Finally, the long-awaited moment will soon come when you have a new pet in the house.
The question immediately arises, “What’s the right way to introduce a new cat to your family and other animals?“
Whether you have other cats or dogs living with you, how you introduce them can set the tone for the future relationship between them.
And there can be both right and wrong ways to do this.
The main goal is to make the new animal feel welcome, but also to avoid causing resentment and aggression from other family members.
One thing that is certain is that you need to spend some time and, of course, show some patience.
Let’s try to figure out the best way to proceed when introducing a new cat to the family.
Table of Contents:
- Before You Decide to Take a Cat
- General Tips For Creating the Right Environment For a New Cat
- What to Do When You Bring Your Pet Home?
- How to Introduce a Cat to the Family?
- How to Make Cats Friends With Each Other?
- How to Make a Cat and a Dog Friends?
Before You Decide to Take a Cat
We want to mention some pretty important things before you decide to adopt an animal. You should think about these things.
- Is your home big enough for all the cats to have an appropriate area? Remember that there is such a thing as “overpopulation” and this will definitely lead to discomfort for the animals.
- Are any of your current cats suffering from chronic illnesses? If there is a problem, the added stress of a new lodger could cause a worsening of the disease and health problems.
- Are any of your cats suffering from behavioral problems, such as severe nervousness? Again, this may be a deterrent to think about before taking on another animal.
- Are you willing to take that responsibility, because this is just as much a family member?
Of course, if there are no questions on all of these points, then the animal can safely be taken into the family. Naturally, we leave out those extreme cases when the animal must be taken at least temporarily in order to save it.
Let’s try to detail everything you need to introduce and integrate your new pets with other family members and pets. Let’s go!
General Tips For Creating the Right Environment For a New Cat
At first, the cat will surely be a little (or maybe “a lot”) stressed by the smells and sounds of his new surroundings.
Your main task will be to create such conditions to make her feel at ease and free in at least one room of your home.
Let’s call such a room a “safe” room. You should allow your pet to feel like a full-fledged owner in this room.
The main points to pay attention to at first!
- Prepare a safe room. And so, a safe room or shelter for your new pet will provide him with peace and safety. In doing so, he will immediately begin to become familiar with the smells and sounds of your home. The room can be any size, but it should have a secure door and be free of dangerous objects. Also, familiarize yourself with the basic preparations of your home before you take on a pet.
- Don’t forget the dangers that indoor plants can pose. Care should be taken in advance to ensure that the pet does not have access to dangerous and poisonous plants.
- Provide a place to hide. It is certain that your pet will want to and will hide to feel safe. Provide him a place to hide – this will build his confidence and help him feel brave enough to explore your home further.
- Help the kitten recognize you. To fulfill this point, it will be enough to put a T-shirt or other item of clothing containing your scent in the room.
- Provide sufficient food and water. Ideally, of course, it is better to continue feeding the same food as the previous owners. Also, don’t forget the dangerous foods that our pets should not be fed.
- Place a litter box. Place the litter tray as far away from food and water as possible so that the cat can distinguish between the food and litter area in the house.
- Give the kitten toys. Provide the animal with toy mice, dangling toys, small balls, birds, and other things to help him distract himself and play.
- Place a scratching post. Naturally, cats love to scratch things to mark their territory. Therefore, this interior item will help her feel more comfortable in her new environment.
- Spend time with your new pet. Visit him or her more often, but for short periods of time. Visiting can mean playing games, petting, or just reading a book or talking on the phone. The important thing is to make sure all of this happens around your new pet. Keep in mind that a nervous pet may growl, hiss, twitch her tail, or pull her ears back. The best response is to talk quietly with the animal and then leave it alone.
What to Do When You Bring Your Pet Home
Don’t let your kitten wander around the house
The wrong way to introduce your new pet is to allow him access to the whole house right away. It’s not a good idea to let him into every place in your home.
Not only will the pet be stressed and tense, but your other pets will view it as an intruder on their territory.
Established tenants are more likely to harass new pets. Which, in turn, can increase its fears.
The bottom line is this – when you bring the kitten home, put him in a safe room to get him used to the house for a while.
Give your pet enough attention
If you want your new pet to feel at home, give him enough attention and love.
By the way, this does not mean that the cat has to be stroked all the time – at first, they may not like it. Instead of petting it is enough to spend as much time as possible in the room with the new animal. This will give the animal a sense of comfort and reduce anxiety.
Allow the animal to explore you. Lie down on the floor to make yourself smaller – this will make you less “scary”.
Stand next to her and let her sniff you, walk around you, poke, rub, or even jump in. Keep in mind, though, that getting to know you initially will help him get along with other family members later on.
Before picking up a pet, let her get used to you for a while.
Of course, if the cat shows no obvious signs of distress or anxiety, you can play with it “full speed ahead” right away!
Prepare cat treats. When the animal approaches you, offer treats. It will be enough to throw them next to you on the floor or give them in your outstretched hand.
Play as much as possible. It doesn’t matter what kind of game you choose. It can be a simple dangling toy, a rustling mouse, or a laser pointer. Any game will definitely help reduce your pet’s stress.
Tip! You don’t have to look the animal directly in the face. Your staring may seem like a sign of aggression. It is enough to observe the pet out of the corner of your eye. You can also try blinking slowly.
Assess how confident your pet is
If your pet often goes into hiding, give him more time before taking the next steps.
But if your pet seems pretty brave and already regularly waits for you at the door, consider leaving the door ajar – it’s time to continue exploring your home.
It’s worth saying that the adjustment period can be quite different. If the kitten is already very calm, playful, and “hanging” on your room door, then it may be time for him to open other areas of your home as well.
On the other hand, if the kitten still seems frightened of the new environment and makes no attempt to leave the room, then give him more time to get used to it.
This initial adjustment can take up to a week or more.
Avoid additional contact in times of stress
Remember that if you introduce a new cat to the family in the midst of a busy time, such as during the holidays – the animal will be stressed.
The pet will be overwhelmed by the sounds and smells of people and other animals. If possible, take the pet at a more or less quiet time.
Of course, it depends on the circumstances – for example, one of the cats we picked up on the street exactly on New Year’s Eve!
Tip! Don’t rush your pet. Allow him to learn a new life at his own pace. Believe us, your patience will soon bear fruit – and the pet will live in your family in harmony and happiness
How to Introduce a Cat to the Family
Meeting cats with children
Certainly, a new pet in the family is an extraordinary joy for our children. However, when you get a pet (especially the first one), explain to the children that it needs time to get used to.
Of course, you can let them visit the kitten – do so under your supervision and for a short time.
It also makes sense to give the children cat treats to give them from time to time. This will definitely help the children feel part of the situation and be “involved,” so to speak.
- Ask the children to be quiet and still in the room where the kitten lives. Sit on the floor with the children and wait for the animal to approach them.
- Don’t let children pull an animal’s tail, ears, or paws – develop your children’s respect for the animal.
- Also, teach children to understand and respect the cat’s body language. If she hisses, slouches or her eyes get big and black, she is afraid. In such cases, the child should back off and leave the pet alone until it calms down.
To help kids get to know the cat or kitten, we’ve added a little list with some tips from them:
Hi all, I’m your new kitten and I have something to tell you: 😻
- Your house is new to me, so I’m a little nervous and shy.
- It will take me a few days to get comfortable, so be patient.
- Don’t follow me, please. I’ll start playing with you when I feel more comfortable.
- I’ll know my new home by its smells.
- Since I am new to you, I can run away from your loud voices, noise, and fast movements.
- I get a little nervous, and if I hiss, that’s how I say, “I’m scared.”
- I need a secluded spot so I can find shelter and take a nap.
- Please put my toilet tray in a quiet place and let it be mine alone.
- Since I have claws, I might accidentally scratch you.
- I don’t know where I’m going to sleep yet. So I will try different places in your house.
- Please pet me gently and don’t pull my tail. I am small and easily hurt.
- Don’t let me out on the street. I don’t know where I live, and I could get lost.
- Oh, one last thing. Please don’t forget to close the door to the street behind you. It must be very interesting and curious out there!
Get the cat used to live in the new family
Let’s assume that the new pet has settled into her safe room for a while and it’s time to introduce her to the rest of your home.
First, bring more things so that the cat begins to get used to other smells and places.
Let the cat sniff a pillow from your couch or a blanket from another room.
Keep in mind that it is by the smell that they learn about their environment. You could, for example, give your pet a T-shirt with your scent on it to sleep on.
If it’s time, open the door of her room and wait for the kitten to go outside on her own to explore the places and smells of the rest of the house. Try to stay close, but don’t distract her.
The first few times it makes sense to leave the door open. Do it at night when the house is quiet. Remember that cats are crepuscular animals and it is normal for them to take a walk at night.
If the cat goes out of the room by itself it can also find its way back if it feels threatened or endangered.
If you are not at home, it is better that the animal is in her safe room. And definitely don’t let him wander around the house when you’re not around.
Move food and tray to a new location
As soon as the kitten gets used to the rest of the house, it’s time to move the food bowl and litter box to a place where he will live permanently.
The only thing is to make sure he knows where you move them, or else the animal might get nervous. And we don’t need that!
It’s said and done, and now our pet is in its permanent home. Presumably, all of these methods should work to introduce the new pet to your family and home, whether you have other pets or not.
How to Make Cats Friends With Each Other
And now comes the crucial moment of getting to know the other animals. Let’s try to go all the way as painlessly as possible…And so we begin.
Important! Before you introduce your new pet to other animals, it’s important to have current vaccinations for pets.
Why is it so important? A new pet can be a carrier of various infectious diseases – this can lead to tragic consequences for your domestic cats.
We know of cases where kittens have been brought into the home and caused the death of other animals (due to infections). So be extremely vigilant and don’t ignore the annual vaccinations – one day it may save your pet.
In general, if your new pet shows signs of illness like sneezing, lacrimation, diarrhea, vomiting, etc. We recommend temporarily refraining from seeing other animals until you have consulted your veterinarian.
Highlights of introducing cats
It is important to understand that introducing a cat to other pets should be done slowly.
REMEMBER – it may even take a month or more to accept a new pet.
1.Separate the cats into different areas
For the first week, you should keep your new cat in its safe room and keep the other cat or cats in the rest of the house.
Make sure that the chosen safe room is not your other cat’s favorite room. Otherwise, she’ll try to go into it and get worried when she’s not allowed inside.
Allow cats to stay in their own separate environment. They will begin to gradually get used to the sounds and presence of each other. Avoid early and unplanned animal encounters, which can end badly.
2.Introduce cats to each other’s smells
Let the cats get used to each other’s scents before they meet “formally”.
You can start brushing them with the same brush, petting one cat and then the other. You can also start introducing the cat to the other cat’s favorite blanket or toy.
It makes sense to swap bedding or sleeping blankets so they each have a chance to get used to the other’s scent. You can even rub one animal with a towel or blanket and put it in the room with the other animal.
Did you know? As a rule, your pets will get along faster if they are of the opposite sex. However, there are exceptions: every cat is a unique individual, so it all depends on your pet’s personality.
Naturally, cats may feel threatened and disgusted by the new smell at first, but they should get used to it.
Tip! Try placing some treats or food from below along the doorway, they will pick up food with their paws and get used to each other at the same time.
3.The first meeting of cats
To avoid unforeseen situations, we recommend placing the new cat in a carrier and taking it to another room.
Place the carrier with the pet in a place where the cats can sniff and explore each other. This will save you from accidental fighting and things like that.
If the animals are acting very aggressively towards each other – then the “first visit” should be ended.
Don’t rush the process. Just separate the cats again and try the same procedure the next day.
If something went wrong, be sure to play with each animal separately before each encounter. This way, they will be a little physically tired and less likely to want to fight. Also, they will be in better spirits after the games.
Keep in mind that when cats hiss and growl at each other it is normal. But an all-out physical attack is already considered rare.
By the way, in case of a fight never stop it with your hands! Use a broom, water, or blanket to avoid biting or scratching.
4.Start feeding cats near each other
If the animals react to each other without obvious aggression, it’s time to move on to the next phase – feeding next to each other.
Consider feeding the cats over some kind of barrier or a short distance away. The main thing is that they can see each other, but can’t reach and scratch one another.
Remember, however, that you must be sure to be close to them. The situation can change at any time, up to and including a violent fight.
If their behavior remains aggressive, feed them in opposite parts of the house or room. Then try to slowly bring their food closer together until they get used to eating nearby.
5.Let cats spend more time together
Try to give the cats more time to be and play together. Observe how the cats react to each other.
If you think the situation is getting worse, then return the new pet to its safe room for a while.
Tip! Be sure to have separate toilet trays, food bowls, and toys for each animal. Do not force the animals to fight for resources – this will instantly cause “friction” between the cats.
Remember that when cats are together, you have to feed them, give them treats, play with them, and give them enough love and attention. Believe me, they feel and understand your care.
6.What to do if the introduction of cats was unsuccessful
Let’s add a little bit of bitterness and clarity to the situation if dating has been unsuccessful.
If you have tried all the methods and a dozen of others, and still there is no luck. And if it has been more than a month, and your cats do not get along, then, unfortunately, the only way is to look for another home for a new pet.
If they are fighting, hissing, or growling and can’t be alone together, nature has taken its course and we can’t do much about it.
How to Make Friends With the Cats (Step-by-Step Infographics)
Here is a step-by-step diagram in the form of a picture of how to introduce and make friends with cats. We hope it will be useful!
How to Make a Cat and a Dog Friends
Here are the recommended steps to make friends with your new cat and dog:
- First, as a precautionary measure, prepare a safe room (see “General Tips for Creating the Right Environment”). Remember to leave escape routes for your new cat. Also make sure that the dog has no access to cat food and water, and especially no access to the litter box!
- Separate the cat and the dog for at least a week. Give the cat time to get used to its new environment before she meets your dog.
- After your new cat gets used to it for a while, swap out the bedding or blankets from the animals’ beds. Both cats and dogs should begin to get used to the new smells. You can also rub one animal with a towel or blanket and put it in the room with the other animal.
- Once your new cat starts to feel comfortable, allow her to walk around the house – and you can send the other pets to your new pet’s room. Such a maneuver ensures that the animals can smell each other but not meet each other. Also, in the meantime, the newcomer can familiarize herself with her new surroundings without being intimidated by the other animals.
- When introducing a new pet to your dog for the first time, be sure to place it on a raised surface, such as a table or dresser. This will help the cat feel safe. Be sure to keep the dog on a leash and in a muzzle. Allow them to gently sniff each other – and don’t forget to thank the dog with a treat or praise. It’s also worth mentioning that it’s okay if the cat hisses and growls at first. Especially if she hasn’t seen a dog before.
- Cats need time to adjust to their new life. The more time the animals spend together in the same room (under your supervision, of course), the faster they will adjust.
- If the cat attacks the dog, however, you can throw a towel over it. Also, make sure that your cat has an escape route (jump to a height or hide under something low) if aggression comes from the dog.
- Keep your pets separated from each other until the situation becomes friendly.
- If the cat is hiding, don’t worry. Just keep the dog a little away so the cat gets used to the dog’s presence.
- Let the pets get used to each other gradually – be patient and calm. Soon you’ll see them becoming friends!
We are sure that all will go well and one day you will find your animals sleeping together and playing merrily. Remember, however, that the level of social interaction between animals can vary.
As an example, our Abyssinian cat treats the other cat, frankly, not very well – we can see how hard she tolerates him.
We even have a phrase, “What an unpleasant start to the day…” – when she hisses at him in the morning. She doesn’t want to play with him, and she only sleeps next to him on very rare occasions.
But when that happens, it’s a reason to be surprised and take a picture!
Frequently Asked Questions
This article partly uses materials from:
1. Book: “You and Your New Cat”
2. Article — “Introduce a New Cat to the Family” (WikiHow)
Murmeo link to the article: https://murmeo.com/en/introducing-your-new-cat/