Have you got a new kitty on the way? Mmm, that new cat feeling.
Meeting your bundle of joy for the first time and holding them while they wriggle desperately to get away (because they don’t know yet that you’re The One)…excitedly informing your resident kitties that a new housemate is due…
Fast forward to the day you bring new kitty home. Old kitty senses stranger danger! There is hissing and howling. New kitty hides and old kitty’s pupils are huge.
Don’t despair – it doesn’t need to go this way!
The key to introducing your cats is giving them time to get used to the strange, new scents they are both picking up on.
It takes time for humans to get to know each other and our kitties are no different. When they are introduced too quickly, they start off on an aggressive dynamic and it is hard to turn this into friendship down the track.
Keep your new cat separated in their own room for a week. This may seem like a long time to you, but for both of your cats it is just enough time to process new smells under the door and figure out that they are not in immediate danger.
You may feel impatient about introducing your new cats sooner than this, but it is critical that both your new and old cats have at least five days to sniff each other under the door, hiss, meow and play pawsies.
During this time, swap their locations a few times to allow them to conduct further sniffing, but never let them meet.
After five days, try opening the door just a tiny bit so they can make eye contact. If they immediately escalate into howls, it’s too early to introduce them. Keep doing these little tests until they seem calmer.
At this point, you can open the door a little further to allow face to face sniffing. Repeat these little introductions and make them longer and more revealing each time.
Read the signals your cats are sending to each other and use this to judge how each kitty is coping. Don’t push them if they are stressed, allow them to retreat and calm down in separate spaces.
Use calming aids during the introduction period – there are plenty available, including collars that release a calming scent and the magic Feliway spray, which instantly chills cats out. Anything that helps your cat destress during this difficult time is invaluable!
Finally, make sure you give both cats lots of attention. Your new kitty will be looking to you for reassurance that they are safe because you’re their closest ally in this new and unfamiliar world. Your old cat will be further stressed by any change in routine, so make sure you keep up your normal play and cuddle time.
With these steps you’ll be well on the way to creating a happy, fluffy family!