Exactly how you introduce a new cat into your home and to a resident feline can make the difference between success or failure. If a relationship becomes violent or fearful it will be very difficult to reverse reactions that kitty feels are vital to its survival. Careful introductions that prevent excessive trauma are important.
Simply put, the best way to introduce cats is gradually. Allow the cats to become acquainted with each others’ scents before allowing face-to-face introductions. This will take a few days at minimum, but it is well worth the time investment.
Start by placing the new cat in her new separate room, allowing them to become comfortable. Keep the door closed, and do not allow your other cat to see the new cat. It’s possible that your current feline will set up camp outside the new cat’s door, so be careful when entering and exiting the room.
After a few days, continue keeping the cats separate, but switch their locations. Put your current cat in the separate room, while giving the new cat the run of the house. This allows them to become acquainted by scent.
After a few more days switch their locations back.
After about a week, allow the cats to see each other without physical contact. Open the door a few inches, watching carefully for any signs of aggression. If all goes well, open the door wider and allow limited contact. At the first sign of aggression from either cat, remove the “old” cat from the room.
Once they reach a nonaggression stage, start feeding the cats in the same room, but from opposite sides so that they are not competing for food.
Separate the cats after mealtimes.
After a few successful shared meals, allow the cats supervised visits in the entire living space. Do not leave the cats together unsupervised until you are certain that they can coexist peacefully.
It’s important to not scold your existing kitty over any mildly aggressive behavior (growling, swatting) regarding the new cat, as it will only confuse her. Remember, they’re just acting on instinct – once they realize that there’s enough space, food, and (most importantly) love to go around, things should calm down rather quickly, and all will be copacetic in your household once again.
This is not the way to introduce dogs, I will cover this in another article.