Go Slow!
Be Patient.

People adopt a cat and then, excited about making it be part of the household, immediately let it loose into the house the minute they get home. The second it's out of the carrier, the poor thing is confronted by screaming, grabbing kids and snarling, hissing animals. What a welcome!

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If you have kids

Kids of all ages need to learn the proper respect and treatment of animals. A sweet kitty will turn into a mean cat if mistreated. Biting and scratching is a cats defense mechanism and is used when a cat is being mistreated, abused or doesn't feel safe. Important things to teach kids when you adopt a cat are...

  • A cat is another living being that has feelings and can be hurt.

  • Be gentle, use soft voices, and not pull or grab any part of the cat.

  • Let the cat come to them and not make any sudden moves.

  • Never tease or annoy the cat.

  • Close the door carefully and tightly when they go in and out of the isolation room.
  • Supervise younger children around the cat.

If you have dogs

Getting cats and dogs to be "friends" is not always an easy task. It will take time and patience, so don't rush it. Important ways to help in this "getting to know you" period are...

  • Bring the dog's bed into the isolation room so kitty can get to know its scent.

  • Bring the kitty's bed out for the dog to smell.

  • Isolate your dog while the new cat walks around and investigates its new home. It's best to do this one room at a time and under your supervision.

  • Introduce kitty to the dog indoors and while the dog is under control of a leash.

  • Don't tolerate any aggressive behavior from the dog.

  • Don't ever let the dog chase or corner the cat, even if it's being playful.

  • Reward the dog for good behavior with a positive comment and/or a treat.

  • Keep the dog confined until the cat feels safe in its new home.

  • Make sure the cat has a safe place to retreat, if necessary.
  • Don't leave them alone together until long after the transition period and once you're convinced they're friends.
  • Give the dog extra attention to avoid jealousy.

If you have other cats

Spayed or neutered cats are usually more accepting of other cats. Still, there is a pecking order in a cat household, especially if there are multiple cats, so don't rush the "getting to know you" period. With time, they will accept one another, or even become best friends. Have patience and keep these things in mind...

  • Let your resident cat(s) sniff the new cat's carrier while your new cat is still confined.

  • Let the new cat become acquainted and comfortable with its isolation room.

  • Bring the empty cat carrier out into the living area for the other cat(s) to smell.

  • Bring the resident cat's bed into the isolation room so the new kitty can get to know its scent.

  • Bring the new cat's bed out for the resident cat(s) to smell.

  • Isolate the resident cat(s) while the new cat walks around and investigates its new home. It's best to do this one room at a time and under your supervision.

  • Under your supervision, introduce your new cat to the others one at a time in a room where it has already become comfortable.

  • Let the cats become familiar with each other on their own terms. It will take time, so don't force it. Hissing is to be expected.

  • If a fight breaks out, either toss a blanket over one cat or squirt them both lightly with a spray of water.

  • Don't leave them alone together until long after the transition period and once you're convinced they're friends.
  • Do not disrupt the routine or your resident cats. Give them plenty of attention and treats for good behavior.

Additional things to know

When you adopt a cat, it's important to anticipate potential problems before they occur. Some additional things to know are...

  • Have your cat micro-chipped and use an ID tag as soon as possible.

  • After a few days or a week, get the new cat into the veterinarian for its first check-up and shots.

  • Cats need to scratch. Encourage the use of a scratching post as an acceptable scratching place.

  • Use claw caps on your cats claws to protect kids and furniture from scratches.

  • Do not have a houseful of guests while the new cat is in its "getting acquainted" period.

  • If you must have a busy houseful of guests during the "getting acquainted" period, be sure to keep the new cat isolated in a secure place so there's no chance of it escaping to the outdoors.

  • Have each family member spend quality, gentle time with the kitty to create relationships and feelings of trust.

  • Cat-proof your house of items that are dangerous to the cat if played with or ingested.

  • Cats will jump on furniture and countertops, so secure any items you don't want accidentally broken.
  • Keep cats from using large planters as a litter box by placing large rocks on top of the soil.


It's a lifelong commitment when we adopt a cat, or any pet for that matter. Let's make sure our new friend will easily and gently become a new member of the family. Chances are that pet will be a devoted and loving companion long after the kids have grown up and left home.

Photo Credits:  Nina Spitzer
Resource: PAWS and Pet Place

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Comments on "Introducing a new cat to your home"

Dizzle September 08, 2013 | 3:14 PM

I just got a new 11 week old kitten this weekend. I have had the entire weekend to spend with him. My trouble is I am going to work tomorrow for the week and what should I do with him while I am gone? Some people have told me to put him in my room with litter box, toys, food and water. Others have said, He'll be fine. Just shut the doors to the rooms you don't want him in. I'm troubled about the situation and not sure how to handle it best. He is the only animal in the house and will be alone for about 10 hours. Should I put him in my room or leave him to get comfortable with the house?

Andy July 12, 2013 | 4:23 PM

@Lnda Hay - usually a good method is to keep the new cat in isolation and leave the bigger part of your place(appartment/house) to the older cat (territory thing). You can help them know each other by placing a string between the new and the old cat (wire it beneath the door) and place a toy at each end. They'll basicly play with each other without knowing and they'll start getting accomodated to the scent. After this, after the hissing is gone pretty much just let them know each other, careful at first, they'll hiss each other, etc. , just make sure they don't get aggresive. For me it took 2 days to get a 2 month old kitten aquainted to a 2 year old cat. After the 2 days, i just let them loose, nothing bad happened. One is a boy, one is a girl. If they're two boys, be more careful, but shouldn't be too hard.

Lnda Hay July 11, 2013 | 1:32 PM

I had two cats one just passed away he was 14 years old .survived now his friend Lucy, has been a month so I brought Lucy a friend, she is 2 months old ........my question is how long should I keep them apart before allowing them to make friends 'there s not much hissing any more but she avoids the baby?

Sarah Surratt August 22, 2012 | 12:50 PM

I recently had a visit from my dad who had two year old cats that he was trying to find a new home for and one showed promise so we agreed to take one and now he hides a lot and has now started to hiss at my husband and I. I am not sure how to help our new cat adjust to his new home. He is neutered and he has toys and everything. I am concerned that he may be still smelling our old cat which died a few months ago. Can you give me any advice on what I should do. Please and Thank you.

Jessica April 20, 2011 | 3:28 PM

I mite get a cat how to prepare

At Home with Kim Vallee May 17, 2010 | 1:10 PM

You are right that it is very important to not force your new and old cats to become friends too soon. Let's them get to know each others for a while. We also separate them at night for at least one more week after they started to get acquainted since cats fight more at night.

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