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 animalhelp@nevadahumanesociety.org and we’ll be happy to discuss additional techniques with you.

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