Adding another animal to the household.
Q: We are thinking about getting another cat, but we aren’t sure if our current cat will like the idea. We also have a dog that loves cats—sometimes too much! What’s the best way to introduce a new cat?
A: Introducing animals to new things, people, or other animals can be tricky whether you are dealing with a cat or a dog. The key is to make the new addition the coolest thing in the world. Be sure to only feed and pay attention to existing animals in the presence of the new addition. This will make the new addition an important part of the family whose presence is required to get the resources needed to exist. Treats should “rain from heaven” every time the new addition comes around. Imagine how much you would want someone to be in the room if every time they entered $100 bills came out of the sky!
The following are some steps to help introductions go more smoothly.
1. Set up a separate room for the new cat complete with a litter box, food, and water. If possible, a screen door on the room helps animals sniff each other safely, but it’s not necessary.
2. Allow the new cat to explore the separate area alone with the door closed.
3. Take the new cat out of the room and allow the current cat and dog to explore the room and get to know the new cat’s scent. During this time the new cat can explore the rest of the house.
4. Feed the animals together (the dog may need to be in a crate). Start at a distance, then decrease the distance over time as everyone becomes more comfortable with each other. Use plates instead of dishes so the cats can see while they are eating.
5. Have some short supervised time together—some hissing from the cats is to be expected at first but this will eventually pass. Redirect any inappropriate or rough play—especially from the dog.
6. Dogs should know the basic commands of sit, stay, and leave it. The dog may need to be kept on a leash in the beginning in order to prevent chasing. Once a dog finds out how much fun the chase is, it’s hard to stop this behavior. Prevention is the key.
7. Never leave the animals alone together in the beginning.
8. Have one more cat boxes than number of cats around the house so everyone has their privacy. Keep the dog out of the cat box areas.
9. Put water dishes in areas that a cat can drink and see all around. Otherwise a cat may stop drinking out of fear that another cat or dog will sneak up from behind.
Eventually the animals will be able to spend more time together without supervision. Some become best friends, while others learn to tolerate each other. Either way, time spent planning and training will help bring harmony to the household in no time when adding a new furry companion.