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Home > Cats > How to Introduce a Cat to a New Home: 6 Vet-Approved Tips

How to Introduce a Cat to a New Home: 6 Vet-Approved Tips

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Opening your doors to a new family member is a thrilling time for almost everyone in the house. While humans love bringing home their new forever friends, other pets aren’t always as inviting. Before you even consider adding another pet to your family, take some time to ensure that it’s a responsible decision. Is your residential home large enough for all your cats to have their own territories where they can feel safe and comfortable? Do any of your current cats suffer from an illness where the stress from a new cat could contribute to their health problems? Do any of the cats already have behavioral issues? Once you carefully consider these types of questions, only then are you ready to begin the transition of adding a new pet cat to the group.

In this article we will provide tips, broken into small steps, to help you introduce a new cat to your home. However, it is very important to consider that bringing a new cat to your home can represent a health risk for your existing pets. Any new cat should be quarantined to make sure it is not suffering from infectious diseases that could be transmitted to your pets. You should also make sure your pet’s vaccination schedule is up to date. Having the new cat checked by a veterinarian before the quarantine and cleared up after the quarantine can help reduce any potential health risks. That said, let’s get into our tips to introduce a new cat to your home. 

divider-catThe 6 Tips for Bringing Home New Cats

1. Prepare a safe and quiet room.

The new cat is probably going to be the most stressed out of anyone for a few days. Always give a new cat a safe room where they won’t be bothered or interrupted by humans or other animals.

orange persian cat in bed
Image Credit: JulieK2, Shutterstock

2. Offer multiple places to hide.

Cats are nervous animals and enjoy hiding, especially in stressful or unfamiliar situations. In the cat’s safe room, provide lots of hiding spots. These could come from cardboard boxes or draping sheets over a chair. Try not to put them in a room where there is a lot of large furniture that could make it challenging to interact with them.


3. Get to know them.

As your cat starts to settle into your environment, they also need to learn to trust you. Make your presence known by hanging out quietly in the room for short periods for the first few days. Once they grow accustomed to your company, you can slowly start to interact with them more. Try to wait for them to approach you at first and reward them with lots of treats so they can associate you with something positive.

cooking with a cat
Image by: RomanLevco, Shutterstock

4. Equip the room with plenty of fresh food, water, and litter.

Place the cat’s food and water on one side of the room and their litter box on the opposite side to encourage shyer cats to move around more. Some shy cats won’t eat at first. If the new cat has not eaten in 48 hours, try mixing in some tasty treats like canned low-sodium tuna in water or boiled chicken breast for a boost of encouragement.


5. Spray cat pheromones.

New products are coming out to help calm cats in stressful situations by emitting natural cat pheromones. For example, placing a Feliway diffuser in their safe room to help your cat feel more relaxed.

spraying on cat
Image by: Vaillery, Shutterstock

6. Start transitioning beyond the safe room.

It’s best to open the door and allow further exploration once you have established a trusting relationship with the cat. This isolation period also allows other animals in the house to adjust to the new scent and helps make them less territorial.

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How to Introduce a Cat to Another Cat

Introducing two cats to each other can either be an extremely successful or relatively smooth process. Prepare yourself by knowing that it’s okay if your cats aren’t best friends right away. Cats are typically solitary and territorial animals, and it is going to take some time for them both to adjust.

1. Nice to Smell You

The first phase of welcoming a new cat into a home with pets is to give them plenty of time to get used to the other’s scent. Do not ever try to introduce two cats right away. Instead, keep the new cat isolated and allow your current cat to sniff them through the door. Trust us, they’re going to be curious and will make several trips to the room’s door.

cat nose
Image by: miezekieze, Pixabay

2. Turning the Tables

Cats often hiss or growl when they feel threatened or uncomfortable. The only time where two cats are ready to be introduced face to face is when there are no immediate signs of aggression from the cats. The next step is to then confine your previous cat to a different room and allow the new cat to explore the house on its own for a few hours each day for the next few days.


3. The First Real Meeting

It’s always best to be safe when you introduce cats face to face because you never know how one is going to react. Place the newest cat in a carrier and place the carrier in their safe room. Allow your original cat to come up to the carrier and sniff each other through the carrier door. This way, they can see each other physically, and you can continue these meetings several times per day until the cats start to act more comfortable around one another.

two cats staring at each other while leaning on a small chair, socialization
Image by: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

4. Welcome to Our Home

If you don’t notice any acts of aggression, start to keep the new cat’s safe room door open and allow them to travel freely while you are still supervising them. If there are any signs of aggression, make a loud noise or spray them with a squirt of clean water from a spray bottle to immediately end it. If the integration isn’t making progress over the next few weeks, you might need to consider repeating the previous phase.


5. Complete

The integration of the new cat has been successful once you can leave both cats unsupervised for medium periods of time. There may be a few swats or hissing during this time, but it should lessen relatively quickly.

divider-catConclusion

Overwhelming two cats by introducing them as soon as you walk through the door is never a good idea. One of the cats is more than likely going to end up hurt and leave you covered in scratches. Still, new pets are purchased all the time, and multi-cat households are very common in America. As long as you remain patient and take your time, there is no reason why your cats shouldn’t become great friends over the next few months.


Featured Image Credit: BearFotos, Shutterstock

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