Here you'll find the proven steps on how to introduce cats peacefully into the home - plus THE Top Mistake Made When Introducing New Cats Into Your Home Is Neglect. Never neglect your existing kitties!

Introducing Cats

How To Introduce Cats The Proper, Peaceful & Proven Way

Introducing a new cat into your home can be a very exciting event for everyone involved. Taking the proper steps and not rushing the process will insure the newbie is welcomed into the household with love – or at least peaceful tolerance. In this guide we will take you through every step you’ll need to successfully introduce a new kitty into your clowder.

Pro Tip: As you progress through these steps, it’s so important to pay attention to the behavior and body language of all cats involved. Take these steps at the pace of the cat that is having the hardest time adjusting to the new dynamic. 

Step One – The Safe Space

Bring your new cat into a room separate from the other kitties in your home and close the door. This could be a guest room, office, etc. but we want it to be a safe space. If the newbie is a kitten, be sure that the space is ‘kitten-proofed’ and safe. To make the kitty feel comfortable, enrich the room with anything already familiar to them (blankets or toys etc) places to climb, toys, a window to look out of and a safe & warm place to sleep. Put down food, water and at least one litter box (their important resources) and show the cat all that you’re offering them with excitement and joy. “Look what I’ve brought for you!” 

When cats are brought into a new territory they need time to adjust. This first step will allow them to be able to get used to the smells of the household and start to feel safe. Take your time with this step and wait until the kitty is relaxed and comfortably eating, playing, sleeping, and using the litter box before moving to the next step.

Pro Tip:

You should stay at this first step until the new cat has been checked by a vet, cleared of any contagious illness and – most importantly – feels comfortable.

Step Two – Scent Swapping

Once the new kitty is comfortable, you’ll want to start introducing the scents of all resident cats to the newbie – and visa versa. The newbie is likely already using cat trees, blankets, etc. from your resident cats – but now we want to introduce the new cat’s smell to all current residents.

Take the bedding, toys or other items that the newbie has been using and let your other cats smell them. Again, you want to do this with excitement and joy. “Come smell our new family member’s stuff!” Do this with each of your resident cats and let them sniff and explore everything until they seem comfortable (or bored) by the new scent. 

Step Three – Site & Sight Visits

Now that your cats are used to the new smells, it’s time to let them see where this scent is coming from – first by swapping sites. 

Site Visit: Without allowing your cats to visually see each other yet, let your resident cat(s) explore the newbie’s safe space – while allowing the newbie to explore the rest of the home. 

Temporarily move the newbie from their safe space into another room – like a bathroom or bedroom – and then let your resident cats enter and explore the safe space. Close the door if you are able (everyone is calm and comfortable) so you can then allow the newbie out of the temporary spot to explore the rest of the house. This can be tricky with multiple cats – and in some cases impossible. If your set-up makes this too stressful, simply move on to the…

Sight Visit: It’s finally time for everyone to see what all the excitement is about! You can use a baby gate, a pet gate or a temporary screen door (that you can make or purchase) for this step. Open the door for supervised periods of time where they can see and smell each other, but not physically interact. Be ready with treats for positive reinforcement or even a few toys for distraction (if needed). They may hiss a little, and that’s okay. It can be a startling experience for some cats. If they start to get too excited, shut the door and speak to everyone calmly. The next sight visit will be a little easier, and so on and so forth.

Step Four – Sight Feeding

Now that they are used to the smells and sights of each other, we can start feeding them near one another. Eating is a positive experience for cats, so we want to associate this happy time with the new cat or kitten. 

With the gate or screen in place, put down food for all the cats where they can see each other. Start this step at a distance. I recommend to put at least 6 feet in between the feeding dishes/cats. If everyone eats and is happy, slowly move the dishes closer for mealtimes. Don’t rush the process. Make sure everyone is peaceful before moving to the next step. 

Worth noting that cats are solitary hunters and many cats also prefer to eat alone. This will depend on your cats individual personalities, so pay extra attention to the distance that seems comfortable for everyone. 

Step Five – Positive Playtime

Once everyone in the household is aware of – and comfortable with – the newbie, we want to offer them supervised playtime together.

Start by allowing one of the resident cats into the Safe Space – one at a time. Engage both cats with a wand toy or other fun kitty gadget and watch how they interact. They will likely smell each others noses and rear-ends and they may hiss a little. This is okay. If you start to see aggression, calmly separate them and go back to the last step.

Do this with each of your cats individually at first, and gauge if you can allow more cats in for playtime without it becoming overwhelming for anyone. Go slowly and allow them to get acquainted. Again, it’s important to pay attention to the behavior and body language of all cats involved – not just the newbie. 

Important Introduction Tip – Do Not Skip

Do not move forward to the next step until the resident cat that is having the hardest time adapting is comfortable (usually a senior kitty). This is the biggest mistake cat parents make when introducing cats. Here are ways to help speed up the comfortability for your kitty that’s having a hard time adjusting to the newbie:

  1. Give equal amounts of attention. It’s too easy to get wrapped up in the new and forget the old – and our cats are incredibly sensitive to this. When you leave the room where the newbie kitty is getting food and attention, try going immediately to your other cat(s) and give them equal attention.
  2. Do confidence building sessions. To help eliminate fear and doubt, take your resident cat alone in a room and engage in playtime with them for 15-20 minutes per day. Really give them your undivided attention and use a wand toy. Not only will this build their confidence, it reminds them how importance they are in your life. 
  3. Give extra treats during introduction time. Every cat loves a good treat! With each step, treat your kitty with something yummy and/or pets and sweet talk. This makes a fearful or uncomfortable situation feel more positive. 

Step Six – Ready to Roam

Now that everyone is comfortable with each other, it’s time to let the newbie roam the home! Start this step under supervision, as the resident cats can still feel territorial of their space. It may be a good idea to put the newbie into their Safe Space at night so everyone can sleep peacefully. After a few days or weeks, they should be fine and fully acclimated into the family!

So this is how to introduce cats to one another the proper way. The entire process can take weeks or even months, depending on your cats and specific situation. There is no “right” or “wrong” timing for this. The more patient you are with the process, the more peaceful the outcome will be. 

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