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Introducing a new cat to your home

Time to read: 5 mins

Bringing a new pet home can be an exciting time for us but its usually quite stressful for our furry family members.  Don’t expect them to be best friends straight away, this will take time and patience.  Dogs and cats are very different socially – dogs like to live in groups and include the family in their “pack” whereas cats are instinctively independent and not particularly sociable creatures.

Introducing a new cat with dog

Whether you are considering buying a kitten or adopting a cat think carefully about how it will affect your existing household. Cats tend to be more accepting of change before they reach the age of 3 years old – older cats will struggle more with a new addition. Try bringing the new cat into the family home in a basket and leaving it in one room with a food bowl, water bowl and their own litter tray and let your own cat meet the new addition for short, fully supervised, periods of time until they are used to each other. A good tip to promote feline harmony is to ensure they don’t have to share anything if they don’t want to, always ensure there is one bowl each for water, one each for food and at least one litter tray per cat in different parts of the home to prevent guarding.

Introducing a new cat - food

An indication of how your new pets will get along will come from their body language.  At first, they will be suspicious of each other and move slowly and low to the ground, you may hear warning growls and see a few tail swishes.  At best your cat will tolerate the new addition and at this stage that will be excellent progress!

It may take a few weeks before your cat accepts their new furry friend and, in this time, you can expect changes in behaviour – some cats could revert to having “accidents” in the house, they may hide more or become more vocal and attention seeking. If they are outdoor cats, then you may find they wander off for longer periods of time during this settling in phase. This is all relatively normal but if it goes on longer than a few weeks then it may be worth getting expert advice from a veterinary behaviourist.

Introducing new cat to others

There are various products you can buy to help this process.  Pheromone releasing products such as Feliway Friends come highly recommended and help create a feeling of harmony in the household. Scratching posts, cat trees and places to hide up high will give the cats their own space which is vital for them.

Don’t rush the process, be patient and take things slowly to create a peaceful home for all!

If you would like to chat to one of our qualified veterinary nurses about this or any other pet related health or welfare issue please call our pet Careline on 0333 332 1926 and they can help.

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