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How to Introduce a New Cat to the Family

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Introducing cats can be a stressful experience for both you and your cats. It's useful to be prepared when getting a new cat to know how to introduce it and make your cats as comfortable as possible. Making your new cats meet too quickly with no preparation can make them feel scared and lead to fighting, and their first impressions of each other might last and be difficult to change.

Introducing cats is difficult as they aren’t as social as other animals such as dogs. Cats don’t feel the need for social relationships; while this doesn’t mean that cats won’t get along, they may feel in competition with your new cat but this can be prevented.

Getting the cats used to their scents

Scent is very important to cats; an unfamiliar scent can immediately tell a cat if something isn’t right. When you first bring your new cat home, stroke them with a cloth and then rub the cloth on several items around your home. This will ensure that your existing cat becomes used to the smell of the other cat without having to put them face to face straightaway. You can also stroke the cats individually to help introduce each other to their scents without putting the cats together. While you’re getting both cats used to each other’s scent, it’s important not to make the cats meet each other for at least a week so they are more likely to become instantly comfortable with each other. Keep them in separate areas, but you can let each cat explore the others space when it’s empty.

Give them their own space

You’ll need to set up a space for your new cat away from your existing cat while they’re getting used to each other. A spare room is ideal for this, but if you don’t have one then use an area which your cat doesn’t use much. Give your new cat toys, food and water in their space so they feel comfortable. Also, maybe include a large cage for when you want your two cats to interact. Leave your new cat alone in the room with the cage so they can get accustomed to it, and when you want to bring your two cats together put the new one in the cage so the existing cat can explore without them being able to fight each other. This will make them more comfortable with each other when they meet without the cage.

Meeting for the first time

Don’t allow your cats to fight when you actually introduce them. Maybe try letting them see each other for the first time through a stair gate or cages; this means they can see and smell each other but they won’t be able to attack each other. Make sure the cats are in an area where they are both comfortable and where they can escape back to their safe space if they need to. Also, avoid pushing your cats to interact as this will likely lead to them feeling intimidated and fighting. Keep initial interactions short, taking regular breaks. You can also give treats or feed them at this time to help form a positive association with meeting each other. If either cat shows signs of being uncomfortable, such as hissing at the other cat, separate them immediately and try mixing their scents again for a few days, and wait a while before you reintroduce them.


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