How to Introduce a Cat to a New Home
How to Introduce a Cat to a New Home
We here at Sparky Steps understand that bringing home a new cat is an exciting time; the world is full of possibilities, and you can’t stop thinking about how much love you are going to give your new friend. While adopting a cat is ultimately an amazing adventure, it can be a little stressful at first for both cat and owner. Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to introduce a new cat to your home while reducing the stress on both ends.
Use a Carrier
Use a carrier to introduce a cat? A carrier has multiple functions when introducing a new cat to the home. It is an easy way to transport cats because unlike dogs, they don’t particularly like to travel and can roam around the car while you are driving. Having a carrier also prevents a cat from being stressed and trying to escape from your arms when you are bringing it inside. Preventing that struggle keeps both you and your new feline in good health. Lastly, having a carrier allows the cat to explore its new home at its pace. By setting the cage down and opening it, you are allowing your new cat to leave when he or she feels comfortable. You may also want to leave it in the same place so your cat can return to it if they feel safe in there.
Pick a Room
Cats are territorial animals, so they need to feel like they have their personal space in your house. Choose a small room for your cat to hang out in for a few days like a bathroom or laundry room. Provide everything your cat needs to thrive like toys, water, food, and a litter box. Use the same food as the shelter was using to entice your cat to eat. While your kitty will call this home base, you will notice that they start to explore more of your home as the days go on.
Introduction to Kids
If you have kids in your house owning a cat can be a lot of fun, but that first introduction is full of excited emotions, and your new cat may not know how to handle that. Talk to your kids beforehand to let them know not to rush at the new cat or make loud noises. Do not hand your child the cat, let the cat choose when it comes to them. Before there is any interaction between the two make sure that they know how to handle a cat properly and especially never to tease or otherwise harm him or her. Supervise at least the first few interactions with the kids, more for younger children.
Introduction to Other Cats
Letting a new cat meet another cat straight out of the gate is a worse idea than just handing it to a toddler and seeing what happens. As noted, cats are pretty territorial so just tossing a new cat into the mix is going to cause a fight. After you get the new cat settled into their room, bring the carrier back out to allow the other cat(s) to smell the carrier. While that is happening, bring cat(s) number one’s bed into the safe room for cat number two to smell. When it is time for cat number two to explore the house isolate cat(s) number one to give the new cat free room to roam about the house. Once cat number two feels comfortable in their environment, it is time for the two to meet face to face. Just like when your new cat is meeting new people it is important to let them meet the resident cat at their own pace; you may even want their first meeting to be behind a gate or through a crack in the door. Be aware that the two will probably hiss at each other and that is completely normal. If they do begin to fight, spray them with water or throw a blanket over one of them and remove the other from the situation gently. Reward both cats with treats for good behavior and don’t let them out of your sight until you are sure that they will get along. It is highly likely that your cats will eventually become best friends, but it is important to supervise their interactions until you are sure of it.
Introduction to Dogs
There is a ridiculous notion that cats and dogs can’t be friends, while they don’t always get along, there are thousands of pictures floating around the internet of the two species cuddled up together. Introducing a new cat to resident dogs is similar to introducing them to a resident cat, with a few key differences. Just like when you are introducing two cats, the first step is to allow each party to sniff the bed of the other party. This allows the animals to become accustomed to each other’s scents before they ever meet face to face. Put your dog in a room while you let the new cat explore its territory. When it is time for the two animals to meet, put your dog on a leash so you can control it and place yourself between the two pets at first. Do not tolerate any aggressive behavior from your dog, at the same time, be ready to reward them with copious treats for good behavior. Don’t let your dog chase or corner the new cat; you want the cat to feel comfortable in their new home. It may be good to separate the two except for supervised visits for the first few weeks. Do not leave your dog(s) and cat(s) alone together until you are sure the two can be friends. It is important to give your dog extra attention in these first few weeks to avoid any issues that can be brought on by jealousy.
Cat-Proof Your Home
The last thing you should know before introducing a new cat to your home is that cats can be destructive if you are not careful. Not only do they need to scratch, but they are also incredibly curious about the laws of gravity. Before you allow your new cat to roam freely around the house make sure that anything that can be knocked over and damaged is removed from anywhere the cat will go. Remember that they will jump on counters, tables, mantles, etc., though this is a habit you can train out of them. Make sure there are plenty of places where they can scratch otherwise you may be looking into buying a new couch sooner than later. They make special sprays that are supposed to detour cats from scratching where they are not supposed to scratch. Most importantly, remove anything that could be dangerous to your cats like cleaning products, wires, or anything that could fall on them. If you have a small kitten, make sure that all of your air vents are covered as they can easily fall into small holes like an open vent.
Some of the items on this list may seem a bit overwhelming, but the truth is that introducing a new pet into the family is always a positive thing. While there is some work involved, it is important to have fun with your new pet and get to know their personality. Once they have settled in a bit play some games with them, give them treats, and allow them to cuddle up next to you while you watch a movie.
Written by Arthur Thares