Subject: Introducing a new cat to the resident cats
I thought it might be a good time to revisit introducing a new cat to the household cats.
At one time, people would put the new cat in with their resident cats and let them fight it out. The result was often one cat being sent to the shelter or left outside to fend for itself. If both cats were kept, the household was often tense because the cats could not comfortably share the house.
As we gain a better understanding of cat behavior, we are learning that cats are very territorial creatures. With a careful introduction plan, it is possible to have two cats happily coexist in the same house.
Initially, the newcomer should be placed in a safe room with food, water, litterbox, etc. This room should be secure and inaccessible to the resident cat. While the cat is in the safe room, this is a good time to get it vet checked for things like FIP/FeLv and general health. It's also a good time to do spay/neuter if the cat is still intact.
Start out by wiping the new cat with a towel that the resident cat has slept on for a day or so. Place the towel on the floor outside the safe room. Do the same with the resident cat so the new cat can become accustomed to the intruder's scent. The cat may hiss at the alien scent of the other cat. Swap scents for a few days until both cats are fairly mellow about the strange scents.
The next step is to give the new cat free roam of the house while confining the resident cat. After the new cat has some exploring time, place him back in his safe room and let the resident cat back out. Continue with this room swapping for a few days but don't let the cats actually meet.
If all is going well, it's time to do an initial introduction. Place the new cat in his carrier in the safe room and allow the resident cat to enter the safe room. Let the resident cat walk around and see the newcomer. Some hissing may occur and after 5 minutes or so, remove the resident cat from the room. Repeat this until things seem fairly calm.
If there isn't too much hissing from the previous step, bring the newcomer out into the main house in his carrier. This lets him see the resident cat while allowing the resident cat to be the dominant presence in the territory. Repeat this step until there is no hissing and spitting.
Assuming you've survived all the previous steps, it's time for the first face to face meeting without a carrier. Bring the resident cat into the safe room and let the two cats meet. If there is excessive hissing, immediately separate them and back up a step. If this goes well for a few meetings, allow the new kitty out of the safe room and see how things go.
This process can go as quickly as 2 weeks or it can take months. The key to a successful integration is to be very gradual and not rush any step.
I would also like to take this opportunity to let everyone know that we have a forum devoted to Shelties.