How to introduce cats
Congratulations! You’ve adopted another cat into your home, or maybe you’re considering adding a new addition to your family. Either way, bringing a new feline friend into your home can be fun and exciting, but not for everyone. A new cat has the potential to wreak havoc on your cat’s life. Although, that shouldn’t deter you from adopting again. By planning ahead and taking these steps, you can help both cats feel more comfortable and relaxed during the introduction process.
Take things slow
The first and most important thing to know before introducing your cats is to take things slow. While this may be frustrating for you, after all, you want your two feline loves to get along, rushing the process could end up jeopardizing their relationship. When the time comes to introduce your cats, the best thing to do is follow their pace. Watch their behavior and body language and check for any stress or anxiety.
Keep them separate
Cats are territorial creatures of habit. Bringing in a new cat or kitten can cause a major upset in your cat’s life. Just think, how would you feel if suddenly there was a new person who just appeared in your home one day, slept in your bed, ate your food, and never left? Without being able to dive into the complex mind of a cat, we assume that’s sort of what it’s like for them. Suddenly, one day, your cat’s entire life and routine have changed because of this new cat.
For your cat to gradually adopt this new lifestyle, we recommend keeping your new cat in a spare, enclosed room for about 1-2 weeks after adopting. Not only will this give you time to bring him in for a check-up and get a clean bill of health, but this will also give both cats time to adjust. For your household cat, this will give him time to get used to the scent of your new cat. For the new addition, this will give him time to settle into his new house and bond with you.
Start with Scent
After a few days of separation, it’s a good idea to allow both cats to smell the other. The best way this can be done without them meeting yet is by swapping any blankets, towels, or beds they sleep on and offering it to the other cat. By doing so, both cats will be able to interact with the other’s scent. This is helpful when it comes time to interact with one another. If they can identify the scent as familiar than they’ll seem less like strangers.
Once your cats have become familiar with the other’s scent, the next step is to feed them on either side of a closed door. This step helps to further acclimate each other in a positive manner. You can also use treats instead of food for this step.
If things have been going well so far, you can now have your cats interact with one another with some type of separation between the two of them. Types of barriers could be a baby gate, crack in the door, or any way for them to see each other without physically interacting. During these “sniff tests,” it is crucial to watch both cat’s behaviors. Any obvious signs of stress or aggression should terminate the test immediately. Signs to look out for include loud growing, hissing, or swatting. Continue these tests over a period of time until both cats are comfortable with the other.
Once your cats pass the sniff test you can begin supervising your cats’ interactions. Allow your new cat to roam his new home with you keeping a close eye. Start these supervised visits a few times a day, starting with about 30 minutes each visit. During this time, allow the cats to explore the other’s territory. This is also a great time for interactive play between you and your cat, especially if one cat seems a bit stressed out. The distraction of play can help them understand the new world they are living in. If these visits continue to go well, slowly start to extend the time they can interact with one another until both cats are comfortable with the other.
What if My Cats Never Get Along?
Even after trying these steps it is possible for your cats to never get along. Don’t be discouraged, though. Plenty of multi-cat households get by just fine with keeping their cats separated by different floors or rooms. However, if you’re determined for your cats to at least live amicably if not be friends, the best thing you can do, again, is be patient. It is possible they need a little extra time to get used to one another. After all, acclimating cats can be a process. It is also possible that it could sometimes take weeks or months for them to get comfortable with the other. During this time, make sure to give both cats equal attention and play opportunities, as this is a great way to diverge negative energies they may otherwise take out on your other cat.