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5 steps to successfully introducing your cat to a new pet

intro cat to new pet

Cats are notoriously persnickety creatures, bestowing their love and friendship only on those deemed most worthy. You can help your new pet win over your cat’s affection by following these five steps for a gradual introduction.

1. Set the stage. Before bringing home your new pet, create dedicated spaces where each pet can be confined with all the items they need to be comfy, like bowls, litter boxes, bedding, scratching posts and toys. Give your new pet some adjustment time when they first arrive by keeping them in their special space for a few days, and shower both pets with lots of love so neither feels neglected.

2. Introduce scent.
Your cat has a powerful—and potentially judgmental!—nose, so it’s best to get your cat to accept the smell of the newcomer before they ever lay eyes on them. You can do this by swapping the pets’ bedding and toys or by giving them turns to explore the house while the other is confined. Make the new pet’s scent seem extra appealing by feeding both pets on either side of a door to associate their smell with the reward of a meal.

3. Put a face to the smell.
Once both cats are comfortable with this routine, start propping open the door a tad and letting them see each other at meal times. You can even encourage play across the door by dangling toys in between. 

4. Take the (supervised) leap! The moment you’ve been waiting for is finally here—a real, barrier-free meeting! Plan for the two to meet under your watchful eye in neutral territory. Dogs should be leashed for the first meeting. 

If the two share some sniffs, that’s great! They are on the fast track to being best buds. Don’t be discouraged if your cat seems uninterested or even walks away, though—this is a good neutral starting point from which their friendship can grow. 

5. Finally give them free reign. Once your pets have a track record of good behavior together, it’s time to allow them to roam unsupervised, giving their relationship space to blossom naturally. Set your pets up for success by eliminating the need for cats to compete for resources (the rule of thumb is to have a litter box for each cat plus one extra) and providing elevated hiding spots perfect for a breather from the dog.

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