Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Los Angeles, CA
I volunteered as an adoption counselor at an animal shelter for about a year and a half while I was out of work. They taught us volunteers a few things!
How to properly introduce a new cat to your home:
Do not just adopt a cat that "seems good" and add him to your household. This occasionally works, but often leads to cats that hate each other. Cats live by first impressions, and you want to make the best one possible. They dislike change and surprises. Expect to take anywhere from three days to three weeks to fully integrate a new cat.
Consider the age and energy level of your cat. With fully adult cats (over 3 years of age) it is a more difficult and time-consuming process to add a new cat, although it can still be done! Many adult cats have an easier time adapting to kittens than other adults.
1) Choose whether you would like to go through an animal shelter, or a rescue group. I do not recommend getting a "free" cat from an acquaintance; they often end up being more expensive than a shelter cat in the long run. Shelter and rescue cats usually have had vaccinations, and often have been neutered before adoption.
2) Select your new cat. In your case, you'll probably want a cat between 9 months and 2 years in age. You want a kitty with a similar energy level, so watch the candidates at play. Some people swear you need a female if you have a male, but I've never noticed a difference in how they get along. This will be much more relevant since your cat isn't neutered yet. You really want to get him neutered.
Note: Some rescue groups test for FIV (Kitty HIV) and Leukemia. They may require you to do so as well, and provide some kind of health guarantee for their cats. Check in on this if you can. It's a good idea to get your boy tested, if you can afford it.
A cat with FIV must be neutered and kept inside - this disease is sexually transmitted. A cat with FIV may live a full life if kept in an excellent and disease free environment. There is no effective vaccination. Leukemia is always fatal, and highly contagious. Effective vaccinations are available. Do not adopt another cat if yours tests positive for either disease - while FIV is not easily transmitted after neutering, bites can spread the disease.
3) Prepare a room for your new cat. The room must be a place where the new cat can be safely shut in. Many people use a bathroom, because it is small and not usually a big part of the old cat's territory. It needs a small litter box, and a place for food and water. It's best to keep the food and water as far from the litter box as possible. Many cats won't eat near where they mess.
4) Cat beds: Place a small cat bed in the new cat's room. Leave one of your dirty shirts or an old towel in the bed for the new cat to sleep on. Place another cat bed on your old cat's favorite sleeping spot, with one of your shirts or another old towel.
5) Bring your new cat home. Shut him in the room you have prepared. While it's tempting to play with him right away, let him get used to the smells and sounds of the new place before you pester him.
6) Wait 1 week. Give both of your cats plenty of attention and affection. You don't want your old cat to get "older brother syndrome" out of neglect.
- After 1 week, switch the places of the old shirts, so that the new cat gets the one the other has been sleeping on, and vise versa.
- After 1 more week, switch the shirts again.
Why do this? Cats introduce themselves by smell. By using old shirts, you're mixing your smell with each cat's smell, and then mixing the two cat smells together. This gets the cats used to the idea of a friend without shocking them, and makes the process go more smoothly.
7) Let the cats meet. You'll know when it's time, because there will be inquisitive mewing, and they will play with each other under the door. :)