Introducing your cat to other pets

A resource and information page about introducing your cat to other pets, common issues, and helpful tips.

Cats can experience new surroundings, people, and animals differently. Cats are territorial and should be introduced to other animals slowly so they can get used to each other before a face-to-face interaction. We recommend a slow introduction period for any new pets entering a home with another pet to help prevent anxiety, fear, stress, and aggression. Below are a few tips on introducing your new cat to your pets.

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Keep your new cat in one room (like a bathroom) with their own food, water, litter box and bed. Feed your existing pets and the new cat on each side of the door to the room. This helps all the pets associate an enjoyable activity (eating) with each other’s scents. At first, put the dishes away from the door and as they become calm, slowly move the bowls closer to the door. Next, prop the door open just enough to allow the animals to see each other. Repeat for the first several days.

Switch objects, like a bed, toy or blanket, between your pet and new cat so they can learn each other’s scent. For example, wipe a towel on one pet and then place it under the other animal’s food bowl. Be sure to swap scents with each animal in the home.

Once your new kitty is eating regularly and using the litter box in their separate room, let them explore the rest of the house while the other pets are confined in kitty’s room. This lets your kitty get comfortable with their new surrounding without being anxious by the other pets and allows them to experience others scents without meeting.

Allow for short supervised time together. Then increase the time based on all animals’ behaviors.

It is important to introduce pets slowly to reduce any fearful or aggressive behavior. You may see some forms of these behaviors, but don’t give them a chance to intensify. If you notice any signs of fear or aggression, separate them, and start the introduction period over again.

  • You’ll want to keep your current pets schedules the same as best you can before the new kitty joined.
  • Each cat should have its own litter box. Make sure no cat is being threatened while using their litter box.
  • If your cats get into a small fight, do not intervene directly to separate the cats. Instead, put a blanket over them or make a loud noise to disperse them. Let them calm down before reintroducing them. Avoid punishment as it won’t be effective and can make things worse.
  • Lastly, make sure each cat has a safe hiding hole.

Cat to Dog Introductions

Some dogs have a high prey drive and should not be left alone with a cat. If a dog wants to play and chase a cat, the cat usually become fearful and defensive. To help the introduction period between the two, you can practice tricks and manners with your dog. Using positive reinforcement training to teach commands like “sit,” “stay,” “down,” and “come” help stimulate your dog’s brain and can help get their attention.

After you do the steps outlined above, you can do a meeting between the two. Keep your dog on their leash, have them sit or lie down and stay and have treats in your hand. Have a friend enter the room, sit quietly next to the kitty and offer them treats. Each animal should be on opposite sides of the room. Let this meeting be short and repeat multiple times until both cat and dog tolerate each other without undesirable behavior.

Next, while your dog is on leash, let your cat explore your dog freely. Be sure to keep giving your dog treats and praise them for sitting/laying and keeping calm. If your cat gets aggressive or runs away, you’re moving too fast and should go back to the previous steps.

Make sure kitty always has a safe spot to hide, room to run away, and high perches. Do not leave your cat and dog unsupervised until you know both animals are comfortable and safe.