ANIMAL RESCUE AND ADOPTION TEAM INC.
Introducing A New Cat To Pets
HOW TO INTRODUCE YOUR NEW CAT TO RESIDENT PETS
Like people, cats are choosy about their relationships – they can be the best of friends or just tolerate each other with a minimum of conflict. Successful introductions require time and patience to ensure a good relationship develops.
Your resident pet may be jealous of a new arrival. He may be fearful of losing territory or worried that he is about to be replaced. Extra love, attention and patience during this transition will help to reassure your resident pet that he is still the center of your universe!
Whether or not there are existing pets in the household, you should not give a new cat the run of the house right away. Instead, set up a comfortable, quiet room with food, water, litter box, and a bed or blanket. This “safe room” or “introductory room” is a place where your new cat can get used to you and other members of the household, without feeling overwhelmed or intimidated by the entire house and other pets.
(CLICK HERE for general tips on bringing your new cat home.)
HOW TO INTRODUCE “CATS TO CATS”
The key to introducing your cats is to TAKE IT SLOWLY. Be prepared for it to take from a week to a month before the resident cat accepts the new cat. Most cats will get along together most of the time, even if they’re not the best of friends.
The best way to introduce animals to each other is “scent before sight”. This is the most non-intimidating way for both animals.
To get both the new and resident cat used to each other’s scent:
- Switch sleeping blankets or beds between the new cat and the resident cat so they have a chance to become accustomed with each other’s scent.
- Rub a towel on the original cat and put it in the room with the new cat and vice versa.
- Groom one of the cats with a cat brush and then groom the other, thereby swapping scents.
After the cats have had a chance to get to know each other’s scent, you can let them see each other face to face!
Again, take it slowly!!
Once the new cat is using his litter box and eating regularly in the introductory room, let him out to explore the house for short periods of time while putting your resident cat in the introductory room. This switch provides a way for the cats to experience each other’s scent and allows the newcomer to become familiar with the new surroundings without being frightened by the other animals.
You can put up a baby-gate in the doorway. This doesn’t prevent the cats from jumping over the gate, but does give a buffer area so they are not completely exposed. You can bring the new cat into the family area in a pet carrier so the cats can see each other before they actually meet. Expect some hissing and growling. This is normal and is usually just a warning to the other cat and will probably not result in an all-out fight. Eventually they will get used to the sight of each other.
After they’ve had a chance to meet face to face you can begin letting your new cat out for supervised visits with the rest of the household. You can probably expect some more hissing and growling from either cat or both. The most important thing you can do is to be there for reassurance for all your cats. Do not pick up cats near each other. Talk to them in a soothing voice, pet them, and see how it goes. Use interactive toys, catnip, treats, or canned food for ice-breakers. Prevent the new cat from sleeping in any of your old cat’s favorite places and provide each with separate food and water bowls and litter boxes.
Gradually increase the amount of time spent together. It’s better to introduce the animals to each other gradually so that neither cat becomes afraid or aggressive. If either cat becomes fearful or aggressive, separate them and continue the introduction process in a series of gradual steps. Do not leave the cats unsupervised until you are 100% sure they are getting along. They will get used to each other at their own pace, and their different personalities will dictate how they interact with each other.
HOW TO INTRODUCE “CATS TO DOGS”
Most of the same advice above of introducing cats to cats applies to introducing cats and dogs.
Remember, scent before sight!! Let the dog have run of the house, and sniff at the cat under the door and exchange scented items during the first few days.
You may wish to put up a baby gate in the doorway of the cat’s room or bring the cat into the house in a carrier so the animals can see each other before they actually meet.
Make sure the first visits in the house are supervised, with the dog on a leash if you are unsure about how friendly he will be. Never leave a kitten unattended with your dog. As gentle as your dog may be, they can accidentally kill a kitten.
Encourage you dog with gentle praise if he is friendly. If the cat runs from your dog, do not allow the dog to chase it, and don’t force a cat that seems uncomfortable to be in the same room with the dog. Keep the first visits brief, and then extend them as the animals become familiar with each other.
Supervision is imperative when introducing dogs and cats. Never, ever allow a dog to chase a cat. Even if only in play, it can lead to aggressive attacks later on and should be corrected severely to instill dominance of the cat; these are dominant behaviors. The same holds true for growling or any other menacing behavior, even when it comes to food.
Any contact between a dog and a cat should always be initiated by the cat, which again is dominant. Even if the cat gives the dog a warning swat with his paw, the dog should not retaliate.
To cats, physical place is all important. To dogs, social place is all important. As long as the dog accepts the cat’s dominance over territory, they typically work out a relationship. The dog must respect the cat as a higher member in the social order. One trick is to keep the cat bed on top of the dog crate.
Put the cat food where the dog cannot reach it so the cat always has food. Also, monitor your cat when the dog is eating, as cats should not eat dog food.
For the cat’s safety, make sure the cat has escape routes to get away from the dog. For example, a cat door leading to another room in the house and ledges on which he can easily jump. Always provide places where each animal can retreat for safety and privacy, a spot that is his or hers alone. A cat can use the top of the refrigerator; a dog can use a crate.
DO NOT LEAVE THE DOG AND CAT ALONE UNSUPERVISED UNTIL YOU ARE 100% SURE THE DOG WILL NOT ATTACK THE CAT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES
Since this is a very high expectation and dogs have attacked and killed the family cat after a year of living together, you are wiser to keep them separated or keep the dog crated while you are not home.
Do not expect the pets to become buddies right away. Be patient and give them time to get along. Let the animals establish the relationship at their own pace. Realize that some dogs and cats will not become buddies.
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