Introducing your New Cat

A Proper Introduction is Critical

You may have spent weeks or months looking for the perfect feline companion, or perhaps, you opened your heart to a stray in your neighborhood. Either way, bringing a new cat home can be fun and exciting; however, getting him acclimated to your home and family can also be a nerve-wracking experience. The single most important thing you can do to promote a successful integration is to do a proper introduction to your home and existing pets

Patience, Patience

cats fightingMany people find it difficult to be patient and allow the introduction to unfold in its own time. After all, your family is excited about your new pet, your new pet is excited, and your existing pets are curious. It is very tempting to rush the introduction and allow the animals to meet as soon as possible. We cannot warn you strongly enough that you MUST NOT SUCCUMB TO THIS TEMPTATION.

We have seen many adoptions fail due to rushed introductions. An improper introduction can lead to a situation in which your new cat, or an existing pet, develops a behavioral problem and causes unnecessary hardship and stress to your family. In the worst case, you will end up returning the cat to us. This is a heartbreaking situation for you, your family, the cat and us. And, in the vast majority of cases, this could have been avoided.

General Guidelines

Regardless of whether you are introducing your new cat to one cat, a house full of cats, or one or more dogs, you should follow these guidelines:

  • Start your cat out in one room. Pick a small, quite room with few hiding places other than those you have provided. If you have another pet, it is best to choose a room that is not an integral part of your pet’s daily routine. Ideally, this should be a room in which you can keep a litter box long term.
  • When you arrive home with your new pet, place the carrier next to the litter box. This allows your cat to see the litter box immediately upon exiting the carrier. Your new pet may be grumpy or frightened upon arrival. Allow him to come out of the carrier on his own.
  • A slow introduction is the best introduction. Problems with a new cat are often due to a rushed introduction, which can result in aggressive or fearful behavior that develops into a pattern. Some cats progress more rapidly than others. It may take several days before your cat comes out of his hiding spot. When your cat seems comfortable in his room and is eating and using the litter box consistently, it is time to move onto the next phase of the introduction. If you have other animals this will involve introducing your new cat to his new feline or canine family. If you have no other animals, let your cat begin exploring your home one area at a time. Do not force your cat to leave his room. Instead, leave his door open and let him quietly explore at his own pace. Slowly, open up new areas for him to investigate until he is comfortable in your entire home.
For instructions for doing a proper cat-cat introduction see this page. You can find information on cat-dog introductions here.