Introducing a New Cat

Introducing a New Cat To Your Household


CONGRATULATIONS on your new addition! It is such a joy to welcome a new family member and experience the happiness and love that these sweet animals bring.


If you already have cats or dogs, then it is so very important to acclimate your new cat or kitten in the right way. Don’t attempt to just “toss” everyone together because the results can be disastrous and long lasting.  It truly is the worst approach because while your cats may become lifelong friends, they often take time to get used to each other. Take the time to introduce them the right way to avoid unhappiness and conflict.

The first thing you need to establish is a sanctuary room for your new cat or kitten. This is a MUST thing that you need to do. This allows your newcomer to feel safe and get his or her bearings and your resident cat(s) don’t have the newcomer forced on them without time to adjust. The room you choose does not have to be big, it just needs to provide a sense of safety and security. It takes a little time for a newcomer to adjust to new smells and sounds as well as the location of food, sleeping area, play area, litter box etc.
The Sanctuary room should not be empty. Be sure there is a place to hide. You can provide soft cat houses or the like but also simple things like a box will work.  It is good to line the hiding place with things that may have your scent on them like an old T-shirt. Keep the litter box on one side of the room and the food/water on the other side. Keep the litter box uncovered so that the cat or kitten does not feel trapped.  IMPORTANT – Check for anything dangerous that might harm your cat or kitten such as dangling electrical cords or blind ties or things that they could knock over when frightened that may fall on them. Take some time to be sure they cannot harm themselves. Provide a scratching post or scratch pad and some age appropriate toys. A wonderful treat for your cat or kitten is a window perch or a way to look out the window.
When your new cat or kitten is brought home and placed in their Sanctuary room, place the carrier near the hiding place, open the carrier door and leave so that safe exploring can be done. You can go back in quietly after a short time and interact gently. Yummy food is a good way to have them feel at home. Use the food provided by the rescue at first. Playtime is also a great way to form a bond.

One sense at a time

Your resident pets need to learn of the newcomer one sense at a time. They will be aware of each other through smell at first and then noise. When you come out of the Sanctuary room, you will bring with you the scent of the newcomer. Same thing going in – having the scent of resident pets.

If there is upset behavior due to this, then wear a robe in the Sanctuary room for a while until the cats settle down and accept each other. They may start to slide their paws under the door. They may do this happily in a play mood or they may seem annoyed. Let them get used to one another.
One trick recommended by feline behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett is the Sock Exchange. Place a sock on your hand and rub it on the whiskers of each cat. Use a different sock for each cat. Let the newcomer smell the sock of a resident cat and if they seem comfortable, rub that sock on the newcomer. Leave the sock in the room. Same idea for the residents. This may give you a very good idea how the cats feel about the change in their world. Everyone calm and nonchalant – great! Hissing and growling tells you to take the introduction process slow.  Pam says you can do the same thing in a room exchange – place resident cat in Sanctuary room while newcomer in other part of house and then swap back
Be sure you spend time playing with your resident cats and try to keep their routine the same. Cats love routines and tend to be creatures of habit.
Use your best judgement as to when to let the newcomer be introduced to the residents.
You know your home and your cats and kittens. If they seem calm and behaving as they normally would, then it may be time. This may take a couple of days, a week or a month. You just have to use your powers of observation and common sense. Let them have a quick peek through an open Sanctuary door a time or two or three.  Usually kittens love to see other cats but they can also feel intimidated. Some hissing and growling is to be expected from the newcomer or residents. They may even swat at each other. Full blown fury and physical attacks are not normal and you would need to take measures to start the introduction process over again. If the peek looks go well, then let the residents come in and give everyone something really yummy to eat. Spray some feliway or play a cat video.

Give them every reason to be happy about a new addition. Help them find a reason to like each other.

Take it slow and easy. Most of the time, cats and kittens adjust and decide to accept each other.
You may be very lucky that everyone gets along from the start. But don’t assume this will happen.
We are here for you and you can call your rescue contact for help or if you have concerns.
There are other techniques and ideas we can share. HAPPY WHISKERS AND TAILS TO YOU!