Introducing a new cat into the home where one already lives may lead to questions as to whether a resident cat will accept a newcomer or not. Each individual cat has a different level of social toleration and the result will often depend on the degree of social contact the cat had as a kitten. In general, cats lacking any early experience at social contact are poorly equipped to deal with other cats when they are older. Cats that have had plenty of social contact with others as kittens and have been used to sharing their resources are able to develop the social language needed to cope with company in adulthood, although it may still take time for them to accept a new cat into their territory.
The initial introduction should take place in a calm and controlled way so that both cats can feel protected. The new cat should be given an indoor pen with a bed and litter tray where she can get used to its new surroundings. The pen also allows the resident cat to investigate the newcomer without fear and aggression. Once the two cats appear calm, the resident cat should be fed outside of the new cat’s pen with the idea of bringing the two cats together using the reward of food as a distraction. When both cats appear happy with this situation, the new cat can be allowed out of its pen under supervision until the cats tolerate each other.
- make sure the new cat does not trespass on the old cat’s territory. This may require arranging litter trays, feeding bowls and sleeping areas to be apart.
- provide a new room, cage or other area that the old cat does not use.
- let the new cat explore the home or property, while the old cat is confined. Then confine the new cat while the old one can move about the property freely, getting used to the scent left by the new animal. This can be repeated until both cats are acting calm around the property and towards each other.
Cats with Babies and Children
Cats can be disturbed by the introduction of a new person to a household. The reason for this is because the new person becomes the signal of a change in the cat’s routine. Cats and babies can live harmoniously in the same household provided the cat is prepared in advance for the change.
Key tips for helping your cat transition:
- Spend time with the cat after spending time with the baby
- The cat should be allowed to smell anything that has the babies smell on it (e.g. pram, cot, clothing, blankets, powder, toys, clean and dirty nappies)
- Restrict the cat from areas you want it restricted from before the baby arrives (e.g. the babies room, perhaps your bedroom). The cat needs to become accustomed to certain areas being no-go areas.
- Avoid any change to the cat’s normal daily routine when the baby arrives.
- Watch for any sudden change in the cat’s behaviour (e.g. not eating, urinating or excretion away from the litter tray, personality changes), and be aware of potential stress in your cat which may cause it to react.
A child needs to respect a cat and not intimidate or annoy it. The child should learn to interpret the cat’s signals and communicate with the cat. Cats need privacy and a child must not trespass into the litter tray, food dishes or take the cat’s toys. When playing with a cat, the child needs to learn to be calm and gentle. A child should also be taught to always wash their hands thoroughly after interacting with a cat.
Cats and Dogs
Introduce the two animals to each other in a controlled situation. Keep the dog on a leash (and maybe the cat in a cage), when they are first getting to know each other. Create a calm atmosphere, and bring them into the same room first but not close to each other. You should try not give either one any significant attention. Only move them closer to each other as they become more used to being in proximity to each other. They may be introduced to each other a few times a day like this, gradually bringing them together.
Don’t allow the dog to enter the cat’s domain, or access the cat’s toys. A new animal should be given its own area (which the cat does not access).
If possible, allow each pet to smell something of the others, to become used to each other’s scent.