Introducing… A New Cat!

Adopting another pet is always exciting and fun; pets and kids get a playmate and a lucky animal gets a new home. However, your existing pets might not see it that way at first. Introducing your new addition to the furry family is extremely important – first impressions are everything, right?

Fostering Feline Friendship
If you already have a cat, introducing another one can be tricky, as cats are generally solitary animals. Creating plenty of hidey-holes for your cats can ensure privacy. Each feline should have separate food and water bowls, bed, and litter box. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year for co-existing cats to warm up to each other; unless either is displaying overt aggression – hissing, flattened ears, puffed-up fur, etc. – then they’re perfectly fine.

Creating Cat-Canine Companionship
Dogs are generally more curious than territorial; however, they may treat the cat as one of its own, resulting in chasing or roughhousing. Unless your dog is a smaller breed, dogs are capable of serious injuring cats during rough play or responding to feline aggression. It’s important to be able to control your dog during the meet-and-greet with your new cat; practice basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “down” for a few weeks before.

Steps to Success

  1. Keep your new cat confined to a small, closed-off area for up to a week. Place both animals’ food and water on their respective sides near the door; this allows them to link eating with the other’s scent, creating a positive association.
  2. After a few days, confine your existing pet to the other’s room and allow the new addition to explore the house.
  3. Repeat this process a few times; gradual introduction is key with felines. Exchanging items like blankets between the animals’ rooms can also allow them to acclimate to the other’s scent.
  4. Create a barrier that allows your pets to look but not touch. Two baby gates on top of each other or a screen door provides just the thing. Repeat several times.
  5. If no overtly aggressive signs from either animal have emerged, then it’s time for them to meet. Make sure your existing pet is occupied elsewhere, then open the door and allow your new cat to venture out. The pair’s meeting should not be staged, but accidental.

In most cases, introducing a new cat is no big deal. Your pre-existing pets may feel neglected, so ensure that you give them plenty of attention and love as well! The responsible pet parent can handily juggle multiple pets, be they cat or canine. Keeping eating and sleeping areas separate is essential, whether you have a cat and dog, or a pair of cats; this can help ease the issue of territorial aggression, which can arise with cats. Keep in mind the gender and age of your existing cat when looking to adopt – a younger animal of the opposite gender is usually the best choice.

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