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10 Ways to Introduce a New Cat

Hi, I am  Dr. Sally J Foote, veterinarian and certified animal behaviorist here to give you some quick and simple steps to helping you add a cat friend to your home if it is one cat or bringing home a buddy for your existing cat.

10.)        Be sure that are places for  the cats to navigate  around the living area up off the floor.  Space  on top of the couch, book shelf, or window sill where they can move around the room without having to cross paths on the floor too often is a good idea.

9.)          Use Feliway plug ins or spray to help the home feel like it is already marked by the cats. Feliway  or other feline pheromone products leave a scent around the home similar to when the cats rub the face and chin on objects.

8.)          Give each cat time for petting and rubbing on the head, neck and shoulder areas from you. They both need individual owner - cat bonding time.  Do this at least once daily.

7.)          The cat that has been in the home the longest gets all the goodies of life first - petting, play, feeding, and help this cat keep it's perching and sleeping areas.  Don't let the new kitty butt in and demand attention first.

6.)          Take 5 minutes to play with each cat individually.   Put the toys up after play, and rotate the toys to keep it new for your cat.  Even old cats like to bat at a ball, or work food out of a food puzzle.

5.)          Every cat has his own - bed, food bowl, perches and litter box.  Cats like privacy and don't like to share much.  Be sure there is some space between these items too - cat's don't like to have things right next to each other, especially litterboxes.

4.)          Clean boxes = happy cats.  All of the litter boxes must be scooped of all urine and stool at least twice daily. Think of it  like keeping the toilet flushed in your bathroom.

3.)          Help the cats say hello to each other by rubbing the face of the new cat with a towel and rub that onto the established cat. Take  a second towel and rub the established cat's face and chin where those scent glands are and rub onto the new cat.  This scent transfer helps the cats feel like they have met each other before.   

2.)          When you have the new cat in a separate room for the first days, feed both cats right next to the door on opposite sides  before letting them have the whole house together. The food rewards them for being so close to each other.   When both cats will eat with just the door between, then you can open the door .

And the number one thing to do when bringing in a new cat to your present cat -

1.)          Introduce them through a door. Have the new kitty set up in a bedroom with food, litter box and toys. Keep the door closed.   The cats will meow and paw at each other through the door. When they are able to eat with just the door as a screen, then open the door to allow them to meet.  This can take up to 3 weeks for some cats.

If your cat is over 8 years old, and continues to be upset by a new kitty, take this kitty in for an exam.  Hidden pain is often the culprit for "cranky kitties"

Sally J Foote, DVM  CFBC-IAABC
Okaw Veterinary Clinic Tuscola IL

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