So you just got a new cat, but you're worried your old cat won't like it. The key is plenty of patience (and treats)! The initial i...

Cat Introductions 101

So you just got a new cat, but you're worried your old cat won't like it. The key is plenty of patience (and treats)! The initial introduction is very important. If both cats are hostile, they'll go into survival mode aka fight or flight, so plan your introductions wisely, it will take time.

My Ginger & Vicktor snuggling.

Steps to introducing a Cat to Another Cat and things to think about...

1. Look at both cats personalities and type of cat. A playful kitten and old grumpy cat don't always mesh well. A very active cat and a cat set in their lazy ways won't work well either, and may cause the older cat lots of anxiety.  Don't get a cat that is an "only child" cat, look for ones that are used to being around people and other animals.

2. Once home, place the new cat in a room and keep both cats isolated so that they cannot see one another, preferably with a solid door between them. To make them comfortable, make sure each cat has their own food, water, litter box, scratching post, bed, and window if possible. You can even leave cardboard boxes for both cats with blankets or towels in them.

3. Cats have a very strong sense of smell and scent transfer is a great way to begin introductions. Wipe one cat's face and fur with a t-shirt or washcloth and leave it in the other cat's space to sniff and vice versa. Do this everyday until they don't have a reaction to it. Don't be surprised if they hiss to begin with.

4. Start to let them sniff each other from under the closed door. Always reward them with treats if they stay calm and don't get aggressive.

5. If possible use a baby gate with a cover over it between the doors, or slightly prop open the door a sliver so they can see each other. You can use a door stop. Be very careful because they can jump over the gate or push the door open. If they can peek at each other without hissing or being aggressive again be sure to reward them with a treat.

6. Begin to move their dish closer to the door that separates them, so they associate the other one with comfort and food.

7. Switch the spaces of each cat after 2 or 3 days. Put the old one in the new ones room and vice versa for a few hours. You may have to do this for a couple of weeks until they are comfortable in the other one's space. Don't forget the reward. If you have the time you can even repeat this activity a few times each day. If the cats are not reacting to each other’s presence, you can gradually increase the amount of time they see one another through the door slot or baby gate.

8. Don't forget to play with both cats in their separate spaces. You can use the same toy, so they get used to the smell. Or if you can play with them through the door with a wand toy, that would work too. Always reward them with treats!

9. Once both cats are calm when they see each other and in each others spaces, slowy allow them to be in the same room. Always supervised to begin with! Make sure they have a place to escape to. If it doesn't work out and they hiss and attack each other, you may have to back track to step 3 and start over. NEVER pick up a cat that's fighting, distract it by clapping or throwing something on the floor, then keep them away from each other for 24 hours to calm down.

If you want two cats and don't have any to start with, I suggest getting ones from the same litter, or a bonded pair, or even get them from the same place at the same time. Having two is great because they can entertain each other when you're not around and will get along without introductions. Introducing cats is no joke!

Introducing a Cat to a Dog is very similar as a Cat to Another Cat....

1. Again double check for a personality match. Puppies and older cats may not get along. Look at their energy levels and try to match them.

2. Dogs/ puppies should know the commands "sit" and "stay" before being introduced. Look at the size of the animals too. A kittens neck can be easily broken playing with a large dog and vice versa. Believe it or not kittens and small puppies can be very delicate.

3. You can use the same techniques as listed above in steps 2, 3 & 4.

4. If you have a dog, it's likely you have a metal dog crate. You can switch out their spaces by putting the cat in the crate and keep the dog on a leash. Always make sure it's supervised and give them a treat reward for being good. 

5. Once the cat and dog don't react to one another while the cat is in the crate and the dog is leashed, you can let the cat out while the dog is still leashed.

6. Then you can let them roam around supervised, then finally unsupervised.

Use patience in the early stages of introductions, it will increase your chances of success!