Introducing Cats to New Cats or Dogs Bringing a New Pet Home When You Already Have a Cat

Introducing Cats to New Cats or Dogs
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vet verified PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian DVM

Its never easy bringing a new pet into a home that already has one, but it is doable. Whether you are bringing a new cat into a home with a cat or a dog, there are a few tricks you can use to make the transition more smooth.

As any cat owner well knows, cats are independent and determined in nature. They might be affectionate and loving with your family, but cats typically do not make friends with other pets easily.

Bringing a new cat or dog into your home can be tough, but the challenge is definitely not insurmountable. Whether you’re introducing your cat to a new cat or dog, it’s important to not just throw the newcomer in with your cat, and have the pets work out the relationship totally on their own.

A new pet is confusing for your cat, and there may be a great deal of tension. You can reduce that tension with a few tricks:

  • Provide your cat with lots of reassurance and affection.
  • Enforce a separation between the new pet and your cat.
  • Ease into the introductions slowly.
  • If you’re bringing home a new cat, make sure that you have a litter box for each cat.

Almost inevitably, your cat will not be pleased at first to have a new pet be part of the family. That’s okay! With the proper introductions, your cat will become accustomed to the newcomer. Expect that in the early days, your cat may hiss and growl, and act more territorial than usual.

Bringing Home a New Dog:

Before you think about adding a dog to your family, it’s good to know the characteristics of dogs that usually do well around cats. Dogs who have previously lived with cats, as well as dogs that aren’t herders or terriers, will typically accommodate a cat’s quirks and needs better than dogs that are territorial or enjoy chasing and playing. Cats have very different sensibilities than dogs. What feels like playing to a dog can be a tormenting and uncomfortable experience for your cat.

Bringing Home a New Cat:

Cats that have lived with other cats in the past will tend to do better with a new cat in the home than cats who have always been the only cat in the household. Cats of the opposite gender will generally get along best. Be warned that it can be particularly difficult to introduce a kitten to an older cat, who feels very established in their home -- the kitten’s playfulness may lead to unwanted interactions for your older cat. Follow the suggestions below for the smoothest transition.

Making the Introduction:

It may seem contrary, but the best first step for introducing your new pet to your cat is to keep the new pet separate.

  • Set up your new cat or dog in a separate room, or, if it’s a dog, a crate might be a good option.
  • Ideally, keep your newest pet somewhere with all the amenities, like toys, a litter box, and food. If it’s in a spot of the house your cat doesn’t readily frequent, that’s even better.

A Handy Tip:

Use the same brush on both pets, or rub both pets with the same towel or cloth, and let each of them spend time with it. That way, both of the pets will become familiar with each other’s scent. When they do meet in person, there will be some familiarity to the moment.

Keep the pets separate for a few days, or up to a week, depending on how you think your cat will respond.

  • When the pets meet, make sure you’re there and monitor the situation closely -- they might feel a bit anxious, but if yowling, growling, and hissing continues and there is a lot of aggressive behavior, separate the pets again, and repeat the cycle.
  • Eventually the two pets should be able to learn to live together comfortably.
More on Caring for Cats

5 Ways to Entertain Your Cat with Catnip
Poisonous Foods for Cats
Litter Box Training for Your Cat

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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