Introducing a new family member is always fun especially when the new member is a kitty. Although if you already have a cat the transition can be tough but don't let that stop you.
I found this great article about introducing cats. It's a bit lengthy but it insures that every will go smoothly. There can be tons of variations on this so go at your cats pace and figure what will be the easiest on the both of them.
Bring the newcomer into a room that you have prepared as a comprehensive living area for a cat complete with a food bowl, water dish, cat toys, litter tray, cat bed, and climbing frame.
Spend quality time with your new arrival, petting her, offering food treats, and speaking softly.
Subsequently, spend some time with your resident cat giving her the same red carpet treatment.
At set times each day, refill the food bowls on either side of the closed door that separates the cats.
Spend alternate feeding times on each side of the door, observing their reactions to each other. The goal is that they should not react aggressively by hissing or batting under the door and should remain interested in the pleasurable but serious work of eating.
If the cats will not come to the door at the prescribed times, or if they display any hostilities to each other, the food bowls should be moved back to a distance at which all cats are comfortable and able to eat without distraction. It may sometimes be necessary to arrange to have the cats more hungry at feeding time by feeding slightly less food for a few days.
Change the new catâ€™s environment every 24 to 36 hours so that the new cat spends time in parts of the environment that have recently been occupied by the other cat(s). The other cat(s) should simultaneously be allowed access to the area previously habited by the newcomer. This way the cats will have a chance to investigate each other olfactorily without risk of conflict. The sense of smell is very important to cats and one of the ways they recognize each other.
If things are going well, crack the door an inch or two at feeding time allowing the cats to catch glimpses of each other. Ideally they should show interest but no aggression to each other at this level of exposure.
If there is no adverse reaction on the part of any of the cats at the â€œcracked door stage,â€ further visual access can be permitted via a screen. Sometimes it is necessary to progress more slowly by scotch-taping newspaper to the screen to limit the visual access to a 4-inch slot (rather than full screen). If necessary, visual access can be increased incrementally.
Once the cats are acting non-chalantly across the screen it is time to progress to the next level â€“ having them in the same room together.
Rather than risk losing all gains in one fell swoop, have the cats restrained on harnesses or in see-through crates. Position them on opposite side of the room initially and feed them in this situation. If the cats eat, this is a good sign.
Over hours or days the cats can be moved closer to each other and/or can be allowed to spend more time in each otherâ€™ presence (still with physical restraint in place).
Then free one of the cats and note her response. A curious but friendly interest in the other cat is good news.
On the next feeding, free the other cat (the first one is now restrained). Make similar observations.
Finally, free both cats simultaneously and hope for the best (but be ready to intervene).
If at any stage of the proceedings there is a negative consequence, then simply return to the previous â€œsafeâ€ level of exposure and hang for a while, days if necessary, until the cats have regained their composure and can be brought closer together once more.
Some people might consider this program to be overkill, but it minimizes all risk of an acute behavioral meltdown and promotes the creation of any permanent malevolence. Also, if the cats are slated to be friends, it is possible to move through the program more quickly, progressing as fast as the catsâ€™ reaction to each other permits. True to the old maxim, itâ€™s better to be safe than sorry. Otherwise put: An ounce of caution can save an awful lot of grief and an awful lot of behavioristâ€™s bills!