How To Introduce Cats To Each Other

Kitten PortraitsMany cat owners would agree that cats are more like humans than their furry counterparts. They talk to us, have distinctly different personalities, and are overall more picky than other animals. Just like with humans, cats don’t all automatically like each other. It takes time, patience, and open mindedness in order to have two quarreling cats get along.

Although it may seem like a lot of steps to simply introduce two cats, the first meeting is incredibly important and if it goes wrong, it can taint your cat’s interactions for a long time. There are certain procedures to take when initiating a new cat into your home, and we’ve got your step-by-step guide to introducing cats right here. For our guide to introducing cats and dogs, click here.

1. Prepare to be patient: The first step to introducing a new cat into your feline-run household involves preparing yourself for the journey ahead. It can take cats up to a year to get truly comfortable with each other. There are three outcomes of introducing a new cat to your other cat or cats:

Your cats will get along and even become friends. Depending on the personalities of your different cats, there’s a possibility that you somehow lucked out and brought home a cat that fits right in to your household. This could take time, but is certainly a possibility. If your cats are going to get along famously, you’ll likely know it within the first three months.

Your cats will learn to tolerate each other. Sometimes, two cats will just never become best friends. This is perfectly normal, and can result in a household relationship where your cats avoid getting too close to one another, but fights don’t break out regularly. This is a manageable relationship that should be reached within a year of introduction.

Your cats will have a serious problem getting along, and may need to be permanently separated. As good of a cat-parent as you may be, sometimes it is impossible to influence two cats to coexist. In this case, the cats will constantly stress each other out. There are many symptoms of stress in a cat, and if you think that your cats don’t seem like they’ll ever learn to cohabitate, you may need to consider rehoming one of them. This isn’t ideal, but by no means says that you aren’t a good cat-parent. By rehoming a cat that doesn’t fit in, you are giving it the best quality of life possible. You’ll know if you have to rehome one of your cats within the first few months.

2. Prepare your home for a comfortable second cat. This includes preparing your supplies and your home for more pets. You’ll need to make sure that you have enough litter boxes for your cats, with at least one per cat. It is recommended that you have at least two per cat, but this simply isn’t possible if your home is on the smaller side. You’ll also want to have food and water bowls for each cat. Make sure that you have enough toys for both cats, especially if either cat seems territorial.

It is important that when introducing a second cat, you have enough space in your home to provide safe spots for both cats. This involves having at least one room per cat that they can spend time in privately while you are working with them to get along. You need to be able to separate the cats while you’re away if they don’t get along well so that no accidents happen while you’re away. This could mean putting a litter box and food bowl in your bedroom with one cat and closing the door while you’re away, giving the other cat room to roam around the rest of the house.

White And Tabby Cat Lying On Blanket3. Prepare the first meetings. You want to help get your cats as acquainted and familiar with each other before they actually meet. You can do this by offering bits of cloth with the other cat’s scent to your cat. Allow your cats to familiarize themselves with the scent of the other cat with blankets, clothing, or anything else that is well-loved by your cat. You should also trim both of your cat’s nails as best you can to prevent any traumatic scratching that could happen when they meet for the first time.

Keep your cats separated in two rooms divided by a door. Move each cat’s food bowl near their side of the door, and distribute meals like this for 2-3 days. This will let the cats begin to accept getting closer to each other, and positively associate closeness with food. After three days of isolation, swap the cat’s locations. This way, they can take some time to truly get used to the scent of the other cat. This will mix your cat’s scents together so that they won’t be completely shocked when you finally introduce the two. Enjoy playtime with each cat near the door over these few days. The goal is to best prepare your cats to attach positive associations to each other’s scents.

4. The first meeting. If you haven’t noticed any signs of aggression between the cats, you can begin to introduce them face-to face. Signs of aggression would include hissing, puffing up of the fur, and any other signs of fear. Ideally, the first meeting will be between their assigned rooms with a screen door or baby gates separating the two. Allow the cats to sniff one another, and encourage any appropriate behavior with treats and play. Have their food bowls close to the door. After trying this for a few days, you can begin the first face-to-face interactions without a barrier.

In order to prepare your cats for their first hands-on interaction, you will want to:

-Have a squirt bottle on hand to break up any fights that might break out

-Prepare the cats by feeding them and engaging them in active play. This way, they will be in a calm mindset before meeting each other.

-Start with a short period of time together, and then revert to separation if things seem to get tense. Your cats will need some time to adjust to getting along, and they may need to go through the meeting step multiple times before they finally get along. Each meeting, you can gradually increase the interaction time.

You may need to keep your cats isolated and limit their interaction time for weeks as the cats get to know each other better. If you have multiple cats and are introducing a new one, or vice-versa, you should individually introduce the cats with the same procedure. If you have two cats that decide to gang up on the new third, it could result in some serious behavioral issues. Hopefully in time your cats will get along or at least learn to tolerate one another.

Two Domestic Cat SleepingEven if your cats get along famously, sometimes fights can stir up. In order to give your cats safety and security, you should have several private spots around your home that they can curl up in. This could be a cat tree, a cat bed, a cozy box, or a window hang. If it seems that one of your cats is extra shy, you may want to read our guide on how to help a shy cat. Keep up with all cat’s litter boxes so that no territorial battles occur, and place your cat’s feeding areas in safe spots that won’t cause a row. Having their feeding areas out in the open will help them feel at ease when the time comes for a meal.

Remember that making the decision to rehome one of the cats due to behavioral problems is not “giving up,” rather it is making the best decision for you and your pets. Give it some time and patience, and your cats will likely be living in a harmonious household.