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Introducing a new cat to the household

 by lucy on 18 Feb 2017 |
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Cats can provide companionship, playmates and more enriching lives for their fellow felines, but introducing a new cat into your household can bring a flurry of tension and hostility when you already have a furry friend. By carefully planning introductions, however, you can ease both cats’ anxiety as they adjust to sharing a home.
 
Before bringing a cat home, you should first consider which companion you will choose. If your current cat likes to play, a more animated feline is likely a good fit. Likewise, elderly cats may not get along well with energetic kittens. Once you’ve picked your new pet, make a plan for how you’ll introduce him to your resident cat. One of the best ways to ease both pets’ introductions is to set up a special, isolated room for your new cat. This not only gives him a safe spot to adjust to his new home, but allows both cats to smell and hear each other before actually meeting face-to-face. Outfit the room with a litter box, food and fresh water, toys and a few cozy spots for hiding so it feels as welcoming as possible.
 
Smell is a crucial part of cats’ communication, so make sure your two felines have ample opportunity to get used to each other’s scents before meeting face-to-face. You can do this by feeding both cats on opposite sides of the isolation room door or using a towel to rub both cats, especially on their cheeks where they have pheromone-producing glands. Try switching the cats to opposite rooms after a day or so to allow them to adjust to each others’ smell. Once any hissing or growling through the door subsides, they are likely ready for a visual introduction.
 
For Kitty’s first encounter with your new pet, use a screen door or baby gate high enough to prevent either cat from jumping over it, or try cracking the door just a few inches to gauge your cats’ reactions if you don’t have any see-through barriers. If both cats seem comfortable, you can allow them to meet face-to-face. Otherwise, continue business as usual feeding, playing with your cats and giving them treats on their respective sides of the gate or door. If a cat won’t eat his food directly in front of the barrier, don’t worry: Move his dish back several feet and gradually inch it closer to the door. In a few days, both cats should be eating comfortably on their respective sides of the barrier and are ready to share a space.
 
Watch your cats from a distance when they first meet and don’t be alarmed if they hiss, walk away or completely ignore each other. If one cat shows signs of stress or aggression, separate them again and introduce them more gradually. With time, your feline friends will form a bond, providing them with companionship and a more fulfilling life. If, however, you’ve tried introducing your cats slowly and one is still harassing the other, seek advice from a professional behaviorist on how to create harmony among your feline friends.

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