How to Introduce a New Cat to Your Home

Have a cat or cats already and thinking about getting another? Are you concerned about
a new kitty getting along with your established pet? There are some simple steps you
can take to make the transition as smooth as possible for all involved.

First, introduce your cats by scent. Smell is a crucial sense for cats in identifying one
another, perhaps even more than sight. If possible, ask the shelter if you can take home
a towel your intended cat has slept on to present to your resident cat. If they allow it,
you could also bring a towel or blanket that your current cat has used to present to your
new cat before the adoption takes place. By allowing the two cats to “meet” through
scent, they will recognize each other when they meet in person.

Second, create a space where your new kitty can be separated from your resident cat
for a few days. Your two cats may become instant best friends, but it’s a good idea to
smooth the transition with a gradual introduction. If you have a quiet room in the
house, you can continue the two cats’ introduction by scent and allow them to sniff
each other under the door. Some cat behaviorists recommend feeding the two cats on
opposite sides of the closed door to associate the scent of the other cat with the
experience of getting a treat.

Third, switch their places. Move your resident cat into the room and allow your new
kitty to roam the house. By using each other’s food dishes, water bowl and toys, the two
cats will become accustomed to one another. If either cat is hissing or growling at the
scent of the other, continue with the scent introduction, switching the two cats places
every few days to allow them to acclimate to each other.

Fourth, once the two cats appear to be adjusting to each other’s scent and both are
eating and using their respective litter boxes (vets recommend one litter box per cat),
it’s time to let your kitties meet in person! If you have a baby gate, you can open the
door and let them see and smell each other through the gate first. Assuming that goes
well, you can allow them to be together in the same room. Make sure their first few
visits are supervised, but don’t feel the need to intervene if they swat at each other. This
is normal behavior and will most likely work itself out over time. If, within a few days the
kitties seem to be tolerating each other fine, you can leave them unattended together.

Bringing a new cat home may not seem like a big deal, but imagine coming home to
another person living in your house! This is how it feels to your resident cat and it’s
important to be sensitive to his needs and feelings. So, for everyone’s wellbeing
(including yours) patiently following these steps will pay off!

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