How To Introduce A New Cat To Your Feline Family
Although it might be easy to adopt a couple of kittens at the same time and have them grow up together to ensure they get along, this isn’t always possible. Sometimes you fall in love with a new kitty that you feel would be the perfect addition to your feline family of adults cats who have established your home as their turf. So how can you avoid conflict and ensure all of your cats will get along happily? The following tips will help you properly introduce your new kitties to your family so that the right foundation for a healthy relationship can be set.
One thing you should avoid doing is introducing your new cat to your resident cat(s) by just putting them all into a room together. This could lead to aggressive behavior and fighting right away, and this negative first meeting could set the stage for a negative long-term relationship between your kitties. Therefore, you have to control the first meeting, as first impressions are really important when it comes to cats.
Begin by allowing the cats to hear and smell one another, without letting them actually touch or see each other. You can do this by isolating your new cat in a room behind a closed door. Place each cat’s food and water bowls near the door so that they can sense one another as they eat together, thereby coming to the understanding that good things happen when they are together peacefully. You can even go so far as to feed them treats when they are near the door and behaving.
After a couple of days, you can swap items between the rooms, or swap the cats themselves. Again, it is all about allowing them the time to acquaint themselves with each other’s scent. Let them explore the smells and get to know each other even more without yet seeing each other and directly interacting. This also gives your new kitty time to explore a new area of his home without being bullied.
Meeting for the First Time, Through a Barrier
When you are ready to allow your cats to meet face-to-face, you should still provide a barrier between them, such as a couple of baby gates stacked one on top of the other in a doorway that separates your resident felines from the newcomer. You can also use a doorstopper to gently prop the door open just enough that they can see each other without being able to tackle each other in a fight. Giving them treats and plenty of praise for behaving are good first steps. Eventually, you can place their food bowls near one another on opposite sides of the barrier so that they can eat next to one another in peace.
Meeting for the First Time Without a Barrier
The next step is to let your cats really meet one another without any barriers in the way. This step definitely requires your close supervision. It is also best to approach this step after you have fed your cats or played with them, as they will typically have less energy and they may be more mellow. In the event they begin to fight, have a squirt bottle handy to break it up safely. The initial meetings should be short, especially if you notice any tension or aggression between the animals. Gradually make the sessions longer until you can let everyone roam free together.
Throughout the introduction process, it is important to monitor your cats and only allow interaction while they are being supervised. This will ensure the meeting goes smoothly and they will not hurt one another. The other key is to understand that this process is a slow one, so you need to have plenty of patience and really take your time, working with your cats in order to make them as comfortable with this change as possible.
Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. An advocate for better treatment of all animals, she enjoys producing content that educates others, helps them understand animals better, and inspires them to help, whether that means volunteering at a shelter, fostering strays, or simply giving their own pets a safe and happy home to live in.
More by Lisa Selvaggio