How do you successfully introduce a new cat into your household if
you already have other pets? As cats can be territorial creatures,
bringing a new kitty home to meet Fido or Fluffy can be a hair-raising
experience for not only the owner but also the resident pets—if not
handled correctly. A peaceful relationship between new and existing
feline or canine housemates requires time, patience and work. The
introduction process generally takes a few weeks before the pets are
all cohabitating peacefully. At times, though, it can take several
weeks. The trick is to do it slowly and cautiously…and follow the
the new cat in a separate “Safe Room”. That is closed off
from the other pets (make sure the door is securely shut and doesn’t
open easily). This smaller, confined area will help the new cat
to feel safe and adjust more quickly to his new home. Provide
a litter box, scratching post, toys, food, and water in the new
cat’s room. This separation will also give your current pets time
to get used to the new cat’s smell and the idea of having a new
occupant in the house. During the first week, the only interaction
that your new cat and resident cats should have is playing paws
under the door.
cats like routine, not change Your resident cats’ behavior
may initially change when you first bring the new cat home. Most
common is hissing, growling, hiding or fighting among resident
pets. Your current cats may even act differently toward you by
displaying aggression or ignoring you all together. With your
new cat in his “safe room,” the new and resident cats will all
have the opportunity to become familiar with each others’ scents
while safely separated by a door. As they begin to acclimate to
each other, the cats will feel less threatened and, with time,
the negative behavior should dissipate.
introduce a new cat to the resident cats before introducing
him to the resident dog(s). In most cases, the cat to cat introductions
will be more harried, with the cat to dog introductions being
new cat and resident cats should have no face-to-face interaction
for the first week. This will allow the new cat time to get
comfortable with his new environment and family. The stress of
a new environment can cause a cat to show signs of an upper respiratory
infection (watch for sneezing, eye or nose discharge) or diarrhea.
Watch to make sure that the new cat is eating well, drinking and
using the litter box. In almost every case, a cat that does not
use his litter box is suffering from a medical condition. Any
instance of inappropriate elimination (outside of the litter box)
should be followed up with a visit to the vet.
keeping the new cat in a room of his own for the first week, start
introducing the smells of each cat to the other. You can do
this by brushing all of the cats with the same brush to get their
scents on each other. Also, try feeding them each a special treat
on either side of the door. Doing so will help each cat to associate
the smell of the other cat with the positive experience of eating
the treat (usually wet food works best). You may want to have
your resident cats go into the new cat’s room (and visa versa)
when he is not there to help them get acclimated to his scent.
introducing smells for a few days, when you are ready for
the first face-to-face introduction, put the new cat in his carrier
and let the resident cats come into the “safe room.” This will
give you an opportunity to observe the interaction among the cats
while the new cat is protected in his carrier.
with this initial meeting there will be some hissing and/or
posturing. If the interaction seems as though it could lead to
aggression, you will need to do this controlled introduction using
the carrier a few more times before removing the barriers and
allowing the cats to meet face-to-face. If the cats all appear
to be curious or simply wary with no outward signs of aggression,
then you can open the carrier door and let the new cat walk out
into the territory of the resident cats. Do not rush this process.
It is very important to the long term harmony of their relationship
that the introduction process proceed at a pace comfortable for
each of the cats.
all interactions closely during the first weeks. Do not leave
the cats alone unsupervised until you are comfortable that there
will not be aggressive behavior displayed by any of the cats.
During the first few weeks, the new cat should stay in his “safe
room” when no one is home to supervise.
interaction among the cats deteriorates instead of improving,
return the new cat to his “safe room.” At this point you will
need to start the introduction process again, this time, taking
more time at each stage.
a Cat and Dog
you bring a new cat into your house, you need to set up a “safe
room” where the cat can stay for at least the first week.
The room chosen must have a door and should be in a quiet part
of the house. You will need to provide access to food, water,
litter box, and scratching post at all times (see first bullet
point above for more details). If you have cats as well as dogs
in your home, the cats should have already been successfully introduced
to the newcomer before initiating introduction of the new cat
to your dogs.
should be no face-to-face interactions between the new
cat and resident dog for the first week. Bring the cat into the
house in his carrier and take him directly to his “safe room.”
introduce the cat to any other pets until he has settled in and
seems to be comfortable with the human members of the household.
This comfort will be evidenced by the cat becoming interactive
with you when you enter his “safe room.” Many cats will initially
hide for a couple of days when brought to a new home, but will
soon become comfortable if given time and space.
your new cat seems to be comfortable with you, it is time
to start the introductions with your dog. During these introductions,
the dog should always be crated or on leash, allowing the cat
to approach the dog on his own terms. This may well be the first
time that the cat is outside of his “safe room.” Allow him to
explore at his own pace and approach the dog if he is comfortable
doing so. All introductions should be supervised and conducted
during quiet times of the day.
watch the first contact between cat and dog. Let them sniff
each other. Be ready with a towel or squirt gun in case of any
aggressive behavior. The situation should be fairly well controlled,
though, because the dog will be confined in his crate or on a
leash. If either animal displays aggressive or fearful behavior,
separate them immediately. Try again later (possibly the next
day) after things have calmed down.
the initial meeting goes well, you will still want to repeat
the encounter several times under controlled circumstances
before letting the animals roam freely in the house or leaving
them together unsupervised.
your new cat is a small kitten, take special precautions whenever
the cat and dog are together. A large dog may not intend to
harm a kitten, he simply may not know his own strength or understand
the fragility of a young kitten.
sensitive to the fact that some dog breeds are naturally not
good at cohabitating with cats—certain breeds may instinctually
be driven to chase or act aggressively toward a cat. You will
need to evaluate your pet’s personality and determine if he is
an exception to the general rule for his breed. Take extra time
and care when introducing the two animals—always under close supervision.
Be aware that your dog may behave better when you are present,
so allow ample time for supervised interactions before letting
them to be alone together.
to Encourage or Maintain Harmony
speed acceptance of a new cat, after following the above introduction
processes, try feeding the cats at opposite ends of room. Gradually,
over time, move the food bowls closer together. After feeding
them side-by-side for a week, the cats should be ready to roam
through out the house freely.
a few drops of Bach Flower Remedies to each water bowl. Add additional
drops as needed when the water is changed or replenished. This
is a homeopathic treatment that will not have any affect on those
pets that drink the treated water if they are not displaying the
targeted behavior. You can purchase Bach Flower Remedies in different
“flavors” at Whole Foods Stores and most health food stores.
helps to quell anger
Water” works well with overly dominant animals
helps to calm a bully
helps adjust to change
addresses any feelings of resentment
plenty of safe, comfortable sleeping/nesting places if you have
several pets…cats especially need their space. They are not as
social as dogs and often prefer isolation at times.
the cat’s food in a location out of the dog’s reach—either up
on a counter or ledge or in an area that is barricaded so that
the dog cannot enter.
separate litter boxes (they eventually may share). The general
rule is one litter box for each cat plus one.
sure litter boxes are placed in quiet, easily accessible locations
that do not present opportunities for a cat to be cornered by
other pets. While litter boxes should be accessible to the cats,
they should be out of reach of any resident dogs.
in spite of your best efforts, sometimes the resident pets will
not accept the new cat into their home. After a month of working
through the techniques listed above, if your pets have not progressed
past outward displays of aggression, it is time to consider the
possibility that the new cat may not be able to integrate into your
family. If this turns out to be the case, unless you are willing
to maintain separate living quarters for warring pets, you may need
to find the newcomer a new home. If you originally adopted the cat
from 4Paws, pursuant to the Adoption Contract, you are required
to return the cat to the organization.
If you dont have any other pets in the house, you should still
start your new cat in a safe room. Cats like smaller,
more confined spaces. Your new pet will acclimate better if started
in a single room instead of being given access to the whole house
The safe room should have a secure door and be away
from the noise and activity of the rest of the house. Generally
you want to choose a room that does not offer a lot of hiding places
(like under a bed). The room that you choose should be a place where
family members can easily interact with the cat-- usually a den
Set up the safe room before bringing your new cat home.
The room should have food, water, litter box, scratching post and
toys. When you bring your new pet home, leave him in the carrier
until you get to the room where he will be staying. Once in the
room, open the carrier door and let him come out at his own pace.
Remember, everything is very new and could be scary for your catnew
sounds and smells, separation from the familiar, etc. Give your
cat time to settle into his new surrounds before lavishing him with
attention. It may take a few or several days before he becomes comfortable
be patient and compassionate. It may help for you
or other members of the family to just sit in the room with him
and talk to him. After a couple of days, try playing with an interactive
toy, such as a laser light or feather toy. Also, offering smelly
fishy food is always a good way to go. To paraphrase-- the quickest
way to a kittys heart is through his stomach.
Once your new furry friend seems comfortable with family members,
you can start introducing him to the rest of the house or apartment.
In general, your cat should stay in his safe room for
at least the first week. When the cat seems ready to venture out
of his room, let him explore at his own pace. He will probably walk
around carefully smelling every nook and cranny. Kitty should continue
to stay in his room when you are not home until you are comfortable
that he feels at home outside of his safe roomusually
a second week will suffice for an adult cat, but longer for kittens.
Once your new pet gets free roam of the house, you will most likely
want to move the litter box to its permanent location. Any time
you move the litter box, you should put the cat in the box (at the
new location) and let him explore from that reference.
Some cats will acclimate to a new home faster than others. Following
the steps listed above, will ensure a smoother transition for any
cat. Best to be safe and go slow than to rush things and have a
scaredy cat on your hands (or under the sofa)