Introducing a New Cat to Your Family

By Melissa Kauffman

Are you counting the days until the arrival of a new furry family member? If so, this is an exciting time for you!

If you have ever had the good fortune to spend time in the company of cats, you know that they also seek the attention and company of their humans. They are not the famously independent types of pets that they are believed to be. 

Elegant, lively and irresistible, a cat can be a great member of your family, and spending time with her is a wonderful experience. In addition to how we choose a cat based on their look and fur color, each cat has its own specific feline individuality, and that’s why it is important to choose the pet that will best suit your lifestyle and personality. It’s also important to pay attention to the cat’s age and temperament, as well as to the pets you already have at home.

Introducing a new cat

A golden rule to remember is to go slow. The adjustment period to a new surrounding for cats is up to three weeks. Older rescue cats take even longer to adjust, so grant them a little extra grace. Here are some ways to ease your cat’s transition to a new home:

  • Designate one room of the house for the cat for the next week or two. There should be a litter box and a soft, elevated space for sleeping. 
  • Everyone should bond with the cat individually so as not to overwhelm him. Family members that live in the house should individually take turns to get to know the cat and vice versa. 
  • After the “getting used to” period, gradually expand the territory the cat can roam about. Move the litter box to its permanent place and let the cat explore the territory.

Bringing home a second cat

If you’ve decided to bring another cat into the family, one thing is most important above all: sufficient resources must be available to help maintain the harmonious cat community. This means ensuring enough food and a quiet place for resting so there won’t be any competition. Make sure the second cat has her own clean and spacious litterbox. When these basics are met, there shouldn’t be any reason not to get another cat. 

Every cat should have at least the following:

  • Quiet feeding place where it can eat without distractions
  • Fresh drinking water at all times
  • Accessible and clean cat litter at all times of day
  • Scratching post
  • Comfortable places for the lazy parts of the day
  • A playground for all the romping between naps
  • Enough cuddling time with his servant human beings

Kids and cats

It’s up to the parents to teach the children from an early age how to behave towards animals. Many children have a fantastic relationship with their pets, but parents need to set the rules and boundaries. If you’re planning to adopt a kitten and you already have a baby, that could be stressful for everyone. In that case, make sure you have enough time for both of them. Parents must be prepared for the fact that they will most likely take on all the responsibilities regarding the pet, although children often promise otherwise.

A kitten needs a lot of attention, especially in the early stages, so the whole family should get involved. When adopting pets, it’s good to pay attention to their character, whether they are social or not, and other personality traits, in order for them to fit into the family. A kitten that comes to a family with children must be self-confident, well socialized and be tolerant. But keep in mind that even the most tolerant cats have their limits and that’s why it’s up to parents to teach their children how to behave in the presence of a cat.

Parents must also learn to interpret the signs sent by the cat and recognize when it has had enough.

Dogs and Cats

Dogs are often easier to train than cats, so rules need to be set up for the dog first. Cats are friends and should not be chased. The earlier you make it clear to your dog that cats are not seen as prey and not as enemies, the sooner she learns the lesson. The closer your dog is to cats, the easier it will be to socialize them. You know your dog better than anyone else, so you know best what will motivate him. Praise can always work wonders, whether it’s a clicker or a reward bite. 

Cats, on the other hand, are often harder to teach the fact that dogs are neither dangerous nor hostile. But even stubborn cats can be taught. Always try to reward and connect with something positive when you come in contact with a dog. It could be a gentle caress when your cat is watching a stranger dog from the window or a delicious snack when he stays sitting still while a dog is approaching. The more thorough the preparation, the more successful the acclimatization will be!

During the acclimation period both animals should have their own area in the home where they have the opportunity to retreat. The easiest way is to separate them into two different rooms. During the first days, the animals should not come into contact with each other. Try to move blankets and toys from room to room, meanwhile replace the sleeping beds so your dog and cat will also have the opportunity to get used to the other animal by smell.

In the first months, make sure that your animals respect one another’s spaces. A cat box is not the place to dig and hide toys. The dog’s feeding bowl is taboo. At first, it may be easier to feed the animals separately to avoid any resource guarding. Additionally, both animals should be given the opportunity to spend enough time with you. Cherish them as much as you can to make sure they each feel important and loved.

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