How to introduce a new cat into a home with cat(s)
By Dr. Ameenah Salihu
Ever heard the saying, “cats are like potato chips, you can’t have just one!”?
Yea, me too.
So just what do you do when a new potato finds your heart?
Thankfully it is not rocket science. We have to remember that cats are individuals too and responsible pet ownership/guardianship entails recognizing each pet as an individual with feelings and personality. In other to safely introduce a cat into a home with other cats, one must ensure that neither cats feels threatened by the presence of the other. I have a catch word I use when introducing a new cat to a home that already has a resident cat: Pawsible!
Remember the word PAW–SI–BLE! Where; PAW- Patience, Si- Smell, and BLE- Boundaries.This is how to use the catch word:Patience: Keep in mind that relationships are built on trust and they take time to build. It can take about only a few hours to a couple of months for a cat to socialize with the resident cat. This requires a lot of patience and taking things slow.
Tip 1: Allow the new cat time to acclimatize to the new environment before you introduce her to your other cat(s). When you bring a new cat, ensure that it is kept in a separate room or place where your resident cat has no access to. Allow the new cat time to acclimatize to the new environment and give her the liberty to explore on her own. This helps to eliminate stress and any suspicion of threats. Do not force it and make sure to provide her own set of things separate from your old cat’s e.g.beddings, water bowls, food bowls, litter box and toys.
READ ALSO: Stopping your dogs biting habits
Tip 2: Make time to bond with your new cat. Do not leave yourself out of being a part of her social squad.Smell: Leverage on the cats’ sense of smell. Cats rely a lot on their sense of smell to communicate. They communicate with their environment and can detect threats just from smell alone. Allow the cats to familiarize with each other’s scent before they get to meet physically. You can start this familiarization process by introducing the new cat’s scented beddings, towels or other things into your home (even before bringing in the new cat), then slowly put them closer to your resident cat’s zone.
Tip 1: Observe your both cat’s body languages each time you introduce the scent. If she seems scared or starts to hiss or growl, retreat… and re-strategize. You don’t want a scared or aggressive cat. That’s not the goal.
Tip 2: Try to create a positive reinforcement environment by giving treats or feeding your cats (both new and resident) around the time the scent is being introduced. This will help themequate the smell to something positive.
Boundaries: Cats are creatures of habits and enjoy their boundaries a lot. Boundaries are important here as you need to slowly introduce them in a controlled manner. Start off with letting them hear each other behind a closed door or a barrier. Graduate to using a see-through screen if that is possible. Otherwise, utilize the door barrier and proceed to open it slightly so they can be in sight but out of reach.
Tip 1: Observe their body languages as before. Positive things to look out for are rubbing against the door, rolling on the floor exposing their bellies and nose sniffing through the door. When you see the positive signs, it is time to proceed to a no-barrier controlled physical introduction.
Tip 2: Whatever you do, do not make your resident cat feel she is going to lose her space/boundaries. If she doesn’t want to share her meal or food bowl, her bed or toys, do not make her give it up. Remember, not all cats like to share.
Remember there is no timeline to this. Take it slow and do what works best for your furry buddies. It is absolutely PAWSIBLE!