Adding to your cat family is exciting, but the process can be frightening for the new kitten. And the cat you already own may feel like her territory has been invaded. To help your feline friends settle in successfully, follow these get-to-know-you steps.
Step one: Take it slow
Dogs tend to bound through the door and make themselves at home, but cats are more tentative and nervous. Move cautiously when introducing a new cat to your home and any cats you already have.
- Never introduce a new kitten to an existing cat right off. Because cats are territorial, your existing cat will consider the new feline an intruder. Instead, bring your new kitten home to a “safe room” of her own. Let her spend her first two weeks behind a closed door.
- In the safe room, give the new cat places to hide for privacy, such as a cardboard box or a closet with the door ajar. Place food and water on one side of the room and the litter box on the other.
- Your existing cat will undoubtedly sense the new cat’s presence, but don’t let them meet yet. Instead, let them sniff each other through the door.
- Introduce yourself to the new kitten in short visits to the safe room, increasing your visits’ frequency and duration each day.
Step two: Direct introduction to the kitten
- After the cats have had several days to smell each other through the safe room door, put the new cat in a pet carrier in the safe room. Then, open the door to allow the existing cat to be introduced through the carrier door. This approach will keep both animals safe should either become aggressive. Repeat this step several times.
- Next, confine your existing cat to a closed room and allow the new cat to explore the house several times a day.
- After ten days to two weeks of this arrangement, it’s time to introduce the two cats face to face. Have on hand a squirt bottle filled with clean water. Should one cat show aggression as the two meet up close and personal, a quick squirt to the aggressor’s face will interrupt the tension and split them up.
- Until they are accustomed to each other, feed the cats separately out of sight of one another so that they aren’t tempted to take each other’s food.
- Continue to supervise until they are consistently at peace and gradually become friends.
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