How to introduce a new cat. July 21 2016

CAT VS CAT: INTRODUCING A NEWCOMER

Cats are solitary animals. They don’t always like new additions to the family, as many of you might have already experienced. Introductions need to be made very carefully and gently.

In many ways, cats are just like people. They like routine and they need to have a safe space. Imagine how bewildering a new environment can be for humans: even more so for a cat.

Before any introductions take place, you have to make the new cat feel safe. The best way to do this is to place kitty number two in an escape-proof space, such as a spare room, with access to food, water and a cat litter station.

Minimise the number of strange noises and interactions, especially if the cat is very nervous. The cat is likely to spend the majority of its time hiding under the bed or in the cupboard during the first few days. This is normal. Don’t try to force it out of its hiding space. Rather use your own judgement and watch the cat’s body language to determine how distressed or comfortable it is. Gradually increase the number of visits from you or your children.

Once the new cat feels safe you can slowly start to introduce it to your resident cat. By now the resident cat will have smelled the new cat and will definitely know that something is up! Let them meet without giving them the opportunity to engage. For example, you can place some kind of transparent barrier in the open doorway of new kitty’s room to separate the two. Expect some hissing and growling, especially from your resident cat.

Over time the dominant cat will assert its authority. And it might be the newcomer who turns out to be the capo di tutti capi. Try not to interfere with the dominance-establishing process too much. If you succeed in not interfering, let us know how! Sooner or later your cats will establish a relationship. In some cases it may be a friendship and in other cases tolerance with an undertone of kitty envy and dislike.

The process can be easier if the cats are younger when introduced or grew up together. And even if your cat has shared its space with other cats before, it still doesn’t guarantee that it will enjoy a new cat’s company. That’s something else cats have in common with humans: sometimes you just don’t like the other fellow.