It is important that you follow all of the instructions in the package given to you by your CC4C Member. Introductions to other animals can be tricky for rescued cats or kittens. It is critical that you not rush the process and allow your adopted cat or kitten to feel comfortable in his or her “safe room” prior to attempting introductions.
Here are some helpful hints to make things easier. (For easier reading, let’s call your new adoptee “Fluffy” and your established pet “Heather”.)
When you arrive home, place Fluffy into a “safe room” for a few days (or less), so she can adjust to the new sights, smells and noises. Place her litter box in this room. Her food, water and bedding should also be placed in the room. Do not let her roam free until she has used her new litter box.
Initial Introductions and New Scents
More than likely, the first introduction to Heather will be the scent you carry on your clothing or person when holding or petting Fluffy.
If Heather has not noticed that you’ve brought Fluffy into the house, give her lots of love and attention so that she does not feel neglected and abandoned. She will probably immediately notice the new scent. Talk to her normally, taking time to encourage positive responses. If she growls, barks or hisses, continue talking in a calming voice.
If Heather shows no signs of aggression, take Fluffy out of her “safe” room and into another part of the house. Take Heather into the “safe” room and shut the door. Heather will start re-exploring the room and new scents now. Talk to her calmly, again encouraging positive reactions.
While she is in the process of investigating Fluffy’s scent and after you have spent time with her in the room, leave the room quietly and close the door behind you. Let Fluffy do some exploring of her own, making sure to avoid corners and areas that have hard to reach nooks and crannies.
It takes time for animals to become adjusted to their new surroundings; sometimes a few hours, or days, sometimes longer. Remember, they don’t know you and they don’t yet know their new home. Think of how you would feel.
Leave Fluffy in the safe room until all signs of aggression have dissipated from Heather. Once they start exhibiting curiosity, allow them to sniff one another through a small crack in the door.
Beware of a Size Difference
If your new adoptee is a kitten or much smaller cat than your established animal, do not leave the two animals alone together until all interactions between the two are positive and have remained positive for some time. A large animal can easily harm a smaller cat/kitten. Use your common sense and interact with them under supervision. Don’t force them together. Let them adjust to the new circumstances of their household.
Alterative Introduction with a Carrier
Another helpful way to introduce the two would be to place Fluffy into a LARGE plastic pet carrier, and place the carrier in the middle of the room with the highest traffic. This will allow the two to go nose-to-nose without the chance of either hurting the other severely.
Additional Tips for Dog Introductions
Sliding-glass Door: If you have a sliding-glass door or a locking screen door that is secure:
- Put your dog outside.
- With the sliding-glass door or screen door latched securely, allow both to view, approach, and sniff one another. Again, praise good responses.
- After an hour has passed, put the dog on a leash and bring inside. Proceed to the next section.
For the next several exercises, much will depend on how things went at the sliding-glass or screen door.
With a Leash (works best with two people):
- Restrain your dog on a leash and, if well-trained, tell your dog to lay down and stay.
- Take a strong hold of the dog leash, in case your dog unexpectedly lunges at kitty.
- Holding kitty and starting with a distance of about a foot away, bend down to the dog’s level and let them investigate and view each other. If this is going well and they are curious and want to sniff, allow them to do so. But do not shove kitty into your dog’s face—take it slowly and be prepared for anything unexpected like lunging, baring, or hissing.
- This will allow kitty to approach on her own to sniff noses and check out your dog.
Carrier Introduction: See above. Bring the dog in on a leash and sit down with him—stroking your dog and talking softly to him. IF the dog notices the cat and carrier, allow the dog to sniff the carrier and make contact with the cat through the holes, again praising and reassuring both pets. Their noses may actually touch during this intro, so don’t be alarmed if the cat slaps that area.
Baby Gate: Use a baby gate to block off the “safe room” from your dog. This allows kitty and dog to see each other and sniff through the gate, but your dog can not get to your new kitty. This also allows kitty to hop over and explore the house, but if your dog overwhelms or scares her, she can hop back over into her “safe room” without your dog following her in.
Remember –patience is a virtue!
Over time the tension with wane, the kitty will take on your scent, and everyone will start to get used to each other. It takes time and patience—so don’t push them if they’re not ready. With patience and time, they will become buddies soon enough.
Although, sometimes animals only learn to live together in harmony, by tolerating and respecting each other’s space and habits. Not all animals cat-and-cat or dog-and-cat will become snuggle or play buddies.
Most importantly, if your dog shows any aggressive behavior, keep it under control. Reprimand immediately—be firm and consistent. The tone of your voice will make a big difference! As will praising and reassuring both when things are going well.
Calming Aids Can Sometimes Help
Sometimes using homeopathic remedies and calming aids can help (see our recommendations for Stressed, nervous cats on our Behavior Modification page).
Do not leave them alone until you’ve seen positive interaction during your supervised periods for consecutive days.