The Set Up
Choose a room, such as an extra bedroom or bathroom where you new cat will live as they adjust to their new home. Staying in one room will prevent your cat from being overwhelmed by the entire home at once.
Food, water and a litter box should be easily accessible
Don’t expect too much the first day; cats need to feel safe in their environment before they get to know you. Your cat may hide for a few days and that’s ok! Do make sure she is eating and using the litter box, this will likely be happening at night.
Be proactive and set up safe hiding places like a hidey hut style bed or even a box with a blanket.
Don’t force or pull your cat out of a hiding place. You can build trust by sitting nearby and offering treats or toys.
Provide enrichment in your cat’s room.
This room can continue to be a safe zone for your new cat even after she is introduced to the rest of the home.
Keep your new cat separate from other pets in the home. Slow introductions will set up all pets for long-term success.
Keep your new cat totally separate for the first few days and spend time with her in the room. Don’t forget to give your other pets plenty of attention during this time too, they know something is going on.
Allow cats to sniff each other under the door.
After a few days switch blankets or beds and allow each cat to sniff and lay on the blanket with the other cat’s scent.
Once both cats are calm around the scent of the other cat, switch your resident cat to the new cat’s room and allow to new cat to explore more of the home.
After a couple more days, set up a baby gate or similar divider and allow the cats to meet face to face.
Important! Do not hold your cat during a face to face meeting! Cats will feel safer with all four feet on the ground so they have the ability to walk away.
Have a blanket on hand in case of a fight. Don’t reach your hands in a cat fight – you will get hurt.
Some hissing or growling is ok and normal. Again, let your cat walk away if they want to. Being too hands on or pushy can set up your cats for failure – have faith that your cats understand cat communication better than you do.
Slowly increase the amount of time your cats spend together and continue to supervise interactions.
First, be sure your dog does not have access to the new cat’s food, water or litter box – your cat needs to feel safe enough to eat, drink and go to the bathroom.
Your cat will feel safest if they are up on a higher surface like a cat tree or table and can easily get away from your dog if they feel threatened.
Keep your dog on a leash and let them see each other, use treats or a toy to distract your dog and keep him calm.
Don’t let your dog chase your cat and have a blanket nearby in case of a fight.
It will likely take time for them to feel calm and comfortable around each other so take it slow and let your cat retreat back to her safe room.
Have your kids spend time with your new cat in her designated safe room.
Allow the cat to approach the kids and not the other way around. Also they should never pull the cat out of her hiding place. Have kids use toys or treats to lure the cat out.
Teach kids how to politely pet cats and to look out for signs like a twitching tail that indicate kitty is done being pet.
Always let your cat walk away when she is overwhelmed by loud noises or fast movements.
I know I loved my childhood cats and a proper introduction can lead to a beautiful friendship.