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Introducing a New Cat Into the Home
Published: February 07, 2024
Christine D. Calder, DVM, DACVB
Long-haired tabby kitten among many colorful toys

Introducing a new cat to your home is a big deal, especially if you already have cats. It is like adding a new member to your family, and you want everyone to get along. So, here is how you can introduce everyone for a smoother and more peaceful transition.

1. Prepare a cozy room: Before the new cat arrives, set up a quiet room with everything the cat needs: a comfortable bed, food, water, a litter box, and toys. This will be the new cat's safe space to start getting used to your home.

2. Lots of resources: Cats can be territorial and a bit possessive about their stuff. To avoid any fights, make sure there are enough toys, food bowls, and litter boxes around the house. This way, each cat has their own space and does not feel the need to compete.

3. Check with your veterinarian: Make sure your new cat is healthy and does not have any illnesses that could spread to your other cats. A quick visit to the veterinarian can help ensure everyone stays happy and healthy.

4. Swap scents: Cats learn a lot about each other through smell. You can help them get used to each other by swapping their scents. Use a soft brush to gently brush one cat along the side of their face where their scent glands are, and then use the same brush on the other cat. This mixes their scents and helps them feel more familiar with each other. Do not do this if it makes either cat anxious.

5. Community room introductions: Let each cat have time to explore the community space without the other. When each can relax in this space, it is time to let them mingle. Always monitor body language during this step to make sure neither is getting stressed. Be ready with treats and toys to make sure these introductions are positive, and never leave them unattended until you are sure they are comfortable around each other.

6. Treats and play in the community room: Start by feeding them treats in the shared space. You can ask them to do tricks and other fun behaviors they already know, like touch or going to a mat. This helps them to associate one other with yummy food and fun things. Make sure each cat can retreat to their own space, and do not force them to interact.

7. Gradually increase together time: As they start getting used to each other, you can let them spend more time together. But always keep an eye on them to make sure everyone is playing nice.

8. What about other pets? Follow a similar process introducing your new cat to other pets. Be sure your cat always has an opportunity to escape into their safe space and supervise dogs and cats together until you are certain they are friends.

Remember, patience is key. Some cats become friends quickly, while others take more time. By giving each their own space and a bit of time, you will be more successful in bringing them together.

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