Steps to Introducing a New Cat to your Family

As pet owners, you know there is nothing quite like bringing home a new pet; it’s almost as exciting as bringing home a brand new baby. If you’ve ever experienced either, you can relate to the excitement.  You also know that bringing home a new resident, rather human or furry, requires a period of adjustment for everyone. However, since we’re in the pet care business, we’d like to focus this blog on how to go about introducing a furry friend into your family; specifically a feline furry friend.

INTRODUCING A NEW CAT

Cats are special animals and they seem to require a bit more care and patience when it comes to introducing them to your family for the first time; especially if you already have a cat at home. Whether you already have a cat or this is your first one, the important thing to remember is to GO SLOW! It can take 1-2 weeks for a cat to adjust to its new surroundings. If it’s a brand new kitten you’re bringing home, you may find he has adjusted after about 5 days. However, if you’ve adopted an older rescue cat, it may take even longer than the one to two weeks previously stated.

Here are some common steps to follow when introducing a new cat:

  • Designate one bedroom of your home as the new cat’s spot for the first week at least. Make sure there is a litter box in the room and a perch for the cat. This gives the cat a chance to get used to the sights and smells of its new home.
  • Allow family members to have individual bonding time with the cat. It’s important not to overwhelm a new cat; especially a rescue cat. Allow each family member some individual bonding time with the cat by taking time to quietly go into the room and get acquainted and play for a little while.
  • Once they seem comfortable, gradually expand their territory. Take them out of this designated space once or twice a day and begin expanding their territory. Once they seem comfortable, you can move their litter box to its permanent place and allow your cat to explore the rest of his new home and family.

If you have a resident cat and you are bringing a new cat into the family, there are a few additional steps you’ll want to take.

  • First, make sure the new cat has been examined by a vet to ensure it’s healthy before the two cats meet.
  • As the new cat spends time in its designated room, he will gradually acquire the smells of the home and the resident cat will gradually learn the smell of the new cat.
  • Exchange scents. Take a small, soft cloth and rub it over the new cat’s body concentrating mostly around the cat’s chin and ears. Do the same with the resident cat and then allow the cats to smell the scent of the other.
  • Introduce them face-to-face in a very controlled setting. For example, you may want to keep the new cat in a crate and allow the resident cat to approach the crate. This keeps both cats safe should one of them become aggressive. You may hear some hissing, but that’s normal as the cats get used to each other.
  • Once the cats are ready to interact, introduce this phase by having a family member hold each cat as they begin to interact. If they seem to get along, allow them to explore together.

If, at any point, you feel the cats are not getting along, go back to the previous step and repeat the steps accordingly.  It can take time for cats to get used to each other so be patient with the process and know that eventually, they should get to a point where they easily get along and share their space harmoniously.

If you have more questions about introducing your new cat to the family, contact us; our care for pets extends beyond our kennel and we’ll be happy to offer guidance. Your vet is also a wonderful resource not just for health issues but behavioral issues as well.

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