Introducing a new cat
One of the most common questions our Homing Team is asked is "how easily will a new cat fit in with our existing feline family?"
Our homing team will always be happy to advise you and help you find the most suitable cat for your circumstances. Our Welcome Home essential guide (click to download) has some useful advice on introducing a new cat to new surroundings and to other pets.
While every situation is different and there are no guarantees, there are many ways to smooth the introduction process to give you the best chance of success. Our Publicity Officer, Denise explained how she got on when she added a third cat to the family:
"When I began volunteering with NBCP, my husband and I were adamant we wouldn't be adopting any more cats. We were lucky with the two we'd already got, who had settled in and become the very closest of brothers, despite being from different backgrounds. We’d had them at about the same time, introducing Wicket before Sulley had got too established in the house, and as Wicket (pictured below left) was just a 13-week old kitten, and Sulley (below right) was 8 months old, they accepted each other well. They love each other so much, as you can see, that we didn't want to risk upsetting the apple cart.
"But, as I visit various fosterers and their charges to take photos for the web site, it was inevitable that there'd soon be a cat that I'd fall for. When ‘Jamie’, a sweet young mum of around 18 months old, had failed to find a home after a few weeks I just couldn't understand why. My resolve started to crumble and I began to think that maybe we could find room for one more cat. Look at the picture below - can you blame me?!
"So, shortly after Christmas 2011, Jamie came to live with us, on the condition that Sulley and Wicket would make her welcome. We planned to settle her in gradually before introducing her to the boys. We set up Eva, as she is now known, in her own little room with food, litter and a bed the boys had already slept in, so she could get used to their scents.
"But we felt so sorry for her in there on her own, in a room we seldom went in, that it wasn't long before we let her into the living room with us, while the boys were outside. She had a great time running around and sniffing everything, so while she was doing that we let the others into Eva's room so they could smell her too.
"Now, I'm not saying I recommend doing things this quickly in all cases, but we felt fairly confident of the boys’ temperaments, so we took the next step. Using a tried and tested method we'd used with the two boys for their first meeting, we put Eva in the conservatory with me, while Stuart sat in the living room with Sulley and Wicket, separated by the glass door. That way they could look at each other without getting too close, with us there to reassure them.
"The boys were fascinated. They didn't show any signs of aggression towards Eva, they were just really curious. She was understandably wary, and hissed at them both. We persevered and opened the door a tiny bit so they could sniff each other a bit more. After a little while, we returned Eva to her room, but she proved to be a bit of an escape artist and before long she was running around the house again! We tried to keep them apart but we didn't think it was fair on any of them to keep them shut away too much.
"So, we bit the bullet, and let them meet. The boys were still being pretty passive, but there was quite a lot of hissing from Eva. You can't blame her for being defensive - here were two boys, both bigger than her, and the last Tom Cat she'd met had got her pregnant! For the first few days, we kept them apart at night and when we were out, but let the three of them mix the rest of the time. They gave each other a pretty wide berth at first, the boys trying not to get too close, and Eva hissing or giving them a warning paw swipe if they were too near.
"Over the first month we saw improvements every day, and they gradually got along better and better. I'm glad to say there has never been any aggression around food, so they are all using the same bowls (often two eating from the same bowl at once!) and sleeping in the same room. One year on, they sniff each other and touch noses sometimes, and they sometimes sleep just inches apart (that's Eva and Sulley, left.)
"When we let Eva out into the garden for the first time, the boys seemed to be keeping a watchful eye on her -
checking she was OK and showing her around. We're hoping as they all get older they will become even better friends in time, and eventually the three of them might snuggle up together, groom each other and be as good friends as the two boys are. Paws crossed!"