How to integrate a new cat with current pets

Posted by Maggie the Moggie. December 21st 2016.

integrate a new cat

Are you daunted by the thought of how to integrate a new cat with a resident pet? It would be ideal if you could just sit the two of them down with a brew to get to know each other. Unfortunately introducing two cats is never going to be that simple.

While you can’t force your cats to get on, there are things you can do to help the integration process and increase the chances of the two of them becoming friends, or at the very least co-existing. Here are some top tips from Argos Pet Insurance:

Give your new cat its own area

It’s important that your new cat has its own area with its food, litter tray, and bed for a few weeks, separate to the others, to allow it and the resident cat(s) time to adjust. Cats are very territorial and so you’re more likely to find your cat accepts the newbie if it doesn’t feel like it’s invading its personal space or threatening its territory

Create a good first impression

To make a good first impression of the ‘intruder’, start off by feeding the two cats at the same time, either side of a door. This way they will smell the other cat is around, but associate their smell with something enjoyable – food! You could even put a toy or piece of string under the door for each cat to play with and bat around to allow them to interact without coming face to face.

It’s also worth swapping blankets and toys from your new cats room to your resident cats area, and vice versa. This will also allow them to become acquainted with each other’s smell so when they finally meet they will smell familiar and be less intimidating.

To allow your new cat some freedom to roam the house and stretch its legs, it’s best to shut your resident cat(s) in one room for an hour a day and allow the newbie to have a wander and explore.

Short but sweet introductions

After a few days to a week of getting the cats used to each other’s scents, you can slowly start to introduce them. The best way to do this is to bring your new cat into the room in its carrier or a cage to meet your resident cat. This way your pets can go up to the cage and sniff their new housemate but won’t feel overwhelmed and there is no risk of a fight.

You should expect some hissing to start with. As we already know, cats are territorial, and this new pet is invading their home. They may hiss, stare at the new cat, or just ignore it altogether. Allow an hour for the first introduction and then take the new cat back to its own area. Do this once a day and you should notice the cats begin to be less hostile.

Supervised playtime

After a week of short but sweet introductions you may feel the cats are ready to interact more. Try putting them together without the cage and see what happens. If they show signs of aggression, like hissing, revert back to the introductions with the carrier. As frustrating as this may be, rushing your cat to come to terms with the new cat could delay your chance of them getting along long-term. If they seem okay, you could try giving them some toys and see if they’ll play together.

Cats don’t like to share, and this includes their home, food, and humans! Make sure you show your new cat and your resident cat(s) the same amount of love and affection. This will prevent them from getting jealous.

Introducing a new cat to a dog

It’s important to be extremely careful introducing a new cat to dogs. Dogs can easily harm a cat just by getting over excited and heavy-pawed, never mind when they genuinely intend to chase and catch your new kitty.

Obedience

When introducing a new cat to a dog, make sure that the dog is well practised in obedience. Your dog must respond well to ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘heel’, and ‘stay’. The steps for introducing two cats above can be just as effective for a dog. However, you must make sure the meetings are even more controlled to make sure all animals are safe. Always keep the dog on a lead and don’t leave them alone in the same room.

Positive reinforcements

As well as commanding your dog to heel when it’s getting too confrontational with your cat, it’s important to give positive reinforcements when they’re getting along nicely. Encouraging the good behaviour is a great way to stamp out any aggressive behaviour. Be sure to praise your dog in front of the cat too. If they only receive criticism when the cat is around, they may associate the cat with being told off. This can cause even more hostility and aggression.

When to get help

If introductions between your pets don’t go smoothly and you’re worried for the safety of one of your animals, seek professional help immediately. If you’ve tried tirelessly to get your pets to get along but they’re not having any of it, then you may need to rethink if getting a new pet is a the best idea and fair on your current pets. Whatever you chose, the animals’ welfare and happiness must always come first.

Don’t forget to insure your furry friends with Argos Pet Insurance. Argos Pet Insurance can help make sure your pet gets the treatment it needs to keep them happy and healthy.

Back to blog