Introducing One Cat to Another
If you have had a chance to read my blog "Is It Better to Have Two Cats?," and have decided you are ready to add another cat to your home, here are some tips to make sure the introductions go smoothly.
First, before bringing home the new cat, make sure BOTH cats are neutered, or spayed, and current on their vaccinations. Unaltered cats have more of a territorial aggressive behavior. Not a good idea when you want to bring a new cat into the picture.
Bringing Home the New Cat
Once you bring home the new cat, the introductions start. With cats, it needs to be done slowly at first. Just plopping down the new cat in front of your current cat will cause animosity between the two which is not the way to start off on the "right paw."
Instead, have a room prepared for your new cat. This should include, water and feeding bowl, litterbox, toys, kitty bed, kitty tree (for climbing), and scratching post (to save your furniture). We want your newcomer to feel welcome.
Separating both cats for the interim will help them slowly get acclimated without the pressure of being best friends right away. They can sniff each other from underneath the door to start off with.
Expect hissing and growling from both cats. Do NOT discipline either one. This is there way of trying to let each other know, "I am not sure about you yet."; It is ok to say "NO" very firmly, to let them know you disapprove, but do not get physical with either cat.; This can actually heighten the anxiety and tension between the two.
Slowly Introducing Your New Cat to the Household Surroundings
After a few days of your new cat getting acclimated to their new room, it is time to introduce them to the common areas.
The first step is to take your current cat and move them into a different room, closing the door. This will help the newcomer learn about their new surroundings without the intimidation of the current cat. Once your current cat is safely put away, it is time to bring out the new kitty.
With your supervision, let the new kitty explore your home for a about 15-30 minutes a couple times a day for a few days.
This is a great way for both cats to get use to each others scent amongst the home.
Face to Face - Using a Baby Gate
Ok, so it has been almost a week since you brought home your new kitty. The hissing and growling should be improving between the two if you followed the steps above. Next, we need to get them used to seeing each other.
We aren't quite there yet as for letting them both have the run of the house. Remember, our goal is to do this slowly, so we can set up both cats to be successful with little, if any, cat-fights.
Put a baby gate up in the doorway where the new kitty is staying. You will need to supervise the baby gate to make sure one cat doesn't jump over to the others space yet. Open a fresh can of tuna, split it in-half. Give your current kitty a plate full of this yummy tuna in front of the newcomer.
This is where they can see each other through the baby gate, watching and checking each other out safely. If there is no growling or hissing, praise both cats with simple pets and caresses on their backs. They will learn that this good behavior gets them rewarded with your affection.
Take the other half of the tuna and put it on a different plate for the new kitty, and give it to the new kitty safely behind the baby gate. This is a GREAT way to teach each kitty that GOOD things come in the presence of the other cat, they will quickly learn to appreciate each other.
This should be done one or two times a day. If, at any time, there is hissing or growling, do not correct either cat, but just ignore them and let them finish up their plate of tuna. They will learn over time this gets them nowhere and nothing from you.
Run of the House
Now it has been a couple of weeks, and the time to introduce them in the common area of the home is upon us.
This is exciting, all your hard work for the past two weeks of slowly getting them adjusted with each other is going to make this next transition much smoother.
Open the door to the room of the new kitty and allow him/her to come out and start exploring. Again, there might be some slight hissing, growling, and puffing up the fur which is all normal, so, again, don't discipline either cat.
This should all be done under your supervision. So, if you need to go to work for the day, this is not the time to do this. Choose a weekend or a day off while you are home to help keep both kitties be safe and feel secure with this new big step!
For awhile you may want to consider having two litter-boxes in the home. As they might not be inclined to share, plus you don't want your the current cat to "guard" the litter-box or trap the newcomer. This will make the new kitty stop using the litter-box out of fear of the current cat.
There is no time-frame on how quickly cats will adjust and accept one another, but taking these baby steps to ensure you are doing everything possible to make the transition as smooth as possible will help. Typically, over time, cats will accept each other, and you might be pleasantly surprised to come home finding them both snuggling together on your bed!