9 Steps to Introducing Two Cats
What is better than having one cat? If you are a cat lover, the obvious answer is having two or more cats! The pitter patter of several sets of paws will bring any cat owner a lot of joy.
But if you already have one resident cat, introducing another cat or kitten to a household can be anything but harmonious!
By their very nature, cats are territorial. You may not know this, but you and your house belong to your cat! And while some cats with a mild temperament may accept a new cat willingly, many will not! Don’t be surprised to see some serious sulking, spiteful hissing and intense competition from your normally placid cat.
First up - the Wrong way to do it!
You are in for a shock if you plonk a new cat down in front of your resident cat without any warning, and expect them to roll out the welcome mat! Very rarely will the resident cat welcome a stranger with open paws. They are more likely to puff up and box the newcomers face with a few well placed twats while they hiss and spit like a demon from hell. To put it simply, your cat will go into defensive mode with teeth bared and claws unfurled!
The shock of a new cat in ‘their territory’ will bring out the aggressive or competitive side of your cat. After all, for some time they have ruled the roost, they have had your unlimited attention, and they have called all the shots.
Think about it from their point of view; suddenly there is some new upstart moving in and cat number one is expected to share both you AND the home turf! They are not going to be happy about that! No way!
9 Tips To Introduce Cats
These 9 tips will show you ways to disarming the cats and provides guidelines on how to make them more socially acceptable to each other. These tips takes the shock out of the encounter, and uses time and patience to allow the cats to reach an understanding.
1. Set up a separate room for new cat
First of all, set up a special room for the new cat, one where they are isolated from the resident cat and it is a ‘safe’ place where the newcomer can adjust to this new household. Make sure this safe room has a litter box, feeding station, a cozy bed and a few hiding places, as well as a few toys to entertain them. Keep the new cat in here for a couple of days, separated from your family cat. Curiosity will get the better of them and they will both be aware of each other, but safely confined as they adjust to the sounds and smell of the other cat.
2. Use a cloth to let them get acquainted to each others’ scent
Rub a soft cloth over the face of the new cat (it captures their scent pheromones) and then drop the cloth near your other cat and leave them to check it out. They will explore the cloth and be able to ‘read’ a lot about the other cat from the scent left on the cloth. Another way to get them used to each other's smell is to swap the locations of the cats for a short time. Put the resident puss in the safe room and bring out the visitor to explore the house.
3. Let them get acquainted, without seeing each other
Try feeding both cats near the door of the safe room so the cats can smell and hear each other. It will help to have one person with each cat so they get equal attention and love. Give them treats when they are close to the door so they get used to good things happening when they are both in the same proximity.
4. Controlled interaction through a screen door
After a couple of days (yes - it does take time and patience to achieve home harmony among your cats) you can try to let them interact through an opened but screened doorway. You may need the help of another person so that each cat has a human sitting with them as they sidle up to the screen door. Pat the cats, give them small treats, and just be reassuring and allow them to check each other out visually. Don’t try to force them to interact, let it happen naturally
5. Feed them in clear view of each other
Now that they can see the other cat, feed them both close to the screen door in clear view of each other. If one of your cats won’t eat because they are uncomfortable, move the dish away a bit and try that. Play and feed the cats within sight of each other, again you may need the help of another person. Let them realize that life is good even though there are now two cats.
6. Remove the barriers! But watch out for bullying!
The final step is for the cats to meet face to face without the screen door. They may keep a wide distance from each other at first, or hiss a warning or two. This is a natural reaction. Supervise their interaction to ensure one cat isn’t going to bullying the other. Normally they will ignore each other as much as possible, and after a week or two will slowly start to accept each other.
7. Try to have separate bowls, space, litter boxes
Make sure each cat has a hiding place where they can sneak away and rest in peace. Until they become firmly acquainted they will be uneasy about resting. Feed them using separate bowls and allow plenty of space for each cat. Each cat should have a separate litter box - after all, cats are very private creatures and some things are not to be shared!
8. Reward good interaction behavior
When they start to interact, reward their good behaviour with a treat each, a new toy or a kind word and cuddle. Let them see that life will continue as normal, even if there is two of them. This is important for the established cat and the new cat. Each has their own fears, and each has to learn where they fit into the home. Let them see that life can be great with two (or more) cats in the family
9. Make sure to neuter, unless you want lots of kittens
Cats of the opposite sex often get along better as two males may compete to be boss. If you introduce a new female, ensure that she and the male are both fixed or you may have some kittens joining the family after a few months!
Kittens are another matter!
If you are enamored with a cute little kitten and simply MUST have them, remember that some calm adult cats may not be that excited as you are about a hyperactive kitten joining the family. Kittens are notorious for disturbing an older cats rest, and not every cat wants to play or have their tail or ears attacked! A cat that likes to relax and rest may not be too happy to have a boisterous youngster interrupting their life.
Kittens will be curious about this new cat, and they are known to stalk them relentlessly, trying to win them over. They want to sleep with them, share their food, play with their toys, and heaven forbid - share your attention! Worst than that, they will also explore your cats litter box or watch while they are using it. Suddenly, there is no privacy for your modest resident cat!
If your existing cat is a female, they may take on a mothering role towards a young kitten which can create strong bonds between the two. The female may be more tolerant of the pushy youngster joining them in their bed, or they may even share their food bowl.
A kitten is less of a threat to a grown cat. They will often get a hiss or two and put in their place when they take liberties with the older cat, but they usually win them over quicker.
Here are some other points to consider
- When you are adding another cat to your family, think about your existing cat and consider their personality.What type of cat are they? What sort of activities do they like to engage in throughout the day? A calm, quiet cat will get on better with another cat with a similar complimentary personality. If your cat is playful, try getting another cat who is adventurous and loves to play
- Don’t force your cats; take the time to introduce your cats without any pressure for them to conform. Give plenty of love and attention equally to each cat.They may even get to a stage where they will share your lap
- Let your first cat keep their special places and their bed… don’t ask them to share. The cats will usually work that part out without your interference
Peace and harmony among cats is achievable if you don’t try to force things. Show the cats that everything is okay, that there is nothing threatening their place in the home.
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