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5 Tips for Introducing a New Cat to your Home

Bringing a new cat into your home can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, it's essential to approach the introduction process with careful consideration and understanding to ensure a smooth transition for both your new feline friend and any existing pets. 

Animal behaviourist Dr Kate Mornement understands the importance of making informed choices and gradual introductions to prevent problem behaviours from arising.

That’s why she's developed this step-by-step guide to share her insights and practical tips to help you successfully introduce a new cat into your household.

#1. Choosing the right cat

Selecting a cat that suits your lifestyle and home environment is crucial. 

Rescue kitten Arya gets to know her big brother
"Porthos, no! You can't lick the kitten!"
Consider factors such as age, activity level, vocalisation tendencies, compatibility with other pets, and how they interact with children. 

By choosing a cat that aligns with your household dynamics, you can minimise the chance of a mismatch that may result in problem behaviour down the track. 

Whether you decide to adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation or purchase from a breeder, it’s best to always keep these factors in mind to help you find a cat that fits well into your family.

#2. Creating a cat-friendly home

To prevent problem behaviours and ensure your cat's wellbeing, it's vital to create a cat-friendly environment that caters to their natural instincts and behaviours. 

Provide outlets for scratching, scent marking, climbing, and hunting by incorporating cat towers, providing scratch posts, and engaging your cat in daily play sessions with toys that mimic prey. If possible, offer safe access to the outdoors as well, allowing them to explore and fulfill their natural curiosity.

#3. Gradual introductions

New kitten Arya happily playing with sibling
Porthos, after a couple of months
When introducing a new cat to existing pets, gradual and positive introductions are key. Begin by keeping them separate and gradually reduce the distance between them over time.

Start by allowing them to share the same space during mealtime or treat sessions, ensuring that each pet feels comfortable and safe. Use desensitisation and counter conditioning techniques over weeks or even months to create a positive association between the pets. 

If introducing to a dog, keeping that dog (or dogs) on a leash and allowing cats to remain unrestrained (and up high if possible) during the initial phases is essential.

#4. Addressing Problem Behaviours

Photo: Gisela Merkuur (Pixabay)
If you encounter any problem behaviours, it's crucial to address them promptly. Unwanted behaviours can persist and escalate if not properly managed. 

Reach out to qualified and experienced professionals who can provide guidance and assistance. 

Before assuming the issue is behavioural, schedule a vet check to rule out any underlying health or medical problems.

#5. Meeting your Cat's Needs

Meeting your cat's behavioural and instinctive needs is essential for their overall well-being and contentment. Provide appropriate outlets for huntingscratchingclimbing, and exploring

Consider offering interactive puzzle toys that encourage problem-solving and physical activity.

Photo: Gundula Vogel (Pixabay)
Cats prefer to work for their food, so ditch the traditional food bowl and engage them in "contra-freeloading" by again using puzzle toys to provide mental stimulation.

Introducing a new cat into your home requires careful planning, considered and gradual introductions, and commitment to meeting their behavioural needs. By choosing the right breed/cat, providing a cat-friendly environment, and addressing any problem behaviours early on, you can create a harmonious and fulfilling relationship with your feline companion. 

Remember, consequences drive behaviour, so make sure to reward desired behaviours consistently and encourage positive habits. With patience, understanding, and a little help from professionals when needed, you can ensure a happy and healthy life for your new cat.

written by Dr Kate Mornement, June 2023 for Australian Cat Lover.

About our writer

Dr Kate is a Board Certified Applied Animal Behaviourist (CAAB) through the Animal Behavior Society. Kate consults to pet parents and people working professionally with animals. She’s also a media spokesperson, brand ambassador, speaker, educator and expert witness.

Dr Kate is passionate about animals and the human-animal bond. Having been obsessed with animals from a very young age, it wasn’t until studying zoology and animal behaviour at university that Kate truly found her calling. Now, she considers herself very fortunate to have built a career doing what she loves - helping people and the animals they share their lives with to live better together!

When she’s not working, Kate loves spending time with her family, friends, her beautiful rescue Border Collie Lenny and their backyard chickens.

Dr. Kate Mornement will be presenting at the upcoming Pet Show in Brisbane taking place from July 1-2 at the Brisbane Showgrounds. 

For more information & tickets, head to

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