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Introducing the New Pet

Before you start, it’s important to understand:

  • Cats by nature are solitary creatures who have large territories; they have not evolved with a social hierarchy. 

  • Cats have REALLY long-term memories. The first meeting of two cats can define how their life-long relationship goes; you often can’t “do-it-over” so it’s important to take precaution and do it right the first time!

  • This whole process can proceed only as quickly as your cats allow, and can take weeks or even months. Signs of anxiety or aggression usually indicate that the introductions are proceeding too quickly.

Follow these simple steps for best results:

  1. Prep your home by using pheromone diffusers in the cats' areas (Feliway.)

  2. Confine your new cat to its own "safe" room with litter, food, and fresh water. 

  3. Block the two cats with a closed door. The two cats should be able to smell and hear each other through the closed door, but there should not be any physical contact.

  4. Feed the cats at the same time on each side of the door - about one foot away from the door. This will mean moving your cat’s food bowl to this new area for the introduction period.

  5. Play with, and reward each cat daily on each side of the closed door.

  6. Switch the positions of the cats after two days. Allow your cat to investigate the smells in the new cat’s room, while the new cat explores the house and the scent of the new playmate. Expect some hissing at the new cat smells. Switch them back after they have had some time to explore (a few hours.)

  7. Do the switch-out every day for five more days.

  8. Crack the door one inch and secure it with a weight. Keep up the simultaneous feeding, playing and switching.

  9. Widen the gap to about 4 inches - but not enough for one to get through. Monitor the reactions of the cats. Stay at this stage until there is no hissing between them.

  10. Screen the doorway where they can see one another, continuing with the simultaneous feeding, playing, switching-out routine.

  11. Introduce them by putting harnesses and leashes on them then removing the barrier, and allowing them to eat and play separately – this should be for no more than 15 minutes the first time. If that goes well, extend the time together the next day.

  12. Don’t get anxious and try to short cut the process – when people have skipped the last two steps the result is almost always failure. 

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