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How to introduce new cat to the household?

Updated on November 29, 2007

Anyone who has more then one cat in their household knows from first hand experience how difficult it can be to introduce new cat into the household. I for one did not know that much hissing and spitting is possible. Like with many other things when it comes to pets it will take time and patience. We had an older cat when we got 2 kittens. And it took about 4 to 5 months for the hissing and spitting to cease completely. Even though there are some hissy fits from time to time, our feline household is getting on splendidly. That it why it is crucial to get the introduction right from the get-go otherwise you will like me have to endure hissing spits for months to come.

First thing you will have to make sure is that the new cat is checked out by the vet and that she has all the necessary vaccines. My old rule Better safe then sorry still applies. To reduce levels of stress for both you and your cats, it would be advisable to designate one room in your home for the latest addition to your feline family. Everything should be here from the water and food bowl, to toys, scratching posts, cat bed and litter box so that the cat can get used to and investigate all of her things and feel at home. You can expect plenty of growling, hissing and spitting through the closed doors. Do not let that worry you too much, it is only to be expected.

When I did my research I have read that a lot of experts suggest taking a towel and rubbing it on one of the cats and then letting the other cat smell it and vice-versa. In theory this should help them learn to associate the other cat's smell as a normal occurrence. I do not think it worked for my cats, however it is worth to give it a go.

You can also try with switching the arrangement, put your older cat in the new cat's room and vice versa, so they can be free to explore and get used to the new smells. After 2 to 3 days you may start to open the doors on the room where the newest addition is in situ, do this slowly and gradually as more hissing and spitting will occur.

Once you think they have sniffed each other out, open the doors completely. Cue more hissing and spitting however do not intervene and separate them unless you have a proper fight on your hands. In case they do get along (I am not talking best of buds here, that would be too soon), however if they tolerate each other make sure to profuse both of the cats profusely to reward positive behavior.

For cats to learn and get accustomed to each other, it would be good to have some pleasurable activities lined up such as playing or feeding as they will learn to associate pleasurable activities with each other. However to prevent any potential scuffles, each of the cats should have its own food and water bowls as well as litter box, cat bed and toys. In case regardless of it all scuffle breaks out again, repeat the process from the start.

It might take a while as cats are territorial creatures, however it can be done trust me. It will take time and patience for them to settle down and get used to each other, however we have not had a hissy spitty fit in a while, it is certainly doable.


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