Household changes are inevitable and when cats are impacted we always hope for the best. Unfortunately, what we consider small changes can have major impacts on our cats. One big change that has significant impact to cats is introduction of another cat to the family.
Why Introducing A New Cat Is Difficult
Even though we might consider the introduction of a new cat a bonus for our resident cat, they don’t view it that way. Cats see a new cat as a threat, a competitor for all they hold dear: territory, food and even our attention.
Each cat has his own personality and handles the introduction of a new cat differently. Some cats may adapt and embrace the newcomer quickly, while others may take weeks or even months to adjust.
Increasing Success When Introducing A New Cat
While there are no guarantees, if introducing a new cat to resident cat(s) is gradual, there is a greater chance for success. Here are some suggestions for successfully introducing a new cat:
- Offer interactive play sessions for the new cat and resident cat(s). Schedule sessions throughout the day, keeping the session for resident cat(s) separate. The new cat should be confined to his designated room. Introduce joint play sessions between resident and new cats. Be sure to keep favorite treats on hand as rewards for cooperative play.
- Add more litter boxes and water bowls around your house. This will cut down the possibility of a cat’s litter box access being blocked by another cat in the house.
- Be sure there is plenty of vertical space (cat trees or shelves) available so cats have an “escape route” if needed.
- Increase the one-on-one time. For a cat having a more difficult time with the changes, one-to-one time with him/her can be a confidence booster.
- Pump up scent mingling. Cats use their sense of smell to become familiar with each other, so increasing exposure to each other’s scent will help the cats become familiar with each other. Try swapping bedding of resident and new cat to continue the scent introduction.
- Essentail oils. These oils help to reduce stress in both resident and new cats. Some of the essential oils available to help reduce cat’s stress include: Bach Rescue Remedy Pet – 20 ml and Comfort Zone Feliway Diffuser. Jackson Galaxy’s Spirit Essences Line also has a three bottle kit, Ultimate Peacemaker designed to help boost self-esteem in less confident cats and sooth bullying tendencies in resident cats.
- If you’ve tried the steps above and there still seem to be problems, check with your vet for animal behaviorists in your area. If there is a cat specific veterinary practice in your area, there may be an in-house behavorists that can provide insight.
Although introducing a new cat can be stressful for all involved, giving plenty of time and patience will greatly increase the chances of success.