Bringing in a new furry friend into the family is a very exciting time for us all. Along with this excitement comes unexpected surprises and stress, especially if you already have a resident pet.
In this post, we are going to explore a few tips and tricks to make this transition less stressful for yourself as well as all cats involved.
You will also hear from a few pet parents who have successfully introduced their cats to new siblings.
First, check out these slides which gives you some great insight on transitioning a cat into your home. To download the ebook, click here Figo eBook (New Cat) 2.0
- Setting Realistic Expectations
Just like people, you cannot force pets to like each other. Although there is no way to predict whether or not your pets will learn to like each other, it is important to set them up for success by choosing a cat(s) with a similar personality and activity level to your current pet.
Take your time and don’t throw your pets together hoping they will just work it out. That is a recipe for disaster. Understanding that this will take time and patience will keep you from pulling out your own hair! It could take days, weeks or sometimes even months so be prepared.
- Good First Impressions
Cats are territorial and most often do not like to share. Your resident cat may show annoyance and displeasure about the newbie by acting out, like fighting with the other pet or by marking the territory like peeing on the floor etc.
Cats are generally not too fond of change so give your new pet time to adjust to you and the new surrounding. Keeping them separate in a room with their litter, food, water and toys for several days will help them feel a bit more at ease.
Here are some handy tips to help make the introductions go a bit smoother for everyone.
- Once you have the new pet set up in a separate room, feed the resident pet and the new pet on each side of the closed door so that they get used to each other’s smell.
- Don’t put the food so close to the door that the animals are too upset by each other’s presence to eat.
- Gradually move the dishes closer to the door until your pets can eat calmly while standing directly on either side of the door.
- Getting some toys involved is a great idea! Tie a toy to each end of a string, then place it so there’s a toy on either side of the door. Hopefully, they’ll start batting the toys around and maybe even batting paws.
- Make sure you spend plenty of time with your new kitty in their room as well as your resident cat.
- Get your pets used to each other’s scent before they meet face to face. Swap blankets or any other individual items so the scents will be familiar.
- Once your new kitty is eating regularly and using the litter box, let them free roam around your space while the resident pet stays in the new kitty’s room. It is recommended that you introduce the new cat to a room or two at a time.
- One of the most important things to remember is that you are home to supervise! If you have to leave, put the new kitty back in their room.
- Next, after you’ve returned the cats to their designated parts of the house, use two doorstops to prop open the dividing door just enough to allow the animals to see each other.
- Repeat the whole process over a period of days (or weeks!)—supervised, of course.
- Have your cats examined by your vet before introductions to make sure they are all healthy.
- Have one litter box per cat plus an extra one.
- Try to keep your resident pets’ routine as close to what it was before the newcomer’s arrival.
- Make sure all cats have a “safe” place to escape to.What do pet parents have to say?
Cassie (cat mom of 3)
One of the most important parts of introducing cats together is knowing their personalities. I knew when I saw Sofia that she had the same personality as Earl. So it’s more important to match the cats than go out and choose a cat just because you like the breed.
Diana (cat mom of 4)
Slow and gradual! Baby gates are a must. Try introductions around mealtime, the food is a good distraction. And make it special treats!
Jess (cat mom of 2)
Use a soft washcloth, blanket, towel or sock to help them acquaint their scents. Let one use it and then give it to the other. This will help reduce anxiety and make introductions smoother.
Elizabeth (cat mom of 2)
Use scent as the first form on introduction. If possible, swap rooms for an hour or two so that they can roam each other’s space without fear of attack! Feeding them on opposite sides of a closed door, then an open door with a gate and eventually removing all barriers only once the cats are calm enough to be around one another. Patience is key and calmness is mandatory. Some negative behaviour may be exhibited like hissing but if a full on fight presents itself, start the steps again.
As with everything, time will make things better. So don’t be alarmed or disheartened if your cats don’t seem to like each other. They will learn to like (or tolerate!) each other. It will happen, sometimes sooner than later. Just don’t lose hope or take out your frustrations on the pets. Remember that this is a huge change for all pets involved so your reactions will help set the tone in your home.