Introducing a new cat into the household if you already have a cat or have multiple cats can be nerve-wracking. It’s very important for the harmony of the household that the cats start off on the right paw. But it isn’t as scary as you might think. The key to introducing a new cat into any household of mulitiple cats is taking it slow and understanding cat behavior. If you try to look at things from the cat’s perspective and follow a few simple tips you can make the integration process run as smoothly as possible. Use these tips from cat companions and cat behaviorists to bring a new kitty into the household:
Take it slow: Never simply put a new cat into a room with your resident cats. The best case scenario in that situation is that the new cat will become overwhelmed and terrified. The worst case is that an all out brawl will occur. Make sure that the new cat is kept in a separate room for at least a day before introducing it to the resident cats. The new cat needs time to become familiar with the surroundings before having to interact with the resident cats. The resident cats will know that someone new is in the house. Having the stranger kept in a separate room gives them time to get used to the idea.
Let them smell each other: Cats have a highly developed sense of smell. If you have multiple cats you may have noticed that if you take one cat to the vet when you return the other cats hiss at that cat or act suspicious of it. That’s because the cat who went to the vet no longer smells familiar to them. In order to get your resident cats familiar with the scent of the new cat you should take a blanket or a toy that the new cat has used and give it to the resident cats. Do the same thing with a blanket or toy that the resident cats have used and give it to the new cat. That way all of the cats will start to get used to smelling each other. The cats may sniff each other under the door of the room where the new cat is. That is totally normal. As long as they don’t start fighting you should allow that.
Supervise: When it is finally time for the cats to meet do it one at a time. Put the new cat in a carrier where it can be safe and put the carrier in a room with a door that shuts. Let one of your resident cats in the room. Let the cats sniff each other and meet one another while the new cat is in the carrier. If that goes well you can let the new cat out for a supervised meeting. Never leave a new cat and a resident cat together unsupervised. There may be some hissing and some batting off paws but be patient. Unless the cats try to attack one another let the introduction play out. They will figure it out. After the two can be in the same room peacefully put the new cat back into a separate room for a while. Slowly repeat the process with the other cats in the household.
Some introductions will be easier than others, but if you take it slow and pay attention to the behavioral cues from each cat you should be able to easily integrate a new cat into a multiple cat household.
Sonya L is a writer, Army wife, and proud cat lady who is a companion to seven rescue cats. She lives with her husband and cat tribe in Augusta, GA.