Integrating a new cat into your existing feline family is best done as a gradual process for your established resident cats and your newcomer. Home and territory are key elements for cat welfare. Know that in a natural environment cats typically socialize with family members or choose affiliates to socialize with. In our homes we do the picking and choosing and must allow for an appropriate introduction and integration process to enable successful new relationships.
For starters, set up a separate room for the new cat. One room is best to begin with as the cat needs to acclimate to this totally new environment of place with all the novel infrastructure and attendant sights, smells and sounds (including you). Limiting the new environment to one room will enable the cat to navigate this uncharted territory on a smaller, less stressful scale. Remember to offer a cat bed, perch, scratching pad or post, toys, food and litter box (keeping the litter box a good distance from the food and bed). Do not be alarmed if there is a lot of hiding initially, this is normal, the cat needs to get acquainted in this new place with the environment and to trust in its safety and this can only happen with the passage of time. (More on welcoming a new cat and for the extra steps a feral or former feral may require.)
Resident cats may display little or no interest in a closed off room unless of course, this is a room they have been using. If your resident cat sleeps with you every night, installing the newcomer in your bedroom will be problematic for the resident cat, so do consider the best room for all concerned. To facilitate the adjustment process for each cat, resident or newcomer keep in mind that cats are extremely sensitive and reactive to changes in environment. As we are a part of their environment we can be instrumental in familiarizing them to both new situations and individuals. Follow these guidelines for success:
-Start by being a calm and soothing presence. Your body language, eye contact and tone of voice will set the tone for each and every encounter. Remember to always announce your presence and acknowledge the cat with a greeting coupled with the use of their name. Begin with first acknowledging your resident cats when you enter your home and/or a room they are in.
Along with a soft and gentle tone employ an approach from the side rather than facing directly in front of the cat, this is perceived as less threatening. Lower yourself to cat level and offer hands for petting from below where they can be seen by cat eyes. Avoid direct eye contact but do try a slow and steady blink which is an affiliative response in cats.
Remember that cats do not respond to correction or punishment and tend to associate that event with the person instead.
Want to keep reading for more steps? Read "Strategies for Successful New Cat Integration." at http://www.AnimalBehaviorist.us