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Welcoming New Cats Home | 6 Steps to Help Cats Settle into the New Environment A smelly sock will help introduce the new to old!

Welcoming New Cats Home | 6 Steps to Help Cats Settle into the New Environment A smelly sock will help introduce the new to old!

Even though cats are solitary creatures, owners may consider adding a new member occasionally, such as when they see two cats cuddling together or when they are moved by another new cat. Aside from food and medical costs, the mental health of both new and old cats is a concern for many owners. The new cat needs to adapt to unfamiliar smells while the old needs to adjust to the invasion of its territory as well as changes in living environment and habits. Their initial meeting sets the mood for their future relationship. If the situation was not handled properly at first, the relationship between the two will only get worse and might even lead to illness. All you must remember is to be patient! Do not push them to get along. Each cat has a unique personality and adaptability, owners should always take it slowly. Cats have a different schedule than humans, so owners must prepare that it may take up to several months for two to settle. If you're ready, read and follow the six steps below to welcome a new cat into your household!


1. Isolating the new cat in a separate room


Allow the new cat to isolate in a separate room when it first arrives at the house and prevent it from contacting the old cat. This is to prevent the old from feeling a sudden invasion of its space. Arrange water, food, and a cat litter box in the room at the same time. This will allow the new cat to adapt and settle in a peaceful environment while also preventing it from transmitting hidden infectious diseases such as feline distemper or parasitic worms to the old.


It's also worth noting that owners should never forcefully take the cat out of the carrier. Open the carrier door and allow the cat to adapt to the smell and surroundings before stepping out of its comfort zone to explore around. When cats are nervous, they feel safer in smaller spaces. Hence, take the carrier to the room first and gradually introduce it to the other spaces of the room and house as it adapts. Step by step, enable the new cat to adjust to the environment smoothly.


Aside from that, owners should not enter the room to disturb or terrify the new cat, except for the necessary changes of water, food, cat litter, and so on. Let the cat adjust on its own so that it will not be afraid of the owner or the environment in the future. Forcing them to interact will only cause backfire. It is generally recommended that new cats should be separated for at least two weeks before introducing them to other cats. However, depending on the personality of the cat, it might take more than one to two months.


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2. Maintaining habits and daily schedule of old cat


Many believe that cats dislike new cats out of jealousy, so they try to spend more time with the old ones. In fact, it has nothing to do with jealousy. Apart from the new cat's odor, what makes the old feel uneasy is the owner's behavior, which has influenced the old cat's habits. In the past, when the owner returns home, cats receive lots of care, affection, and attention. However, now that there is a new cat, the owner disrupts the normal routine, making the old cat feel uncomfortable. As a result, not only do owners need to spend more time with the old cat, but also maintain their original routines. Don't make them feel that there are big changes in their lives and label the new cat as a negative thing.


Additionally, despite the fact that they are separated by a door, old cats may still feel that their space at home has been invaded and may huff at the new cat. These are normal defensive behaviours, so owners should not criticize or punish the old cat for this. Instead, attract and divert the old cat’s attention with treats and toys.


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3. Exchanging smells using socks


Cats rely on smell to identify and recognize objects, so try switching the old and new cats’ items with their smell like litter and towels as they both progressively adapt and feel relaxed. Allow them to get used to each other’s smell while owners can observe their reactions to determine their level of acceptance.


Owners can use their own socks to swap the smells of two cats when they appear to be less resistant to each other’s scent! Put the socks on your hand and pet the cats alternatively, especially in regions with a stronger smell, such as the chin and face. This will swap their scent, having the smell of the old cat on the new and vice versa. This approach uses the least amount of stimulation on cats, enabling both cats to get comfortable in the presence of the other’s scent before physically meeting.


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4. Feeding across doors to form a positive connection


Apart from using socks to swap smells, owners could also feed both cats at the same time across the same door. Allowing both cats to develop a pleasant relationship with the other cat by providing rewards. In other words, the goal is to persuade the cat to believe that “good things are related to the smell of this cat”, and over time, “this cat is good!” However, to minimize conflicts generated by other sensory stimuli, the cats should not be allowed to meet at this time. It can only be done in such a way that they cannot see the other cat but can smell and sense its presence. That is, both cats must be fed at the same time by two people across the closed door.


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5. Meeting through the net: see, smell but not touch


If all goes well, you may attempt to allow them to meet! However, they should only meet from a distance at first. Use window guards, screens, or glass doors to keep them from touching each other but allowing them to see and smell. This can prevent unexpected conflicts or flights and allow them to gradually become used to each other’s presence. Meeting time should also be gradually increased, starting with 5 minutes and then increasing to 10 minutes, then 20 minutes. Owners can also ease stress by providing treats and playing games. This will also help to strengthen positive connections. If any cat has a significant response, they should be separated immediately and try with the previous steps again.


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6. Contacting for the first time! (If everything goes well)


If both cats are no longer nervous about each other, gradually try to get them to come into contact. Allow the new cat to decide when to get out and go back by leaving a little gap in the door. Do not hold the new cat directly and put it in front of the old one, since this may terrify both. All the previous attempts to help them adjust will be in vain. Owners should be aware that the old cat may still feel an invasion of its territory and huff at the new cat at this point. If the situation gets serious, the two must be separated once again.


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Friendly Reminder: If you are in a multi-cat family, it is even more crucial to get all of them vaccinated. Because if one of them gets sick, there is a great probability that cats in the same household may become infected and begin an endless loop. Click to read Should cats be vaccinated with Three-in-one vaccine? |Cat vaccination Q&A (With Price Reference)




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