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Paws and Reflect: The Art of Harmoniously Introducing a New Cat to Your Feline Family

Updated: Mar 16

Bringing a new cat into your home is like starting a new chapter in a book: exciting, a bit unpredictable, and full of potential for wonderful stories. However, this new chapter might feel more like an unexpected plot twist for your existing cat.

Cats are creatures of habit and can be territorial, so introducing a new feline friend should be done with care and patience. Your current cat will likely see the new cat as a competitor or threat at first, not a friend.

a tabby and white cat looking cautiously at another cat
Cats are usually very wary of unfamiliar felines!

Prepare Your Home:

Set up a separate space: Before bringing your new cat home, prepare a separate room for them. This space should have all the essentials: food, water, a litter box, and comfy resting places. This setup allows the new cat to get comfortable in their new environment without the added stress of immediately meeting the resident cat.

Exchange scents: Cats use smell to understand their world. You can help both cats get used to each other by exchanging their scents. Rub a cloth on one cat and place it near the other cat, and vice versa. This way, they can get familiar with each other's scent without direct contact.

The Introduction Process:

Take it slow: The key to a successful introduction is patience. Don't rush the process. Keep the cats in separate areas for the first few days and observe their behaviour. If they seem curious and calm, it's a good sign.

First visual contact: Use a baby gate or screen, or crack the door slightly so they can see each other but can't fully interact. Watch their reactions. Hissing or growling is expected initially, but if these behaviours persist, close the door and try again later.

A fluffy grey cat looking through a fly-wire screen
Allowing visual, but not physical contact initially, is a good way to smooth the introduction process.

Allow controlled interaction:

  1. Once both cats seem relaxed with visual contact, allow them to interact under your supervision.

  2. Keep these meetings short and sweet.

  3. Gradually increase the time they spend together as they become more comfortable.

Monitor and Adjust:

Watch for signs of stress or aggression: Look for signs like prolonged hiding, aggressive behaviour, or changes in eating habits. If you notice these, give the cats more time apart before trying another interaction.

Don't punish: Never punish your cats for hissing or growling during this process. These are normal ways they communicate discomfort. Instead, calmly separate them and try again later.

cats having a physical altercation
A physical altercation can set the introduction process back by several weeks. If the cats do have a fight, resist the temptation to try to pick up one of the cats as this can result in significant human injury!

Reinforce Positive Behaviour:

Use treats and play: Encourage positive interactions with treats, praise, and play. Feeding them near each other (but at a safe distance) can help them associate each other's presence with positive experiences.

When to Consult a Professional

Call us if the cats struggle to get along after a few months. We can provide personalised strategies based on your cats' behaviours and personalities. Remember, the goal is to build a peaceful coexistence, not necessarily a close friendship. Some cats become best pals, while others prefer a respectful distance.

A ginger and white cat grooming a tabby and white cat
Although bonded attachment is ideal, harmonious tolerance is also OK.

Respect their individual personalities and preferences, and celebrate the small victories in their journey to becoming housemates. With time, patience, and careful introduction steps, your feline family members can live a harmonious life under the same roof.


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