Kitten 101: Introducing a new cat into the home

A kitten or cat of any age needs time to adjust and adapt to a new home. This is especially true when you introduce a new cat or kitten to your existing pets. While cats tend to be more solitary creatures than our canine friends, they are often found in familial groups in the wild and do enjoy company. It’s important to be patient and consistent when introducing a new cat to your feline family.

Prepare and separate your pets

Just like people, cats have their own unique personalities. Some may easily befriend a new cat sibling, while others need more time to acclimate to a multi-pet household. Introductions that happen too quickly can lead to unwanted outcomes like aggression, stress, and even inappropriate behaviors like soiling outside the litter box.

If possible, isolate your new cat in a separate room. Make sure your cat can live there comfortably for a few days, and provide all the essentials in this one room: food, water, bedding, a litter box, a scratching post, and other toys.

This will allow all pets, new and old, to be gradually introduced. Your new cat won’t feel overwhelmed or alienated, and your resident cats won’t feel territorial. You can’t predict how they will react to one another, so it’s crucial to prepare them properly.

Introduce them from afar and swap places

Don’t let your cats meet face-to-face just yet. Use a common towel, brush, or other item between your pets to help them recognize and get used to each other’s scents. Don’t be alarmed if your pets smell each other through the door or swipe at the door and show other aggressive behaviors. If destructive actions like these persist, consider blocking the entryway while your cats get used to one another.

Your new cat should explore your household and surroundings with as little stress as possible. This means your other pets should not be present while the newbie gets familiar with the rest of your house. If you can, swap their places. Remove your resident cats for a period of time, or put them in your new cat’s room. Your new friend can explore alone, wander your home, and still smell and recognize your other pets.

To make your cat feel at ease, consider using pheromone sprays or diffusers. Use pheromone sprays on bedding, scratching posts, and other common areas; plug the pheromone diffusers into wall outlets around your home and near the litter box. These pheromones can help reduce stress and provide calming effects to your cat. Feliway is a popular brand that we recommend at Small Door.

Introduce pets slowly. Gradually increase the duration of their interactions until they have adapted to living in the same space.

It’s time to meet

When your cats are finally ready to meet each other, be prepared for unexpected outcomes – good or bad. When introducing your cats, have towels, blankets, and a water spray bottle ready if you need to distract them. When introducing your new cat to a dog, make sure your pup is on a leash so you have more control during their interaction.

Start slowly. Gradually increase the duration of their interactions until they have adapted to living in the same space. Continue to introduce and separate your pets until they are coexisting safely. You may need to feed your cats in different rooms for a prolonged period of time so that no food aggression arises.

If your cats become aggressive, stressed, or are not reacting well, do not attempt to physically handle them. They may become more distressed and even aggressive towards you. Use distractions like a spray bottle or toys, and make sure you have plenty of enrichment available to all your pets. Provide enough litter boxes, perches, scratching posts, and feeding areas to satisfy everyone.

Be patient with the process and with all your furry friends. Practice positive reinforcement and spend your time and attention equally. It can be a challenge, but if you are consistent and respectful to your pets, they will adjust. Soon you will have a home full of happy, friendly felines.

Our medical experts

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