How Do I Make it Easier on My Resident Cat When I Bring a New Cat Home?

CatChannel expert Jeanne Adlon, professional cat sitter, tells a reader how to help introduce cats.

By Jeanne Adlon | Posted: September 25, 2011, 3 a.m. EDT

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Q: I have a cat but want to adopt another from a shelter. How do I make it easier on both when I bring the new cat home?

A: First I want to thank you for adopting from a cat shelter — so many kitties need good homes especially now. I get asked this question often and I always want to encourage readers to adopt so here are my tried and true tips.

I think the most important thing to know is that time and patience generally take care of any concerns when bringing a new cat into the family. Remember to relax and do not be in a rush to create feline harmony-that will come.

A good friend just brought home two cuties —Yanna and Margie — from her local cat shelter. Both are adorable girls and littermates. The cat shelter said they are a bonded pair but when they stepped into their new home the strange environment and all the new smells made them act like tigers! It took a few days before they calmed down and were buddies again. Yanna and Margie were pals already and they had to adjust — so will yours.

Cats are territorial so your current kitty will probably have some strong opinions about “junior.” Before you bring junior home, set up a separate room with all the essentials-litter, food, toys — and be prepared to keep him there for several days. If you know what type of food and litter he is used to, have that ready.

Cats have a highly sensitive nose so put something which your current cat’s smell on it in junior’s room, and vice versa. Let both cats sniff under the door at first and do not force any get-togethers please. Contact should be brief and supervised, gradually increasing the time together. You will probably see some aggressive behavior to start but again, please be patient. It is also important not to change any of your current cat’s routines and give her plenty of praise and treats.

Keep separate food areas and litterboxes after they co-habitate; less temptation for trouble will exist. Hopefully they will be comfortable and respect each other’s space — they may even curl up together. I hope so and good luck! As always I welcome your comments and stories.

Good news! My new book, Cat Calls: Wonderful Stories and Practical Advice from a Veteran Cat Sitter with CAT FANCY editor Susan Logan is now available in stores and online. Please click here for more information.
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Reader Comments

Robyn    Houston, TX

10/9/2011 6:33:03 PM

I fostered a kitten and now she's back with us after her new home didn't work out. I already have three females and one is really sensitive so I thought it was going to be next to impossible to integrate them. Going slowly is definitely the way to go! She's been here two weeks now and we are still just sharing treat time for a few minutes but I do notice things getting better. Hopefully soon they'll be at least tolerating each other. :)

Cat Mom    Northern AZ, AZ

10/6/2011 8:03:35 PM

I just adopted a 6yr old female cat 2mos ago. She is suppose to be a playmate for my "princess", who is also 6yrs old & the same breed, Siamese. Well, the adopted cat is very shy & my princess is letting her know that she has limited access to certain areas of the house.....most of the house. I have been trying to make treat time a together time & that is going well. They can be several feet from each other & that is okay ususally, but cross over that personal space line & look out.
I think some more time just getting use to each others habits & giving each other the needed time to adjust & we will be a happier household.

Alison    Palm Coast, FL

10/3/2011 6:23:48 AM

I've socialized my cat at a very early age. When a roommate wanted to adopt a cat we took him with us to the humane society to see how they would react to each other. They seemed fine together. When we eventually got the new cat home they were playing together after a day or two. My cat is a male and the new cat was female.

I think if you socialize your cat/dog at an early age the better they react to new experiences. I take my cat in the car and to the pet store all the time. He walks on a leash.

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

10/2/2011 11:08:47 PM

Great advice.

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