new cat in home

How to Introduce Your New Cat to Your Home and Pets

Introducing your new cat or kitten to your new home and your resident cats and dogs requires careful planning. See below help ensure a good and safe transition for your new cat.

Scared or Shy New Cats & Kittens

Dear Simba,
I just brought home a 7-week-old male kitten. He had been living with his mother and his litter mates since he was born. Since bringing him home, he is been very vocal. The first night he cried constantly and since then, while his meowing has decreased a bit, he has remained quite vocal…crying out when he is left alone in a room. Any ideas for how I can help Louie adjust to his new home without the companionship of another cat? How long does it typically take young kittens to adapt to a new environment and establish a sense of independence? Louie's Mommy

Dear Louie's Mommy -
Poor little guy! Louie should begin to adjust to his new surroundings within a couple of days. Be sure that you make yours a cat-friendly home and supply him with kitty toys and a cat tree to climb. Cozy places and plenty of love should cure his blues in no time. Keep me posted. Simba
PS It is usually best to adopt two cats from the same litter to decrease the isolation any one cat will feel.

Dear Simba,
I recently took on the care of a 5-year-old neutered male cat whose human passed away. He is used to living in the city (we live in the country). From what I was told would go outside instead of using a litter box. He was greeted and harassed by my 7-month-old female. She followed him around and batted at him a few times. Later that day, I decided to let him out to go "potty". When we returned to the house, I called for him and he came running to us, although he seemed to like the outdoors. I did not see him the rest of the night, though I called and called to him! I put food and water out, but still did not see him the 36 hours! My husband spotted him and told me that he ran into the barn. I went to the barn and saw him but he would not come to me. I have continued to take food and water to the barn, but he still will not come near us.

How can I catch him, or get him to come to me and know that I want to take care of him? I am afraid another animal will hurt him. Also, once I catch him, how can I teach an older cat to use a litter box (my husband and I are both gone during the day so he cannot be left inside). Also, should he and my kitten have separate litter boxes or do you think they would willingly share? Niehaus

Dear Niehaus,
Thank you for taking in the kitty. Often forgotten when someone dies is the care of their loving animals. You are a kind person for opening your home to this creature. As for catching him, I recommend one of the following:

  • Trap him as people trap stray cats. You can find tips for this at the Strays section of Simba's Letters. While this can be effective, I worry that it might be too early to do this (kitty could suffer psychologically).
  • You could continue feeding him and giving him water. However, place the food and water closer to your home every day (I do not know how far away the barn is so this may be impractical). Do not pressure kitty too much, let him get used to your presence. You may also want to try putting strong smelling food like tuna or tuna-flavor kitten food near your home and later right outside and then right inside your door. (tuna-flavored kitten food is very difficult to resist and you may find kitty at your door).
Check out the rest of the letters in Helping New Cats for more information. Also, as for training him, try the Litter - Training, and the Litter - Usage sections. Keep me posted. Simba

Dear Simba,
We adopted 2 male kittens. They were well adjusted and got along together. We got them fixed and all was well...Unfortunately, a car killed one. We went to the shelter to get Jazzy a new friend (he, was quite upset by the loss). We saved a 3-year-old female named Puggy (also "fixed"). Puggy had been living with an older woman and was an indoor cat. She appears to have been unloved. We have brought her home, but she is terrified of Jazzy. She runs away from him when he walks inside and rarely ventures out. She does not use her litter for her potty or urine…she uses our living room instead! My wife is pregnant and I am concerned that we may have to get rid of Puggy for hygienic reasons. We do not want to do it, but are at a loss. Can you help? Mainly with her litter habits but also with her adjustment to Jazzy, & his to her. CB

Dear CB,
Give Puggy some time. It appears that she is a "disadvantaged" cat (not well trained and cared for in her prior home). Because her bathroom habits are the pressing issue, the first thing to you need to do is restrict her access in your home until she is litter trained. This means placing her in a small room or pen with a litter box, some toys, her food and water. Check out Litter Box - 1st Time Training, particularly the letter from Frustrated Feline Lover for information.

As for her adjustment, it will take time. It is natural for her to be stressed in a new environment. A cat is almost alien to a creature that has lived isolated from other animals. One way to make her more comfortable is to give her plenty of love and affection, particularly at times when Jazzy is in the room. This type of interaction will make her feel good about being in his company. Do the same for him. Also, monitor their play together, pet them, encourage their fun and give them treats together. As for her not venturing out, it is fine. Not being an outdoor cat, the vast space outside your home is very intimidating to her.

She will take some time, but should eventually come around to trusting Jazzy’s company, as he will with her. But that’s for later, first thing to do is to correct the litter problems. Keep me posted. Simba

Dear Simba
We received our new Devon Rex kitten yesterday. He had a 3-hour flight, a 45-minute car ride and then to a strange place. My concern is that he is sooo scared! He has been hiding under the bed for 24 hours. He will come out to eat and use the litter box but that is it. My heart is breaking for this litter guy. Any suggestions? Heartbroken

Dear Heartbroken,
It is natural for the little guy to be scared. Be sure that you are gentle and supportive. Do not make sudden or loud noises near him, and avoid having the kids (if any are there) play or handle him right now. Try setting out yummy foods (like tuna-flavored kitten food) to coax him out from under the bed. He will begin exploring his home soon enough, but for the mean time, keep him confined in a small room where can establish a zone of comfort. Keep me posted. Simba

Dear Simba:
We just got a 15-week-old Siamese kitten. the first night we kept him in an empty bedroom with kitty comforts and he seemed fine. the next day started our bonding session and he seemed to take to us extremely well, however after dinner he seemed to be upset and we would have to start coaxing him out of hiding all over again. he cries constantly and we do not know how to help him. help!! We have 3 other cats and have no idea what we are dealing with. We worry that there might be something wrong with his belly. - Matt

Dear Matt,
My first concern right now is the other cats. It is very important that you segregate the new guy from your resident cats until he has been checked out and given a clean bill of health by your vet. Until that time keep the little tyke in his own room.

As for his crying: Cats are creatures of habit and moving is a very traumatic experience. Introductions need to be done slowly. It is quite possible that your kitten is frightened of the other cats. One way to ease a transition is to do the following (once he is been given a clean bill of health):

  • Place the new kitten is a playpen or room all on his own.
  • Allow the other cats to sniff around the door
  • Allow him to become acclimated (a couple of days).
  • Let the kitten out under your supervision
  • Once you are comfortable, let him out on his own.
cat scratch postUltimate Scratcher
Be sure that you feed him the food he ate prior to his coming to your home. If you plan on feeding him something new, be sure to do it gradually. Check out Feeding Kittens for feeding and transition tips. Your Pal, Simba

Follow up
Dear Simba,
Thank you so much for your help with dealing with my new little bundle of joy, Mozart, a seal point Siamese. You help came at a much needed time and greatly improved the living conditions for my 3 other cats and their people. Thanks again. Matt
Matt & Mozart, It is my pleasure to serve. Simba

Introducing Cats to Each Other

Hi Simba,
How do I introduce my cats to each other? My neighborhood cats look in the window and tap to say hello to my indoor cat. I love all 3 cats and want them in my home where they will be safe. Is there a way to introduce older cats to each other and not have them fight? All 3 have their claws...but when they see my indoor cat they roll over on their bellies in peace. Is there any hope here? Thanks for listening. Arline, adopted mom of Misty, my indoor cat and Sylvester & Patches (outdoor cats).

Dear Arline,
There is plenty of hope! My first concern with Sylvester & Patches is their exposure to disease. I worry about the introduction of infectious agents to yours and Misty's home. So we need to be careful in doing this. Here is how to do a safe introduction for all involved:

  • Bring the cats in. Keep them in a room / pen so that they have no physical contact with Misty.
  • Allow the cats to sniff around the doors (this gets the cats used to each other)
  • Let this courting continue for a few days.
  • Take Sylvester & Patches to the vet for their shots and to receive a clean bill of health. (Disease can be easily transmitted).
  • Get Sylvester & Patches fixed, if not already done (will prevent spraying and/or heat episodes and will make for an easier acclimation).
  • Release Sylvester & Patches indoors only under your supervision after they are cleared by your vet. Be sure to observe their interaction with Misty. Do this for a couple of days until they get along.
  • Your new cats may experience litter box and/or tummy problems. Check out Stomach & Digestive Problems and Litter Boxes for tips.
You sound like you will make a wonderful mom. Let me know how things go. Simba

See the follow-up notes, click here

Dear Simba,
We adopted a 2-year-old female cat that came from a home with another cat. I was told they got along well. During the last year, while Brandi has been with us, we have watched how she seems to play well with other neighborhood cats, and squirrels! So, we have decided to 'rescue' a 10-week-old kitten (male), that will be coming to us later this week. We want to make the introduction between the new kitten and Brandi as friendly and painless as possible. Do you have suggestions as to how this can be done effectively? Please respond a.s.a.p. so that we do not blow it! Thanks! Marsi & family
Dear Marsi & Family,
You are wonderful for taking in a little kitten. Check out the letters below for tipson properly introducing your new baby to his home. Also, please monitor any outdoor play very closely. Cats, and kittens in particular are very susceptible to infection/disease so be very careful with outdoor play. - Simba

Dear Simba:
We have just rescued a mother cat and her 2 kittens who had been dumped behind a business in Wisconsin. The kittens are 6-weeks-old - they no longer have blue eyes, they jump pretty high and eat solid food.

We brought them home (a 3-hour ride) in seperate carrying cases - the mom in one, the kittens in the other. When we released them into their new room, the kittens hid in the closet. The mom has adapted well to her new home, but when she sees one of her kittens, she hisses or growls...she even swatted at one. We think she was still nursing them, and she appears swollen, filled with milk. Did we make a mistake by separating them on the ride home? Will she accept them again? I saw one kitten eat and use the litter box, but not the smaller one. Lynn

We also have 4 other cats and a Labrador. They seem to be getting used to each other. Mama cat slept on the bed with me and the Labrador last night.

Dear Lynn,
You seem a kind soul. Thank you for saving the cat family. Here is my take, do not allow the new cats to have contact with your resident pets until they see a vet. Please keep them in a room to themselves. It is important that your pets not be exposed to any potential diseases. (see the letters for the health risks). Your vet needs to do a physical check up and administer vaccinations. As for the mom's behavior, monitor it closely and allow them near each other under your supervision. She should sniff at them and will soon realize that they are from her litter. Keep me posted, Simba

Hi Simba,I wanted to let you know that the kittens & mother cat we rescued in WI are doing fine. Mom cat realized they were her kittens after a couple days and continues to nurse. They all have healthy appetites for canned cat food. Everyone is healthy and seems to be adjusting to the new home. Thanks for helping! Lynn. The pleasure is all mine, Simba.

I have a 3-year-old male cat. I just recently lost my 6-month-old kitten during an operation. I really enjoyed having 2 cats, and after a while, my older cat became quite attached to the baby. I am again considering getting another kitty. However, since the death of my kitten, I have spent hours researching cat health topics, and I am now scared I could infect my older cat by bringing another home. The shelter where I look does test all cats for feline leukemia, but that is it. Is that sufficient? Perhaps I should get used to just the two of us. Any advice would be great. Melissa

Dear Melissa,
So sorry to hear of your loss. While there are risks in bringing in a new friend, these are offset by the love and joy a new cat can add to your life. There are several tests and other things you need to do to ensure you resident cat's physical and psychological health. These are all straight forward. Check out the letters below for specifics. Keep me posted. Simba

Dear Simba,
Friday we brought home our new addition, a black 9-week-old kitten. She had her "operation" the day before. She "drools" a lot…clear liquid, no odor. She also sneezes often and has the snuffles. We are planning a trip to the vet first thing tomorrow (Monday) morning. We have two other cats. If our new little one has the flu/cold, will the others be exposed? Should we keep her away from them? She eats, drinks her water, sleeps normally and wants to be around us (the "staff" not the other cats, I learned the other day that dogs have owners and cats have "staff"). Is she contagious? What this could be? Worried....Sweet Pea's Mom

Dear Sweet Pea's Mom,
It is possible that Sweat Pea may have the Cat Flu. This is a bacterial or viral infection and it is quite common in cats. Check out The Cat Flu for symptoms, details and treatments. As for your resident cats, they should have already received their shots against the virus. If so they should be OK. However, you cannot give shots to prevent a bacterial infection, so that is a bit trickier. My advice is that you keep the new gal away from your resident cats until she has received a clean bill of health from your vet (note to readers: do this whether or not the new kitten displays any symptoms). Your Pal, Simba

Read Sweet Pea's follow-up in Success Stories!

Introducing Cats & Dogs

Hi Simba,
Me and my girlfriend recently found a kitten in the bushes near my house, she is probably about 3-weeks-old and we want to keep her, she is so sweet after just 1 day! The problem is that my girlfriend has a hyper 3-year-old Poodle. The first time they saw each other the kitten was scared to death and the dog nearly ate her. I am very worried about her. Anthony

Dear Anthony,
Thank you for rescuing the baby kitten! I am glad she now has a home.

So how to keep her safe? Your best bet is to have her in room or closet (a 'safe-house') to which the Poodle has no access. Allow the Poodle to sniff around the area, the door but do not let her in. Also, discourage her from barking and terrifying the little thing. Ensure you hold and guard the kitten at any time she is out of her 'safe-house'. Check out Kevin's note below for additional tips. Keep me posted. Simba

The Newborn Kittens, Feeding Kittens and Vaccinations sections contain good information on the caring of little ones like yours.

hi simba,
my name is kevin, i have a 2-year-old domestic short hair tabby. my problem is that I am temporarily moving into another house that has two dogs. kloie, my cat, was raised with two other dogs. however, i have already lost one cat by death, under the similar circumstances 2 years ago. the cat got outside and I found her ripped in pieces. i am so afraid of losing Kloie now the same way. the house I will be at is temporary until the one I bought is finished being built in november. how do I go about making kloie feel safe while at the same time gaining some peace of, so worried. - kevin and my cat kloie

Dear Kevin & Kloie,
If the dogs have been raised or have lived with cats your job will be easier. If they have not lived with cats there is more work you need to do. The following may help you.

  • With the dogs out of the house, let Kloie get used to the new smells to alert her that there are other animals around.
  • Place Kloie in a large kitten pen or dog crate.
  • Place her bed, food and litter tray inside. Use the pen or crate as a home base.
  • Lock the pen (with Kloie in it), place it in your room.
  • Let the dogs come to meet her, let them sniff her through the bars (be sure to reward them for behaving).
The introduction can last a few days or weeks. The goal is to let the dogs get used to Kloie and to learn to respect her. As the days or weeks pass and everyone is more comfortable you can place Kloie in a cat carrier and take her around the house. You can then migrate to walking her on a harness or holding her while in the company of the dogs. The thing is for the dogs to realize that Kloie is part of the family. Be sure to maintain control over all interactions and when unsure keep Kloie safe in her pen.

Because Kloie has been raised with dogs she may be ok during the first encounters. However, do not let Kloie outside the pen until you feel the time is right. Be aware that Terriers or other dogs raised or bred to chase (i.e., greyhounds) need more patience since they will likely view any new animal as fair game and not as family. Let me know how things go. - Your Pal,Simba

Dear Simba,
My wife and I have two, 6-month-old kittens. We are thinking about getting a puppy. Do you have any tips on what we should do if we get a dog? We do not want to upset our cats! Both our cats are female, should we get a female dog. Lost in PA

Dear Lost in PA,
It is important that you make any transitions and introductions slowly. As you well know, cats are sensitive creatures and do not take well to change. Try not to get a dog that was bred for hunting or that has a strong prey drive.
weight management for kittens so that your cat does not get fat
DrinkWell Fountain
All the training in the world cannot overcome an inbred instinct to hunt and chase (and upset kitties). As for gender, it makes no difference, so long as you have him/her fixed (ditto for the kitties!)

Set up a room where you will keep the puppy. Place a baby fence or other barrier to prevent him from coming after your kitties. Do not let your dog out of the room (other than for walks) for a few days so as to let him and your cats get to know each other. Once you feel comfortable, allow supervised interactions. Also, use a 4-foot house leash and buckle collar. When your puppy begins to chase the cats step on the end of the leash and say "sit" or "down" as the leash becomes taut (praise the dog when he/she complies). Simba

Hi Simba,
I recently got a 4-month-old, male Scottish Fold kitten. He gets along with the other feline members of the household (1 other Scottish fold- 18-months-old, 1 Tonkinese- 18-months-old and 1 Egyptian Mau, 9-months-old, all neutered males). He also hangs around the humans, although he does keep some distance as he has yet to make any attempt at human contact. Our resident cats are 'lap fungus', and 'come-and-get-me-friendly' (in that order)

How can I encourage him to be more people friendly? He will come for treats when he hears the shaking can sound, and will eat a treat that is held out for him. Could his shyness be a manifestation of the foldie breed (my other foldie is quite shy too, although he is gotten better in the past few months and will actively seek out cuddle while I am reading in bed, and without the other 'boys' around). We have daily kitten play sessions with the feline teasing devices---feathers on a stick, etc., but as soon as we get close he backs off. Marje

Dear Marje,
A reader recently wrote with a tip she had received from an animal breeder. She had a kitten that had become aloof after being given a mange dip. Although the situation is a bit similar, I think that the handling of it can benefit you and your little foldie. Here is her note describing how she went about making friends:

"Ike was still running from me. I had to capture him and hold him down as I presented my index finger, smeared with the Gerber Lamb baby food to his nose. He immediately relaxed, started licking, and from that moment on, forgot his weeks of fearing me. He is now the most-loving, relaxed cat in the world. The breeder said some of the other meat baby foods work, but lamb seems to be the magic bullet. Please tell others that have cats that are suffering a fright or are aloof (mine from me having given it a mange dip), it really helps cure them of their fear. Anya"
So here it is. As to the characteristics of Scottish Folds, you are right in that they are quiet. The breed is known to be sweet, gentle and quiet, and although relatively new is popular amongst feline fans. I was able to locate a book, that can offer more insight than I can on Scottish Folds.
Scottish Fold Cat, by Dennis Kelsey-Wood
Let me know how things go. Simba

New Kitten is Sick

Hi Simba! I have a 2-month-old (or so) kitten my husband brought home from a pet food supply store. She has not been vaccinated. She is been in great shape so far but this evening, she has vomited a number of times (white foam) and has diarrhea. It is hard to determine whether she has been eating or drinking as I have another cat and a dog (they are past due on vaccines). Please help, I love her already! Pat

Hi Pat,
I am happy to hear that you two have bonded. You have a very fortunate kitten. It is very important that you separate your kitten from your resident animals. Please check out the pages on Indigestion for tips on diarrhea as well as the Vomiting and General Health sections, as these contain information relevant to your kitty. Keep me posted. Simba

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