Bringing A New Cat into a Feline-Established Family? Here are Some Tips to Help Facilitate the Introduction
Cats are wonderful companions for many types of households, so much so that some wish to have more than one feline friend! While some felines end up becoming the best of friends, and others might not be inseparable comrades but can at least tolerate each other in the house, it doesn’t always start out that way.
Some of the traits that cat owners love about their felines, a strong-minded spirit and an independent streak, can oftentimes make them not so welcoming at first when new cats are introduced to the family… Which can sometimes make the process challenging for pet owners.
But, have hope! Here are some tips to help ease the introduction and to help things get off on the right paw when brining home a new cat.
Schedule a veterinary exam for your new feline friend.
Before having your current felines mingle with a new cat, have the new family member checked out by your veterinarian. Especially if the new cat is adopted or rescued, it’s important to know about any medical problems or contagious diseases in advance of socializing with your current brood.
Know that you’re in it for the long haul.
The introduction process for cats takes time, so we encourage pet owners to not hurry the process. Introducing a kitten to an adult cat can take up to a month and the process is typically a bit longer for pet owners bringing an adult cat into a home with other adult cats.
Keep the new cat separate for a few days.
This is not only to allow the new cat to become used to his or her new surroundings (the sounds, smells, etc.) but it’s also for your existing cat(s) to become aware of a new pet in the house. Even though they can’t physically see the new cat while it’s in the temporary personal room, they will become used to the smell and presence before meeting. All activities, including playing, grooming, eating and using the litter box should take place in this isolated place for about a week. Spend time with both groups during this time to spread the love.
Supervise the face-to-face interaction.
If all seems to be going well with both parties after about a week (i.e.: no one is hissing at each other from around the door or growling at the door separating them), you can make the first face-to-face introduction. Slowing introduce the cats in a neutral territory -- one that’s not close to the separate room the new cat inhabited or a space in your home that your current cats could be protective of so that no one feels like they need to get defensive. The cats could show interest or they could each walk away or there could be some hissing… you never know with cats! We recommend you supervise the situation and monitor behaviors in the coming days/weeks.
Monitor their habits.
Hissing and growing aren’t the only ways that cats show their anxiety. If a cat (either your new feline or your former felines) feels anxious or upset, there are some changes in habits that they can display. Should your usually stable cat stop eating or drinking or start making messes in the house, seek veterinary consult.
Please note that even when appropriate preparations are made, cats can still be unpredictable creatures. We recommend keeping a close eye on them for the first few weeks and watch out for any aggressive behavior or actions. Should any hissing, growling or hostile actions take place, separate the cats and try to facilitate the introduction stages again at perhaps a slower pace.
If you have any questions or behavior you wish to discuss, please contact the staff at Animal Hospital of Woodstock and we’d be happy to help provide additional information or suggestions.