Let's face it. We tend to have more cats than planned. It is so hard to resist the sickly kitten found by your friend or adorable cat that needs a new home because the owners are relocating. Surviving the introduction of a new cat to your home when you have existing cat(s) in the house can be quite the adventure. Cats are naturally solitary and do not typically gravitate towards socially structured environments. Most domestic cats are highly adaptable to living in a home where a social structure exists, thankfully. Here are 3 tips to introducing a new cat to your household with cats.
1. GIVE YOUR NEW CAT HIS OWN SPACE
One way to ease the introduction is to have the new cat stay in a separate room away from your existing cats. Keeping the new cat in a room by himself will give the newcomer time to adjust and get to know their new environment without the distraction of the other cats. The cats, both new and existing, will be able to smell each other under the door and this allows them to be comfortable with each other's smell. Allow both cats to see and observe each other via a baby gate for a period of time before actually introducing your cats.
2. FEED SEPARATELY INITIALLY
Meal times can be a vulnerable time for cats as they know that while they eat, they are unable to monitor the surroundings like they normally can. Thus, feed the cats separately even after you have allowed the cats to come into contact with each other. The newest cat should still be fed for a little in his room, separate from the other cats, even if they all seem comfortable with each other. This ensures that the new cat gets to eat as much as he needs without the stress of having unfamiliar cats around him. Gradually, you can narrow the distance between the new and existing cats during meal times. A sure sign that they get along is when they eat side by side without any fear.
Some cats show passive aggression towards their house mates by guarding the litter box, not allowing the other cats, or even one specific cat, to use the litter box. This is dangerous because cats will only eliminate in places where they feel safe. Not being able to use the litter box can lead to urinary and kidney infections, constipation, bladder and/or bowel diseases and a number of other health concerns. Adding an extra (or a couple) litter box in an area that the isolated cat spends a lot of time in is a good solution. Be mindful that if your cats all take to using the same litter box, you will need to clean it more often to keep them happy.