How To Introduce Your Cat To A New Cat (And How To Make Sure They Get Along)
Owning a feline furball is a joyous experience. Owning two or more cats can be a pain in your neck, especially if they’ve been growing up separately from one another. But an additional fluffy pal can also bring you undeniable happiness and satisfaction when coming home after a long day at the office.
If you’re reading this, chances are you already have a feline pet, regardless of its breed, and you want to introduce a new furry creature to your household. And as we all know, cats can be quite whimsical and unpredictable on daily basis.
So, how do you introduce your cat to a new cat? And how do you make sure the two animals will get along in the future?
We won’t lie by telling you it will be easy, mainly because cats are territorial creatures. However, there are several ways to approach the situation properly and to safely introduce a new cat to your current pet with minimal risks at hand.
Prepare the environment
Equip your home with new food and water bowls, scratching posts and other cat furniture for the new cat. It won’t like the idea of sharing your old pet’s stuff from the very beginning. Set up all necessities in a separate room, which will serve as the new kitty’s bedroom, toilet and feeding station.
It’s crucial to not allow your current pet in that room when the new cat arrives. Instead, keep your old kitty in another area of your home. This way both animals will feel like they have some privacy while they’re residing under the same roof.
Allow the new cat to settle in its room before letting it explore the rest of your home and before introducing it to your other pet. This step is of intrinsic importance because the kitty will already feel too overwhelmed by its new surroundings. You mustn’t make things harder by introducing the two cats from the very first second.
The introduction part
Keep in mind that even though your old cat isn’t allowed in the same room as the new one, it knows there’s a new feline. It might not be able to see it, but it can still sense it. In a few days, when the new kitty feels safe and comfortable in its room, it’s time to introduce it to your other furball.
Make sure the cats meet in a common room, which doesn’t serve as the bedroom for either of them. This way neither of them will feel like the other one is invading its rightful territory.
The room needs to be safe – for you and for the cats. It has to be spacious and all fragile items should be out of reach. Both cats need to have easy escape routes just in case, otherwise they’ll feel trapped. And this can lead to fear, aggression, bites and other attacks – on you, on the cats and on your furniture.
Monitor both pets as they’re approaching and sniffing each other. Cats can experience a wide range of emotions, so be observant. If needed, calm down that kitty which appears to be more distressed than the other.
Opt for giving them tiny bits of food or treats with your hands in order to make the cats associate the experience of being around each other with something positive and rewarding. Do not try feeding them from bowls – use young hands for each kitty.
In the case of any stress, anxiety or aggression, allow the cats to safely use the escape routes. Do not force them into interacting with each other under any circumstances.
A helpful tip
If you have a family member or friend, who is familiar with the cats, get him/ her to help with the introduction. He/ she can keep one of the kitties occupied with food, toys or soothing strokes if needed. Remember that you must be the one occupying your current pet. Otherwise it might think you’re taking the other kitty’s side. And that will only lead to rivalry and jealousy.
How to make the cats get along with each other?
For starters, there is no ultimate rule or guideline to help you make the cats get along. Animals have different personalities, various emotions and a mind of their own. And unless you’re fluent in meowing, you basically can’t tell them to behave.
What’s more, nothing guarantees that if you bring a kitten in your home, your other pet will tolerate it just because it’s smaller. And even if your current pet is notably amiable, it doesn’t mean that the new cat will automatically become best buddies with it.
Furthermore, you can’t force one of the cats to act as leader and the other one to become the submissive follower. The felines will eventually decide the appropriate roles for themselves. Once they get to know each other, they’ll figure out if they want to be rivals, supportive siblings that protect each other, or just playmates.
So, what can you do?
Truth be told, you can only do two basic things. You can show them your best efforts at making them feel safe and loved. And you can just give them some time to adjust. This is basically the only successful formula, which you can follow.
Make both cats feel as equals
Even though the new kitty requires additional attention, don’t neglect either of your pets. Play with them, engage in training sessions and spend equal amounts of bonding time with each kitty.
This way neither of them will feel lonely, isolated or willing to fight over you. There’s some truth to the saying that we don’t own our cats, because they own us. Don’t make any of the cats jealous by showing more care and devotion to only one of them.
Needless to say, you shouldn’t pick favorites. Treat both furballs with the same high quality food, appealing toys and loving moments. Making them feel as equals will help them get along later.
Give them some time
Allow the cats to adjust. Your current pet needs to get accustomed to the idea of having another feline companion residing on its territory. It also needs to understand how to deal with the fact that it will be sharing your attention with the new kitty.
The new cat will also need some time to get comfortable with its new owner, new home and new feline pal. Be patient with both kitties. Some cats might get along from day one, whereas others might need a few weeks to fully get used to all of the changes. Each feline creature is unique on its own, so no rule automatically applies to all furballs out there.
Additional tips and tricks
Here are a few additional tips and tricks. They will help you with the introduction part, as well as with minimizing the risks. Even though there’s no ultimate formula, the following guidelines will make everything a bit easier for you and for your cats.
Choose the new pet wisely
Think about the kind of lifestyle you’re leading. Instead of choosing a breed just because it looks lovely, ask yourself the following questions.
Do you have a house with multiple spacious rooms or are you looking for a cat suited for apartment living? Are the people in your household noisy and active? Do you have small children? Can you devote more than enough time to your pets (new domestic animals require additional attention and care during the first few weeks of re-homing)? Do you need a more independent kitty, which you can safely leave home alone over long periods of time?
Hide fragile personal belongings
Remove any breakable objects from high shelves. Hide all valuables (including items that can be easily torn apart) in safe places.
The new environment will make the new cat, as well as your current one, restless, anxious, curious, territorial and even scared. Such strong emotions can lead to destructive behavior, even if it’s unconsciously. Both felines might want to hide or run off in the darkest corners, or explore and jump onto the highest possible surface. And eventually, accidents will happen.
Opt for pheromones
Some pheromone sprays, like Feliway for example, can make a huge difference. They can help the new cat and your current one relax and deal with their emotions.
Both felines will be overwhelmed not only by the presence of each other, but also by your home. Call your vet and ask for advice on the best possible pheromone solutions for such cases. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Don’t make the introduction on unfamiliar territory
Some people will tell you that choosing a new territory, such as an unknown indoor or outdoor area, is the key to success. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Even though an unfamiliar area will guarantee that neither cat will feel like the other one is invading its space, the unfamiliar surroundings will make things harder.
If the cats aren’t accustomed to the sights, smells and sounds of the introduction area, they will be confused and overwhelmed by the plethora of unknown scents and objects around them. And that will make them more anxious, restless and rather reserved instead of open to new acquaintances.
This concludes our guide on introducing two cats to one another. Remember that if you don’t get the expected results from the first time, you must remain patient. After all, you can’t force your kitties into it – they need to get used to each other over time on their own terms.