How to introduce your new cat to existing cats in your house.

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A Guide To Introducing A New Cat To Your Existing Cat(s)

Introducing a new cat to your existing cat or cats will be a process that will not be overnight and will take time and patience. The key to any bonding process is to be calm and not expect instant results as you may take a few steps back along the way.

• Set up a “Safe Room” for your new cat. This will need to be a room that your current cat is never or rarely enters. Put their food, water and litter box etc in there. When introducing a new cat they should have separate equipment as cats do not usually like to share with strangers.

• Scent is an extremely important communicating tool for cats and as a result the key is to introduce the cat to each other indirectly. Try rubbing a towel around the cat’s scent glands (cheeks of the face) and letting the other cat smell it. Repeated exposure to the other cats scent will bring greater acceptance. Try swapping bedding also as this will help both cats become familiar before they meet.

• Within the first week of the cat being in the “Safe Room” it may help to place your existing cat into the new cats room without them meeting and allow the new cat to explore the house. This way they will be able to scent swap again to become more familiar before meeting.

• Once you have followed the scent swapping over 4-7 days introduce the cats over a restricted barrier (cat carrier, baby gate etc). Monitor their reactions, if it is positive then you may consider removing the barrier while under continued supervision. If negative repeat the process until they are quiet with the barrier in place before removing it.

• Make sure their first contact is positive and in doing so they will begin to view the other cat as beneficial to them (feeding treats, playing with toys). Do not give them fuss as if they are in a nervous this will reinforce this behaviour.

• If at any stage the introduction is going badly (physical aggression) just give the cats a break and start again where you left off after they have calmed down.

• Hissing and growling is a common occurrence when introducing cats. You will need to intervene if a physical fight erupts. If this does occur or you can see it occurring, use a distraction technique or remove your existing cat out of the way. It MUST be your existing cat that is removed. If you were to remove the new cat this will have the desired effect that your cat will want i.e the other cat to leave so this must NOT be done.

• Do NOT punish your cat just talk to them calmly and take them to a familiar area.

• A distraction technique can be used if you see aggressive behaviour or body language. This can be some tasty food or a toy. The food can be shaken (Dreamies) or the toy rolled across the floor or squeaked, NOT directly between the cats. This will help break the tense body language by distracting them.

• Positivity is the key to bonding cats. The more that you can observe your cats’ behaviour the easier the task will be. You will come to understand if your cat is naturally vocal, timid or bold. This will help indicate how long it will take to bond the cats. Some cats will accept each other quickly others it may take longer. It is a help if your cat has lived with other cats but not essential. Even the most socialised of cats can take you by surprise.

• Reassurance will help both cats feel confident around each other. Try not to change your current cat’s routine as this will cause stress and jealousy. Everything must remain as normal as possible for your cat this will help them feel secure when welcoming a new arrival.

We are always here to help and question small or big please don’t hesitate to email, call or come along to the centre. We love to hear how cats and kittens get along in their new home.