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How should I introduce a new cat or kitten to my existing cat?

Article ID: 254
Last updated: 14 Aug, 2014
Revision: 2
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Cats can be very territorial and sometimes they don't like change very much. Your cat is probably used to being the only cat around and probably had complete run of the house. Suddenly there is this strange other cat or kitten who, from the existing cat's point of view, is just getting in the way. Whenever a new cat is introduced into a house with other cats it takes time for them to get used to each other, and your first cat might be a little jealous of the newcomer, so you need to take things slowly and carefully at first.  

The key points to consider when introducing cats are:
  • Introduce the existing cat and the new cat in stages – gradually increasing exposure time.
  • Keep the new cat in a separate room for about a week so that the existing cat can become accustomed to their smell and presence and the new cat has time to adjust to their new environment.
  • This separation and gradual introduction may help to reduce the overall anxiety of the situation and provides a good basis for the development of good relations. 
  • After the new cat has settled in to their part of the house you can slowly introduce them to the rest of the house by bringing them out for 10 or 15 minutes at a time under your supervision. Eventually they will be confident enough to wander freely around the house and the other cat should be used to them.
  • In the initial stages there may be some hissing and tail swishing – but this should settle down after a few days.
  • Ensure that the existing cat has an area that they can go to for privacy to get away from the new cat.
  • Provide at least two litter trays.
  • Allow the cats to eat separately.
  • Ensure the existing cat receives a lot of individual attention from you.
  • Be aware that it may take some time for a relationship to develop.

Not all cats will get on with each other. In situations where cats do not like each other in the long-term, they may still be able to co-exist in relative peace by seeking out their own space and spending most of the time on their own. Some cats have the ability to find a balance and share their territory. Having access to different rooms so that they may be alone can assist in these situations.

In rare situations where cats seriously injure each other or begin to show signs of severe stress as a result of being housed together, they may need to be separated. Your local vet can provide more information about available options in these situations.

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folder Companion animals -> Caring for a new pet -> Your new cat

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