Introducing a New Cat
to Existing Cat
The best way to create harmony between your new cat and your existing cat is to choose a new cat that best suits your lifestyle, household and the personality of the current cat. If possible.
If your current cat has been “single” for quite some time, adding a new cat could be more difficult. That cat is used to being alone. An older or grouchy cat may not like a young kitten or teenage cat.
If your current cat is playful and friendly, getting another cat with a similar behavior usually works well. The same thing goes for the opposite: if your current cat likes lounging all day and is not super active, then try to look for a cat that is also relaxed. This means when you choose a new cat, you need to sit and play with it to really get a feel for its personality instead of just saying, “oooh-cute cat! I want it!” and rush home with it only to discover your existing cat and this new cat are totally incompatible.
Before bringing your new cat home, prepare a safe space specifically for her. This is exactly what should be done with any new cat…creating a secure and separate area or room with food, water, scratching post, litter box, comfy place to sleep, perhaps a tower to perch on or a window view. It’s great to have places the new cat can hide or escape to if they feel scared or insecure. An empty box with blankets will do nicely and it’s great to cut out an extra hole so the cat has two ways in and out. They won’t feel cornered and know they have an escape route.
New cats can be destructive, too. They may not have intentionally targeted your shelf with breakable items, but they definitely could jump up and knock everything off with their movements. Just a warning. Counter tops, coffee tables, bookcases, etc. are fair game for a new cat because they simply do not know what is acceptable or allowed yet.
The moment you bring the new cat into the house, place her in her safe room. Spend time with her. Play with or at least comfort her if she’ll allow it. Show her the litter box by placing her in it. Scratch her feet or your fingers in the litter to help her understand that’s where she goes potty. If she wishes, let her venture out into the other permitted areas in your house and bump into the other cat. But it’s unlikely she’ll want to leave that room yet.
If and when the two cats meet, WATCH their behavior with each other closely. Look for signs of stress, constant hiding, aggression, not eating, excessive meowing. If these signs continue for more than several days, call the vet for advice.
Sometimes it’s best to not allow the existing cat into the new cat’s safe room for a few days. Let the cats get accustomed to one another’s scents gradually. You want everything to be non-threatening – for both cats. In fact, several days may pass before the two cats even greet each other. That’s okay.
Another way to introduce cats to one another’s scents is to gently rub a towel on the face of the new cat and let the existing cat sniff it. And do the reverse…get another towel and rub it gently on the existing cat’s face then take it to the new cat to smell.
If you feel it’s best to continue the introduction slowly (and you’ll know by how the cats are reacting), then the next step is to place each cat on either side of a closed door so that they can smell each other.
Or you can move directly to allowing them to see each other through a baby gate or a door that is ajar. If the cats seem relaxed and curious, let them meet. All these steps may play out over a week or two or three. Perhaps you won’t even need to use these cautionary steps. Some cats immediately seek one another out and get along from the beginning. Others may need time to adjust, to learn the new hierarchy amongst the household, to acclimate to new scents, and to feel secure in their surroundings with another cat.
If either cat becomes aggressive or anxious, separate them. Begin the introduction process again and don’t rush them.
At some point, both cats need to be brought into the same room. It’s great if you have a helper. Don’t dump the cats in front of each other…but have them in different areas of the same room. If possible – when you have a helper this can be done-each person should play, pet and give treats to each cat. Over several days, bring the cats closer and closer. This process shows the cats that everything is safe, fun, and nice things happen when they’re in the same room (play, affection, food). Nothing is threatening which makes a huge difference in helping the cats build a friendship.
Your patience is very important to the success in introducing a new cat to your existing cat and creating a happy, furry household!
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