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Introducing a New Cat to Your Existing Ones

 by petbucket on 29 Oct 2015 |
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Getting a new cat is an exciting time for everyone. Yet there can be challenges posed if you are introducing the new pet into a house with other cats. It is a myth that cats are solitary animals, but their social groups have complex rules of hierarchy. This means the introduction of a new cat can be disruptive and can lead to fighting or spraying. To avoid the worst of this, you can make the introduction easier by following this basic plan.
 
Before you get the new cat, your first task should be to choose a room and set it aside for them to live in temporarily. This should be a spacious room and one where you can spend plenty of time with the new pet yourself. You should also not use a room where your other cat's food or litter tray is located. Equip the room with the things the new cat will need; food and water dishes, a litter tray, and toys. Your new cat will live in this room at first, so ensure it has the required comforts.
 
Once you have your new pet, bring him or her home and put them straight into their room. There is no rush in making introductions, so the first thing to do will be to get the new cat acquainted with the room. Let them explore, smell things, show them where their food and litter tray are, and so forth. The cats may sniff at each other around the door, which is a good start for an introduction. Letting them get used to the smell of each other is an important early step in the process.
 
Your next step will involve first contact between the pets, but it is still constrained. Open the room's door by a couple of inches, enough to let a cat stick the tip of her nose through but denying passage. The cats should now seek to say 'hello' to each other, and should sniff at each other. There may be some growling, hissing, or attempted hitting, but this is not a problem at this point. Your aim is not a perfect first impression, it is to create the conditions for a happy life together. Some hostile incidents can be part of that without problems arising later. Close the door after a few minutes, and make sure you give the cats on both sides some personal attention.
 
You must use your judgment for when the time is right for the next steps, reviewing how your cats are coping. The whole process can be done in hours or it might take several days. When you feel both are ready, take one of your existing cats and place them in the room with the new one. You should be quite hands off here, and only intervene if a serious fight breaks out. Let them explore, say hello properly, sniff around at things, or even avoid or ignore each other. This first full contact will only last a few minutes. You should let the new cat have a rest before introducing the next cat, if you have more than one. Repeat this process after perhaps an hour, and increase the amount of time spent in contact.
 
Finally, when all your cats seem comfortable with each other, you can let the new one go free to run around your home. It may still prove wise in the first few days to keep them apart if nobody is home or when you are asleep. There could still be some conflict in the early days as the cats work out a new social hierarchy. They may also compete for places of comfort and security. Yet, with the above introductions made, it is likely to go far better than otherwise. 
 
Remember, though, that each cat is an individual with their own personality. Some may be friendly and introductions will be complete within hours. Some may be much more hostile and it could take much longer. The cats may never form a close friendship, but as long as they can tolerate each other, that will not be a big issue. Remember also that this advice is much less relevant to young kittens. They will usually form quick friendships thanks to their lack of adult cat sensibilities.

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