Introducing a new cat into a household where one or more cats already reside can be tricky. Cats naturally are territorial and they often do not like the introduction of a new cat on their turf. Posturing, aggression, urine marking, and running away are common consequences of feline introductions gone wrong.
By far, the most common mistake made by cat owners when introducing a new cat to the household is impatience. Many people either just put the cats together in the house immediately, or give them a mere few days of introduction, and then allow the new cat free range of the house. The results of these methods are calls to veterinarians and behaviorists for help to sort out the consequences.
The key to a successful introduction is time. Proper introductions can take weeks. The first step is restricted interaction. Simply put the new cat in a room in the house with the door closed. Allow the two cats to smell each other under the doorway. A cat’s sense of smell is a vital part of how they identify other cats. Use cat toys to encourage interaction between the cats under the door. As you go in and out of the closed room, you will carry the scent of the cats back and forth and will begin the introduction process. This process should last at least a week, maybe more.
After the cats seem comfortable with each other on either side of a closed door, reverse the situation. Allow the new cat to roam the house while keeping your previous cat in the room. By allowing the new cat to explore the house, you are getting the cat comfortable with the surroundings without the stress of being stalked by the other cat. Also, the new cat’s scent will begin to get established in the house. Be sure not to keep your old cat in the room for too long as it may be somewhat upset by this turn of events. Consider alternating the cats on a day-to-day basis.
Finally, allow the cats to see each other and interact. Interacting on either side of a screen door is ideal. If this is not possible, place one cat in a pet kennel with a wire mesh door.
The entire process of a proper introduction will take weeks at least. There may be posturing, hissing, spitting and the like in the process. The most important thing to remember is, give it time. Most cats will not appreciate a new cat in the house at first. Some may never tolerate it. However, many cats can learn to live together and often will grow to like each other over time.
If you have questions regarding how to best introduce a new animal to your home, do your best to plan ahead, and call 510-339-2600.