Bringing a new cat into a home can be stressful especially if there are already pets in your home and in order for the cat to feel comfortable you should try to make the transition as smooth as possible. It is a delicate process that will require a lot of patience, time and careful management. The most important part of the introduction is not to rush it. The new cat also has to get used to you so take the time to sit quietly with it often, bring it a treat or a toy and let it determine the pace at which it approaches you. Let it come to you rather than you picking it up. When it feels safe and comfortable it will approach you. This could take a few days or longer.
Once it is comfortable with you then the following are a few tips to successfully introduce your new cat to your existing pets:
Prepare a safe space: Before introducing your new cat set up a room in your home where it can stay for the first few days or weeks. This should be a quiet and comfortable space with a litter box, food and water bowls, toys and a comfortable bed. This will allow your new cat to get used to the smells and sounds of your home without feeling threatened by other pets.
Gradually introduce your cats or other pets: Once your new cat is settled in its safe space you can start introducing it to your existing cats or pets gradually. Start by swapping blankets or toys so they can get used to each other’s scents. Then you can allow them to smell or see each other through a closed door or a baby gate. Gradually you can allow them to interact under supervision.
Use positive reinforcement: Reward positive behaviour with treats or praise. This applies to all the pets. This will help them associate positive experiences with each other.
Be patient: Introducing pets to each other can take time. Be patient and don't rush the process. It's normal for cats to hiss, growl, or even fight during the initial introduction phase. Try not to interfere and let them work it out among themselves. There is a hierarchy among pets and they have to learn their place in this hierarchy. Their behaviour should improve over time as they become more comfortable with each other.
Don't force interactions: If one of your cats seems uncomfortable or fearful during interactions, don't force them to interact. Allow them to retreat to their safe space and try again at a later time.
Provide separate resources: Make sure your cats have separate resources such as litter boxes, food and water bowls, and beds. This will help prevent conflicts and ensure that each cat has their own space.
By following these tips and being patient and consistent, you can help ensure a successful introduction between your new cat and existing pets in your home.