Cats are creatures of habit and anything new could vex them until they can thoroughly appraise it. Friend or foe? The verdict won't come overnight, so when introducing a new cat to old-timer cats in your house, make sure to stock up on patience because you will need it.
The cardinal rule is to maintain a good distance between stranger cats during their first few meetings. Distance is critical and a life preservation tool as these little tigers are known to throw formalities out the window and go for the jugular as their fierce way of asking: How do you do?
With a safe distance separating them, you can now slowly introduce them to one another. Staring contests, spitting, growling and other non-friendly gestures will ensue, but distance guarantees that nobody gets hurt. One can only hope that from all this abrasiveness feline friendship will blossom in the end.
The more cats you have, the longer the following icebreaker protocols might take to implement, so be patient.
It would be great if you can temporarily keep your new cat or kitten in a room away from everyone. The room preferably should have a view of the outside provided by a closed glass or screened window or door. This way, kitty can move freely and adjust to its new environment without the risk of running into any kind of trouble with other household pets.
The exclusive room will give your cat a safe place to watch how life unfolds in its new home. While there, noob kitty can learn to adapt to fixed eating schedules and how to use the litter box. For your part, use this time as an opportunity to study what type of food and litter the new mouser prefers.
If there's no room to spare, a spacious cage or crate will do, but kitty might get bored so you need to supervise regular outings until all possible threats to feline peace are resolved. When walking your still skittish cat, strap it on a good fitting harness so you have better control of its movements.
Make your new cat feel at home. The temporary private den should be furnished with a cozy bed that kitty should continue using after its isolation period because, as mentioned earlier, cats hate abrupt changes in their lifestyles.
Spend lots of time to bond with your new cat. Act normally but give it an extra pampering of toys, treats and body rubs to speed up its adjustment period. Be friends.
It's also very important to keep the noise level in the house to a minimum. It's not a good time to have home improvements or parties when there's a new cat with nerves you need to calm down. It also needs time to get used to common sounds in your house particularly those made by vehicles, appliances and other pets.
Finally, don't forget the perch. Cats love heights so a cat tower where your new cat can perch to watch you and your other pets go by would simply make any cat feel right at home.
If your new cat happens to be an assertive male who wants to grab territories and the title of alpha cat, then you, dear human, has work cut out for you!
I'm witness to how three dominant male cats from one house vied for this honor and power and they sorted it among themselves for a long period of time through blood and piss. I'm not kidding. In fact, even after the real alpha cat emerged, the losers now and again would stage mini coups in defiance.
A new cat with such ambition can start a war, so before it gets to that point make sure every cat has updated shots, claws trimmed and can be subdued by catnip!
We all need someone or something to break the ice and there's nothing more disarming than a baby. I've used this trick of tapping months old kittens to send goodwill on behalf of the long-time resident cats. I'm not claiming it's fool-proof, but a closely supervised and short visit from a cute and far from threatening kitten works like a charm.
After the kitten has done its magic, the next step is to pick a friendly adult cat to pop in once in awhile on your new recruit. Remember, the old-timers need to adjust to the new cat as well so let them size up each other, close enough to have a quick nose bump.
The day your newbie cat gets released to the general population without a hitch calls for a celebration. It means all your patience and hard work have paid off with all your cats properly acquainted and civil, if not friendly, to one another. In cat-speak they are probably saying to one another: “Oh yeah, we've met, thanks to our long-suffering pawrent!”
Did you recently introduce a cat to your home? Let us know how you did.