How to integrate a new cat into the family

There are a variety of factors to consider when bringing a new cat into your household. These include any past experiences or reactions your new cat has had with dogs, your cat’s personality, your dog’s personality, the age of your pets, and many more. No introduction is the same, as all personalities are different, and all pets adjust to new siblings at different paces. It’s extremely important to introduce your pets in the right way, as it’s a much easier process to adjust your pets to each other on first contact than to repair a dysfunctional relationship later on.


It’s very important to give your new cat plenty of space to roam around in and adjust to all the new sights and smells of your home before any introductions are made. This can be in a bedroom or living room, where the cat has easy access to all of its toys, food, and water. This is quite possibly the most important thing to do, as a confused and disoriented cat is much less likely to want to meet new friends. While this is taking place, make sure that your other pets are not left alone, as the sudden spike in attention for a foreign animal may spark a jealous reaction from them.

The next step is to start introducing your pets to each other through a method called scent-swapping. Scent-swapping is the process of familiarising your new pet with your current pets by way of scent, before there’s any physical contact. This ensures that your new cat and your current pets aren’t overwhelmed by their senses when they’re first properly introduced. Simply take a clean cloth and wipe your new cat’s face and forehead, and do the same with your other pets. Then, simply place the opposite cloths in front of your pets, and allow them to take in, and adjust to, the new scent. At this point, you can already start to gauge how things are going by the behaviour of your pets. Are they rushing towards the new scent in excitement? Or are they more wary towards it? Take their individual responses into consideration when going onto the next steps.


A great way to further gauge your pets’ reaction to each other is to introduce them to each other through a barrier. This would preferably be done with a glass door or a baby gate. It’s of the utmost importance that you do this calmly, as any excitement that you exhibit could impede the introduction process. If you’re unsure about this step, it may be wise to consult a professional behaviourist and to have him/her present for this introduction.

The final step is to introduce your pets face to face. This step will most likely be the easiest to facilitate, as your new and current pets have had ample time to get used to each other through their major senses. It’s still very important to not crowd around your pets and to stay as calm as possible. It’s also a good idea to give your cat the most control of the room so that if he/she does get overwhelmed or frightened, it can feel free to run around or hide. If your dogs are comfortable on a lead, it may be a good idea to keep them in place while the cat investigates on its own. Be patient, as introductions can take time.

Should you encounter any troubles while introducing your cat to its new home or your other pets, please consult a trained behaviourist sooner rather than later.

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