Many pet-loving homes include more than one cat. Cat companions, in fact, can provide each other with exercise, social interaction, and mental stimulation in ways that their human companions cannot. In many ways, two cats are better than one!
That said, it’s important that you properly introduce a new cat to an existing cat to avoid conflict. Throwing two cats together without the proper introduction is asking for trouble. But, with patience and planning, almost all cats can learn to accept each other and most can even become friends.
KEEP THEM SEPARATED
When you bring your new cat or kitten home, you’ll need to have a separate room set up for him or her that is equipped with everything he’ll need – a litter box, food & water, scratching post, toys, and a cozy place to hide. Make sure your existing cat doesn’t have access to this room.
This separation serves a number of purposes. First, it allows your existing cat the opportunity to get used to the idea of a newcomer in his home without having to actually interact. Second, it gives the new kitty time to get used to the sights and smells of his new home without having to face any other cats. Third, it serves as a quarantine period, to ensure that your new cat isn’t harboring any illness that he may pass on to your existing cat family.
While they’re separated, your cats should be able to hear and smell each other. You can ensure this by feeding them near the door to the isolation room. This also helps them associate each other with the positive experience of being fed. If you notice your resident kitty is curiously sniffing at the door to your new cat’s room, it’s a good idea to toss him some treats as a reward for his curiosity.
Start the slow introduction by swapping scents. Put fleece baby blankets in each of your cat’s beds or favorite sleeping spots. After they have slept on them a day or two, swap the blankets out and place them on the floor for each cat to investigate. If the cats are interested and interact with blankets without growling or hissing, you can proceed to the next step. Otherwise, give them a few more days and swap scents again.
LET THEM SEE EACH OTHER
The next step is to allow your cats to see each other under supervision, but without interacting. A simple wood-framed screen door propped up in the doorway will facilitate this step easily. You can also get pressure mounted baby gates and stack a two or three in the doorway. Now, the cats can safely see each other without the worry of a fight. At this point, you can now feed them in view of each other. You can also treat each cat for all appropriate behavior while in sight of the other cat. Do this several times a day. Once they can be in sight of each other or interact with each other on either side of the screen or gates without conflict, you are on to the next step!
The next step is to allow the new cat to have access to the rest of the house while the other cat is confined. After a couple of days of being able to explore on their own, it is now time for some supervised interaction. Allow both cats to freely roam while you are supervising. Do this for short periods throughout the day. If at any time either cat becomes uncomfortable, separate them before trouble starts and try again later. When these visits have gone well for at least a week, you can increase the amount of time to where you can have them out together anytime you are around. Now, you are well on your way! You may still want to separate them while you are gone until they are completely comfortable being around each other.
It will take at least a month to properly integrate your new cat into the household. At any point you are having problems, just take a step back. Some cats can take a little longer than others to make the adjustment. Taking your time at the beginning of an introduction will go a long way in ensuring a happy multi-cat home!
How many cats do you have? Did you have any trouble introducing your cats to one another? Let us know by posting a comment below.
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