Saturday 16th Jan, 2021
How to Introduce A New Pet to Your Fur Family
by Karen Nesbitt RVN, Head Nurse Roundhouse Veterinary Hospital
Having had experience of introducing a new cat to our home with a very well established 11-year-old cat already present. Then introducing a puppy to a cat household, I thought I would write some tips that helped with the process. Hopefully you find them useful!
CAT MEETS CAT.... When Alfie met Evie
Step 1 – Planning
It’s important to understand that this process shouldn't be rushed and that introduction is gradual. For us, this process took 3 days, but be prepared to give up to 7 days for successful introduction.
Have a separate room where your new cat can stay. The room should include a litter tray, food/water dishes (ideally located in different areas of the room as cats don’t like their water source close to their food), a hiding place and a blanket from your existing cat – it’s important that your new cat gets used to the smells of their new home and new flatmate.
To help your existing cat feel more secure you can take a clean, damp cloth and rub it over their cheeks – much the same way your cat ‘marks’ you by rubbing their face on you when they’re happy. Then wipe the cloth around important areas such as window ledges and furniture.
Pheromone plug-ins and sprays are also available and I found these especially useful in our new cat, Evie's room.
Step 2 – Let them catch a glimpse
I was fortunate enough to have glass panelled doors between my kitchen (Evie's room) and living room (Alfie's room) This allowed my older cat, Alfie to look in to Evie’s space and frequently sniff under the door. Then as Evie’s confidence grew, she would peek out from behind the dining table!
If this isn’t possible for you, then open the door so they can catch a glimpse of each other.
The next step would be to allow your new cat out of their room to familiarise themselves with your home – but don’t let both cats meet just yet!
Step 3 – It's time to meet!
Ideally you are now on day 3-5 of rehoming. Both cats have seen each other from a distance, been introduced to each other’s scents via blanket switching and have had lots of happy pheromone therapy on board!
For introduction, have as quiet and relaxed an environment as possible and watch how they interact – hopefully all is calm and they can be rewarded with some tasty treats. It is so important not to force or rush the process as this will only lead to further stress.
Handy tips for the days ahead
I found it useful to have separate food and water dishes located at different sites – Alfie’s in the living room and Evie’s in the kitchen.
We had 3 litter trays (I would recommend this as a minimum for 2 cats) Alfie was used to a wood-based litter so I used a grit litter for Evie as I wanted to discourage her from using his tray. So, 3 trays, 2 different types of litter and distance between the litter trays so they could each toilet in private. Phew! Easy huh?
They also had access to outdoors if time out was needed and this really helped.
But for us, I’m happy to say, it worked.
I would say Alfie and Evie had a relationship based on mutual tolerance. However, there were times when you would catch them sitting together and even occasionally grooming each other. Very sweet! So, it was definitely worth taking the time and effort to introduce them gradually!