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How to Introduce A New Cat to a Multi-Cat Household

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When you adopt a new cat, one of the first questions you’ll probably have is, “How will she get along with my other cats?” Depending on your cats, the transition process may be simple, or it may take a little more time and TLC. 

Here are our top 5 tips to help you introduce a new cat to your home.

1) Set up a separate “apartment” for your new cat.

To help your new cat transition to her new home, prepare a separate room for her. Include food, water, toys, a litter box, and a bed or towel to sleep on. If she is a feral cat, set up a heated cat house for winter, preferably with a door.

Jennie Willis, Ph.D, an instructor at Colorado State University, recommends, “Normalize the smell of a new housemate by switching the bedding of the cats. This will help them accept each other by creating a shared scent profile.” 

2) Let your cats explore each other’s rooms.

Place your new cat in a cat carrier, and take her outside for a minute (weather permitting). Then, bring your other cat/s into the new cat’s room and shut the door. Release your new cat into the house to let her explore. It will be easier for your new cat to get used to her surroundings without the stress of meeting new cats at the same time.

Meanwhile, your other cats can check out all the new smells in her room. This will help alleviate any anxiety and prepare them for a face-to-face meeting.

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3) Be patient when you introduce a new cat.

When you bring a new cat home, the worst thing you can do is let her loose right away. Doing this will probably cause hissing, fights, and undue stress on the part of all cats involved.

On the other hand, if you proceed with patience and kindness, your cats can start their relationship on a positive footing. They can get to know one another one step at a time.

How long will the process take? Cat expert Tricia Helfer says, “There is no hard or fast rule as to when they’ll get along. The first time I integrated cats, it took four months…However, I’ve also had an experience where, after just a few hours, the new cat was part of the group.” Patience is key to a successful transition.

4) Give your other kitties a little extra TLC.

When you introduce a new cat, it can be easy to ignore your other cats. But cats can get jealous too, just like a little brother when the baby comes home.

Ensure that you play and cuddle with your other cats, too, not just the new addition. This will assure them that you love them, and they’re still a valuable part of the family.

5) Hang out together.

When you think all the cats are ready to meet, put your new cat into a carrier. Bring her into the main part of the house to hang out with everyone. Because there is a barrier, your other cats will not feel threatened. They can approach her and take a good look without fear or aggression.

After doing this a few times, just leave the door to the new cat’s room open. Wait with a few treats until they notice that the door is open. When that happens, give them both a treat.

If they both eat the treats, then they may be ready to meet. If not, they are not relaxed enough yet to meet. Be patient, and use your best judgement to know when they’re ready to get along.

At first, you’ll need to supervise them to ensure that everyone gets along well. With time, they will probably warm up and become great friends.

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