spcaLA: Friends for Life

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles, since 1877

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Pets of the Week

Richie the Shepherd MixCrinkles the Domestic Short Hair

Mar 30–Apr 5

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Resources » Pet Library

Welcome Home Kitty

Upon Arriving Home

Place the cat carrier in a quiet area and give your cat time to adjust to the new sounds and smells. Put fresh water and food near the entrance of the carrier and place a litter box nearby. After making sure all doors and windows to the outside are closed, open the carrier door, quietly sit across the room and be patient. Some cats crave attention after being confined—while others want to be left alone—so do not force your attention. A new environment is extremely stressful for most cats. A cat’s normal reaction to stress is to hide, so it is common for them to do so when entering a new home. Don’t worry if you don’t see your new cat exploring right away, although she may come out at night for short discoveries.

Keep Cats Separate

It is a good idea to confine the new cat to one room with food, water and litter box for the first few days, especially if you have other animals in the house. Keeping them in the separate rooms allows them to get used to each other’s scents from a safe distance and used to using their own litter boxes (always provide a separate litter box in a separate area for your new cat because some will not share in multi-cat households). Providing separate rooms also allows the newcomer the opportunity to feel secure in a familiar room. For added benefit, keep the new cat’s carrier out in the room she is staying in; it can serve as the cat’s safe haven and personal territory. Supervise their first few meetings once they are brought together.

Introducing your Dog

An important word of caution: if you are introducing a resident dog to the new cat, consult spcaLA’s staff trainer (or your own) for instructions on keeping the cat safe during this critical “feeling-out-the-situation” period. You should never leave the dog and cat together unattended during the first month. Remember that holding your dog’s leash extra tight will only make him behave more aggressively. When introducing cats and dogs, give your cat a safe escape, such as under a bed or her carrier. No matter how well behaved your dog is around cats, always separate them during feeding time to prevent possessive behavior over their food.

Give it a Little Time

Skirmishes are not uncommon when introducing a new cat into a home with resident pets. However, the problems almost always resolve themselves given a little time and patience. Spaying and neutering all the cats reduces the likelihood, severity and frequency of fighting. Squabbles may still occur but they are usually resolved in a short period of time, so allow cats time to work out minor altercations themselves. Intervention such as taking sides, giving preferential protection or affection to one, or breaking up minor fights before they are resolved usually makes matters worse and prolongs the adaptation period.

If the cat is allowed to adapt at her own speed, everything will work out in good time. Some cats will take days and others will take weeks or months. The length of time will depend on the cat’s temperament and past experiences. If no other cats are present in the household, the adaptation period usually take about a week but it can take several months, so be patient and remember that you made a commitment to your new cat.

Behavior and Training Department

If you would like more information on training or have a behavior question you can email the Behavior and Training Department at training@spcaLA.com or call the Behavior Helpline at (888) 772-2521, ext 260.