If you have a cat and if you are considering getting a new cat, it is very important to plan things ahead and to take some time to make all the necessary introductions. This approach will greatly contribute to reduce any tension that may arise between the two cats, avoid possible conflicts and to turn the process into a smooth and pleasant experience for both of them.
Initially the new cat should be confined to an area or a room with everything he or she needs: food, water, a litter box and a few spots where the cat can rest and hide. During this time it is important for the new cat to spend time with all the family members. This will help the cat to gradually adapt to its new home and become comfortable with its new family.
Once your new cat has adjusted and feels confident in its new environment you can start with scent introduction. Use a cloth (or several cloths) to collect the scent of your resident cat by gently rubbing it on its face and body. Then present it to your new cat, allowing him or her to smell it. The same should be done for all resident cats and the scent of the new cat should also be collected and presented to your resident cats. You can also rub these cloths on objects that your cats usually rubs against and switch their bedding to keep this process going.
When they are first presented with the other cat's scent, your cat may freeze, back away from the cloth or even hiss. It is important to give your cat time to get used to the new smells and when your cats display positive reactions to each other's scent you move to the next stage.
Allow your new cat to explore the rest of house without the others cats being present. Your new cat will then be able to get to know where to go if he or she feels insecure and needs to get away or hide. Once your new cat feels confident in that new space as well, you can introduce your cats.
At first, allow them to interact in a controlled environment where they can only see and smell each other (without any direct contact). A good idea is to use a mesh panel or to jam a door leaving it just slightly open so they can get to know each other, one on each side of the door. If there are any signs of aggression none of the cats will be able to harm the other. You can also offer both cats some food at this time so they associate this meeting to a positive experience.
When both cats are not showing any fearful or aggressive behaviour they can then be allowed to meet and get to know each other without any barriers between them. Always make sure you have enough important resources available for each individual cat such as litter boxes, feeding and drinking areas, resting and hiding spots.
This can take from just a couple of weeks to a couple of months as some cats will move through this process quicker than others. It is very important not to rush these introductions and you can also use commercially available pheromone diffusers for cats to help them feel more relaxed! Lack of social harmony among cats can lead to chronic stress, unwanted behaviours and health problems.
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