Introducing a New Cat

Congratulations! You just brought home a new kitty and are excited to present her to her new feline friend. You let kitty out of her carrier saying in your most comforting and supportive voice, “Here’s your new sister.” Much to your dismay, all havoc breaks loose as the new kitty flies through the room bouncing off walls while your resident cat is defending her turf with intimating sounds of growling, hissing, and spitting. Throwing your arms up, you shout, “Oh no, this is not going to work out!”

What happened?

Not unlike humans, cats like routines and many find it hard to accept the addition of another pet into their territory. This depends on the individual personalities involved. However, following a few simple steps can make an introduction much less stressful for everyone involved. The whole process of introducing cats needs to be done slowly and carefully from the very beginning.

The following steps will help ensure that your current cats and any new kitty will live amicably in your home.

• Keep your new cat in a separate room and make the introduction gradually over the course of several days.

• Rub a towel over your new cat and then bring it out of the room to allow your new kitty to smell it and get used to the cat’s scent. Do the same for your new cat, using the scent of your resident cat. Some cats also respond very well to a calming synthetic pheromone such a Feliway, a product that can be bought online or in pet supply stores.

• It is important that your resident cat does not feel neglected, as this may increase her insecurities. So spend extra time playing and petting her.

Once you feel that your new cat is confident in her new environment and your current cat is calm as well, continue the process as follows:

• With your new kitty safe and secure in a cat carrier, allow your other cat into the room. Stay in the room and let your cats visit for a few minutes. Repeat the process daily, even if spitting and hissing occurs, gradually increasing the time. Feeding both cats before the introduction helps them feel more relaxed. Be sure to talk in a calm voice to reassure the cats that everything is okay. Do not scold your cat if he does not welcome the new kitty.

• Repeat the process the other way around with your resident cat in the carrier and your new cat outside. Gradually, the cats’ should become calmer and more at ease.

• Once any aggression has subsided, it is time to introduce the cats without the carrier. Never leave them alone together during this time, but allow them to get to know each other in their own way. Offer especially yummy cat treats so that they associate each other’s presence with a good experience.

• Provide each cat with their own things when introducing cats to the household, including their own litter box, bowls, and bedding. It’s all about making your cats realize that the other cat is not a threat.

In the unlikely case that a fight breaks out, it’s a good idea to be standing by with a plant mister filled with water. Spraying a little cool water onto the cats if they should engage will break up the fight. Then separate the cats into different rooms and try again later when everyone has calmed down. Don’t shout at the cats; an anxious cat is much more likely to behave aggressively than one that is comfortable and relaxed.

Patience pays off. Even if the cats do not hit it off right away, in nearly every case they can learn to live together peacefully.

If you have tried these techniques and your cats are still not getting along, please contact the Animal Help Desk at 775-856-2000 ext 200 or e-mail and we’ll be happy to discuss additional techniques with you.

Addressing your Pet’s Behavioral Issues

Animal Files Column, Diane Blankenburg

Reno Gazette Journal

No one knows for sure how many homeless pets there are at any one time. In the past several years, estimates have run as high as 60 million homeless cats and dogs in the United States. Nationally, an average of 12 million cats and dogs enter animal shelters each year, and many of them (roughly five million) are destroyed. In the summer months, many shelters – including here in Washoe County – receive large numbers of animals each day, every day.

Nevada Humane Society has set the goal of creating a no-kill community in Washoe County, where homeless animals are no longer routinely killed for population control. We believe that a key piece to making this a reality is to provide resources and advice so that people will have the ability to work through problems and make sure that their pets can continue to live out their lives in the home where they are comfortable and loved.

Bonney Brown and I will be doing a series of columns over the next few months that address common, but solvable pet problems. We’ll be tapping the expertise of Beata Liebtruth, our Animal Help Desk Manager, to give you the best possible information. If you would like to present a particular problem or question, please send it to

HELP – my cat is tearing up the furniture!

Your sofa and your nerves are in tatters. You’re scolding kitty, knowing all the while that it’s futile. She looks at you as if you’ve gone slightly mad. You’re at your wits end. What do you do?

Above all, don’t declaw. The reasons to avoid declawing are compelling. Declawing is an irreversible surgical procedure that involves amputating the last joint of the cat’s “toes.” It may lead to severe physical, emotional, and behavioral problems. It results in thousands more cats ending up in shelters because their owners are unable to cope with the new problem behaviors that develop.

Scratching is a natural behavior for cats. Scratching is a territorial instinct by which cats place their mark and establish their turf. Cats’ paws have scent glands that leave their own special scent on their territory. At the same time, it exercises their front quarters and – oh yes – it also feels good. You can’t keep your cat from scratching, but you can and should channel kitty’s efforts to acceptable avenues.

Although it may be tempting, do not punish or scold her. Cats don’t understand physical punishment. In most cases, the guidelines below should take care of your kitty’s needs and will save your antique velvet sofa from becoming one of kitty’s own prized possessions.

➢ Forget punishment – it doesn’t work.

➢ Provide a suitable place for your cat to scratch. Options range from inexpensive cardboard scratch pads to more elaborate scratching posts. Try different textures to find one your cat prefers – some cats love cardboard and others prefer carpeted posts, sisal or wood.

➢ Make the scratching post/pad attractive to your kitty, put it in a prominent place, and rub it with catnip.

➢ Make the place she’s been scratching unattractive – using physical (sticky scratch strips or even a throw blanket can work) or scent related deterrents.

➢ Trim your cat’s claws regularly.

➢ For indoor cats, consider Soft Paws, soft plastic caps for the claws.

➢ Don’t declaw your kitty as it often leads to other more serious behavioral problems.

If you’ve already tried these ideas and your cat still prefers your antique velvet couch to her scratching post, please contact the Nevada Humane Society Animal Help Desk. Depending on your cat’s personality and your living situation, we’ll help you work out a battle plan to persuade kitty otherwise.

Questions or issues regarding your pets:

Contact the Animal Help Desk at or 775- 856-2000, ext. 200.

Want to adopt a pet or make a donation?

• Nevada Humane Society, 2825 Longley Lane, Reno, NV 89502, 775-856-2000

• SPCA of Northern Nevada, 840 East Fifth Street, Reno, NV 89512 775-324-7773

• Pet Network, 401 Village Boulevard, Incline Village, NV 89451, 775-832-4404

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