So you’ve got a new kitty! And she’s been in a separate room from the other felines, settling in. Everyone is eating normally, there is no more angst at the barrier.
Now we add some fun and interaction.
Start moving new cat’s food closer to the door, and either feed or give treats to the established residents on the other side of the door. That way, they are doing something pleasurable while they are able to smell and hear the ‘other’ nearby. It’s like when I drink a glass of wine near my least favorite relatives. I know I’m stuck, but at least I’m doing something I like so it doesn’t seem so bad.
You can also set up a game with a string-type toy, under the door. Cat on one side playing with cat on the other side. They can’t see one another, but they are having a positive interaction and no one can get hurt!
You can also do the cloth trick — use a towel or cloth that new kitty has been touching, and bring it into the larger household. Do the same with a cloth that you’ve wiped on resident kitty. That way they can get used to the scent of the others. Adding food or play with this can help to relax them.
Next, time to try a quick glance through a crack in the door.
At any stage, if someone hisses or seems stressed, then stop the interaction and go back to the last step where everyone was comfortable and relaxed. You can do it.
Once your new resident is comfortable eating & playing at the door with your current cats, and vice versa, it’s time to start some more direct contact.
You can place the new cat in a carrier or kennel and let the others come to check her out. Remember to be alert for signs of stress from any of the cats. If you see crouching, flattened ears, switching tails, or hear hissing or growling, it’s time to stop the exercise and try another day.
You can offer treats or toys to help make the interaction more positive.
If your resident cats are leash trained, then you can also do that, in an enclosed area.
Start out slow, for just a few minutes at first. Gradually increase the time together until everyone is relaxed and maybe even a little bored. If your residents are wandering away from the exciting newcomer, that’s a sign they are relaxed enough to take their eyes off her.
Next up? Free cat interaction for short times, gradually allowing longer times together until they reach their new equilibrium.