Even though we know that cats are extremely territorial and do not easily accept a newcomer, it is reassuring to know that our cats can live in harmony with a newbie if the introductions are made correctly. They can adapt and accept a new cat into the family.
Doing the introductions properly and slowly at this initial stage will make life so much easier down the track.
At the outset you need to mindful that domestic tranquility will not happen instantly. It will take time and patience - but it will be worth it to be able to extend your family and enjoy the love and affection from another cat in the household.
The best approach is to get a friend to carry your new kitten or cat into your house in a cat carrier case. It should be seen as a no fuss affair.
The new cat should be taken to a separate room within which it will live on its own for a short time. The room should contain a cozy sleeping place, an individual litter box, water dish, feeding dish, toys and a scratching post.
Never attempt to put the cats together instantly or attempt to force a meeting.
You are bringing the new cat into the territory of your existing cats so by first allowing it to occupy this one room is the best option. Your existing cat will quickly know that another cat is in its territory.
Scent is highly important for cats - your existing cat will be able to smell the new cat - even behind closed doors. You can expect some tantrums to take place - hissing, crying, etc as your cat asserts itself to the newcomer.
You should let your cat smell the other cat indirectly. This could be done by rubbing a towel on one and letting the other smell it. They will gradually come to accept this scent as a normal household scent.
This initial period will set the tone for the relationship for a long time to come so it's worth putting in the effort for the period of time it can take.
And we must not forget that the new cat will also be highly stressed coming into a new environment - especially f it hears an unhappy cat on the other side of the door. You need to be patient and loving to both cats throughout this whole process.
The next step is to let the cats swap environments for a short period of time on a couple of occasions. You will need help with this - one person to carry out the new cat into the larger space while the other person takes the resident cat into the new cat's temporary room and stays with it while it smells the new scents. Of course the other cat should be supervised in case it dives under the lounge. At least you'll know where it is at all times.
The integration period may take from a few days to a week or longer. You will get a sense of when the temperaments settle as the adjustment slowly takes place.
Before the cats meet face-to-face in an open setting, it is recommended that you let them meet through the door which you hold slightly ajar so they can see one-another and sniff noses if they want. The other option is to get some sort of grate or something like a baby gate - so they can see and smell each other but not be able to pounce on one-another with this level of protection.
When you think the time is right, let them meet face-to-face and mingle with one-another - under constant and close supervision.
Ignore any hissing and growling and be ready to intervene if any kind of altercation starts to take place. The more they tolerate one-another, the more praise and attention each should receive. Again, there may need to be two of you at this delicate time.
Try to engage both of them in a pleasurable activity - like chasing a piece of string or playing with a toy they can both enjoy. This will let them associate fun and enjoyment with the company of the other cat. Give equal amounts of attention to both cats - playing and patting. Always let them eat from their own food bowls.
If things start to get heated between the cats, you will need to again separate them. The key is patience - eventually they will learn to accept one-another even if only begrudgingly. Cats can fine their own space and play the avoidance game for however long is necessary.
An introduction can really take from two hours to six months depending on the age of the cats and their temperaments - so the key is to persevere and be patient and calm.
If you have an older cat - rather than introduce one kitten, consider two kittens so they can amuse one-another and leave the older cat to enjoy some peace.
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