Cats are like your favourite treat because let’s be honest, one just isn’t enough. You might be wanting to add another cat to your home because your current kitty is lonely, or one has recently passed away. If you are anything like us, you could simply want another cat, because hey, the more, the merrier.
Whatever the reason, bringing a new cat into your home can be an anxious time for everyone involved, but it doesn’t have to be. In this article, we are looking at how to introduce cats, with six easy steps to make the process as painless, and as peaceful as possible. But before we get to that, let’s take a look at how you should choose your next furry companion.
How To Choose a New Cat
If you are wanting to grow your furry family, it is worth taking the time to choose a cat that will fit in with your existing cats. One way of doing this is to find a cat or kitten with a temperament that will suit you and the cats you currently have. If you can get this right, that is half the battle won.
Where To Look For a Cat
According to the RSPCA, there is a cat crisis in the UK. To put it as simply as possible, there are just too many homeless cats in need of a forever home across the country. So when choosing a new cat, rather than going to a pet store, visit your local cat rescue centre. There are all sorts of cats and kittens available, and all are in desperate need of a loving new home.
If you prefer a specific breed of cat, then you need to make sure you are buying it from a reputable breeder. In the UK, unethical kitten farms have been banned, but there are still backyard breeders around. Not only do they have very little regard for the animal’s well being, they often have very little knowledge about breeding. Also, as tempting as it may be, don’t get a cat or kitten that is advertised as “free to a good home”.
Consider The Cat (Or Cats) You Currently Have
If you are thinking about introducing a new cat to your other cats, it is worth considering the personality of your existing cat. This is more important than the age, the breed, size of even gender.
If your existing pet is a senior kitizen, frail or particularly laid back, avoid getting a new cat that is boisterous or too playful. In the same way, if your resident cat is a ball of energy, it isn’t a good idea getting another one that is elderly, shy or skittish.
6 Easy Steps for Introducing a New Cat
While the idea of introducing your cats to a new family member might fill you with trepidation, the process is much easier than you think. But you must take the time to do it correctly. Don’t make the mistake of forcing a cat to get along with another one as this could seriously backfire.
Step 1: Introduce the Cats Via Their Scent
If it is at all possible, try and introduce the cats via their scent before you let them meet face to face. Ask the shelter if they could give you a blanket or towel that has been used by the kitty, which you can then give to your existing cat. Check with them if you could also bring a blanket or toy that belongs to your cat for the new one. This is an essential part of the process and will make the formal introduction a lot less stressful.
Step 2: Prepare a Separate Room
Before you bring your new cat home, you should prepare a separate room for it. While some cats adapt quickly to a new home or a new cat from the get-go, many need it to be more of a transition. To make sure the addition of a new cat doesn’t end in disaster, you should prepare a separate room for the new resident. Ideally, it should be an area where your other cats have been and is easily accessible for you and the rest of the (human) family.
Place a bed, some toys as well as food and water in the room for your new kitty. If there is a space under the door, even better. This way, the cats can get a feel for each other before they actually meet.
Step 3: Feed Them Together On Opposite Sides of the Door
Before your cats finally meet, you should let them eat together. Start off by placing their food bowls close to the doors, while keeping each one on their respective side. This way, your two cats experience something positive, while still being aware of the other. This allows them to form a positive association and will help them get along in future.
If either cat refuses to eat, that is okay. Feed them on their own a little later, but don’t give up. This process might take a bit more time, so perseverance is key. If you notice any signs of aggression or agitation, including hissing, spitting or growling, then carry on feeding them this way for a few more days. They should settle down eventually. Unfortunately, if this problem persists, chances are the cats don’t like the new arrangement, and they are not going to get on down the line.
Step 4: Swap Scents
If you are happy with the way things are progressing and the two cats look relaxed, then it is time to swap scents. Place the resident cat in the new cat’s room, and let the new cat wander around the house. Both cats should be using the other’s bed, food and water bowls, and (clean) litter box.
They must still be kept separate, and feeding carries on with the door between them. Keep an eye on the new kitty’s behaviour. If you notice it is stressed, anxious or afraid, you might want to continue the swapping of scents for a few more days.
Step 5: Let Them See One Another
If you are at step 5, and no fur has flown, take a minute or two to give yourself a pat on the back. You are doing a fantastic job. At this point, you can let the cats get a good look at each other, but make sure there is something between them in case things kick-off. Baby gates work well, as do pet gates and screen doors. This is another way the cats will use their scent to familiarise themselves with the other one, and of course, they have the opportunity of seeing each other for the first time.
Carry on feeding them on their sides of the gate, and swapping scents for a few days.
Step 6: The Meeting
When you are introducing cats for the first time, you need to be realistic about the initial meeting because it might not go as smoothly as you had hoped. But don’t worry too much. It is entirely reasonable for there to be some swatting and hissing when they first meet face to face, but they should be able to sort things out on their own.
Don’t leave them alone, and keep an eye out in case the fighting gets a little more serious. If the tension doesn’t ease, and either cat is injured or stressed out from a fight, then the initial meeting hasn’t been successful. We suggest you give them a break from each other for a day or two and then try again.
On the other hand, if they seem bored with another, ignore each other or interact together, then you have completed the introduction, successfully.
If you are introducing a cat and kitten for the first time, then the steps are relatively similar, but the process might go a little faster. This is because older cats are usually more tolerant of kittens, But remember, no one cat is the same, so you will have to monitor the situation closely.
Do you think this article was helpful? Maybe you have already used these steps when you were introducing a new cat to your other furry felines? How did it go? We would love to hear from you.