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How should I introduce a new pet to my cat?

Ginger cat and grey cat kissing advice

How to introduce a new cat or dog to your current cat

© Shutterstock

If you are ready to add another furkid to your family, how you introduce a new pet to your cat is crucial to ensuring all your pets can live in harmony together.

By Zoë Monk

Published on the 21/02/2020, 15:00

Whether you are planning to adopt a dog or cat, the most important part of introducing them to your resident cat is to not rush it. It may take a bit of time and effort, but making the introduction goes as smoothly as possible is important for all the family.

While it’s almost impossible to predict how a new pet will get on with your resident cat, there are some simple things you can do to help you create a happy household. Just make sure you have a good supply of patience, treats and praise.

How to introduce a new cat to my current cats?

Adult cats are often much more welcoming to young cats and kittens than other adult felines. If all the cats are neutered then that is even better. But regardless of the age of either cat, there are several things you can do to make introductions between your existing and new cat happy, safe and successful for everyone.

Two cats running in the house
Here is how to introduce a new cat to your cat ©Shutterstock

Give your new cat time to settle

Once you have brought your new cat home, keep them and your existing cat apart initially. Give your new feline friend their own room where they can settle in for a few days with their own bed, litter tray, food and water bowls.

Swap cat scents

While they are settling in, start to introduce the new cat’s smell to your existing cat. Swap their bedding back and forth over the first week. Let your existing cat smell your hands and clothing while stroking them and talking to them softly and reassuringly. If either cat gets distressed or angry around the other’s scent, reassure them with plenty of strokes and encourage them to associate the new smell with a positive experience such as their favourite treat.

Let the cats see each other

Once both cats seem comfortable with the other’s scent, you can then start to introduce your new pet to your cat. Keep one cat secure in a cat carrier while allowing the other to explore and sniff through the carrier door for a few minutes. There may be some staring and hissing from one or both cats when they come face to face with each other. But this is very normal behaviour and will soon pass. If you feel the introduction is too much for either cat, keep them separate for a little longer before trying again. Go through this process a few times as you alternate the free and secured cat until both react to each other in a calm way.

Create a relaxed first meeting

Don’t force the cats to get close to one another. Make sure they have plenty of room and places to escape to where they feel safe if they want some peace and quiet. If everything goes well, your two cats can become great friends and feline siblings, playing with each other and washing and grooming together. But be patient. This can take some time to develop and won’t just happen the first time you introduce a new pet to your cat.

If either cat seems uncomfortable around the other cat and there are no signs of improvement, keep them separate and get advice from your vet.

What’s the best way for my new dog to meet my cat?

Many people are decidedly a dog or a cat person. But if you can’t decide between either, the simple solution is to be both. If your home already has a cat, just like 24% of UK adults, changing it into a dog and cat household doesn’t just mean bringing the new dog home and hoping the animals will get along. What you do early on can make a big difference to how well your cat and dog get on in the long-term.

Cat playing with a dog
The best way to get your cat meet your new dog ©Shutterstock

Create a doggy space

Getting to know your new dog is an exciting and fun time. To help your new dog settle in and feel at home, create an area for your new dog, preferably their own room or an area that is sectioned off with baby gates. Swapping bedding between your resident cat and your new dog will also help both pets get acquainted with each other’s smells before they come nose to nose with each other.

Are you looking for a crate for your dog? Check these ones out

Meeting face to face

When it’s time for your pets to properly meet for the first time, put your cat in a carrier and put the dog on their lead. This way they can comfortably see and sniff each other without any physical contact. Get the dog to sit, but be prepared to take them out of the room if they start to get too excited. Repeat this meeting, alternating with your cat in its carrier and your dog in their crate, until both pets relax around each other. Reward both your cat and dog by giving them lots of praise and affection.

Pawfect pals

Once your pets seem comfortable being around each other in the same room, you can let both animals be free to explore each other. Repeat this a few times a day until both pets seem to relax. After all, you don’t want the dog chasing the cat during these early introductions. When your dog can stay calm when the cat is loose, let them off their lead and see how they get on. If your existing cat is a young kitten, even the gentlest of dogs could easily hurt them. Never leave them alone together in the early days.

Introducing a new pet to your cat

When it’s time to introduce a pet to your cat remember, every animal is different and you will have to work at their pace. You may be fortunate and the introduction could progress quickly without any problems. However, others can take several months. Don’t be tempted to rush things. Take it slowly and carefully. This will hopefully result in your pets living together comfortably and peacefully and maybe even eventually becoming the best of friends.

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