A step-by-step guide to help adopters integrate a new cat to their furry family members.
Introducing your new cat to your existing cat(s)
Thank you for choosing to adopt! We understand that introducing a new cat to your home and other pets can be intimidating but don’t worry! We’re here to help!
Remember that cats are individuals, and each relationship will be unique. Some cats will become playmates with other cats, some will enjoy the companionship of other cats, and others may prefer to keep their personal space from other cats.
Though we know adopters may feel eager to introduce their new pet to the whole family, we recommend providing your new cat with time to adjust to their new environment and decompress from shelter life before introducing to your other cats. (Adjustment and decompression times will vary for each cat and recommendations may vary from 3 days – 2 weeks. Some cats may take months to feel fully comfortable with other cats, and the key to success is going at their pace. Remember that new cats may also pose a health risk to your resident cats and adopters should foloow any instructions given regarding how long cats should remain separated.
Things to remember before introduction
- Familiarize yourself with signs of stress in cats beforehand. FFCR offers resources for cat body language cues and there are also many resources available online.
- Keep it positive. Interrupt any undesired behaviors quickly and calmly. Keep voices happy and maintain a light-hearted setting. Offer gentle re-directions of your cat’s attention rather than yanking them apart or reprimanding cats. (Ex: offer soft claps/pats or an audible distraction)
- Keep it optional. Don’t force interactions between cats. Either or both cats may ignore another at first and that’s ok! Allow them to remian inside their “comfort zone’. They will interact when they are ready.
- Be patient. Remember that bringing a new cat home will require adjustments for everyone, especially your current pets. Taking your time and offering plenty of breaks will help ensure a more successful outcome for all!
- Never reprimand either pet for communicating. There may be some hissing or swatting which may sound scary however this is simply how cats communicate and as long as no one is pinned down or harassed, do not interfere. If you do find yourself in a situation where you may need to intervene remember to keep thing positive and never punish either cat. Reprimanding them will teach them not to communicate with each other (potentially causing an escalation to an actual fight in the future) and to associate the new pet with negative experiences. Instead, calmly remove them from the situation and allow a break time. Always praise positive interactions and communications!
- Make sure there are plenty of hiding spots for your cats. Some like to sit up high, on shelves and on kitty condo perches. Frightened cats, on the other hand, tend to hide under and behind things, so make sure you provide spots at floor level as well. Place food, water and litter boxes out in the open so your cats don’t feel trapped when they access these resources. Make sure you have a litter box for each cat, plus at least one extra.