Deciding to add a new member to your feline family can be a great choice. Not only will you be saving a homeless animal, but you will also be providing your resident cat with a lifelong companion. However, you need to thoroughly prepare for your new family member and follow some basic techniques to ease the new cat’s transition into the household.
Creating a Safe Isolated Area for the New Cat
For the first week or so, you want to keep your new cat confined in a safe area where he/she will not have any contact with the resident cat. A spare bedroom works well for this. If that is not possible, try to gate off an area for the new cat to feel safe. Make sure there is a litter box in his/her room, a bed, a blanket, toys and a bowl for water and a bowl for food. This gives the new cat an opportunity to explore a small area of the home (generally just one room) and feel comfortable in his/her new surroundings.
Keep Them Separated
There are two main reasons for keeping the resident cat and the new cat separate during the early days of their initial cohabitation. First of all, you need to ensure that the new cat is healthy. Prior to introducing the new cat to the resident cat, the new cat must be taken to a veterinarian to have all of his/her vaccines and to rule out any health problems that can be contagious to the resident cat.
Once the new cat has a clean bill of health, you should continue to keep them separated for a few more days. Consequently, this also gives the resident cat a chance to be more accustomed to the new cat in the house. One way to gently introduce them to each other is by using scent. Take a blanket that the resident cat sleeps on and give it to the new cat. Do the same by giving the resident cat the blanket of the new cat. This will help them get to know each other through their scents.
It is only a matter of time before the cats start “talking” to each other through the door and sniffing each other. This is a good time to begin supervised introductions between both cats.
The Face-to-Face Introduction
By now you have two healthy cats that are curious about each other and eager to interact. The best way to handle the first introduction is to keep it short. Pay attention to the behavior of both cats: do they seem scared? do they feel threatened? are they keeping their distance? Unless they become aggressive with one another, let them sniff each other and play on their own terms. By introducing an activity such as the fishing pole game, both cats get to play together and learn to become accustomed to each other. Remember not to promote competition among the cats. These supervised play times can help you decide if the cats can play long term together with minimal problems. If they play well, there is no reason why they can’t both be given full run of the house.
Also, remember to have an adequate amount of litter boxes for your felines. The rule of thumb is that each cat should have his/her own litter box, otherwise territorial problems such as spraying or urinating and defecating outside of the litter box may occur.
By taking the time to prepare for your new family member, everyone will be happy and benefit from the love a new pet has to offer.