March 15, 2010

Pet-to-Pet Introductions

Introducing Your New Cat To Other Animals In Your Home

“The fur will fly” is an expression that could be used right about now — when you are bringing home a new cat an dyou have one, two, or even more cats in your household.

Most of the time these situations work out well after two or three weeks. The cats sort themselves out into a new pecking order, and the newcomer takes it place in the fold. In the meantime, expect hissing, growling, and cats chasing one another from room to room.

It is wise to keep the newcomer separate from the others for the first 48 hours or so. You can keep him in a bathroom or bedroom with his food, water, litter, and some toys. Since it will spend much time sleeping, it will not be lonesome. The other cats can smell the newcomer and hear it moving around through the door.

On the second or third day, you might position the door so that it is open enough for everyone to meet and sniff, but not enough for a cat to slip in or out of that room. After a day or so, open the door and allow the newcomer freedom. Don’t go out of the house in those early days without putting the new cat back in its own quarters.

Other options include blocking off one floor for the “old” and one for the “new” cat, if you can do that where you live. You might also keep the newcomer in an animal cage for a few days with its food, water, and litter box so the other animals can see it and sniff around, but the cat is protected.

Some new cats are accepted easily in a multi-cat household with none of the above dramatics. That is particularly true when the new member is a kitten. Sometimes, one cat tolerates the other but never really grows to like its housemate. Less frequently, an adjustment never comes. If after four weeks or so it looks as if there will never be tolerance in your household, let alone harmony, you have four choices:

  1. You can call in an animal behavior therapist to help everyone become adjusted
  2. You can keep the cats separated forever, perhaps on different floors of your home.
  3. You can get used to the idea that one or more of the animals will never be happy about the newcomer (or the newcomer about the others) and learn to live with the occasional hissing or fighting.
  4. You can return the new cat.

There are some felines that prefer to be in a one-cat household and never do adjust or even become at least reasonably accepting of another cat. It is not common, however, for an adoption to fail because of other cats in the house. Hang in there. It does take patience.

Now, about dogs. If you have a dog or two, again you could have any one of several responses to and by the newcomer, depending on the temperament of each animal. Follow the above suggestions. Dogs and cats can get along well, although here too it is usually a kitten that causes less fuss than an adult cat meeting your dogs.


Posted in: General Information