Gary Powell: Hi! I am Gary Powell from the Cat Fanciers' Association. Today I am talking about how to introduce a new cat into your home.
If the newcomer is a kitten, this can be accomplished in a day. Adults always take time and skill because cats are territorial. It could take one week to 30 days or more since progress time is determined by the cats. Provide a safe room such as a small bathroom for the new cat. Place a bed, food, water bowl and litter box. Get the cat comfortable and visit often.
The whole family should interact with the cat until she is curious to go beyond the close door. Don't progress until the cat is ready. Exchange smells of both the resident cat and the new comer by placing a bed, pad or towel into each sleeping space. Take the new comer in a carrier with a wheeling window to various rooms to observe, smell and see the household routine. Let the resident cat go into the empty safe room to explore and smell the newcomer's space. Allow time for the cats to observe each other without any opportunity to get close. If there is any hissing or a confrontation, put the new cat back in the safe room and try again later. Repeat until the routine becomes history. Do the same with the resident cat. Cats recognize each other by sniffing the mouth area. Once the cats have had successful visual contact through the carrier grid, sit down; hold the newcomer while another person holds the resident cat. Allow them to look at each other. Let their heads come closer and even touch for a brief moment. The first encounter should be at feeding time. Put two plates of food down and let both cats eat. They will be curious, may look at each other or will hiss but will prefer the food to any squabble.
When the resident cat is used to the new routine and is not threatened by this then the cats can finally be allowed to interact. Start by having the two cats chase an interactive toy; if there is hissing, go back a step or two.
Never let the resident cat and newcomer fight. If there is an aggressive outbreak, expect a two-week setback. Let the cats indicate when it is time to go to the next step. Allow the cats to be together only when you can watch until you see signs of acceptance. The cats may rub against each other, tails will be held high and each cat will be relaxed. When the cats initiate play and clean each other, you have succeeded introducing a new cat into your home.