Bringing a new cat home is an exciting experience, and this can be even more fun if you already have pets in your home. Whether you already have cats or dogs in your home, there are some important steps you need to take to ensure your pets get along. This week, we will look at introducing a new cat to a home when you already have one or more cats.
Find the right match
If your cat is an ‘only child’, then you will need to be very careful about introducing another cat into your home, as it can be very stressful for both animals. This isn’t to say you can’t get another pet, but you will have to be very careful in choosing. If possible, arrange an introductory period to ensure that both cats get along before committing to taking in another pet. Try to match their ages as much as possible, so avoid pairing a young kitten with an older cat.
Introduce them in stages
The best way to introduce new cats is to allow them to get used to each other’s pheromones before they physically meet. To start with, keep both cats in separate rooms and allow the new cat to become accustomed to their space. Next, take an old pair of socks and use them to catch the scent of each cat. Cats have glands in their cheeks that release pheromones, which is why cats rub against your legs when they are happy to see you. Switch the socks and let each cat get used to the smell of the other cat.
When they have spent a bit of time with each other’s smells, you will want to put them on either side of a closed door. Finally, you can introduce them through an open gate, such as a baby gate, so they can see each other without feeling threatened. When you are happy that neither cat is stressed out by the situation, they can meet without a fence between them. You may want to keep them apart at night in the first few weeks until you know they are happy in each other’s company.
Look for potential problems
The best possible toy for your cats is a few cardboard boxes with two holes cut on either side. This will give your pets a place to hide but won’t allow them to become trapped by the other pet. Ensure both cats have their own ‘territory’ where they can escape to if they become stressed. This should include a food and water bowl, their toys and a warm place to sleep. If your cat is an outdoor cat, you should also make sure his pet microchip information is up-to-date, as stressed pets are more likely to stray.