Introducing a new cat to a household with other cats doesn’t need to be a hell. As long as you follow the rules of how to properly introduce those cats to each other. It’s not always going to be easy — who said it was going to be easy? But this all depends on you and on the cats. Don’t give up it isn’t going the way you want, while some cats accept each other within two hours, with some it may take from a few weeks to six months. This post will help you out!
The size of your cat/kitten is very important. A small kitten may be accepted easier than a larger cat and older cat. Where a kitten will adapt easier to a new place, an older cat that’s no kitten anymore needs to be given more time to get used to his new place.
Cats are territory animals. This means that they will not tolerate other cats in their house. Your current cat(s) might act different, they might hiss, hide and growl the first days. They just don’t like to share and they will let you know how unhappy they are with the newcomer. They might also mark their territory when they aren’t fixed.
A Quiet Time
Never bring a new cat or kitten in during a hectic or stressful period like the holidays. A long and quiet weekend is a better option.
Set up a ‘safe room’ for the new member of the cat-gang. Put her food, toys, scratching post, litter box (not next to the food), water and bed in there. Be ready for a lot of hissing around the ‘safe room’, but that’s completely normal.
Scent is very important in the cat-world. You can let them smell each other indirectly Do this by rubbing a towel on one cat, and let the other smell it. After a while they should be getting used to each others smell. Remember that cats should not meet face-to-face in the first week. This will allow the new cat to get comfortable with his new family and place.
When you think they are ready after a week, you can switch roles. Put the new cat out of his ‘safe room’ and let him roam around the house, and let your current cat explore ‘safe room’.
Another thing you can do is to put the new cat in another room, close that door. And let the door from the safe room open for your current cat to have a look when he wants. Repeat this until they have become less stressed and angry at the smell.
After the switching rooms-part you can give it a try to actually let them see each other. You can do this by using a bay gate, or keeping the door barely opened. Always stay there when you do this so you can supervise!
When They Are Really Ready
When you think the cats are really ready for it, have gotten used to their smell and such, open the door from the ‘safe room’, and let your current cat in if he wants and let the new kitty roam if he’s up for it. Don’t push things, they’ll take their time if they want to. See what they will do and ignore hissing and growling but distract them or put the new kitty back in his room when a fight breaks out.
You can also do this for just a few seconds and spread it out over the week. Open the door barely a bit longer every day each time.
instead of using the babygate you can put the new cat in his carrier, and place him into the ‘safe room’. While your current cat can take a look and the new cat is protected in his carrier.
Their first activities together should have a good experience so they can link joy and pleasure with the presence of another cat. Those activities could be playing, feeding (don’t let them share dishes) and petting. Praise them when they are doing a good job!
When Things Go Bad
When things don’t go the way you want, a battle breaks out or there is too much stress between the cats. You thought they ready but they aren’t? Start over from where you left of. Whether this is in the beginning or not. Separate them again, give them a time-out when they are being aggressive and try again later or the next day!
Don’t be discouraged, the introduction can take from two hours to six months. So don’t worry if they don’t get along yet. Just be patient!
- Put the newcomer into the ‘safe room’ straight away and continue your ‘just got home’ routine as usual.
- Don’t rush into things. Give both cats the time to respond to the situation. New cat will be shy and your current cat will be pissed about the intruder.
- Don’t forget about the new cat in the ‘safe room’! Spend some time several times a day to play with him or het, feeding, petting and giving it attention. Even if it’s locked up — for his own safety — doesn’t mean you can’t bond with it.
Wash your hands when you leave ‘safe room’.
- When they are too stressed to eat, you can try another option. Feed them side-by-side, new cat in ‘safe room’, current cat outside. Put the bowls on the opposite of each room and move them closer each day. After one or two weeks you can try the introduction again.
- Lots of snuggling and attention for all cats is needed during this time.
- Stress is not good so watch for signs of upper respiratory infection or diarrhea. Make sure they eat and drink well, as well as using the litter box.
- Try feeding the cats a treat on each side of the door from ‘safe room’.
- Do not leave the cats alone unsupervised when no one is gome or at night. The new cat should stay into his safe room until both cats respect and tolerate each other 100%.