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The 3 steps to make introducing your new cat a breeze.

It's fair to say that some cats just don't like other cats! Some will NEVER be able to live in a multi-cat household! However one of the biggest mistakes people make is when a new cat arrives and they are released into the same area as the resident cat immediately. Both are stressed, and this is all that they will remember.

The most important part of introducing a new cat to your resident cat(s) is not to rush the process. They'll hopefully be living together forever, so taking a few days, or sometimes longer, benefits all parties - especially the cats! Oh - and your sanity too!

It's easy to assume that if your current cat has lived with another in the past, then everything will be fine when a new cat is introduced. This is not always the case, particularly if you have recently lost one of a very close pair of cats. The resident cat has this new being in their home, whilst the new cat has to deal with all new scents and surroundings!

Introductions can be done in three steps.

  1. Give the new cat time to settle. Finding themselves in new surroundings, especially after they have had to travel to their new home, is pretty scary. Your new cat will be on the defensive and they'll just want to hide! We are also guilty of not giving the new cat space as we want them to love us immediately! In reality, they need time to adjust! Make sure they have an area where they feel safe and can start to adjust to the new surroundings. Hidey holes are good and will be the first thing a new cat will look for in their safe room. It is always best to keep your new cat in a separate room to begin with and ensure that there is no way that they can escape. When they feel confident in that room they can start to explore safely and this will help their confidence. You may want to shower your new kitty with love, but let them adjust. It can just be good to go into the room and sit away from them and read a book out loud so they get used to your voice or scent. Also in their own room, the cat will have their own litter tray and food bowls that the resident cat can't get to. This stops the new cat feeling that nothing is theirs. After a day or so, It's good to give your new cat anything that your resident cat has slept or laid on and vice versa. This will make sure that each cat is getting used to the other's scent. To help your existing cat feel more secure, take a towel and rub it over them and leave it the new cats room. If your new cat has bedding swap this regularly so the resident cat can sniff it. This will allow resident cat to get used to the scent of the new cat. Your resident cat may lurk outside the room where the new cat is staying and sniff under the door. This building up of curiosity may mean it is actually a relief when the cats first get to see each other.

  2. Let them catch a glimpse! There is no time scale on when to move to step 2 but if your new cat is starting to relax, then it is worth trying. If they are still scared and hiding, then it is too early. If your new cat is acting more confident, try wedging the door open an inch so they can glimpse each other. If that seems to go well, then you can move on to the next step but I'd always recommend doing this 'glimpse' stage a few times. Don't let them run towards each other on this first glimpse as your want to build their curiosity. If you have an outdoor cat, after a few days, let your new cat explore the rest of the house when your resident cat is out. Just make sure the resident cat doesn't bolt back in and scare itself or the new cat - so manage this carefully. This will mean your new cat has had a chance to explore, and when they come back in your resident cat will know their new housemate has been out. Start to feed the cats on each side of the closed door. This will mean they hear each other and continues to build trust. Small steps like this help to build awareness.

  3. A relaxed first meeting. You should open the door to your new cat's room whilst you are with your existing cat in another room or some distance away. Watch the cats to see how they interact and if all is calm, reward them with a tasty treat. If this doesn't go well. Remain calm and try to spend more time on STEP 2. They just need a little extra time to build their confidence. As time goes on, each cat will begin to adjust to the other. Any forcing or rushing on your part will only make the situation more stressful and the settling in process will be prolonged. Some cats become best friends and others will merely learn to tolerate each other. Each cat will have a different relationship.

Remember to take your time and don't be stressed. This won't help the cats and it won't help you. The more you take it at their speed, the more it is likely to succeed, and this extra time should help everyone involved.

Good luck!

Written by Si Mon from the ICR Facebook group

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