Introducing a New Cat

introducing-new-cat

While there is never a guarantee that two cats will get along, proper introductions are the key to creating a harmonious relationship between your resident cats and the newcomer. Cats are territorial creatures, and more often than not, bringing a new cat into a home creates at least temporary stress for everyone. Doing your homework before bringing a new family member home greatly reduces the likelihood of problems down the road.

Choosing a new cat

I frequently get questions from readers who are looking to add a new cat to their family. How do I find a cat that will be a good match for my cat? Should I get a cat who’s the same age as my resident cat, or should I get a kitten? Male or female? Will the resident cat accept the newcomer? I wish I could give definitive answers to all of these questions, but the reality is that while you can do some homework, ultimately, each cat’s unique history and personality will determine the outcome.

Generally, cats who have previously lived with another cat may be more likely to get along with another cat, but that doesn’t mean your resident cat agrees. Age, gender, temperament and even size can make a difference. For more information, please read Choosing a Companion for Your Cat.

Slow and gradual introductions set the stage for success

Feline behavior experts advise introducing a new kitten to your home and your resident cat slowly, and in stages. For a step-by-step how to guide from feline behaviorist and host of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell, Jackson Galaxy, read Cat to Cat Introductions. While it may be tempting to just “let the cats work it out,” that’s usually never a good idea.

Breaking my own rules

I have to confess, when I brought Ruby home after Allegra had been an only cat for about a year, I broke all of these rules. I did this not in defiance of what every feline behaviorist and every feline rescue group recommends, but rather, based on my gut instinct, which told me that with these two cats and their respective personalities, it was going to work. Had I seen any signs along the way that things were going south, I would have reverted to traditional protocol. It worked out just fine.

I want to be clear that I don’t recommend this method for everyone. It certainly flies in the face of conventional wisdom. But sometimes, rules are there to be broken. For most cats, traditional introductions will work best. For others, it may be more stressful for both the resident and the new cat to keep the two separated. It becomes an individual decision that needs to take into account how well you know the cats involved, and how comfortable you are with new cat introductions.

How have you handled introducing a new feline family member? Share your experience in a comment.

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15 Comments on Introducing a New Cat

  1. modernpictureframers@eccsystems.co.za
    April 3, 2017 at 12:43 pm (4 months ago)

    We have a maine coon kitten of 5 months old and got him a little female friend as we heard cats like companions and he
    loves playing. The little kitten of 6 weeks has been with us
    for 3 days and the maine coon attacks and grabs the kitten and grabs her by the neck, will they eventually bond? We are keeping them apart at the moment and let them together when we are around, can you please let us know or have any suggestions.

    Reply
      • fenna
        April 3, 2017 at 1:08 pm (4 months ago)

        thank you so much, will do so, he is off course the only cat and now finds the little one an intrudor.

        Reply
  2. Laurie
    December 21, 2016 at 10:38 pm (7 months ago)

    When we brought Cocoabean into our home, our older cat Casper had already been living with us for a few years. We were not sure how he’d take to a friend, even though he was extremely friend to humans. Cocoa, for her part, was very shy and timid at the beginning. We felt her more retiring nature would not upset the cart too much, since Casper was the epitome of an alpha. We kept Cocoa in her own room for nearly a month. We followed all recommended suggestions to the letter. We had to, because she literally hid herself nearly the entire time under the bedroom furniture, hissing at us when we came near. Fear, not anger. Eventually, she came out of hiding and began to trust us and the day I walked in and she was there to greet meet (with some trepidation, but she put on her brave face) was the day we opened the door for her to explore. Casper by that point, had smelled her under the door, and they had played footsies so he didn’t react too much when she came down the stairs. Some very mild hissing which was expected, but nothing too serious warranting our intervention. It took them a few more months to get entirely comfortable with each other, but by all accounts it went much better than we expected. Slow and steady, keeping calm, having patience and not worrying too much about making them like each other really worked for us.

    Reply
  3. Annette Prieve
    December 21, 2016 at 6:30 pm (7 months ago)

    I just received my Balanced Blends starter pack. Looks great!
    Minikin our cat especially liked the box it came in! She is used to raw so
    I’m sure she will love the food too!
    Thank you for all the good stuff you tell us about.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 22, 2016 at 6:11 am (7 months ago)

      Well, that’s a good start that Minikin liked the box 🙂 Let me know how she likes the food, Annette.

      Reply
  4. Ashley Ryan
    December 21, 2016 at 4:43 pm (7 months ago)

    I have to comment: I have Oliver, a big, Maine Coon and one day found a starving little kitten. I took it right to my vet to get it checked out and kept them separated til I got a clean bill of health. Finally I brought the baby out to introduce them. Oliver sniffed him, licked his face a little and then picked the kitten up by the scruff of his neck and dragged him off! From that moment on the kitten became Oliver’s baby! The kitten slept on Oliver’s back or between Oliver’s paws. He carried that kitten till his little legs started dragging on the floor! After 4 years they are still inseparable. I never saw anything like this before and I feel blessed.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 21, 2016 at 5:43 pm (7 months ago)

      What a wonderful non-introduction introduction, Ashley! 🙂 It’s wonderful when it works out like that.

      Reply
  5. Lola The Rescued Cat
    December 21, 2016 at 3:57 pm (7 months ago)

    The introduction period woth Lola and Lexy had its rough spots. Patience was the key. These are great tips.

    Reply
  6. Liam
    December 21, 2016 at 9:56 am (7 months ago)

    When introducing two cats and expect them to get along well on the get go, is usually wrong, but I admit I also thought it is just a matter of time before my younger cat gets used to the new (but older) cat I adopted. Thanks for sharing the link to Cat to Cat Introductions. When I see Jackson’s program is currently on Animal Planet, I usually stop a bit and watch his latest cat problem. He’s really a patient person in my opinion.

    Reply
  7. Sue Brandes
    December 21, 2016 at 9:47 am (7 months ago)

    Thanks for the post. Very helpful.

    Reply
  8. Janine
    December 21, 2016 at 9:21 am (7 months ago)

    Thanks for this advice. I always have always had trouble when I brought a new cat into my house.

    Reply
  9. Shechosethecat
    December 21, 2016 at 6:44 am (7 months ago)

    Kittens young children usually don’t mix well as kittens can be fragile and youngsters kind of rough.

    Reply
  10. Patricia
    December 21, 2016 at 4:39 am (7 months ago)

    I have usually had a multi cat household. I’ve only had one little problem introducing a new cat. I got slashed immediately when I introduced my calico to my resident lady cat. My very interesting new calico slashed me. when she met the other female cat. I do believe calicos have a deeper slash. After that ,introducing new cats to my home has always been good and they all get along immediately, because they have all been use to being around other cats. I have a wonderful multi cat home life, with 3 pet cats and 4 ferals. I really rather have loving pet cats for my own loving relationship and closeness. My most recent feral , a 4 month old kitten got loose over night a week and a half ago. The other 2 other someone paid me to take them in and I receive monthly payment. The other feral came from a feral colony, when we had to close the feral colony. The other cat girl took the others.All my current cats welcome and are friendly to a new cat.

    Reply
  11. Summer
    December 21, 2016 at 3:33 am (7 months ago)

    My human has introduced cats all different ways, but most of the cats she has had in her life have been pretty easy going. Recently, when we stayed at a friend’s house in Vancouver, we agreed that it was not a good idea for me to meet any of their four cats. They knew I was around, though, and they ignored my human on purpose! The two dogs loved her though, and I got to meet the little one that was just my size. We were both on leashes and it worked out nicely.

    Reply

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