How To Introduce a New Cat to Your Cats

Last updated 6 April 2022

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Teagan Lever BVSc (Hons)

Bringing a new cat into the home can really stress out any existing cats that you already have in residence, potentially resulting in undesirable behaviours like urine spraying, aggression and fighting. If you already have a cat at home and are planning to introduce a new cat or kitten, there are some steps you can take to avoid an all-out feline world war three scenario.

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Introducing two cats to each other can be incredibly stressful (both on your cats, and yourself!), and the whole situation will be a lot easier with the help of a nice dose of calming pheromones. Make sure you order a Feliway Diffuser prior to bringing your new cat home. Please note: the Feliway wall diffuser is recommended over the Feliway spray bottle, as it provides a constant airborne stream rather than a spot-on surface dose. The spray is usually only recommended for travel crates or to reduce scratching on one particular surface.

How does Feliway work? Feliway is a synthetic pheromone based on the appeasing Feline Facial Pheromone which is incredibly effective at soothing cats. Veterinary clinics and rescue shelters all over the world use Feliway to help calm nervous feline patients (and if vets are using it themselves, you can be sure it works!).

Use the diffuser In the area where the introduction is taking place to help reduce stress levels and facilitate friendly interactions.

Step 1: Set Up a Safe Zone for the New Cat

When you first bring home your new addition, set up a room in your house that your existing cat rarely visits with all the essentials that your new cat or kitten will need. To begin with, keep your new cat confined to this room so they are completely separate from your existing cat.

What to put in your new cat's safe zone:

  • A litter tray
  • A bowl of food and fresh water
  • Plenty of toys
  • A comfortable place to sleep such as a new bed or cardboard box with blankets.

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Step 2: Keep them separate but allow them to smell each other's scent

Over the first few days, the purpose is to allow each cat used to the smell of the other. You can do this by switching their toys and bedding, stroking one cat after the other or gently rubbing each cat's face with a piece of a soft cloth and leaving it with the other to smell.

Step 3: Allow them to meet - with plenty of escape routes!

Once the cats have been accustomed to each other's scent, it's time for the all important first meeting. Try to do this in a neutral place where the cats can see each other from a distance, for example a long hallway, and ensure that each cat has their own escape route so that they don't feel trapped.

If either cat shows signs of being anxious or distressed they should be removed and the introduction re-attempted at a later time, at an even greater distance if possible. Repeat the introduction process a number of times, for longer periods until both cats appear comfortable and no longer require separation.

Step 4: Give them freedom to interact, with individual resources

Once the cats are comfortable in each other's presence with free access to the house, be sure to continue providing them each with their own litter tray, food and water in separate areas to avoid any potential conflict over resources. Placing a variety of elevated sleeping areas and hiding places around the house, like the Kazoo Lookout Window Bed or Smartcat Climber can also help to reduce stress levels.

It's important to remember that even with the best of introductions, not all cats will become fast friends, however taking the time to start them off on the right foot can definitely help to reduce conflict and avoid undue stress.

Further Reading

Want to read more? Check out our other articles:

New Kitten Guide

5 Reasons to Adopt an Adult Cat

What Supplies Do You Need for Your New Cat?

What is the Best Kitten Food?

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