2013-05-10 / Columnists

The Veterinary Corner

By Dr. Jay Rogoff And Dr. Allan Simon

What is the best way to introduce a new cat or kitten into a household with one or more cats?

Survey says (chiming bells). . . slowly.

The best method for acceptance of a new cat with existing cats is to take your time. As cat lovers, we all know how cats dislike change. Even moving a piece of furniture in your home can send kitty into a tailspin. It is hard to imagine what bringing a new cat or kitten home will do. So, when you bring home your precious new pet, try and keep the environment the same.

This is not meant to discourage you -- adopting a new kitten or cat can also mean giving your cat their new best forever friend. Taking it slowly will ease the transition and make life better and calmer for everyone involved.

Most cats (there are exceptions), especially those that were with their littermates until 8-10 weeks of age, will eventually accept a new roommate. If possible, when you first bring your new cat or kitten home, don't let the other cat(s) see him/her for a few days. If you have a towel in the carrier that you brought the kitten home in, let your cats smell the towel -- if not, let them explore the carrier -- to start getting used to the idea. You can even feed your cats a treat on the other side of the door where the cat or kitten is so they begin to associate good things with their new roommate. After several days, try a supervised short visit. Make sure you give your existing cats lots of attention while this is occurring.

This is just like introducing a new baby to an older sibling. There needs to be adjustments and monitoring.

It is absolutely normal for your cats to hiss at the new guy/gal -- sort of the kitty way of saying "who the heck are you?" It's important to take it slow and give your cats the time they need to adjust. Some absolutely welcome a new cat or kitten with no problems at all, and others take a little while to adjust.

In most cases, the hissing stops in about 5-7 days. Before you start, make sure your present cats are up-to-date on vaccinations and make sure you have a history on what vaccines/deworming/testing the new kitty has had. If you have any questions about vaccinations, deworming or specific feline tests please feel free to call the Animal Hospital of the Rockaways at 718- 474-0500 or stop in and speak to one of the veterinarians at 114-10 Beach Channel Drive.

Congratulations on adding a wonderful addition to your family. We look forward to meeting him/her soon.

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