Integrating a stray cat into a family of cats
If you find yourself looking to adopt a stray cat into your cat family, it's a good idea to plan the best way to integrate the new cat into the group.
Here are some tips to help you through this process.
Keep the stray isolated at first
As you start to feed the stray cat, it is a good idea to give them a separate food bowl and living space at first. This is for two main reasons:
- The stray cat may be used to fighting over food, so having their own food area can help them to feel more relaxed and comfortable with the others cats
- There is a much higher rate of infectious diseases and bugs in stray cats. This can include issues such as fleas and ear mites, as well as blood borne issues such as Feline Influenza, Feline Leukaemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus which can be passed between the cats particularly if they fight and scratch or bite each other.
For the same reasons, it is sensible to give the cats separate areas to sleep (to prevent spreading parasites and skin infections) and separate litter trays to stop spreading worms and gut parasites between your cats.
Take the cat for a full vet check up
As the cat starts to get used to the house, it's a good idea to take them to the vet clinic for a full check up. They can check what, if any, health issues the cat has as a result of their time living wild and determine which treatments they require. They can also update their vaccinations to help keep them healthy going forward. If there are any issues which cannot be treated, they can also let you know what you can do make sure that the other cats will be safe.
Slowly introduce the cats to each other
If your cats have a defined hierarchy due to their existing relationship, it can be hard for a new cat to easily integrate into the group. Make sure that each cat in the group has some of their own space (such as a piece of furniture or a corner of a room) where only they are allowed. If they have somewhere where they can retreat and feel safe, they will be less likely to argue. As they get acquainted with each other's smells and habits, they can start to interact more positively and bond as a group.