How do you successfully introduce a new cat into your household if you already have other pets? As cats can be territorial creatures, bringing a new kitty home to meet Fido or Fluffy can be a hair-raising experience for not only the owner but also the resident pets—if not handled correctly. A peaceful relationship between new and existing feline or canine housemates requires time, patience and work. The introduction process generally takes a few weeks before the pets are all cohabitating peacefully. At times, though, it can take several weeks. The trick is to do it slowly and cautiously…and follow the guidelines below.
Isolate kitty into a separate “Safe Room”
This should be closed off from the other pets (make sure the door is securely shut and doesn’t open easily). This smaller, confined area will help the new cat to feel safe and adjust more quickly to his new home. Provide a litter box, scratching post, toys, food, and water in the new cat’s room. This separation will also give your current pets time to get used to the new cat’s smell and the idea of having a new occupant in the house. During the first week, the only interaction that your new cat and resident cats should have is playing paws under the door.
Cats Like Routine
Your resident cats’ behavior may initially change when you first bring the new cat home. Most common is hissing, growling, hiding or fighting among resident pets. Your current cats may even act differently toward you by displaying aggression or ignoring you all together. With your new cat in his “safe room,” the new and resident cats will all have the opportunity to become familiar with each others’ scents while safely separated by a door. As they begin to acclimate to each other, the cats will feel less threatened and, with time, the negative behavior should dissipate.
Introduce Cats before Dogs
Always introduce a new cat to the resident cats before introducing him to the resident dog(s). In most cases, the cat to cat introductions will be more harried, with the cat to dog introductions being somewhat easier.