Pet cat
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Step-by-step guide: Introducing a new pet to the home

It’s hard not to imagine bringing home a new pet for your current pet to play with and keep them company. Yet, introductions don’t always go as smoothly as one might hope. Though they may be the best of friends in a year or two, it might not happen right away.

Instead, if you already have a pet and are bringing home a new one, like an adorable kitten, take the time to do the introduction right. It’s going to take some time, but it can help the cats get along a lot better from the beginning and prevent a variety of issues.

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Have the right accessories on hand

The right accessories can make a world of difference. Comfortable bedding, an extra litter box, and a few new toys can help ease the introduction.

Look into cat collars and harnesses, as well, so the new cat has everything they need from the beginning. This will help make their space in the home far more comfortable for them, which can help them get used to the home before they’re introduced to the other cat or cats.

Provide an enclosed space

Keep the new pet in their own space at the beginning. This may be in a bedroom or anywhere else that can be closed off from the other pets. Keep all supplies in that room, including a litter box, so there’s no reason for the cat to need to leave for at least a few days.

Feed them and make time to play with them, so they get used to the family first. By giving them an enclosed space of their own, they have the ability to get used to the home and the people living there.

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Wait a few days before introducing

It’s a good idea to wait a few days at least before introducing new pets. The pets already living in the home may not be as welcoming as you may hope, and the new cat could be easily scared by the existing pets.

A few days in their own enclosure gives the new pet the chance to relax and get used to the home without another pet getting in their space, creating issues for them, or scaring them.

Get cats accustomed to scent before meeting

After a day or two, switch bedding, blankets, or toys between the pets. This allows both pets to get accustomed to the scent of the other pet before the introduction.

They may start trying to look at each other or play underneath the door separating them. Still, take the time to introduce slowly and switch items to provide each pet with the other one’s scent before the introduction.

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Introduce carefully, watch for signs of aggression

After a few days, go ahead and let the pets meet each other. It’s best to do this a little bit at a time and under supervision to keep an eye out for any signs of aggression.

If any aggression is noticed, separate the pets again for another few days. Slowly introducing them and acting quickly to prevent aggression can make the introduction smoother, even if it does take longer.

Watch for signs of stress

Along with being aware of signs of aggression, keep an eye out for signs of stress. If any of these signs are noticed, it’s best to separate the pets again.

Doing this gives both pets some time to relax, relieving the stress. Taking the introduction slower and taking breaks to prevent or eliminate stress allows the pets to take things at their own pace and means the pets will more likely get along together in the future.

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Let cats spend more time together

After the initial few days of separation, if everything is going well and there aren’t signs of aggression or stress, it’s okay to let the pets spend a little more time together. This can increase quickly, depending on how well the pets get along. Eventually, the pets will be able to be around each other throughout the day and night, so there will no longer be a need for separate living spaces.

If you have a pet and you’re thinking about getting a new one, take the time to go slow with the introduction. This is a much safer way to introduce new pets and can help them become lifelong friends in the future.

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