How to Properly Introduce a New Cat
By Lynn Bowden, DVM, Woodruff Road Animal Hospital
This article was taken from the Critter Magazine – Greenville in the May/June 2013 issue
Cats are a social species but individual cats vary in their willingness to accept others. Following some simple introduction techniques will promote a smoother transition into a multi-cat household.
Prior to bringing home the new cat, evaluate the living area and add additional resources if needed. Cats will coexist more peacefully if they have numerous vertical resting spaces dispersed throughout the home. These need to be large enough to accommodate only one cat in order to avoid conflict. Multiple litter boxes, feeding sites, scratching posts, toys, and beds should be available in different areas of the house. Care should be taken to avoid creating spaces in which one cat can “trap” another or prevent access to an area by guarding it.
Start the integration process by establishing a transition room. Provide everything the new cat will need to be happy and cared for: litter box, feeding and water station, bed, perch, scratching post, hiding places, and toys.
Place the new cat in the transition room with the door closed. Offer a toy which can be placed under the door to encourage play on opposite sides of the door. Each cat should be fed a special treat near the transition door at a distance which does not create distress. Create a group scent by alternatively rubbing all household cat members’ cheeks daily with a washcloth or soft glove.
Once the new cat is comfortable in the transition room, start rotating the new and existing cats into each other’s spaces. Finally, begin short visual introductions by allowing them to see each other through a glass door or by placing both cats in carriers or on harnesses near one another. Repeat short exposures several times a day until all the cats appear relaxed and there is no overt aggression. They should not be left alone until they have coexisted peacefully for two weeks while supervised.
Dr. Bowden practices at Woodruff Road Animal Hospital in Simpsonville. While she enjoys the spontaneity and diversity of general small animal practice, her special passion lies in the area of dog and cat behavior. Many hours of advanced study have made her uniquely qualified to assist families with preventative behavioral wellness counseling and address existing serious behavioral concerns.
Contact info: 864-234-5995 or http://www.woodruffrdah.com