How To Introduce a New Cat or Kitten to Your Existing Cat
TUE SEP 18 2016

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.

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 including a litter tray, food, water, toys and a comfortable place to sleep. To begin with, keep your new cat confined to this room so they are completely separate from your existing cat. Over the next few days, the first step in the process is to begin getting 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.

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.

You may find it helpful to use a Feliway synthetic pheromone diffuser in the area where the introduction is taking place to help reduce stress levels and facilitate friendly interactions. For more information about Feliway, check out Your Guide to Using Feliway.

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 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.

Posted by Dr Teagan Lever

When Teagan's not busy sharing her knowledge of all things pets as Pet Circle's resident vet, she is the human companion of two intense English staffies and a three-legged cat named Steve.

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