How to introduce a third cat in the house?

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When it is intended introduce a new cat at home When we already have two that are already adapted, either because they have grown up together or because they went through a period of adaptation to each other, the tutors are concerned, especially if it was traumatic. This adaptation process can be very long, although some cats adapt quickly, it takes days, weeks and even months for the vast majority of cats to reach an acceptable coexistence. It is never a good idea to do it abruptly, but it must be done through a series of guidelines and successive steps that must be done with care, delicacy and respecting the feline nature.

In this AnimalWised article we will talk about the process of introduce a third cat at home when we already have two.

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  1. What to take into account before introducing a third cat at home?
  2. Guidelines for introducing a third cat into the home
  3. What to do if the cats do not accept the new kitten?

What to take into account before introducing a third cat at home?

Before introducing a new cat into the home with other cats, we have to think about how is the character of our cats, what is their type of relationship, if they are family, have they grown up together, if from the first moment they have tolerated each other and have gotten along or if on the contrary they respect each other but do not get along, and sometimes they even fight. If the latter is the case, it would not be a very good idea to introduce a third cat that can aggravate the stress they may be subjected to..

It must always be borne in mind that cats are considered non-social animals, because when they reach adulthood they do not live in groups and they are territorial animals. For this reason, when there are several cats in a house, it is normal for them to divide the house into areas that they consider their territory. Due to this, the introduction of a new cat at home is something that alters that hierarchical order that, among other things, would stimulate in cats a behavior of "marking " consisting of the emission of small amounts of urine in some corners of the house. The use of synthetic feline pheromones It is a good idea to create a pleasant atmosphere between them, as well as that they have at least one bed and litter box for each one plus one extra, (that is, four in total of each).

Usually, at first, the newly introduced kitten will be the bullied kitten and the cats that were already at home the dominating.

Introducing a baby kitten

If the third cat to introduce into our house is a small cat, everything is usually simpler, adaptation being normally easy. If you see how your cats hiss at the new kitten as soon as they arrive, it is normal, it is something strange that arrives at their house and they possibly see it as a small threat that will grow and limit their territory and freedom. However, within a few days adult cats usually accept the little newcomer.

In addition, the cats that we already have at home will feel a little intimidated and in a certain way harassed by the little one, who will ask them to play. Normally, they will react with vocalizations, strokes and grabbing that usually stop when the little kitten meows. These episodes will generally be reduced until a full adaptation is seen after a few days..

Introducing an adult cat

These are really complicated cases and on certain occasions a visit to the veterinarian specialized in ethology is necessary.. This adaptation process can take several weeks, so patience and calm are necessary if we want it to go well. Before introducing another cat, it is necessary to be tested for retrovirus, that is, for immunodeficiency and feline leukemia, especially for leukemia because it is more easily contagious between cats..

Introductions must be done slowly and carefully, This way we will minimize stress, confrontations and be able to achieve a real harmonious coexistence between the three cats. This is much better than bringing them together directly and "seeing what happens" by forcing their coexistence, which usually ends in disaster and permanent conflict and behavior problems. It is always better that the cat is neutered and is of the opposite sex to the ones we have. If our cats are of different sex, then it is preferable to opt for the opposite one that we think that, due to its character, may show greater conflicts with the newcomer.

Guidelines for introducing a third cat into the home

Once it has been verified that all the cats are healthy, the atmosphere is relaxed, without the arrival of someone outside or an important moment, the presentation process can begin. This process It will consist of three phases: isolation of the new cat in a room exclusively for him, first presentation in a carrier and if all goes well, a final direct contact.

Keeping the new cat in a separate room

If the new cat at home is scared, it is totally normal because it has just arrived in an unknown territory that, on top of it, is occupied by two cats. Therefore, and to avoid conflicts with residents, the first thing to do is isolate the new cat during the first days, so that it does not have direct contact with the cats in the home and can gain confidence with the house and with the caregivers. This isolation will allow the house cats and the newcomer to smell and hear each other to get used to each other without having direct contact that would be very stressful. The newcomer will adapt to the new home little by little. To begin with, he will have that room exclusively for him, with his sandpit, feeder, drinking bowl, bed, blanket and toys.

It is a good idea for them to begin to smell and familiarize the cats in an effective way to bring the new cat a blanket or toys that the cats that we have at home have used and see how they react, as well as do the same with our cats with accessories that have used the new cat.

Presentations in carrier

For a few moments each day, it is a good idea to put the new cat in the carrier and put it near and something elevated from the cats that were already at home, in this way, in addition to seeing and hearing each other, they can maintain eye contact, preventing the new cat from being intimidated and preventing resident cats from attacking him.

In this situation, there are two types of cats. On the one hand, there are those who do not show much interest in the new cat, which will possibly be the one that will be kept apart and gradually accepted in the short term and without aggression. The other situation is one in which cats show signs of aggression; We must avoid them and distract the attention of the cats, reinforcing them in a positive way with rewards when the encounters are kept calm..

A good way to get them closer and positively relate the presence of the new cat is to put near the carrier some feline "prizes " or the favorite food of the cats in the house and gradually reduce the distance, without forcing them to no moment the meeting. The cats they must associate the contact between them with something pleasant and well, not with yelling, fighting or punishment.

Once they are tolerated, you can try feeding the three cats at the same time, the two existing cats and the new one in the carrier. At first they may snort, meow and be suspicious, but little by little the relationship will improve.

Direct approach

When we see that the encounters with the carrier are less stressful and even begin to be tolerated, it is time to move on to a more direct contact. The first time, and if the cat is calm, we can pick up the new cat in our arms and sit somewhere close to where the household cats are, which will make the cats approach the new one and maintain contact, being us the mediator. if there is any problem between them. We can talk to them in a nice and loving way and caress them to maintain a pleasant atmosphere and, again, reward them if they appear acceptance gestures among the cats.

Once these encounters are finished, the cat must return to its room until they are completely pleasant to move into direct contact between the three cats, being normal that some snort falls first or that one is more dissatisfied, but they will reduce over time. and they will each become with their routines and their favorite places in the house, sharing them, with the same advantages of warm and hidden places, food, care, respecting each other and living together in a quiet way. The snorts will turn into games and displays of affection if all goes well and we will have successfully introduced a third cat into the house.

It must always be borne in mind that even if we do all these steps perfectly and do it with the best possible intention, cats do not have a "need " for a feline companion, so while sometimes the three cats will run out doing well, in a few other cases they will never have a good connection and will even live in permanent truce. However, in homes they do not have competition for food or drink or places to rest in tranquility, so cats are usually accepted and even enjoy the company of other companions of their species.

What to do if the cats do not accept the new kitten?

How long does a cat take to accept another is a question to which we cannot give a definitive answer, since, as we have seen, they can take from days to months. Now, as we have just mentioned, resident cats will not always end up accepting the third kitten. It is possible that we have done something wrong during the process, that they do not have enough resources, etc. In these cases, it is best to go to a feline ethologist to personally assess the situation and help us introduce the third cat into the house so that the two residents come to accept it.

In addition, we advise you to watch this video to expand your information on coexistence between cats.

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