When a new cat is being introduced into a home where there is already a resident cat (or cats), it is important to give the new cat a safe haven. The new cat will need their own room to adjust to the home before introducing them to the resident cat. This allows both the newcomer and the resident cat time to get used to one another’s scents before their first face to face interaction as well as safeguard against passing any shelter-related illnesses to your resident cat. We recommend waiting 7 to 10 days to make sure that your new kitty has a chance to settle in before proceeding with the introduction. The best way to let cats meet for the first time is to let them sniff each other under the doorway. Observe the cats while doing this for about 30 minutes. A little hissing and batting at each other is to be expected. In the meantime, you can help the cats become used to each other by playing with interactive toys while the door is cracked, feeding the cats treats on either side of the door, and switching the cats’ bedding so they can get used to each other’s scent. If the sniff visits are going well, it’s time to start supervised interactions. Open the door and let the new cat come out and explore. Let the cat come out of the room at their own pace. Forcing the cat to come into a new territory will just make the cat increasingly tense. Let the cats enter each other’s territory for about 30 minutes, then separate the cats and repeat this process a few times each day. This time apart allows them to be able to process the information they gained while they were together and allows them to regain their sense of territory and confidence. Continue this process daily, lengthening the amount of time they are together a little each session. Create positive associations. The key to introducing cats to each other is patience. What we most often perceive as fighting is actually their way of working out their territory. This is an essential part of how cats learn to live together in a multi-cat household and they must go through it. Our intervention prolongs this process. For the most part, let them do what they will and stay out of it. The only times your intervention may be necessary is if their exchanges with each other draw blood or if one is continually chasing/dominating the other one.
When introducing your dog to a new cat it is important that you have your dog under control and that it knows some basic manners. It is generally easier to introduce a kitten to a dog, but it isn’t necessary. Do not leave them together unsupervised until you are positive they will be able to safely cohabitate. Introducing a new cat to a resident dog is similar to introducing cats to one another. Without letting them actually meet, you will want to start by giving the new cat a safe haven. Set them up in their own room and allow them to become comfortable. Once they are comfortable in the room, let them explore the rest of the house for short periods each day while the dog is not there. When the cat appears fairly relaxed in most areas of the house, let them meet. The best way to do this is to introduce them while the cat is up on a high surface unreachable by the dog (such as a counter or cat furniture), then bring the dog into the room on leash. A dog that is showing overt aggression such as lunging, snarling, growling, baring teeth, etc., will probably never accept a cat. If all is reasonably calm so far, walk the dog around the room on leash. On-leash interactions give the cat the opportunity to approach the dog if they choose to, or to find their own route of escape. During the first few meetings the cat and dog will probably not interact face to face. Do not ever let the dog intimidate the cat by barking or chasing. Increase the amount of time they are together a little bit each visit. It is important to be patient and encouraging during their interactions. If you are relaxed, they will be more at ease. Always praise friendly behavior profusely. Don’t try to rush the introduction or force them to interact more than either of them are willing. You should use your best judgment as to when they can begin supervised sessions with the dog off-leash.
First and foremost, make sure your children understand that a pet is a living creature to be cared for and respected. Animals have needs and feelings, and they rely on us, their caretakers, for companionship and loving care. To help form this relationship, get children involved with caring for your new companion with age appropriate activities, such as feeding, playing with toys and gentle petting. Supervise pets and children at all times and never leave them alone together. Accidents happen even with the most trustworthy children and pets. Some tips to give your children: Always pet an animal gently, with no pulling or tugging, and never from behind. Remind children to use their “inside” voice when interacting with pets, no shouting or screaming.