How to Successfully Add a New Cat Or Kitten To Your Family
How To Choose A Cat To Blend Into Your Family
Once upon a time, a little stray tortoiseshell named Daphne walked up to my back porch and demanded entry. Those of you familiar with previous blogs will know that Daphne is now a dear member of my family. However, her introduction into my world was not Maddie’s, my other cat at the time, favorite thing.
Maddie was your typical loud-mouth Siamese (and a complete drama queen) but this was different a much different sound than I was used to hearing from her. There was primal anger to that howl. I looked out my side door and there sat a kitten staring right into my house. Maddie was howling, about to throw herself through the glass door. Maddie had been the queen of her kingdom for 12 years and was not about to welcome a little stray in it without voicing her opinion.
Long story short, it was a futile waste of energy over the next few weeks as this little tortoiseshell, now named Daphne Louise, worked her way into my heart. I had remembered that my vet told me years ago that when you introduce 2 cats, do so gradually. A glass door (or similar) is best to get them acquainted.
Regardless, there are many other extra considerations to take into account and prepare for when adding a cat or kitten to an already established cat and their home.
The Age Factor
Daphne was maybe 6 months old when she was introduced to Maddie. The younger the cat, the easier it is for older cats to accept and welcome them. Perhaps if Daphne had been a tiny 6 week-old instead, it might’ve been easier but I’ll never know.
Adding a fully mature or grown cat can be more challenging, but it’s not impossible. Several customers at the cat spa have successfully added older cats to their families. While the cohesion may take a bit longer, eventually the cats do cohabitate and tolerate each other just fine.
Cats are incredibly territorial, hence Maddie going bonkers at the mere sight of a cat on the doorstep. Even now, Daphne will do the same when she sees a cat in the yard cutting through to the neighbors. Her one-acre kingdom and the next-door lot is hers and she intends to keep it that way!
This ownership of their space is the same indoors and outdoors. Keep in mind that when some cats get territorial, they can mark and spray. Having the new addition and established cat spayed or neutered can help the temptation to compete and mark all over your house.
Does Gender Matter?
Gender really doesn’t matter when adding a new cat to the brood. Some research has shown that a male can be easier to accept, but that is not 100% confirmed, so don’t let that sway your choice. My 2 girls were just fine together and the hierarchy always happens immediately.
The cats will decide who is in charge and who is along for the ride so boy or girl, pick the new cat that is right for you. If it is a stray who shows up, well then they made the decision for you.
Take Into Account Each Cat’s History
One main consideration to remember is how this new cat was raised – feral, in a home, shelter cat, indoor-only, outdoor only or a combination. All of these have their plusses and minuses and can alter the dynamics of your home.
I had always had indoor cats. When Daphne came along she was an entirely new bag, as she had clearly been someone’s cat previously but also had to go outside. I was very uncomfortable with her being out so I spoke to my vet about it. She said that if a kitten becomes accustomed to being outdoors early in its development, there is sort of a switch that goes on and likely cannot be turned off. The cat will always want to go out. Prohibiting that can lead to stress and anger. Some cats will even shred doors and screens and jump out of windows to get outside.
This was a new world for me to be the doorman for Daphne. I also was not used to the ‘presents’ she would bring me. Not every cat who is feral/stray will be an indoor/outdoor cat. Some will learn to love the indoors, so there are exceptions.
A friend of mine has a feral cat who showed up and just keeps her distance but will not go outside at all. Perhaps she is simply smart enough to realize that she doesn’t need to hunt for food and shelter anymore. One caveat is that this lovely cat will never be a lap cat due to her upbringing. Take this into consideration, as it can be a learning experience with the different ways they were raised.
What Should I Consider When Adding A Cat?
Once Daphne decided that my home was going to be her home, there were some things to consider. You wouldn’t think adding one new cat would make a difference but it really does.
How To Safely Add a Cat To Your Family
Now the new cat is here and you need to get the current cat to accept it. Then they will all live together in peace and harmony, right? Not so fast. There is a process that should take place to avoid unnecessary drama and feline unrest in your home.
The main point my vet told me was to make the introduction gradual and to let them see each other (this is why glass doors are helpful!) in order for them to get used to each other. Opening the door and pushing them together and hoping for the best is NOT the way to go. This will most certainly cause headaches for everyone involved!
Adding a new kitten or cat to the mix can be fun and exciting, but it is important to take it slow and easy with both cats. Their personalities are unique, just like humans, so sometimes these new friendships just click and other times, they don’t. Following some tips and considerations can ease the stress and make the transition to a larger family all the more fun.
Rock the Cat Spa owner Cari Thompson is a life-long cat lover. When she's not running the luxury cat spa & hotel, she's playing with her cat, Daphne. She writes weekly blogs on cat behavior, health, and care. To learn more about her, check out the About Me page!