How to Introduce Cats
Some cats love to be around people and other pets. Others prefer to be left alone. No matter what your cat’s temperament, you can make cat socialization a positive experience. Keep reading to learn how to introduce your cat to a new home or other four-legged family members.
How to introduce cats to each other
If you already have a cat, bringing a new cat into your home takes a little preparation and planning. “Kittens often get along with each other. But as they age, cats can become more territorial,” McGowan says. You can help your cat accept a new cat when you:
- Introduce cats over a period of weeks
- Allow both to smell and hear each other
- Try a face-to-face
- Provide separate areas for retreat
How to socialize a kitten?
Start early. Very early. The first few weeks of your kitten’s life will set the stage for how she will interact with other cats and people in the future. Purina Senior Scientist, Human/Animal Bond, Ragen McGowan explains, “the critical socialization period for kittens is 2 to 7 weeks of age.”
Tips for socializing kittens
There are a number of things you can do to set your kitten up for success. Some are:
- Start young – weeks 2-7 is a critical socialization period
- Encourage touch – being gently handled helps kittens acclimate to people
- Initiate play – chasing a toy is a positive way to interact
- Provide praise – rewards can be treats or one-on-one time
How to reduce stress during cat socialization
Cats have unique personalities. Some are more sociable than others. But even if your cat prefers alone time, she can have a positive bond and warm interactions with you. Providing a safe environment encourages your cat to socialize more. Cats sense and avoid stress. Some things you can do to help your cat feel safe are to:
- Allow interactions to happen naturally
- Give your cat space to withdraw
- Avoid startling your cat or kitten
Will socializing your kitten end at adulthood?
No. Not all kittens get the socializing they need at an early age. As a matter of fact, grown cats keep on learning. Cats continue to form positive (and negative) associations with people, other pets and places. So, whether you’ve had your kitten for her whole life, or you’ve just adopted an adult cat, it's important to help her socialize now.
Ways to continue cat socialization
Cats, by nature, love new experiences. Filling her life with new experiences will help encourage positive interactions with people and pets. As you introduce new sights, smells, sounds and tastes into her routine, she will come to expect them.
How to prepare your family for a cat
Children should be shown how to interact with cats. Begin by explaining that kittens and cats have feelings. This should help children know to how to read a cat's emotions. How do you know when a cat is scared? Or happy? Or mad? Or sleepy? Teach children what to look for. Then explain how being calm and gentle can make a cat feel safe.