How to introduce a new kitty to existing pets


 


For those of us with multiple pets who didn’t all come into our lives at the same time here are some tips and tricks on introducing a new kitten into a home with existing pets.

Why do you want another cat?

There are many factors that go into the decision to bring a new kitten into your life. It should be well-thought-out and well planned and never spur of the moment. For me, after 10 years of having my dog Lucy and two sister cats Chloe and Zoe, I was asked to take in a 14-year old male cat, Titan, who had once belonged to my Son but had been living with his ex-wife since their divorce 5 years ago. Suddenly she no longer wanted him and was threatening to take him to a shelter if I didn’t want him. Well OF COURSE I wanted him. I knew him to be a sweet loving and very unique (Pixie-Bob) polydactic, or 5 toed, cat.Titan In this situation it was a bit spur of the moment, but since I knew the cat I was getting it made it easier.

Initial preparation tips

Whether it’s an adult cat or a new kitten the steps to prepare for its introduction to your existing pets are the same. I followed them for taking in Titan, and copied the same process just weeks ago with my new kitten Misha.

For the first few days or weeks, depending on how the introduction goes, the newest family member should be sequestered in a “safe room” by itself. This space should include everything the kitty needs, food and water, toys and a bed, and of course a litter box.

Plan to go into this space and interact with the newest member of your family several times a day. Spend time doing what kitty wants to do, NOT what you want her to do. If she wants to play then grab a toy and get in some good interactive bonding play. If she just wants a good cuddle then hold her and talk softly as you stroke her. It’s also a good idea to repeat her name over and over while you’re cuddling, it helps her recognize it and if there’s a strong bond she will actually come when you call her.

Easy does it for the introduction

After the new kitty has been ensconced in her own space for a while, take something with her scent on it (maybe a blanket or towel you’ve had on her bed) and bring it out into the main house where the other animals will have the opportunity to meet her scent. Animals introduce themselves to each other by scent, there is no secret handshake in the animal world!

Once everyone is used to the new animal scent they will be interested in laying eyes on her. At this point I recommend using a baby gate about 2 inches above the floor with a blanket or towel draped over it so they can only get a small glimpse of each other, and not yet complete sight or eye contact. It is at this point you will learn how the introduction is going. If there is interested sniffing and peeking under the barrier things are going well. If there is hissing or yowling this step should be left in place for a while longer until that behavior subsides.

Once you feel comfortable that there is curiosity and not animosity you can remove the cover from the barrier so everyone can fully see and smell each other, but still not have complete contact.

You may even move everyone’s feeding bowls within sight on both sides of the barrier. When they can eat within sight of each other without feeling either threatened or over protective of their food then this can be considered a big WIN!

Take down that wall!

You know your pets, and only you can decide when it will be safe and appropriate to remove the barrier completely. Titan blended in well fairly quickly, probably because he was older and didn’t present much threat to Chloe & Zoe. Lucy the dog loves everyone, she is the calming influence on all the other animals in my home.

Unfortunately the first vet visit with Titan uncovered the real reason he was no longer wanted, he was suffering from kidney failure. I began giving him IV fluids daily and started him on a special diet but sadly he succumbed to his illness within weeks. Soon after that Zoe was diagnosed with inoperable stomach cancer and when she could no longer tolerate any food I made the difficult decision to euthanize and end her suffering. Now I was left with only Chloe and Lucy.

Chloe & LucyThey are truly the best of buddies, as you can see in the picture. They comfort each other during thunderstorms and clean each others faces if someone has a little food on their chin! However, of all the cats Chloe was the only one who was NOT a lap cat. She likes to be petted and brushed, and will sit next to me on the sofa or the bed but will not snuggle in my lap like both Titan and Chloe did.

That’s when I made the decision to add a new kitten to our lives. One who enjoyed being held and snuggling on my lap. Misha fit the bill perfectly.

I am happy to report we are past the introduction phase and the house is open to everyone. Misha will crawl onto my lap after she eats for a cuddle and a nap. She sleeps above my pillow and sometimes tries to “groom” my hair for me.

All’s well that ends well

My life is once again complete with Lucy, Chloe and new kitten Misha. Each one with her own personality, likes and dislikes, just like any family. I hope my story and these tips take away some of the misgivings you may have about adding a new kitty to your own household. I would love to hear from you, feel free to comment or add you own story below. Thanks!

Kyle Ann

 

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12 thoughts on “How to introduce a new kitty to existing pets”

  1. Hi Ann,

    I found your article extremely interesting!
    I have two big dogs and a cat at home. My daughter and my son want to adopt another cat, and I refused because I was afraid that the dogs wouldn’t get along with the new cat. Your article gave me the courage to welcome another cat. My kids will be very happy!
    I will introduce them, and I’ll tell you how it goes:)
    Just a question, please. Is a particular breed can be more aggressive than another? One of my dogs is a
    German Shepherd. I hope it will be OK:)

    Thank you for this excellent post!

    1. Hi Daniella!
      Thank you for taking time to read my post. I appreciate you comments and your question. I have personally found that the temperament of the dog matters more than the breed. Some German Shepherds can be very calm and submissive while others can be more aggressive. If you feel your dogs respect you as the leader of their pack, and they are good with the existing cat in your home then they will likely tolerate a new cat. Great question! Do let me know how it goes, and if you have any other questions along the way.
      All the best.
      KyleAnn

  2. Great tips. Sorry to hear about Titan and Zoe. I have never had any pets but I have heard that it is very hard to cope when your pet dies. I do agree pets must be helped to settle in and they become like a member of the family ! Actually, I am amazed that cats and dogs can live together under one roof! I suppose if you make them know each other , like you suggested in your post, then all pets will get along with each other.

    1. Hi Priya!
      Thanks for reading my post, and for your kind comments.
      It doesn’t always happen that cats and dogs will bond like mine have. My dog is very special, she likes all animals (except squirrels)!
      Even though you don’t have pets of your own the fact that you enjoy reading about them shows you are a caring person.
      Best wishes to you.
      Kyle Ann

  3. Wow, I really love your adventures with pets treating them like human beings and all! I’m not a pet type but I can imagine them climbing your laps and grooming your hair like my kids here. It’s fun I must confess, but do you know what I’ve learned from your relationship with pets? They are as important as anyone us. If you plan having pets around you, give them the best treat ever!

    You have won my heart to treat everyone around me kindly and more importantly, to think of getting pets when my kids are grown. Great job!

    1. Hi Shalom!
      Thanks for stopping by my site. And thank you so much for the kind words. Yes, I do love my pets as if they were children, because my children (and some of my grandchildren) are grown up. I think it’s good for us to have something to care for to help us from getting too wrapped up in our own troubles. So many animals are killed every year because they don’t have homes and the shelters are full. To me that’s heartbreaking, and if I can save a couple of little souls then I’m happy.
      If you ever decide to get a pet come back and ask any questions, I’ll be glad to help you.
      All the best,
      Kyle Ann

  4. My husband and I adopted a cat a year ago, at first he had a big attitude lol, but now he is the sweetest cat. We work a lot so the cat is alone most of the time, we are thinking to get another cat to keep him company so this articles was very helpful. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Emma!
      Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad to hear your cat has become the sweet loving pet we all want.
      Cats do not really mind being alone. They’re not “pack” animals like dogs, so don’t feel like you need to get another cat to keep him company. When we are not around they sleep most of the time, and don’t seek companionship other than ours.
      The most important thing to do to keep him fulfilled is the play time. Just a few minutes of active play will really strengthen his bond with you and help to keep him fit.
      Let me know if you have any other questions.
      Best wishes!
      Kyle Ann

  5. Hi and thanks for some concrete tips for the kittens sake!

    Sorry to hear what happened to Titan and Zoe.

    Seems like a great tip with the baby gate to use so they can get a fair amount of each others in the beginning.

    Is there something you definetly don’t recommend when doing the introduction?

    Regards, Jan

    1. Thanks Jan!
      I appreciate your kind words about Titan and Zoe.
      The one thing I DON’T recommend is just bringing the new kitten home, putting her down and “letting them work it out”! They don’t know how, it is up to us to help teach them. In their wild nature they are very territorial and tend not to like sharing space, so we have to help them learn to share.
      Thanks for the great question!
      Best wishes for you and all the furry friends in your family.
      Kyle Ann

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