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Healthy Cats

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Adding Another Cat to Your Home

Expert help to ensure all of your cats get along.

First Impressions continued...

"When you bring the new cat home, do so in a cat carrier," Hollow says. "When the carrier is empty, let the established cat explore it." Ignore any signs of hissing or attacking the empty carrier. Remain calm and relaxed.

Pellicano suggests reassuring your long-time cats by playing with them and giving them positive reinforcement with the new toys and tasty, vet-approved food.

Never leave a newer cat alone with an existing one during the introductory period. Most importantly, don’t change your routine.

“Cats are excellent at picking up nervousness," Hollow says. "Before you pet your present cat, wash your hands to get the new cat scent off your hands. Let each cat know how much you love them. When the hissing stops from separate sides, supervise an introduction.”

It takes several weeks for cats to acclimate to new surroundings, so have a separate space for the new cat to live for at least a week, Pellicano says. “Observe both cats. If there’s less growling and hissing and if neither cat goes off his litter box or loses his appetite, you can likely allow them to meet. Be sure you are present to observe for a day or two.”

Deciding to Add a Kitten or an Adult Cat

Older cats tend to be more territorial.

Experts often recommend pairing adult cats with kittens so the older cat can teach the kitten as it grows. “Kittens mature into better adjusted adult cats if they receive the proper behavioral cues from another cat or dominant figure (you)," says Los Angeles vet Patrick Mahaney, VMD.

Some experts, such as Pellicano, feel differently. “It just isn't fair to the elder cat who deserves all the quality time he has earned with his person," Pellicano says.

If a cat has always been shy, bringing a frisky new kitten home might have a negative effect.

"It is better to match energy levels of the cats," rather than focusing on age, Guerrero says.

Consult your veterinarian or an animal behaviorist about the cat match that’s right for your household.

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