Introducing a new cat to a household that already has existing cats can be tricky.
Cats are territorial and are slow to adapt to changes.
This doen't mean that an only cat won't benefit from a new companion. In fact, many breeds of cats are very social and enjoy the company of other cats. After the initial introduction period, cats will often bond, hanging out together and even playing.
Cats can adjust at ANY age to a new companion. You can adopt an adult cat, a kitten or even a senior cat.
Here are some ways to make the transition process smoother for everyone.
How Do I Know If My Cat Needs A Companion?
Some cats will give you signs that they are lonely.
They may be destructive when you are gone, chewing on things, shredding items such as toilet paper and even acting out by spilling food or water or missing the litter box.
If you are gone from the house for long periods of time, your cat may be trying to tell you that he or she is bored or lonely.
Consider a Rescue Cat
There are many fantastic breeds of cats out there. But you don't need to spend a lot of money to get the cat of your dreams.
Many shelters have some fantastic cats just waiting for their forever home.
Mixed breed cats are often healthier and live longer.
However, if you have your heart set on a particular breed, you can still rescue an animal in need. Shelters often take in full-bred animals. You can also contact rescue groups for particular breeds of cats.
Just type in the type of cat you are looking for, the word "rescue", and the area of the country your are looking in.
Adopting from a shelter or rescue saves lives and you get a wonderful, grateful companion in return.
Picking Out The Right Cat
Nearly every cat can adjust to a new home and adjust to a new companion.
The easiest transition is with a kitten.
Kittens tend to be less territorial and therefor are less threatening.
The established cat will quickly realize that they are still the dominant cat. It will still take time, just not as long.
But often adult cats and senior cats are in need of rescue. If you fall in love with a full grown adult cat but are worried about the transition and socialization with your current cat, don't be.
Following a few precautionary steps will insure a peaceful, muti cat household.
Best Ways To Introduce A New Cat To Your Household
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1. Make sure the new companion cat is checked out by a vet.
If the cat is a stray or even with a rescue group, it is best to have him or her tested by a vet to make sure they don't carry any diseases or even fleas that could transfer to your cat.
2. Place the new cat in different room from your other pets with food, a litter box, bedding and water.
This allows your other cat(s) to get used to the smells and sounds of a new cat without any kind of threat.
3. After a few days, place the new cat in a carrier and bring it out into the room with your other pets for a few minutes. Allow them to sniff and even hiss.
This is the next step in adjusting to their new companion. It is okay if they hiss or threaten each other at this point as they are still protected from each other.
4. After the hissing is down to a minimum (usually a few more days) allow the new cat out into the house only when you are present.
You can watch to insure one cat does not harm the other one while they are still getting to know each other. (Tip, if cats are fighting, throw a blanket over them to break it up or spritz them with water.)
5. Allow the new cat out in the house during the day but put it up at night.
Allowing the cat out still gives the cats time to establish a new hiearchy but gives them a break in the night to let their guards down.
6. Let the new cat roam the house with the others (24 hours) but leave its area with food, water and litter for a bit longer.
Leaving the new cat's area serves two purposes: It allows the new cat to go back to where it feels safe and it lets the other cats sniff and further become familiar with the new cat.
Use a carrier to separate the new cat from the others.
It is important that a cat owner be very patient during this process.
Some cats take longer and some take a shorter time to establish their place in the house.
There may be fights. There may be hissing. This could go on for weeks or even months.
This is all, however, a normal part of the process.
All cats can adjust to at least tolerate each other and some cats may, over time, become close friends.
The benefits of having mutiple cats for you and your cat outweight the initial hardship.
Keeping Cats Indoors
If you do bring a new companion cat into the household, it is very important that you keep the cat indoors to minimize the risk of the new cat running off.
Indoor cats in general live longer, healthier lives than cats that go in and out or that live outside.
If you do decide to let your cats be indoor/outdoor cats, insure that the cats are past the fighting stage and have reached a level of acceptance for the other one.
If they are still in a state of transition you risk one or both being scared away from your home and afraid to come back.
New cats can be introduced into a household that has an existing cat or cats; it can be done. It just takes patience from the owner and careful introduction.
Just because your cat hisses or wants to fight at first does not mean he or she can never adjust to a companion.
Cats are a lot like humans and benefit from the company and socialization of others that are like them.
Having a multi cat household relieves the owner of the guilt he or she may feel when away from home and insures that the cat has a companion to keep them from being bored.
The whole family will benefit from the new edition!