Introducing a New Cat to Your Resident Cats

By Sandra Robins and Dr. Arnold Plotnick from The Original Cat Bible

If you already have a cat, don’t count on the fact that the newcomer and the established resident are of the same species to translate into instant friendship. How those first introductions go will have a lot to do with the personalities of the respective felines. If the incumbent cat is shy, she could even show signs of aggression because cats are naturally territorial, and a new cat could be viewed as an intruder. An incumbent cat is more likely to be tolerant of a kitten than of a fully grown cat, and female cats are known to be more aggressive than males. Ultimately, their individual personalities will rule.

As far as members of the household are concerned, everyone needs to stay calm during these initial introductions. Cats are very intuitive and pick up on human emotions. Patience is key; go slowly. See our steps below for introducing your new feline friend.

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The Original Cat Bible

The book has an expansive resource on all things cats. No matter if you’re a new cat parent or have had cats for years, this 500-page reference guide is great to keep handy for breed information, health issues, behavior and training, grooming, nutrition, fun facts and history, and play tactics. As you peruse these pages, perhaps with kitty on your lap, you will gain a fresh understanding
and appreciation for your feline friend that will serve to enhance your relationship.

Steps to Introducing your New Cat to Resident Cats

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 01

1. Confine the new cat to one room.

Because the new cat will initially be confined to one room, you may find your incumbent cat coming to sniff at the door. In fact, introducing cats by smell is the best way to go.

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2. Scent Swapping

Rub one sock with the smell of the newcomer and the other with the smell of your incumbent cat or cats. Then swop out the socks by placing the newcomer’s sock in an area of the house where other animals are and vice versa. Do this daily for a couple of days.

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 03

3. Site Swapping

When you ready for formal introductions, it’s a good idea to place the newcomer in another room of the home and allow your incumbent cat or cats to go inside the room that the newcomer has just vacated and sniff around. Again, do this several times

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4. Between the Door Date

If you have a baby gate, let them meet on either side of the gate. Alternatively, place the newcomer in a carrier so that she feels secure and allow your other cat(s) to sniff around. It’s important to gauge how you think it’s proceeding before actually letting them meet up face to face, with no barrier between them.

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The Meet and Greet

Plan the initial meet-up for when you have time, such as on a weekend or when you’ve scheduled a few days off from work. Rubbing vanilla essence on both cats, on their shoulder blades and at the base of their tails where they will have difficulty licking at it, can be helpful with the initial meet-up because when they sniff each other, they will smell the same. It’s important that the first occasions spent together are positive experiences for both cats.

Consider having the first “meet-and-greet sessions” be held over a tasty treat by putting them down next to each other with a separate bowl of tuna or kibble for each. Expect some hissing and some deep-throated growling. It’s a normal part of the “meet-and-greet” routine. Pet and play with both of them. However, if it turns physical, you may have to step in and separate them again. And, if the physical contact continues to get nasty every time you place them together, you may have to go back to square one, separate them for a week, and then start over. Feline introductions can take a long time—even up to six months before they tolerate one another. With care and patience, they can go from toleration to friendship. The bottom line is take charge. Never bring in a new cat and leave the cats to get on with it. This can be very stressful to all the cats involved, and sometimes the resulting animosity is permanent.

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