one room with a litter box, food, water, and a bed.

Leave the cat separated in another room for a period of time—even up to a week or more. The biggest mistake people make in building the relationships with their home cat(s) and a newcomer is they just immediately let the newcomer roam through the house. Patience is absolutely key in this process to building a lasting relationship between the cats. Go in and visit your new cat, play with him, pet him, feed him, and make him feel that this is now home. Remember that your cat is confused and frightened (the level of how much they show that is different among cats), and you need to reassure your cat that all is well in their life. Even leaving a TV or radio on is a good way to give your cat some background noise.

Leave the newcomer completely separated from other pets in the home for a few days to start. During this time, take a bath towel and rub it on your new cat. Just rub it like the cat is wet and you are trying to dry him off. Then take that same towel and rub it on the resident cat(s). Leave that towel in your living room or around the house where your resident cats hang out. What you are doing is taking the scent of your new cat and putting it on the resident ones. Take a second towel and do the same procedure, only backwards, starting with your resident cats to the newcomer one. Leave that towel in the room with your newcomer cat.

Scent is absolutely critical to getting cats used to each other. By doing this exercise every day, you are getting their scent onto each other. When they meet face to face, they all smell like something they are used to. You can escalate the procedure by taking cooking vanilla and dabbing it on the base of their tails, where they can’t lick. It just cements the scent issue, making them smell the same scent, vanilla. Do this every other day.

After a time, switch the cats. Take the newcomer cat and place him in the rest of the house, and put your resident cat in the room where you had sequestered the newcomer cat. The newcomer can then explore his new surroundings, and spread his scent around the house. This allows both animals to become used to the scent of the other before actual face-to-face contact. This process may take a few hours or a few days, depending on how the cats react. Start with a couple areas, and then switch back. The next day, do a couple more hours.

After a few days of this separation, towels, and switching the cats’ living areas, it is time for an introduction. Only do this when you are going to be home, and do not leave the cats out together unsupervised for a period of time, after the initial introduction. Open the door to the sequestered room, and allow the cat to come out on his own time. Let him explore, and allow the cats to meet each other on their own terms.

One good time for face-to-face introductions is at mealtime, if you feed at a set time of the day. They will be so busy eating that they won’t have time for fighting. Be sure to give each cat his own bowl on opposite sides of the room. Make it a special dinner with great smelling food.

Avoid forcing a meeting between your cats. They may cause unnecessary fighting. Let them get acquainted gradually to help develop a positive relationship and lessen territorial problems.

Expect hissing, spitting, and growling. Don’t interfere, unless an actual fight breaks out. If this happens, throw a blanket over each cat and confine them to different quarters. Keep them separated until they have calmed down. Then start over.

One good way to build a good relationship with the cats is to reward them when they are in the same room or same proximity and behaving appropriately. They don’t need to love each other from day one, but they do need to be able to be in the same room together without warfare. If they are OK with each other, give them treats, and tell them “good kitties” in a soft voice. You also can take a fishing pole toy and play with them together, as this will be a fun activity for both of them.