So you have a family of one or several cats and there comes this day when a new cat or kitten arrives. How will you introduce the new cat to your cat(s)?
We recently got a new kitten. She is really lovely. Out of experience with the animal protection / RSPCA, we know how to introduce a new cat to our cats.
Give Their Own Space
Give your new cat or kitten a place where they can be entirely on themselves. I call it a haven or safety room. It is the type of place where you can also place the cat, when you have to leave your house for a couple of hours.
With the RSPCA cats, this usually ends up to be the bathroom. It simply is a small room where a cat can acclimatize to its new environment and be left in peace. We use the bathroom also for cats that are ill or have been to the veterinarian clinic. It is the type of area you can easily clean if accidents happen and in the winter we use floor heating there.
For our kitten we have chosen the bedroom as haven. Here she will be on her own when we leave the house or at night. The only disadvantage of that is that we do not get as much sleep of a kitten that wants to play in the middle of night.
In their own space they need:
- a cat litter box
- a bowl or dish with water
- a bowl or dish with food
- some toys
- a warm place to sleep, for example a cat bed or a towel
With these basic needs covered, they can take care of themselves. They can play when they need to, sleep peacefully and go to the toilet.
Introducing Other Cat(s)
If you got just one other cat it is the same as with multiple cats. In case of multiple cats you can only introduce your new cat to one cat at a time at first.
We usually invite one of the other cats into the safe room to have a sniff. The kitten was more afraid than the adults in most of the cases, so the adult cats got easily fed up with the session and leave again. The kitten just hissed at them and tried to slap them on the face.
Another method is to take your kitten to your living room and put them in front of another cat and watch the reactions. Don’t place the cat right in front of the other, they need a bit of breathing space and space to get away. Cats usually communicate from a distance with each other and so they also figure out what is enemy or friend.
You should stay with your cats at all times, so you can take action when things get too aggressive. Whenever such situations occur, you simply remove the new cat (or kitten) from the scene and put them back into their safe room.
Perhaps it is best to wait a little longer before re-introducing the cat to the others.
Making Use Of Scent
Cats communicate with scent. They tend to smell each other rear end to identify friend from enemy. They also usually watch from a distance and smell their way towards each other, to make the ultimate decision whether it is going to be treated as a friend or enemy.
To help the situation, you can mix scents of your cats, by stroking the home cat(s) with your hand on their heads and around their pheromone gland places underneath their chin, so you can get a good amount of scent on your hands.
Now you can use your hand near the newcomer, to spread and mix the scent. The newcomer can then get used to the smell of the other cats, without having to be confronted with them directly.
Another option is to use a cat blanket with a lot of smell on it from either cat to the other cat to smell. It is also a good way to spread the smell of each other, so they can feel safe around the each other.
To give both your new cat and the other cats a calming environment, consider using a pheromone diffuser by Feliway. Feliway will spread pheromones through the house that will make your cats feel at home and it can avoid or reduce conflicts.
If you happen to have a type of barrier, than this can be a safe method to let the cats see each other, while not able to directly attack each other.
Remember to give your cat the amount of time it needs to adjust to the new environment and to live with the other(s) within the same household.
Complementary you could reward the ones that are being difficult, but managed to make contact, with a nice little treat.
Above all, take it really easy, in due time they will get used to each other.
Got any experience introducing a new cat to an existing cat family? Please share in the comments below.