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How to Bring a Cat Home

Welcoming a new cat into your home is an exciting moment for a family, but it can also be stressful on your new addition, any current pets, and curious kids. This Adopt-A-Cat-Month®, American Humane wants to help ease that transition and make bringing home a new cat an easy and happy moment for all.

The Basics of Introduction

Before bringing home your new furry family member, stock up on supplies like food, litter, toys, and an ID collar, so that once she or he arrives, everything is ready to go. Ensure that all food and breakables are away from the inquisitive reach of a cat, as they may play and accidentally knock over new-to-them items.

The basic rule of thumb for introducing a cat into any environment is to take it slow and not force anything. It may take a few weeks for your cat to feel comfortable and at home, which is normal! Create a safe, secluded space for them before slowly introducing the smells of the house to make the transition smoother.

Introducing Cats to Cats

The best way to begin introducing cats to one another is by swapping blankets that the other has slept on, allowing identification information to be traded before the two meet. Additionally, while feeding, feed the cats on opposite sides of the door your new cat is secluded in so the cats can start associating the smell of one another with something positive—in this case, the food.

Once the cats are able to eat across the door from each other in peace, swap them. Take your new cat out of the room, allow him or her to wander around, use the other’s litter box, food bowl, and toys while the resident cat does the same in the separate room. After this stage, continue allowing more and more interaction between the cats until they are able to both roam freely around the house.  For more training tips on introducing cats to cats, visit our additional fact sheet here.

Introducing Cats to Dogs

Before you bring a new cat home, let your dog interact with cats, either at a shelter with controlled visits or with family or friends who have a dog-friendly cat. This will give you a sense of how your dog will react to cats and if he or she is comfortable enough to live with one. Similar to the process for introducing cats to cats, when bringing a new cat into a dog-inhabited home, separate the animals into different rooms, alternating which animal has freedom for the day to get accustomed to the other’s smell. If your dog is too focused on the cat behind the door, distract him or her with a treat or walk on a leash.

Once both animals seem comfortable with the other’s smell and presence, put your dog on a leash and let the two finally meet. Watch for any signs of aggression, but if both animals remain calm, take the dog off the leash and allow supervised leashed interactions. Unsupervised time together can occur after the dog and cat have been around each other for a significant period of time and you are certain they will not harm one another. For more training tips on introducing cats to dogs, visit our additional fact sheet here.

Introducing Cats to Kids

Before bringing a cat into the family, it’s important that all your family members, including kids, know how to properly interact with a cat. Allow your children to interact with cats, either at a friend or family member’s home, or in an animal shelter. If the cat seems comfortable, gently pick them up and, when he or she is calm, give them to your child to hold. Encourage your child to be gentle with the cat and to only rub their head at first. If all goes well, and cat and kids are comfortable with each other, then congratulations! You’re ready for a cat! For more information on cats and kids, visit out additional fact sheet here.

By following these guidelines, welcoming a new furry family member into your home will go off without a scratch!

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