Introducing Your Cat to a Second Pet

By: Talin Seta Shahinian

Each pet in your life holds a special place in your heart. You might have a cat that has your whole heart, but there may come a time when you decide to adopt another pet. You might want to adopt another cat, which can be a great decision, as a second cat can keep your first cat company and give him or her a playmate, and a snuggle buddy for nap times.

You may choose to adopt a dog, which at first might seem like more of a challenge, but can also end up being a fine new friend for your feline. Contrary to stereotypes, cats and dogs can get along well and bond with each other. Whether you’re adopting a cat or a dog, it will take a bit of time to integrate a new pet into your household, beginning with introducing them to your cat. Here are some of the best ways to ease that transition for your cat.

Taking the First Steps

Whether you’re adopting a new cat or dog, the first steps will be the same. When you bring home your new pet, keep them and your cat separated for the first few days. Create a sanctuary room for your new pet, which will have all their necessary items, such as food, water, toys, litter for the new cat, or wee-wee pads if you brought home a new puppy. This room needs to have a door or be on another floor of your home with a pet gate between floors.

The reason for the separation is twofold. You can protect your cat until your new addition gets a clean bill of health from the vet. The other reason is to allow your cat to be aware of the presence of a new animal without there having to be an immediate face-to-face meeting. Both animals will be able to sense, smell and hear one another before meeting. This gives them both a chance to prepare themselves rather than be thrust into an immediate confrontation, which could spook them both.

You can begin getting them in greater proximity to each other by feeding them on opposite sides of a closed door. You want the presence of the other animal to be coupled with a pleasant association of food for your cat. Move the bowls a bit closer together every day until your cat and your new dog or cat can eat nearby, just on the other sides of the door. Then you can progress to introducing them face to face.

Introducing a Dog to Your Cat

To introduce a dog to your cat, the dog must be trained. The dog should understand and follow basic commands, like sit, stay, and down. When you first introduce your cat to a dog, the dog should be on a leash. Allow your cat to come and go freely as she checks out the dog. Give treats to your cat and dog before ending the meet and greet session. Keep the first meeting brief, and build up the length of the visits as your cat becomes comfortable with the dog’s presence and vice versa.

Introducing a New Cat to Your Resident Cat

Cats are territorial creatures and use their scent to mark their home, humans, and belongings. Before bringing home a new cat, expose each of the cats to the other’s scent by giving them a blanket belonging to the other. If that’s not possible pre-adoption, while your resident cat is in the sanctuary room in your house, allow the new cat to explore areas of the home where your resident cat has spread their scent. Then let them switch places till they’ve been exposed to each other’s scent and used the same bowls and litter box.

The Face to Face Meeting

If all the previous steps have gone well, it’s time for your cats to meet face to face. At first, there may be some hissing and swatting, but that can subside in time, as cats have a way of working things out amongst themselves. On the other hand, you might get lucky if your cats ignore, tolerate, or interact with each other. All of which is good news. No matter how they respond to each other, it’s important to supervise them in the early stages. It’s best not to leave them alone together until you know they’re getting along.

If you live in NW Wisconsin, Purple Cat Mobile Vet Clinic is here to help you keep your cat healthy and happy. We’re a high-quality, high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinic. Purple Cat doesn’t offer microchipping services but highly recommend it. We see cats exclusively. Find information for scheduling on our website. You can also look on our Facebook page for more helpful information on all things feline!


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