How to Introduce Cats – 4 Phases of Introducing a New Cat
Hey guys! Today, we are going to be teaching you how to introduce cats. So, without further delay let’s begin…
Topics covered in this article:
- Prepare a Designated Room
- Scent and Safety
- Visual Contact
How To Introduce Cats
So, here is the process that I took in introducing my cats, hopefully, it will help you too. Just be with us till the end of the article.
Initial Step: Prepare a Designated Room or Closed Off Area for The New Cat
So, the thing you want to do before you bring your new cat home is to designate a room ideally or an area that you can shut off to be that cat’s home base. For me, I used a spare bedroom and you want to make sure that you put in the essentials for the new cat before he or she gets there. So, you want to include a litter box filled with your litter of choice. You want to make sure that you have a food and water bowl excessive in that room. Also, you want to set it up with some kind of bedding or a cat bed or even you know a couple of little cardboard boxes, a couple of new toys. This is really the only preparation step before getting into the four phases. I’m calling them phases and not giving them a designated length of time because it is so individual.
For some people, this entire process from phase 1 to phase 4 might take a week or two like it did in our case. For other people, your cats may take up to a couple of months to go through all of the phases. So, when you go to pick up your new cat, make sure that you are bringing them in in a closed carrier. Ideally, with a blanket or a towel covering the front gate part of it and anywhere where you can get visual contact with your new cat. When you bring your new kitty inside your home, then you want to go straight into their designated room and you want to shut the door. You don’t want your established cat to have any kind of visual contact. More than likely your new cat is going to be meowing from inside the carrier which will get your established cat curious right away. Make sure there is no visual contact, you walk in your front door, straight into the designated room, shut that door and that’s when you can let your new cat out of the carrier.
Phase 01: Scent And Safety
Why is it called the scent and safety phase?
Since that is what this phase is based on the scent of each cat and getting used to each other’s scents and getting used to each other scents on you as a kind of mutual love. As well as providing and ensuring that feeling of safety. Both in the new cat who’s in a completely new environment and also for your established cat who may mean that reassurance that everything’s okay. This is just a new weird transition & addition to their life. So, sentence safety is key in phase 1.
During this phase, you want to make sure that you’re spending enough time with both cats. What I would do with my cats is I would make sure to come into the room and spend an ample amount of time with my cats. I would give them the love that they wanted because they are super cuddly lovely cats. Then, immediately go out into the living room or the rest of the house and especially made sure that they got close enough to me to where they can smell my scent.
No Visual Contact:
Now, the key here is to keep that door shut to the room, there should be no visual contact in phase one. But when you know to transition to phase two is basically navigated by your established cat. When one of my puppies was getting closer and closer to the door when he seemed more comfortable when he started to sniff by the door. The temperament of your new cat is really mainly going to be curious. It might be a little bit scary depending on their personality and you know the experience is coming from. But it’s more of a curious temperament whereas your established cat is I would say more skeptical. So, when you notice that skepticism from your established cat kind of seems to transition into more of a relaxed curiosity as they approach the door. I would say that might be a good time to then move on to transition to phase two.
Some Useful Suggestions:
Remember, you don’t want to rush it but there are some ways to help the process move along more smoothly. For example, you can bring treats closer and closer to the door for either cat, if you feel like they’re kind of holding back and seem a little fearful. You can lure them with treats until they get closer and closer to where they’re both right at each side of the door. Ideally, that’s where you want to move on is when they’re both right up against the door or at least feel comfortable and getting that close to the door. Another suggestion I have for u is to put their food plates closer and closer to the door. So that they can associate this happy amazing mealtime with whatever is on the other side of the door and with the scent of the creature that’s on the other side of the door. This, I feel like, might work well for the new cat because this is a completely new environment where they are going to eat wherever you put the food bowl.
But it wasn’t that successful in my case because my cat has a designated eating spot that was in the kitchen on the other side of the house. So, for me to try and move his food dish during mealtimes that much of a distance and should that difference of a place. Didn’t seem to work in his case he just didn’t really find any interest in it, it was a little bit too big of a shift in a change. But even despite that I still was really successful.
The very last step to phase 1 would be site swapping. For this, you still don’t want the cats to visually see each other but you want to exactly what it sounds like. Put your established cat in the new cat’s designated room with the door shut and allow the new cat to come out into the rest of the house and explore. A lot of this is super-duper helpful if you have two people or if you have a friend or a partner who can help you with this process. But it’s absolutely possible to do on your own.
What I did was I took my cat into the bathroom and shut the door and then my friend took his cat into the designated room for my cat to shut the door. When he had the door shut, he told me then I just opened the bathroom door and I let my cat down and let him explore. We did this for about 5-10 minutes before my friend’s cat again we’re going by the established cat for most of this. My friend’s cat was ready to, you know after he sniffed around and kind of hopefully fed his curiosity in my cat’s room. My friend’s cat just started kind of scratching at the door to get out because we all know cats don’t like shut doors in general but it did allow us 5 to 10 minutes to do this site swapping.
So, to transition into phase two, once both cats were close enough to the door and felt comfortable getting close to the door, and were meowing at each other and even pawing at each other under the door. I cracked the door open just barely to where they barely had any visual contact with one another. I barely opened the door and let them kind of get a many-many to peek at each other and I’ve since learned that my cat is very vocal. He meows everything. My friend’s cat is a very silent cat, so his reaction is typically just staring into my cat in this case. I believe that he did after first seeing him for a few seconds, let out a little hiss and walk away. When that happens that’s when you just want to shut the door. Again, you’re letting your established cat kind of navigate the pace at which things go. So, you can try that again and this even transitional part can last a couple of days. But you want to crack that door open until they really start sniffing, until maybe even if there is a tiny little hiss it’s a while before it happens.
Phase 02: Visual Contact
So, you are going to need a couple of things for this phase. In my case, I used a baby gate that I borrowed from somebody that I knew. It’s just a regular old bed sheet or you can use a thin blanket or a large towel. So, at this point, the door is open to the new cat’s designated room and the rest of the house or wherever the established cat is. You want to put your baby gate up against the door, make sure that it’s stable then it’s not going to fall over. Then, you want to drape your sheet or whatever you’re using, over it completely to where it covers the entire gate. So, there’s still no visual contact at this point.
Now, from here you want to very slowly lift that sheet inch by inch to then start the visual contact between the two cats between this gate. Again, you can positively affirm what’s happening by incorporating treats, by incorporating a favorite toy, by putting it closer to the gate if your cats are hesitant to get close to that gate. But I put a clip in here of the very first time that my cat and my friend’s cat saw each other. About how high the sheet was lifted and the reaction, so you can see what a typical reaction is.
Keeping the Sheet Up:
So, I ended up keeping the sheet up and, in our case, again all four phases seemed to progress pretty quickly. I was in this phase with the sheet and the baby gate for maybe 1 or 2 days total. It started this phase on day 2 or 3 and you want to go by your cat’s body language. My cat would feel safe enough to sit and rest near the gate with his back to the gate. He seemed super relaxed, he didn’t seem tense at all, so this was a really good sign.
I want to mention that this would also be a good time if you wanted to implement some pheromone plugins. Pheromone plugins for cats can be really helpful. They might help to just naturally, inherently ease any tension or stress that your cat may feel, mainly the established cat. I would think it’s no fragrance, no odor, no scent. We can’t tell that they’re plugged in at all but for cats, these pheromone plugins release something into the air and that is supposed to mimic the chemicals from a cat’s and mother when they’re nursing. Apparently, they’re very helpful if your cat is aggressive or in cases of multiple cats. They’re even good at calming cats down to where they don’t fight if they’re susceptible to not getting along. So, I think it’s a good idea to have some plugged in and ready to go when you’re in this visual contact phase. To kind of keep them around the house and keep them plugged in for a good 3 months which I think most of them come with like a 3-month fill pack anyway. Since they run out after a month.
So, that’s what I did honestly, I’m not too sure what it contributed. But it definitely couldn’t hurt as a potential buffer in order to help the process. So then you should extend the gate out basically, giving your cat a little bit more space to explore. A little bit more confidence and familiarity when it came to the house before going into phase 3.
Phase 03: Play And Interaction
In order to do this best, it is helpful to have two people but you are also going to need some good kind of teaser toys. So that could be the ribbon, you might also want to have some kitty snacks on hand. But the goal of this phase is to remove that boundary which in this case is the baby gate to where both cats are in free range of each other. Not in a pressured kind of way. By the way, the biggest mistake you can ever make is to bring a new cat to the house and then just throw both cats open in a room together and say they’ll figure it out. Since they probably won’t and then you are going to have a very long time if not the indefinite lifetime of both cats being pretty aggressive towards each other but I digress.
So, for phase 3, one person is going to want to be playing with or basically distracting the new cat. While another person is going to want to be playing with and distracting the established cat. The gate is removed, so they don’t have that boundary. This is a way for them to kind of get even closer to each other without this designated pressure of having to focus on each other.
This went pretty well for us and we knew that this first interaction of phase 3 was good to go when after some innocent sniffing. My friend’s cat let out a little hiss and then ran out to his patio. So that’s when we knew let’s back it up and let’s just put my cat’s back and this extended gated off part of the house. Allow my friend’s cat to cool off for a second which he did, he was right back inside maybe just a couple of minutes later. This is why it’s so important to not force them, not feel pressured because even though you might be discouraged if the little hiss come through. You might think it’s a signal for something bigger and perhaps you went too fast or you know did something wrong.
Just relax and be assured that this is just a part of the process. You will notice that as time goes on, whether it’s a few hours, whether it’s a few days or a week or so. They will both relax again, the hissing if that happens will become less frequent. Mainly, your established cat won’t be on high alert and you will see relaxed body language. In a way what you’re trying to avoid here and what we didn’t have happened at all if you haven’t noticed is any kind of actual fighting. So, any kind of catfight and I’m pretty confident if you go through these phases as they’re listed. Especially if you don’t have an aggressive established cat in the first place. You will not experience any kind of swatting or violent aggressive catfighting.
So, once you feel confident in phase 3 and that your cats can cohabitate well together. At least without that boundary or gate between them, that takes us to phase 4 which is the final phase which is kind of progress because it’s an indefinite phase and that is the phase of cohabitation.
Phase 04: Cohabitation
My cats reached this phase, so no gate being up and then both having free range of the house with each other. I kept like a hawk-eye on them to make sure that everything was peaceful. Just watch them feel out their flow with each other and they were still super curious about each other. My friend’s cast was semi skeptical but then you could slowly tell that he was curious about my cat. But he wanted to kind of incorporate some interaction with him is definitely just his temperament. He’s very playful but unsurprisingly my cat was more into an exploration mindset. He was sniffing around the house, sniffing around the catio, kind of finding his favorite nap spots.
I was so excited when they were in the same room together, even just laying across the room from each other. Especially when you could tell that they were both relaxed, my friend’s cat had his back to my cat. He was in a vulnerable position, he was not on high alert. So, I felt so happy at one week max, from when I brought my cat home. They were playing together, chasing each other around the house and it was just like the best feeling there were no fights. Maybe once every couple of days, I would hear my friend’s cat let out a little hiss and that’s just because he was getting used to my cat’s energy. As my cat always wanted to play.
I think if any of you guys were to introduce a new kitty to your solo kitty which I highly suggest you do because it’s totally worth it. Then, you should definitely go about it this way and you will be so happy with the success and closeness. That your kitty siblings gain from doing so.
Remember that you can always backtrack. Even if you already have two cats that maybe don’t get along that have both been in the house for a few months or even a couple of years. You can try starting from phase one of this to reintroduce them and a lot of people have seen success doing things like this. Also please remember that there is no time limit. Just go along with your cat’s body language, behavior, observing, and engaging. Especially your established cat and that’s when you decide to move forward with the phase. If it doesn’t go so well just move back, put that gate back up. Lower that sheet again whatever you have to do.
Just a little side note, make sure that you always have one kitty litter per cat, plus an additional one. So, if you have two cats that’s going to be three litter boxes. If you have three cats that’s gonna be four litter boxes. If you have one cat that should be two litter boxes. Having that set up properly as well as making sure to separate their feeding areas is going to help you a lot when it comes to any potential kind of primal conflict. Especially with the feeding and mealtimes.
At last, please remember do not force this process, do not force any time limits on the phases. Be patient with it. It might take your cats a few days like it took my friend’s cat and my cat before they’re actually cohabitating with no boundaries in the house. It might take them a few weeks but you want to make sure that you establish things properly for the long run. So, be patient with yourself.
Hope so guys you liked reading this article. I tried my best as much as possible ways to make you understand everything clearly. So hopefully, this article is gonna be helpful for you in how to introduce cats. If you liked it make sure you keep visiting us to learn many more things. Have a nice day!
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