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How to Bring Home a New Cat or Kitten

Updated on April 15, 2013
Our first cat and "alpha" female.
Our first cat and "alpha" female. | Source

Whenever we introduce a new pet to the household, we should remember the key word in that sentence...introduce! Animals need time to get to know, get used to and accept new family members, too. It is important, at this stage for you to be aware that they may never fully accept each other. often, they will become best friends and playmates. Sometimes they will just tolerate each other. In other cases, they may never get along and will enjoy an antogonistic relationship. In extreme cases, their jealousy, anger or fear can cause damage or illness.This article is intended to give you tips on how to ease the addition of a new cat for both you and your cats.

Our Blended Family.

We are, currently, a four cat household. We started with one cat 5 years ago. She brought us so much joy, we decided to get another cat one year later. Our two girls became best friends, so last year when we heard about a family of rescue cats, we decided to take two. Why not? After all, our two big girls were so good and so loving, how could they not accept and love the kitties? We failed, at the time, to remember what things were really like when we introduced cat number two to cat number one. I can tell you this, it wasn't pretty! And I can also tell you that bringing numbers three and four was far from smooth sailing.We never asked or researched how to introduce a new cat to a household with our first two cats. The first few days with Phoebe and Izzy was a lot of hissing and cats racing all over the house. I don't remember how long it took but suddenly, they were best friends! Before, we brought the kittens home, we asked lots of questions and researched the best way to introduce them all to one another. Here are the tips that we learned and used.

Our Second Cat

Isabelle is a sweet, gentle girl. One of the reasons she and Phoebe get along so well is that is willing to take a back seat to her!
Isabelle is a sweet, gentle girl. One of the reasons she and Phoebe get along so well is that is willing to take a back seat to her! | Source

Another Reason to Keep New Cats Separated.

Keeping your new cat(s) separate is also a way to make sure they are healthy and okay. It allows you to monitor their eating, drinking and litter box habits. Don't be alarmed if they have the sniffles, runny eyes, sneezing or diarrhea. This can be a manifestation of stress. Do be alarmed if they don't use the litter box. This could be a sign of something more serious.

Keep the New Cats and Old Cats Separated

There are several steps you can take to insure that the introduction will go smoother.

  1. Have a separate room for the new cat to stay in.
  2. Have separate food bowls and litter boxes.
  3. Keep your current cat(s) with all their current products and in their typical places.
  4. Do not put the new cat(s) in the veteran cat's favorite place or toys.
  5. Plan on keeping them separated for at least a week.
  6. Allow your established cat(s) to get used to the new cat's scent.
  7. They should not have any interaction other than their paws under the doorway.

The Intruders! They only Look Like Angels!

Our first male kitty!
Our first male kitty! | Source
And his beautiful sister!
And his beautiful sister! | Source

Let the Biggest Change be the New Cat

Be careful to make any other changes well before the arrival. If you are bringing a new cat home and you know that you will have to move/change the litter box, scratching post, feeding station, etc., do it well before the new one comes in. Let your resident cat experience and get used to change before the new cat gets there and changes all that is familiar to him/her.

Cats Like Routine

Any change in their routine can be very disturbing to them. It can bring out aggression or fear. Your cat may distance him/herself from you or act out in several ways, including scratching, litter box mishaps or darting out of the house. Probably the most difficult task for you during this introductory period will be dividing your time and affections between all of them. Be careful not to give the new cats something that is important to the old cats. I had a small feeding dish that I used for Phoebe when she was a kitten (2 years prior) I had it put away. It never occurred to me that she would react to that above all else when I brought it out to the new kitties.

Our Story.

Our kitties came with blankets and toys from their "Kitty Momma's" home, as well as a cage. We, of course, couldn't resist buying them new toys! We bought toys for our big girls. too. We purchased a new litter box for the kitties. Everything we did on one side of the door, we duplicated on the other side. After the first week, we put the little ones in the carrier and either brought the big girls in or brought the carrier out. Slowly, if we were watching tv or playing a game, we would let the kitties out. It was a long process and not convenient but we really wanted everyone to get along.

How to Introduce Your New Cats.

  • They should not have face-to-face contact for the first week.
  • Allow the new cat to get familiar and comfortable in his/her new home.
  • After the first week, you can start by putting the new cat in his/her carrier and bring the established cat in to "meet" him.
  • Expect aggression, hissing, arching, swatting.
  • Continue to do this for several days until you feel they are ready to be introduced without the carrier.
  • Do not leave your cats together unsupervised. If you leave the house, keep the new ones in their separate room until you see that they are getting along.
  • If this doesn't work, you may need to start the process over again.
  • It is important that, throughout this time, you remain calm and unrushed. if you are nervous, they will be nervous.

Please Help!

Please keep in mind when looking for a new pet. There are many pets out there who need a home. There are many pets out there, where we are their last hope. Please consider adopting a rescue animal. If you are not familiar with shelters in your area, you can contact the ASPCA and they can direct you!

Every Multi Pet Household is Different

You will hear and may have experienced different types of blended pet households. In our home, much to our chagrin, we have two sets of pets. We have our "big girls" and we have our "little ones". Both pairs are the best of friends and playmates to each other but the two couples only barely tolerate one another. They don't fight. They just don't seem to like eachother. On the other hand, sometimes I wake up in the morning to see little Ella nestled between Phoebe and Izzy. Maybe they were just cold! I o know that they have a sense of family and something is wrong with one, the others will gather. The same goes if there is something wrong with one of us. When I broke my foot, each cat found a spot close to me to lay on. They got along as long as no one got into the other's space!

Can't We All Be Friends?

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    • Sneha Sunny profile image

      Sneha Sunny 4 years ago from India

      Interesting and useful tips. Animals may behave differently. They may have a feeling of dominance or jealously. I think these tips are applicable to other kind of pets too because other animals too sometimes do not accept (or take time to accept) the new pets in the house.

      Loved the pics btw. They're adorable. :)

      Thanks for sharing. Rated and voted up! :)

    • Nicole Winter profile image

      Nicole A. Winter 4 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Your kitties are *so* cute. Very useful tips on introducing a new cat to your household, voted up & shared!

    • LCDWriter profile image

      L C David 4 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for covering this important topic. So many people don't realize that it truly takes time for cats to adjust to a new pet. It takes even longer the older they get (at least up to a point). I've had some cats take several months to even begin to at least tolerate each other.

      The pictures are very sweet. I totally understand how one cat becomes four.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good information, although there is no room at this Inn for another cat. Three dogs, one cat and nine chicks is more than enough thank you very much. :) Have a great week, Randi!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, Sneha Sunny! You are so right! Ask parts need time to get acquainted. Funny, while I was sitting this, I was reminded of bringing a near baby home, too! Thank you do much for stopping by and your great comment and votes!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Nicole! They are pretty adorable! Thank you SO much for stopping by and the vote and share!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      LCDWriter, thank you for stopping by! It is nice to see someone who has "been there, done that" before! They are, thankfully all very sweet babies. Unfortunately. My oldest it's so stressed by addition of the little ones, she is losing too much weight. We are working with the vet and hopefully, we can reassure her. Thank you do much for coming by!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Bill, when you comment on my cat and baby shower hubs, I know you are a true supporter! Thank you! Have a great week also, my friend!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 4 years ago from south Florida

      I'm an expert at blended families when it applies to dogs, Randi. When my four children were young, all the stray dogs in the neighborhood and even a few I suspect were immigrants, seemed to find their way to my house. The usual plaintive plea was, "Ma, he/she followed me home. Can I keep him/her?" We owned inside dogs and outside dogs as a result.

    • angel 2013 profile image

      angel 2013 4 years ago from North Carolina

      These are great thank you

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      drbj....your story sounds familiar...."but, mommy, he's hungry..." For about 12 years, we lived on farm, so I took them all in! Of course, now that we are more citified, there are a few less strays and they are grown up. The 4 of ours are all rescues! I'm waiting til I'm in a house for a dog! Thanks for stopping by!

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, angel! Nice of you to say!

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 4 years ago from New Jersey

      Your hub gives one a lot to consider. But it is all very important. I will surely keep this in mind if I ever get another cat. Thanks for all the helpful information!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, StephanieBCrosby! I appreciate your stopping by. Good luck if you do decide to increase your kitty population! I will say that with 4 of them, there is always someone to cuddle!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Great story, thanks for sharing. I have wanted a new kitten really bad, they are so cute but my cat is 18 and sleeps most of the time so it kind of seems unfair to mess up her routine and I know how active kittens are. When I do get a kitten I am thinking of getting two, it does seem best for them to have a friend, doesn't it?

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Hi Jackie! With an 18 year old, it could go either way. It may give her a new lease on life or could irritate her. I agree with getting 2 when you are ready. our babies are littermates and best friends. They fight sometimes but they always have each other's back!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 4 years ago

      Well you knew, you just knew Randi, that I would love this one as much as I love Little Miss Tiffy and Mister Gabriel, and I am just finishing up on my latest hub opus - How to bring the lovely Randi into my home when I win the $20 million (and avoid being randy, lol)

      Sending only the best wishes in the world to you and your beautiful family courtesy of us - C and T and G

      at lake erie time 12:15am and we are finally receiving some decent summer weather ....

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      So glad your weather is improving, Colin...a little sunshine does the heart good! Our weather is getting hot already but still pleasant in the evenings and mornings. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our newest member who is making his way but not quite there yet! He still has 2 more weeks to grow but has decided to torment us with several false starts! In the meantime, I try to find a few minutes to write and hubhop!

      Thank you so much for your warm comments! Love to you, Miss T and Mister G from me and everyone here! 12:20 am AZMountain time.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Excellent information about introducing a new cat in the family! I did it several times but two of the times I did it didn't work well. I think both times because the older cat in the house was maybe too old to accept a young one. I think old cats (over 15 years old) want peace and quite time. I had the feeling they felt each time lonely after their companion of the time past away.

      The first time I introduced a kitten to the older cat, the kitten had just too much energy and then I decided to risk to adopt a third cat so the two young one would play together.... and it worked wonderfully :-) And even the younger kitten was sleeping with the old cat; so everybody was happy.

      This time I have my 17 years old cat an a 2 years old cat. She tolerates the young one as long as he leaves her sleep. So I think, I will probably adopt another young cat to keep company to my 2 year old.... but this time I will follow your advice when I will introduce them to each other :-)

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, kidscraft! I can appreciate what you are saying about bringing a new cat home. When we brought our second one home, the 2 cats went ballistic. Itt's crazy how much they love each other now! I think bringing a kitten for your 2 yr. old is a great idea!Our 4 are paired up! Thank you so much for your great comments and stopping by my hubs! I am looking forward to checking yours out, as well!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      I love cats especially black cats.. I had a black cat for 14 years.

      she didnt like anyone or anything.. she was down right mean.. but I loved her just the way she was..... then one day she died.. almost killed me.. then i got two male black cats.. the little one beats up the oldest one.. I mean just playing.. .. I love my cats.. this is a great hub

      blessings my dear

      deb

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Deb! Black cats are the best! My Phoebe is pretty much my heart Thanks for sharing your story...Randi

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