Introducing a New Cat to a Multi-cat Household

Cats are like potato chips; you can’t have just one! Sometimes those potato chips don’t get along, especially if you don’t properly integrate them. When introducing a new cat into your home with other cats, it is essential to remember that this is likely an unsettling transition for all pets involved.

Ruff Start Rescue recommends placing your new cat into a safe room where they have access to food, water, a litterbox, a comfortable place to rest, and comforting interaction from members of your household for at least one hour per day. Your new cat should hang out in this new, secluded space for a few days or weeks. Doing this allows your cats to take in each other’s scents and feel less threatened when you finally introduce them. You can assist in the scent exchange by gently rubbing each cat’s cheeks on a towel and giving the towel to the opposite cat a few days in. How each cat reacts to the scented towel will be a good gauge for their first in-cat interaction.

When you are ready to let your new cat explore the home, you can swap your cats by placing your new cat outside of their room and the resident cat inside the new cat’s room. Both cats will have A LOT of exploring and sniffing to do that could take several hours. When both cats look relaxed in their new spaces, you can take this opportunity to let them see each other for the first time through a baby gate or propped door. It is important never to push your cats to interact with each other. They will let you know if they are interested in communicating. You can expect hissing, intense sniffing, and growling. They may even like each other right away! You should repeat this process until your cats see each other as pals or the very least, acquaintances. You may reward your cats with treats when they are near each other and behaving well.

Make sure to pay attention to your cats’ behavior. Signs of stress or anxiety include hiding, aggressive behavior, decreased appetite, or excessive vocalization. If these signs persist for more than a week, it may be time to consult your veterinarian. It is common for cats to experience some stress when transitioning into their new home.

Integrating cats may take some time and trial and error, but it is worth it for a peaceful household. If you have any additional questions, please reach out to us at info@ruffstartrescue.org.

dog sniffing flowers
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a dog looking at a lake