You’ve probably been thinking about it for some time now. It’s something you always wanted to do… but you were never sure it was the right time. Will it ever be the right time? You’re probably worried if they’ll even get along. There’s just a lot of questions on your mind… and it makes you feel… uncertain.
But no! You’ve decided! You want to do it. You want to adopt another cat. Or perhaps a kitten.
There are some things that you will need to be mindful of before you introduce a new cat to your household. If done improperly, you will give your cats a first bad impression why may have a lasting effect on their relationship. However, with proper guidance and with time, your cats will adjust to the big change and may even ultimately end up being the best of friends!
Slow And Steady Is Best
Cats are very territorial creatures. They don’t take a liking to any big changes or anything new entering their realm. Cats like things just the way they are. That’s why you can’t just dump your newly adopted cat or kitten into the same room as your old cat and expect them to just get along! This is impossible!
Your cat will get defensive and will be upset that you brought in another cat into the household. That is why it is crucial for you to introduce your pets slowly and allow them to come to each other at their own pace. I personally recommend that you lock up your newly adopted cat in a separate room initially. This will allow your old cat to get acquainted with your new cat’s smell.
It is only with time and repetition that your two cats will get along. If your cats have a sour fits impression, this may carry on to the rest of their relationship. For your own sanity and for your cat’s it is always best to have a slow and controlled introduction for your cats. The longer the better.
I initially adopted my little feral Diba and worked on helping her adjust to the indoor lifestyle. After Diba got used to living in a house, I decided that she needed a friend to help her learn more about the indoor swag. That’s when I started to volunteer at the Golden Paw Society in Huntington Station, New York and met my next cat, Cornelius.
When I first introduced them together, I actually had to keep Cornelius in a separate room for the first month to two months. Whenever I tried to introduce into the same room, both cats got very anxious and was very hesitant to meet each other. That is why it is essential for you to take your time and allow your cats to get used to each other’s presence in the same household. The newness and excitement will eventually wear off and your old cat will become more keen on meeting a new cat.
Feeding Together And Positive Vibes
One of the best ways to introduce your cats and for them to get along better is to feed them together. Cats love food. Actually… let’s be real here… all animals love food. Food causes us to feel good and helps us associate people and experiences with this good feeling. The same is true for cats!
By feeding them together, you will allow them to feel good by eating food and get them to feel more comfortable with other cats and animals. Your old will effectively be too busy eating and getting those delicious yumyums into her tummy that she will find it hard to focus on the new cat. By helping your cats associate good feelings with each other, you are allowing them to bond and build feel-good emotions over food.
For newly adopted cats, I would put a barrier between the cats initially to prevent any disputes from occurring. A door would suffice and feed them on each side of the door. This will allow your cat to get used to being near the other cat and their smell. Don’t worry, your cats will know of each other’s presence. Do this for a while until your cats get used to this. Then begin to open a crack in the door to allow your cats to get a visual on each other.
Slowly but surely, you can have your cats meet face to face. I actually used a baby/pet gate to allow my cats to see each other by making it difficult for them to make physical contact. This allowed them to get used to each other further and to realize that they were not a threat to each other. This paved the way for building a good friendship between the two of them!
The First Contact
By following my procedure, you are effectively allowing your cats to get comfortable with each other’s scents and with each other’s presence. This will make things go significantly smoother when you allow your cats to make their first contact.
If you were to just dump your cats together into the same room and just let them work it out, you will find that your cats may get into a fight. They will hiss, they will scratch, and they will be upset. This is why it is so important for you to give them the time and space to be in separate rooms initially.
By the time you decide to let your cats meet for the first time without any barriers, your cats will be curious and friendly towards each other, rather than clawing each other in fear. Your cats will begin sniffing each other and be interested in getting to know each other. They may be a little hesitant at first and standoffish, but give them time and they will adjust.
During this time, I would continue feeding them together in order to continue those feel-good feelings during meal times. Be sure to feed them using separate plates in order to give them the space to eat in peace. Some cats are very territorial about their food and do not like being right next to another cat when they are eating. Feeding them on opposite sides of the same room is a great way to feed them.
I would also begin playing with your cats together. This will help them associate playing and feeling good with each other some more. This will also help your cats learn about boundaries. When I first started playing with Cornelius and Diba together, Cornelius would get a little too rambunctious and begin clawing at the toys like a mad cat. This would upset Diba and she would give Cornelius a good smack before retreating into her hiding hole. As strange as it sounds, cats need to be allowed to slap each other at times to help them communicate their boundaries. Your cats will learn to respect these boundaries.
The most important part of integrating a new cat into your household is to give it time and patience. You will find that you may take two steps forward and one step back on many occasions. This is natural and don’t you give up!
If you find that your introduction is not going well and your cats are getting into a dispute, just separate them into different rooms again and try again. Keep feeding them in separate rooms and get them used to each other again. With enough time, your cats will eventually not find each other to be a threat and won’t feel the need to fight or hiss at each other.
Cats are very good at communicating with each other through the use of sound, body language, and their tails. With enough time and patience, your cats will learn of each other’s boundaries and know how to act around each other. With proper guidance and a good introduction, you will find that your cats will get along swimmingly and they may even become very close friends.
Diba did not like Cornelius at first. She did not like sharing her things and Diba wasn’t very keen on getting to know another cat. She was a feral cat in the past and I’m sure she’s gotten into her fair of fights. However, I often find Diba grooming Cornelius and they really do enjoy each other’s presence. Introducing a new cat into the household could be a fantastic way for you to enrich your old cat’s life. As always, I wish you and your feline companions all the best. Be safe!