Tips on bringing a second cat home

Published8/12/2008 12:07 AM

Q. We have a kitten that is now 6 months old and are thinking of adopting a second cat. How should we introduce the newcomer?

- Kimberly Wertz, Elmhurst


A. A new cat can be so much fun. Let me help with some basic tips for a successful adjustment.

Bringing home a second cat requires preparation. First, make sure your existing cat is up to date on his/her vaccinations. Please note that it requires time for your pets' vaccinations to provide the preferred protection, so ask your veterinarian. Also, be sure to let them know you are thinking of a bringing a new cat into the mix.

When bringing your new addition home it is best for the newcomer to be kept separate from your current pets for a period of at least two weeks and to have them tested for FIV prior to coming home. This is to protect your existing cat from any potentially contagious illness. This is also to monitor your new cat to make sure he/she is eating, drinking and using the litter box, as well as adjusting to you and the new surroundings.

The next phase is the informal introduction. Feeding the cats on opposite sides of the door is a great way to have them associate something enjoyable with each other. Cats are naturally curious so using that curiosity with a feathery cat toy under the door so the two can play and sniff is one way to slowly introduce the felines as well. Next is to swap scents by trading litter boxes and cat bedding so they may get acquainted in feline fashion. You may also want to confine your resident cat and allow the newcomer out and about for a peek to familiarize him or her with the new surroundings.

After this the cats are well aware or each other and it is time to bring them together on neutral territory. Keep in mind that if the cats are fearful or aggressive the meeting should stop and the process above should be repeated more gradually. I would not expect them to be best buddies right off the bat, but the natural hierarchy usually occurs sooner rather than later. Whether they are snuggle pals or just acquaintances that pass by the food bowl occasionally, your new household dynamic will be in the works.

If you need further help with the adjustment of cats please call the DuPage County Animal Care & Control behavior help line at (630) 407-2800.

• Kerry Vinkler is director of DuPage County Animal Care and Control. To submit a question, e-mail; send a letter to 120 N. County Farm Road, Wheaton, IL 60187; visit; or call (630) 407-2800.

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