Bringing a new pet into your home, whether it’s a new cat or a dog, and introducing it to your resident feline buddy can be a nerve-racking experience. It would’ve been much easier if all it took was a brief handshake and some name tags. But we all know that with cats, it doesn’t go that way.
Here are some tips you need to consider to increase your chances of success.
- Consider the personality of your new and current pet. Even before getting a new dog or cat, it’s important that you consider and match its personality and activity level to your resident cat. For instance, an older cat may not appreciate the behavior of a young kitten or puppy.
- Take it slow. Cats dislike change and are territorial by nature. Having a newcomer in the household is a huge change for them; more so if they are unhappy with your new pet. Cats that have never been around with other pets, or haven’t been to a different environment such as a cat care facility, tend to dislike sharing territory with others, even people. They may express their disapproval by fighting with your new pet or by marking territory. This is why your current and new pets need to be introduced very slowly to avoid developing fearful or aggressive behavior. This could take anywhere from a few days, or even months.
- Prepare the home for the arrival of the new pet. It would be wise if you bring your new pet on a day when you can devote a lot of time to settling in, such as during the weekend when you are not at work. Remember planning is crucial for success. Also, make sure to purchase a dog crate or kitten pen beforehand and place it in a small room or area that your resident cat doesn’t particularly favor.
- Work the scent of your new cat into your home. With cats, it’s all about the scent. If you surprise your resident cat with a new and unfamiliar scent, you can expect all hell to break loose. So it’s advisable that you incorporate the new pet’s aroma into the household slowly. You can do this by stroking your cat and your new pet regularly and swapping beddings.
- Separate your pets. To allow time for your pets to adjust to the situation, separate them first. Take your new pet to a small room along with the essentials, such as food, water, toys, and bed, for a few days. Once your new pet has adjusted, rotate across a few days which pet gets to roam free and which one is confined to help them familiarize each other’s scent without meeting face to face. It also helps your new pet explore her surroundings without getting frightened by your resident cat.
- Begin face-to-face introductions. Once your pets have been exposed and gotten used to each other’s scents, it’s time to attempt some face-to-face introductions. Allow the animals to sniff each other first. If you’re lucky, they might do just that. They may also just sit and stare at each other, or sniff and walk away. If you’re introducing a dog, keep him securely leashed.
If you’re not so lucky, your cat may become stressed and growl, hiss, or moan. Your dog may also snap or lunge toward your resident cat. Should this happen, distract them by making a loud noise or throwing a pillow nearby. Carefully take them into separate areas of the house to calm them down. If they continue to fight, you may need to begin the introduction process again, or contact a professional for advice. Continue indefinitely until both your pets become relaxed around each other.
Maintaining the peace
The belief that cats hate new cats, or dogs hate cats and vice versa isn’t necessarily true. Resident cats only hate new animals in their household if they aren’t properly introduced and their relationship isn’t firmly established, so it’s important not to rush things. Also, make sure to maintain existing routines with your resident cat so she doesn’t feel neglected and feel that your new pet represents a loss of resources or enjoyment.