Cats are a lot like potato chips…you can’t have just one. The trouble with this notion is, unlike their canine counterparts, cats aren’t always too quick to accept another cat “invading” their home turf.
However, don’t let that specific trait of the feline nature discourage you from adding another cat to your family. Many pet parents have more than one feline friend, you just have to know how to make the proper introductions. Read on to find some helpful steps, tips and tricks to introducing your cat to a new cat.
Cats By Nature
There are two camps of thought when it comes to the social and behavioral attitudes of our domesticated felines. Some experts believe cats are meant to live a solitary existence, which does occur with most of the larger wild cats, while others believe that cats are indeed social creatures because even feral cat populations live together in large colonies.
So which is it?
Unfortunately, there is no inclusive answer to this question. Yes, some larger species of cats, like lions, do live in social prides and male cheetahs form a coalition with one another. However, tigers, leopards and cougars are more solitary and usually only seek out another of their species for mating purposes.
Domesticated felines, on the other paw, can be social or reclusive, it all depends on the individual cat’s personality, how it was raised and how much “socialization” it’s had with other cats. Kittens for the most part are extremely social. They will run, play and groom their littermates without regard or any social misgivings to the situation. It’s when these kittens begin to grow up and are separated from their siblings that their “antisocial” behavior may take place.
If you truly want to have two cats in your household, the easiest and usually most successful way to do so is adopt two from the same litter, or get two kittens at the same time.
If this proverbial ship has already sailed, don’t lose hope, you can still introduce your cat to a new cat.
Things to Consider Before You Choose Another Cat for Your Resident Feline
Let’s face it, things would be a whole lot easier if we could plan a “play date” with our resident cat and a potential newcoming. But unfortunately, this simply wouldn’t work because cats will usually be “on guard” and very weary of a cat they don’t know. However, even with this solution out-of-the-picture, there are some things to consider before you choose another cat for your resident cat.
According to The Conscious Cat keep these following tips in mind when searching for the purrfect companion for your cat.
Personality. Know the personality of your resident cat. Ask yourself is she laidback, rambunctious, quiet or timid? Having this insight will help you plan what personality you will want to seek out in a new companion – two quiet cats may get along better than one being outgoing and the other being timid and visa versa (an active cat may love the benefit of having an active playmate).
History of the Cats. Has the new cat come from a rescue situation and if so what did it’s past entail? Some rescue cats may have been abused or neglected, which will greatly affect their overall mindset. Cats that have a history of being picked on by another feline, may also lash out due to fear and mistrust, even if your resident cat has never acted aggressively towards him or her. When adopting try to get as much background information on the feline as the organization has to offer and act accordingly.
Age. As we mentioned earlier, kittens are usually more accepting of one-another than those that are older. In addition, bringing a rambunctious kitten into a home with an aging senior will most likely upset your resident cat. When looking to add another cat, try to get them about the same age.
Size Does Matter. If your resident cat is more dominate in personality, than your wisest choice for a happy household would be to choose a feline that is the same size or slightly smaller. Too big and your resident cat may feel threatened and too small, he may feel the need to show the newcomer who’s “boss.”
Male or female. There is a theory that two male neutered cats will get along better than two female spayed cats. However, there are many pet parents (including myself) that will disagree with this statement. There really is no guarantee that two males, two females or one of each will get along without incident. For this reason, look to the above points to help better your chances of finding a good match for your resident cat.
I’d Like You To Meet…
Now that we’ve covered the pre-steps to introducing your cat to a new cat, let’s claw our way into the main steps you will want to take for a smooth transition of both your new cat and your resident fur baby.
Step 1 – Keep Them Separated
Plopping the new cat in the living room and letting “the fur fall where it may” is never a good approach to introducing two feline strangers.
Before you bring home your new cat, have a separate room set up for her. This will include a litter box, a soft bed, toys, scratch post, safe hiding places and food and water. Having a safe-zone for your new cat will ease her into the situation and will also allow your resident fur baby to feel less threatened.
According to Pamela Johnson-Bennett of Cat Behavior Associates, even with your new cat in temporary seclusion, it and your resident feline should still be able to hear and smell each other under the door.
After 2 or 3 days, when the cats are each aware of the other’s existence, you can switch them up (allow the new cat out, while your resident feline is in the seclusion room). This not only gives your new cat a chance to investigate its new home, but allows your other cat to smell the newbies scent in a safe and unthreatening manner.
● Feeding the two cats meals or treats by the same door or blockade can create a sense of wellbeing amongst the two.
● Use a clean sock and rub it alongside the new cat’s face. This capture’s his pheromones. Now place the sock where your resident cat can investigate it at his own pace.
● Play with each cat in front of the door. Once again this creates feel-good moments to help both cats associate each other with a pleasant experience.
Step 2 – Can You See Me Now?
If after a week your cats are not continuing to hiss or growl at each other through the closed door, you can move on to step two; the visual introduction.
Many pet parents will either use a screen door on the barred room or use a high baby gate.
Note: If you only have access to a low baby gate, remember cats can jump over low-lying barriers, so you will still need to use a thick piece of cardboard or other material to block the rest of the entrance way.
Continue to feed and play with each cat by the barrier to create good-mood feelings and opportunities. However, if one cat is reluctant to eat in viewing of the other, move the dish back to a comfortable location. This is all about building a safe bond and trust, so you won’t want to force either cat into an uncomfortable situation. If all is progressing smoothly, without hissing or growling, move on to step three.
Extra Tip: It’s helpful to have another person at-the-ready when you first allow your cats to see each other for the first time. This extra pair of hands can help with one cat, while you tend to the other, .just in case of an incident.
Step 3 – Meeting Face-to-Face
The face-to-face is the last step in this process. How quickly you get to this step depends on the individual felines and how they have been able to cope up to this point. Don’t worry if it’s not going as quickly as you thought it should. Like people, each cat will move at its own pace and comfort-level.
For the face-to-face, you will want to keep a close eye on the two cats, especially in the very beginning. You can simply open the gate and allow each cat to explore. Their reactions could be to ignore each other, or to do some hissing and swatting. Be sure to gentle reassure both cats, while still allowing them to figure things out. Of course, if one cat is being aggressive, gentle pick up the other cat and return it to the solitary room. If all is going well, still keep a watch on the two, but allow them to move about freely. You should be able to gauge the mood of both cats to determine if there is going to be a problem before it escalates out of control.
Extra Trick: Giving the cats a tasty snack when face-to-face or freely in each other’s space, is still a great way to break the tension and create another feel-good moment.
They Lived Happily Ever After…
Most cats will learn to live with, if not truly enjoy, the companionship of another cat. However, if you have given the two an adequate amount of time (two weeks) to properly get to know each other by following these steps and one or both of the cats are still being severely aggressive, you may have to seek out a professional trainer.
For more information on how to introduce cats see this great guide from the catsite.com.