So you’re getting another cat
Bringing home new members of the family, human or otherwise, is always exciting. But sometimes, existing family members might not be so keen on the new additions, especially when they’re feline.
Cats are territorial and love to let you know when you have upset them. So, to avoid any sticky situations between current and new cats, I am going to go over some basics for you on how to introduce your cats to each other and create a peaceful environment where they at least tolerate each other and stop your house from turning into a war zone!
Before you can introduce a new cat to your current cat you need to choose your new cat. When doing so you should take some things into consideration. Do you want a kitten or an adult cat? Are you rescuing a cat? Always remember that cats who have lived with or been around other cats can be easier to integrate into your home, though this is not a guarantee. Kittens will integrate with your resident kitty within a few minutes 99% of the time. Adult cats can be much choosier about letting other adults in their space.
Once you have decided on which cat you are bringing home you must make sure that there are separate spaces for each of your cats. They need separate food, scratching posts, litter boxes and resting places. You should also take the new cat to the vet to ensure that they won’t be bringing any contagious diseases home.
Once the logistics of getting another cat have been taken care of, you are ready to start your introductions. Whether it is an adult or a kitten, the first thing to do when you get home is to put them immediately into the litter box. There is a high probability that they will jump right out, but now they know where it is and will alleviate any accidents right off the bat. Then let them roam the house. Keep an eye on your current cat to gauge their reaction. Normal behavior will be hissing, spitting, batting and growling. This is how they figure out dominance and should be allowed. Most cases will end in a few days and peace will rain in your happy home. If it progresses instead of ebbs, the only time you should intervene is if they engage in an all out cat-fight. If this should happen, get a broom to pull them apart or throw a blanket over them. NEVER go in with your hands to separate fighting cats. This will end badly for your skin.
If the introduction does not go well, there are many different ways to introduce two cats but today I will go over a two methods.
Both methods start out by placing your new cat in her space immediately as she arrives. Some people even suggest you going home first and then having a friend bring the new cat in a little while after to indicate to your current cat that it isn’t necessarily you who has brought the foreigner into the house. Once the new cat is inside, separate it from the other(s) by placing it in a safe spot like a private room or bathroom.
Remember to give each cat attention every day while you are doing the introductions to help reduce anxiety. Always be watching for signs of stress in either cat. If their stress lasts for more than a couple days, consult with your veterinarian. Signs to watch out for are hiding, aggressive behavior, decreased appetite, and excessive meowing.
For the first method start out by keeping the cats separated by closed doors. Let them both wander near the doors and smell each other. Once there are no signs of aggression or excessive meowing, put up a gate to allow them to see each other without interacting quite yet. After a day or so, remove the gate and allow them to interact under supervision. The minute any signs of aggression are present, separate the cats and repeat the process until ,when supervised, there are no more signs of aggression. Allow the cats to interact over short supervised periods of time. The cats are good to leave alone as soon as there are no signs of aggression or fighting.
Like method 1, method 2 starts off by keeping the cats separated. This method suggests letting your new cat play with some toys and on top of towels in their safe space. After a couple days, take the toys and towels from the new cat and use them with your current cat to familiarize them with the new cat’s smell. Playing with your current cat in front of the door where the new cat is being kept will also help associate the new cat’s smell with good things. After playing with the toys with your current cat, remove the new cat from the room and let your current cat explore where the new one had been living. Feed your current cat treats as they explore and play with them to show them the new smells from the new cat are nothing to worry about.
After your current cat has freely left the room, place your new cat back in and shut the door and repeat the first few steps if you feel they aren’t prepared to meet yet, or if you feel they are ready, open the door and let them interact at their own pace. Supervise them and again separate them at the smallest sign of aggression. Once all signs of aggression are gone they are good to be left together.
These methods might seem extremely hands on, but I can guarantee it is worth it to start everyone off on the right foot together. They take time, anywhere from a few days to a week or so but patience is the key. As long as you are patient enough then you can avoid any kind of cat fighting and have a smooth transition into a multi-cat household.
Bestfriends. (2018). Introduce a new cat. Retrieved on March 1, 2019 from https://resources.bestfriends.org/article/introducing-new-cat
Gray, Max. (2017, January 16). How to Introduce a new cat to your cat. Retrieved on March 1, 2019 from https://animals.onehowto.com/article/how-to-introduce-a-new-cat-to-your-cat-1478.html
Syufy, Franny. (22019, January 17). How to introduce your cat to a new cat. Retrieved on March 1, 2019 from https://www.thesprucepets.com/introducing-cats-101-552003
Written By: Mikayla B. AZ CARE Rescue Intern (March. 2019)