'Tis the season where a new cat in the house sounds like a wonderful idea! Who doesn't love a new pet for the holiday season? HOWEVER, keep in mind those who love pets have grandiose ideas of how things should go when they bring in a new kitten or cat into an already established pet's territory and it doesn't always work out the best of ways! I would love to have pets who snuggle together and play nicely and follow in around the house in tandem. Alas, if my two cats are in the same room peacefully (AND they are litter mates!), I count myself fortunate.
In order to keep things as stress free as possible when introducing a new cat into the home, keep these ideas at the top of your list:
1) ATTENTION ATTENTION ATTENTION! Spread it around like cheese whiz on crackers. All over and in plenty supply for both the new pet and established pet. Spend one-on-one time with all involved to help keep jealousy and territory battles at bay.
2) Have a separate room where the new pet can relax and the established pet(s) can sniff under the door. In this room, purchase some new items for the new cat like water and food bowls, litter box, blanket and toys. This helps them make their own scent in their own space to bring about comfort levels. Let the new cat/kitten relax here for at least 24 hours. Travel can be stressful, especially for pets!
3) After the 24 hour waiting period, switch the pets. The new cat will go into the space where the established pet was and vice versa. The established pet will be a little upset with the new smells in a stronger concentration but allow them time to adjust (an hour or so). Its all about the odor and sniffs.
4) For the first week or so that they're together in the house, leave them in two separate spaces while you're out of the house, but bring them together when you're home. While you are at it, spread some cat nip or treats around while they are in the same room. This allows them to experience positive experiences when the other is around. Who doesn't love to play and eat together??
5) Ignore hissing and growling, but intervene if a physical battle breaks out by dangling a towel between them. If they do seem to tolerate each other, even begrudgingly, praise both of them profusely.
The introduction can take from two hours to six months, so don't be discouraged if your cats don't seem to get along well at first. Keep in mind realistic expectations. Some pets love to snuggle together and others... not so much.
Factors to Consider
- If you are thinking of getting a kitten to keep an older cat company, you might want to consider two kittens. They will be able to keep each other company while the older cat learns to love them.
- If you already have more than one cat, use the "alpha cat" for preliminary introductions. Once he/she accepts the newcomer, the other resident cats will quickly fall in line.
- Lots of snuggle-time and attention is indicated for all cats concerned during this period. Remember, the prime goal is to get them to associate pleasure with the presence of each other.
- If possible, ask a friend to deliver the new cat to your home, in her cage. You can act nonchalant, as if it's no big deal, then later let your resident cat(s) think it's their idea to welcome the newcomer.
All in all, good luck to you and yours and happy holidays!