How to Bring Home a New Cat or Kitten
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
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.
- Have a separate room for the new cat to stay in.
- Have separate food bowls and litter boxes.
- Keep your current cat(s) with all their current products and in their typical places.
- Do not put the new cat(s) in the veteran cat's favorite place or toys.
- Plan on keeping them separated for at least a week.
- Allow your established cat(s) to get used to the new cat's scent.
- They should not have any interaction other than their paws under the doorway.
The Intruders! They only Look Like Angels!
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 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 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!