Introducing Your New Cat

Cat to Cat Introductions

Confine your new cat to one medium-sized room with her litter box, food, water and a bed. Feed your resident pets and the newcomer on each side of the door to this room. This will help all of them to associate something enjoyable with each other’s smells. Next, use two doorstops to prop open the door just enough to allow the animals to see each other, and repeat. Do this for the first week.

Swap Scents
Switch sleeping blankets or beds between the new cat and resident animals so they have a chance to become accustomed to each other’s scent. You should do this with each animal in the house. Do this the second week, while still keeping the pets separated.

Switch Living Areas
Once your new cat is using her litter box and eating regularly while confined, let her have free time in the house while confining your other animals to the new cat’s room. This switch provides another way for the animals to experience each other’s scents without a face-to-face meeting. It also allows the newcomer to become familiar with her new surroundings without being frightened by the other animals. Do this week three.

If one of your pets has a medical problem or is injured, this could stall the introduction process. Check with your veterinarian to be sure that all of your pets are healthy.  You’ll also want to have at least one litter box per cat. Try to keep your resident pets’ schedule as close as possible to what it was before the newcomer’s appearance.

Cat to Dog Interactions

Practice Obedience
If your dog doesn’t already know the cues “sit,” “down,” “come” and “stay,” you should begin training immediately.

Controlled Meeting
After your new cat and resident dog have become comfortable eating on opposite sides of the door, and have been exposed to each other’s scents as described above, you can attempt a face-to-face introduction in a controlled manner.  Put your dog’s leash on, and using treats, have him either sit or lie down and stay. Have another family member or friend enter the room and quietly sit down next to your new cat, but don’t have them physically restrain her. At first, the cat and the dog should be on opposite sides of the room. Repeat this step several times until both the cat and dog are tolerating each other’s presence without undesirable behavior.

Let Your Cat Go
Next, allow your cat freedom to explore your dog at her own pace, with the dog still on-leash. Meanwhile, keep giving your dog treats and praise for his calm behavior.

Positive Reinforcement
Keep all interactions between the pets positive with treats and praise. You want good things to happen to them when in each other’s presence not bad things.

Directly Supervise All Interactions between Your Dog and Cat
You may want to keep your dog on-leash and with you whenever your cat is free in the house during the introduction process. Be sure your cat has an escape route and a place to hide. Keep your dog and cat separated when you aren’t home until you’re certain your cat will be safe.

No matter how much you trust them, it is always recommended that interactions be supervised and that they are not left alone together. Even animals who have lived cohesively for years can encounter an issue on any given day.

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