Bringing home a new cat is always a fun and exciting experience for any family; but there are several important things you should consider beforehand. Many cats will eventually become very comfortable with other pets, but unless you are adopting a kitten, your new cat will probably need some time to decide that your home is safe and that all your other pets can be trusted as friends. If you already have other cats, you should not adopt another one until all of your other cats have already been to your veterinarian or to your local veterinary clinic or animal hospital to be spayed and neutered. Otherwise, all of your cats may begin marking their territory (including your furniture and walls) by spraying with urine, and they are much more likely to fight than if they are all fixed before being introduced. According to NJ Cat Vet, Animal Clinic of Morris Plains, ideally, all pet cats should be seen by your veterinarian to be vaccinated and spayed or neutered by six months of age.
The safest way to gauge what kind of initial response your cats will have to one another is to let your current cat approach your new cat while your new cat is still inside the pet carrier, just to see whether they express aggression, such as by hissing. If they are both just apprehensive but curious, you can try to let them both out in the same room, but you should have at least one person to supervise each cat and be ready to intervene immediately if there is any problem. Generally, unless both cats seem willing to accept one another immediately, it may be safer and less intimidating to your new cat to always let him have a room with his own bed, litter box, and water and food bowls before you allow them to interact directly. Swapping some piece of their bedding or something else with one another?s scent on it can help them become accustomed to one another faster. The optimal situation is a temporary partition (such as a pet gate or child gate) that can be quickly and cheaply placed in a doorway to allow your cats to observe and approach one another safely, but prevent any aggression between them. If you don?t have a pet gate, you can just use a heavy paper weight or door stop to allow a door to stay open just enough for them to smell one another but not enough for them to fit through the doorway until it seems safe.
It is also a good idea to make a few other preparations before you bring home your new cat. You should provide at least one additional litter box besides the ones you already have for any new cat and you should also establish separate feeding and water dishes in another part of the kitchen (or other room where you will feed them) and place them far enough away from one another to avoid territorial conflicts but close enough that they can observe one another while eating. Every cat should have several options of safe retreats, such as under furniture, in cat boxes, and on high ledges so they can decide for themselves how much they want to interact.
When it comes to introducing your new cat to your dog, you should first have some idea of how your dog reacts to other animals, especially cats. If your dog is aggressive toward them or treats them like prey, you should not bring a new cat into your home unless or until you first seek out professional assistance from a veterinarian or from your local animal clinic to guide you and help you socialize your dog to cats. You can also bring your dog to the shelter to see how your dog and any cat you may be considering adopting, react to one another with a cage door between them. Some cats will be curious or indifferent to dogs while others may be terrified, largely based on previous experiences with dogs.
Obviously, cats who exhibit less fear of your dog would be better candidates for any home that already has a dog. Once home, you will want to follow the same process of providing safe areas and methods of controlling any access to one another that you would use to introduce two cats. Likewise, you will want to follow the same common-sense precautions as for bringing home a new dog, especially when it comes to supervising interactions and protecting any small pet or prey species from any larger pet or predator species at all times.
Usually, your pets will all learn that they can all trust one another and in many cases, they will become good friends, but it may take a little time for new cats to realize they are safe and for your other cats to accept a new cat. As long as you do it carefully, you should not have a problem creating a good home for multiple pets (even from different species). As always, it is better to consult your veterinarian or animal clinic first to make sure you are doing everything right.
Dr. Paul has a strong interest in avian and exotic animal medicine and surgery, as well as small animal internal medicine and surgery.
He has provided services for numerous breeders, kennels, aviaries, and mini zoos.