Whether introducing a new cat into a previously animal-free home or one already shared with companion animals the basics are the same. Adding a few steps should help introductions to go more smoothly. Be forewarned; cats do not like change; expect some acting up from established animals. There is a possible chance kitty will not fit into the household. This is a worst-case scenario; go forth with a positive attitude.
Try to choose a new kitty with a similar personality to the resident animal. An adult cat may be a better fit than a bouncy energetic kitten if an older animal resides in the home. Some cats won’t accept another that doesn’t look like them.
Introductions need to be slow. If possible, before bringing kitty home take a blanket or towel used by your resident animals and put it in kitty’s cage. Bring home something similar from the cage to be placed in your resident animal’s sleeping area. Each will be familiar with the other’s scent before kitty arrives. Cats are very territorial. A new cat with no territory is invading the home of an established animal. A resident cat may feel the need to firmly establish its territory and uncharacteristically start urinating in inappropriate places.
Immediately after kitty arrives home put it in the prepared safe-haven room. Do not be tempted to show kitty in the crate to resident animals and restrain them from sniffing and poking paws under the door. Expect some hissing and spitting during the introduction process. Give resident animals extra attention and reassure them they are important and not being replaced. When progress is made; reward both animals. Refrain from scolding; that could make the other animal appear a threat. At any stage, if things do not seem to be going too well, go back a step and allow both time before trying again.
With new kitty safely shut in its room, open the crate door and allow the cat to come out in its own time. Only once kitty is settled allow other animals to inspect the door. Animals know when another is nearby; they have heard and smelled each other. The aim is for each to associate the other’s scent with a pleasurable experience. Leave treats on both sides of the closed door, and then move their food bowls close by.
When neither animal is hissing or growling through the door, allow a face-to-face meeting without physical contact. A see-through barrier across the door will suffice but make sure neither animal can get past. Stay nearby and monitor the meeting. Continue the food and treat regime but food bowls may need to be moved back from the door. Let the animals decide what a comfortable distance is.
Next let new kitty discover the rest of the home on its own. Shut the resident animal in a room with food and litter box and give new kitty supervised free range. Their scent will be left in the communal area and kitty can familiarize itself with the home.
Now comes physical contact. Supervision is a must. Ensure each has a safe-haven to escape to if required. They may initially ignore each other; or they may not. Monitor their behavior. Be prepared for posturing or occasional minor disagreements. This can happens between the most bonded of cats. If there are signs of escalating aggression use a firm “No.” accompanied by a sharp hand-clap; if necessary throw a toy or small pillow near them as a distraction. Reinforce good behavior with a treat when they back off. For emergency use, should there be a serious fight; keep a water pistol at hand. Never separate fighting cats by hand; unless you want to visit the emergency room. Do not put your hand or any other part of your anatomy near them. Do not touch or stroke a cat just before or after a fight, they are still in attack mode and you may receive the brunt of it. Carefully shepherd both cats into separate rooms until they have had time to cool off and calm down. If this behavior continues after repeated introductions, get professional advice from a veterinarian or animal behaviorist.
Enjoy your new extended family.