Introducing Your New Cat to Your Other Pets
Adopting a new kitty is exciting! Many adopters imagine bringing a new kitty nome to happy woofs and friendly meows as they blend and bond instantly and forever with the resident pets.
This scenario occurs mostly only in ideal parallel universe. But armed with a set of realistic expectations, your reality may ultimately be just as ideal.
Introducing your new cat to the pets already in your home is a process. To succeed, you must start with a plan and a promise – to yourself — to be patient. The process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks (and in extreme cases, a few months).
To improve your chances of a happy blending of old and new, choose a cat as close as possible in temperament and activity level to the pets you already have. Cats and dogs are creatures of habit, and most dislike disruptions in their daily lives and routines. If you have a 19 year old cat a super playful kitten may not be the ideal companion, and if you have a high strung female you may want to balance that energy out with a mellow boy.
Some dogs and cats are naturally more relaxed and more social than others and will welcome a new family member with ease. Some are more territorial and don’t enjoy sharing at all. Unhappy with the arrival of a newcomer, they may even demonstrate their disapproval by fighting with the “intruder” or by marking. No matter how your new pet or resident pet act out there are solutions and more importantly steps you can take to avoid these problems all together.
The first and most important step is to allow your new cat to adjust to you and his/her surroundings by keeping him/her in a separate room with his/her bed, litter box, food, water, toys and a scratching post for several days. Spend as much quality, comforting time with your new arrival as possible. Maintain your other pets’ regular routines – from feeding and pottying to exercising, playing and together times – to reassure them that nothing has changed.
Since smells are of utmost importance to animals, get them used to each other’s scent as soon as possible. One way is through that most reliable standby: food. Feed your resident pets and your new cat on either side of the door to his/her room, encouraging them to associate something pleasurable with one another’s smell. You can also switch blankets or beds so each cat can get used to the new kitties scent.
Once your new cat is using his/her litter box and eating regularly, you can begin opening the door and allowing him to walk h slowly through your home, room by room, allowing him/her to become familiar with its sights, sounds and smells. Keep your other pets in your cat’s room or a separate room to allow your new cat a sense of safety and privacy while promoting a further exchange of scents between them. Repeat this several times a day for a few days increasing the duration of the new cat’s outings.
Next, use two doorstoppers to keep the door to your new cat’s room propped open just enough for the animals to see each other. Repeat this several times a day for a few days. You can also use a baby gate to accomplish this. At this point you very well may see hissing, tail puffing and even swatting! This is normal and is just one way cats communicate
Remember! Every time you leave your home, leave your new cat in his/her room with the door closed.
Once the kitties have seen each other several times through the gate you can open the door and allow the meetings to occur.
Armed with the tastiest treats and most tempting toys, you can expect sniffing and circling, approaching and walking away. A kind of ritual dance repeated again and again as each takes the other’s measure. Reward good behavior with praise and treats, but discourage bad behavior by promptly separating the offending parties and gently, but firmly correcting them.
Once again, patience is key. This too is a process, which may take time until the blending is successful and your family is calmly and contentedly one. I know you are excited and may want to rush through these steps but remember – territory is extremely important to cats and acclimating slowly is the best way for you to avoid any future problems!
If, however, certain problems persist, speak to your vet or consult a recommended animal behaviorist or you can always contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Nomi Berger