When bringing home a new kitty it is normal for the current one to be upset, even territorial. There are things an owner can to to lessen the stress and reduce any risk of problems. This guide is written to help with correct, and easy introductions of cats and kittens to each other.
It is very important to get off to a good start with both pets. Never bring home an unvaccinated cat or kitten, and never bring home a pet to a home where your current one has not been vaccinated. If either one is sick you may have double the medical bills as very likely both will become ill. Having them dewormed, free of ear-mites and worms is also a good precaution.
If you are bringing home a stray, or feral, cat you found always call your local shelter first to report finding it. In the event an owner has reported it missing this acts as protection for you so you cannot be charged with theft (unless you removed the animal from somebodies property).
If the cats are old enough to be spayed or neutered this should be done too, as in addition to preventing breeding, spaying and neutering lessens a cats territorial response (particularly in males).
*You may note that people often say it is easier to introduce a new kitten to an adult cat, but an adult cat can easily hurt a small kitten, and feeding them separately may be nearly impossible.
If you select a new cat that has been with other cats,or if your cat has experience with other cats, your introduction will go easier.
Set Up Space
You must plan on keeping the new kitten, or cat, in a room by itself for 2-3 weeks. A bathroom often works well for this purpose. It should have a litter box, food, and water, as well as a place for the kitty to sleep. You can use a towel your current cat has slept on and place this in the room under the new cats food dishes as this will help get the new cat to associate the smell of your current cat to good things (food).
Speaking of food you will want to feed both cats the same diet. Use this separation period as a chance to get the new kitty onto the same food as your current cat. This is one reason its best to have cats around the same age, as kittens need cat food, adult cats need adult cat food, and senior cats often need food with reduced protein.
If you suspect real problems will occur you can get a product called Bach Flower Rescue Remedy from your local health food store. This can be added to a cats water to reduce their stress level.
These cats were introduced when one was an older kitten, and one was a very young kitten.
Bringing Home the New Cat and Introducing Cats
Do not force the cats upon each other, your current cat will soon become aware of the new cat. If you force the issue you may cause your current pet to be upset, and upset cats often show their displeasure by urinating inappropriately.
Simply put the new cat in the room. Your current cat will soon be aware that something has changed. The two will meet by sniffing paws under the door.
Eventually you will be able to let them out together when you are home and can supervise them, and after a while they will be fine left out together. You may note that they may never become best friends, they may never share the same sofa for sleeping, but if you have handled the introductions correctly they should at least tolerate each others presence.
These two cats were introduced when both were over 8 years of age. As you can see they are pals proving that you can introduce adult cats to other adult cats.
How Long Does it Take?
In younger kittens you really should keep them separated for at least three days prior to their first face to face meeting outside of the room. Older kittens might be allowed to meet after one week. For adult cats this separation period might need to be longer, with two weeks a typical length of time. Even then it is important to keep them separated at night or when you are away until you are more comfortable with how they will act to each other. Of course there may be some hissing, and minor fights to establish dominance, and this is normal.
Remember the standard rule is one litter box per cat, and ideally one extra.
If you are trying to introduce new cats and it is going poorly, separate them and go slowly. Most people make the mistake of putting the cats out together (usually when it is kittens) and expect harmony too soon.
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