Adopting a cat can do a lot of good. You are giving a cat a loving home who may not have had one before. However, if you already have one or more cats at home, introducing a new feline can be tricky. Especially so if the cats have different personality or between a cat that loves being an only-child and a new kitten. To avoid any extra stress, here are six tips to help your cats acclimate.
Create a Separate Kitten Space
When bringing a new cat home, the first thing should always be to provide your feline with a safe place. This space gives your cat a sense of familiarity and a place to retreat to if the new house ever gets overwhelmed. This area should be secure from the rest of the house and other felines. In this space, you should have a litter box, food bowl, water bowl, and plenty of toys to keep your kitten occupied when you aren’t home. You should also have safe hiding and sleeping areas for maximum comfort.
Handle Vet Visits Right Away
Part of the adoption process is a regular vet check-up. Schedule your kitten’s first visits to the vet on the same day you plan to bring your cat home. This should include a wellness exam, vaccinations needed, and a discussion about spaying or neutering if your kitten is not already fixed.
In addition, take some time to trim your kitten’s claws and groom its fur before leaving the cat in their designated space. Not only do these tasks help you bond with your new cat, but they also can reduce the risk of stress responses to the presence of the resident cat.
Introduce the Cats Slowly
Cats are very territorial. A new kitten can feel like a threat to your resident cat, so it is important to make new introductions slowly. Anticipate keeping the kitten separate for at least a few days. After the first day or two, give each of your cats an item with the other animal’s scent on it. A blanket, cushion, or fabric toy for example. Place this item in an area where your cat feels comfortable. Avoid specifically approaching either cat with a scented item, as it could be understood as a threat.
Once your cats get used to each other’s scents, you can allow them to interact in limited ways. For example, let them interact through a baby gate or sniff under the door of the other cat’s designated area. Only after your cats begin to behave normally when in proximity to each other should you allow them to meet.
Keep Watch for Any Warning Signs
Change can be extremely upsetting for your cats. Your resident cat may feel like its space is being violated and your new kitten may struggle to get used to a new home and a new sibling at the same time. If either cat gets aggressive, start the introduction process over by separating the cats. This helps your animals and their autonomy and safety feel less threatened.
Stay Patient Through the Introductions
Many cats can learn to live together, but it’s up to you to give them time to get used to the idea. The introduction process should take no less than a week’s time. Before bringing a new cat home, ensure that you have the time and resources to handle this process with care and compassion. You will need to spend dedicated time with both cats to ease the transition and bond.
Understand How to Respond to Aggression
When cats begin to live with each other, they may play fight or compete for attention or toys. For the first few days after your cats are allowed to interact freely, pay attention to their behavior. Normal play may involve a fair amount of batting, pouncing, and so on. If you see threat displays like hissing and arching, distract the cats with a loud noise or toy so that they can retreat. If possible, avoid letting serious physical altercations occur. If necessary, separate the cats until they both calm down. A fight could mean injuries for you and your cats.
Introducing a new cat can be tricky, but with some patience, you can build a happy family with your new felines. Feel free to contact us here or call Olsen Veterinary Clinic at 618-656-5868 with any questions.