Congratulations on welcoming a new pet into your life and on the expansion of your family! How exciting! Despite the excitement, the addition of another family member can be a bit overwhelming, for everyone involved, particularly resident pets! While you have likely discussed the bringing of your new furry friend into your life with your human family members, it can be a bit more challenging explaining to our four-legged friends what a new cat or dog is doing in their bed! In order to help, your team here at BetterVet has put together some tips and tricks for introducing a new pet to resident pets in hopes of creating a peaceful, loving home for everyone in your family to enjoy!
Introducing New Cat to Resident Cat
While some are more social than others, cats are wonderful companions to each other. In the wild, cats are used to living in large colonies, and instinctively tend to enjoy the company of other felines. That being said, an older cat who has been the only cat in the household may take a while to warm up to a new friend.
Slow Introductions and Personal Space
1). Confinement: Cats are territorial and need to be introduced slowly in order to give them time to get used to each other before there is a face-to-face confrontation. Slow introductions help prevent fearful and aggressive problems from developing. Isolate your new cat to one medium-sized room with a litter box, food, water and bed. Feed your resident cat and the newcomer on opposite sides of the door to this room. This will help both of them to associate something enjoyable (food!) with each other’s smells. Gradually move the dishes closer to the door until your pets can eat calmly, directly on either side of the door.
2). Switch It Up: Once the new cat is comfortable while confined, let him or her have free time in the house while confining your other pets to the new cat’s room. This switch provides another way for the pets to experience each other’s scents without meeting directly. It also allows the newcomer to become familiar with new surroundings. Additionally, you can switch sleeping blankets or beds between your new cat and your resident cat so they have a chance to become accustomed to each other’s scent while in the comfort and privacy of their individual spaces.
Making Contact, Short and Sweet
1). Once both cats have settled into their areas, and have gotten used to the smell of the other, it is time for the face-to-face introduction. Get a doorstop and crack a door slightly open so that the cats can meet nose-to-nose. If they do not approach, get a tasty treat (sardines are always a hit!) and place them on the floor. Keep these meetings short and monitored closely. Look out for fearful and aggressive behavior such as growling, hissing, swatting, chasing, or stalking. These behaviors, once habitual, can be difficult to change and can create a hostile environment for your furry friends. At the first sign of tension, separate the cats and try again later.
Pro-Tip: Never attempt to separate the cats by picking up one cat or getting between them with your hands or body. Instead, make a loud or unfamiliar noise to separate the cats or throw a blanket over them. Make sure there is always ample hiding space so that there are places for them to retreat to calm down.
2). Once the cats have met calmly, introduce toys or games, and try to incite fun between your two cats. Using whatever toys your resident cat takes liking to, invite your new cat to join in slowly. You can also use something tasty here.
Pro-Tip: Once you notice your cats are calm enough to sleep in each other's presence, you can be assured that they have become comfortable with each other and that a friendship will continue to blossom between them as time goes on!