Bringing a new cat home is an exciting time. However, if you have another cat in your home you are facing more of a challenge than you might realize. While the cats may not be openly aggressive towards each other, without a proper introduction you are setting yourself up for all kinds of problems in the future. A slow, cautious approach in the beginning may save you a lot of grief and headaches in the future. Read also: Which Kitten?
Plan the meeting in advance. Do not simply arrive home with a new cat. For instance, prior to bringing the cat home make certain that you have a small restricted area for the new animal prepared. You should have a room set aside where the new cat can live for at least a few days. This room should have a food and water dish for the cat and a litter box.
Introducing Your New Cat
To make the transition easier on the new cat or kitten ask the previous owner if there is something that you can take with you i.e. a pillow, sleeping basket etc. This will make the animal feel safer. Relocating a cat is very stressful and a small safe room will make the move easier on the cat. If you try to introduce the cats immediately you may create a situation where one or both of the animals decide that they will have to claim territory. This may result in the cats spraying all over the house. Remember, females will spray and that this is not a behavior that is limited to male cats. You may also inadvertently create a litter box issue. By keeping the cats separate in the beginning, each one will be aware of the others presence by scent while hopefully not feeling threatened. Read also: Household Necessities for the New Cat.
After a few days you can allow the cats to see each other. If you have a cat carrier you may want to use this for the first few introductions. Place the new cat in the carrier and take him out of the safe room. You do not want to compromise the safe room. Place the carrier on the floor and permit the two cats to see each other face to face.
At this point you may see any number of reactions. If one of the cats has an aggressive personality you may see signs of aggression. Do not worry as the carrier will prevent any direct contact and confrontation. On the other hand, the cats may simply be curious about each other. Be advised that even if you see very little reaction from either of the animals that you do not let the new cat out. This procedure should be repeated for a few days. Releasing the new cat at the first or second meeting may turn into an all-out brawl. Take things slowly. Read also: How to Bathe a Cat?
When you believe the cats are comfortable with each other you can try a meeting without the carrier. However, be prepared! You might want to have a towel and a squirt gun (bucket of water) ready in case there is a problem. Quietly enter the room with the new cat and keep him on your lap. Have the towel right beside you in case the cat gets nervous.
You may even want to sit on the floor. Allow the other cat to come into the room. Have a number of special cat toys out and maybe a treat or two. If at all possible have a friend with you and keep the new cat with you at all times. After a few minutes, take the new cat back to its safe room. Repeat this for a few days. If the cats do get loose or start to fight do not hesitate to douse them with water! Read also: Teaching Your Children about Cats.
This may seem like a lot of bother but it is far better to error on the side of caution. People who introduce cats too quickly often wind up with all kinds of behavior issues. The cats may not actually fight but they may not completely accept each other either. There may be territory issues as well as spraying. There may even be litter box issues that will result in one of the cats finding somewhere else in the house to pee. Remember, these two will have to live together for many years and you want them to be able to get along happily.