Introducing Your Cat To A New Cat
Free-ranging and feral cats lead complex and busy lives. They maintain far larger territories than most people realize, and these territories often contain a variety of environments, such as forests, farmlands, urban gardens and yards. Within these territories, cats explore, hunt and scavenge for food alone. They only occasionally interact with other cats. They dont live in groups or even pairs, and they dont seek out contact with other cats. In fact, they actively avoid it. Considering this natural behavior of cats, it isnt surprising that it can be very difficult to introduce a new cat into an established cats territory, even when that territory is your home.
If youre bringing a new cat into your home, be patient. The introduction must be gradual. Following the initial introduction, it can take a very long time for a relationship to grow. It takes most cats eight to 12 months to develop a friendship with a new cat. Although some cats certainly become close friends, others never do. Many cats who dont become buddies learn to avoid each other, but some cats fight when introduced and continue to do so until one of the cats must be re-homed.
Introducing Cats To Cats
Some people say cats are like chips you cant have just one! As one of the 85 million1 cat owners out there, you may be considering adding a new feline friend to your home. Whether your current cat is lonely, her companion cat recently passed away or you simply love cats, it is important to take a few precautions to ensure that your cat-to-cat introductions go as smoothly as possible.
Finding a Cat
Where to look:
American Humane strongly recommends adopting a cat from a local animal shelter. Millions of wonderful cats enter animal shelters each year, but tragically, 71 percent are euthanized because there are simply not enough homes for them.2 A wide variety of cat breeds, sizes, colors and personalities can be found at any animal shelter, which gives you a lot of options to choose from. Most shelters also have information about each cats personality and background, which increases your chances of success.
- We recommend not purchasing from pet stores, as the cats there are no better than the homeless animals youll find at your local shelter, and they may have come from purebred parents who are kept in inappropriate conditions or not have been given the same amount of veterinary care as shelter cats.
- If you are committed to finding a specific breed of cat, be sure to find a reputable breeder to deal with.
Adult or kitten:
Consider your current cat:
The Introduction Process
Step one: Start by trading scents
Step two: Prepare a separate room
Step six: Allow them to meet
Give Your New Cat Some Alone Time To Explore
Your new cat needs to be able to safely investigate the rest of the home. This will help them feel more secure in their new surroundings.
Twice a day, with your resident in their room, open the door to the new cats room for an hour. This will allow the new cat to explore on their own terms and learn about their new environment.
In doing so, your new cat can deposit their scent and also encounter the resident cats scent.
This is nice extension to the scent swapping that was started with the sock.
Make sure each cat is relaxed and calm before moving on to the next step.
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How To Introduce A New Cat To Another Cat Or Dog
Like us, cats have their own unique personalities, and theyre often particular about their likes and dislikes. So when it comes to meeting your family, its important to let them do it at their own pace, and give them their own space to get comfortable. Here are some tips for introducing cats to making these introductions as smooth as possible.
Why Don’t My Cats Like Each Other
Do you have two cats that arent getting along? There could be a multitude of reasons why your cats are fighting, and you need to find out why its happening before you can solve the problem.
I will explain the various reasons why some cats don’t get along with each other and offer solutions to help you bring peace to your household.
All cat fights are not the same. Sometimes what looks like a cat fight may actually be normal playing. This is more common with younger cats, but it can happen at any age. Cats will chase each other around the house, tackle each other, and fight like little wrestlers on the floor. It can sometimes get pretty intense, but, as long as they’re not crying out in pain, theres no need to break them up. Theyre probably just having fun or trying to establish their rank in the household.
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Let The Cats Spend Time Together
Permit the cats to spend time together without a barrier between them. Supervise these initial interactions carefully.
Bring the cats together when they are likely to be relatively calm, such as after a meal or strenuous play. Keep a spray bottle nearby in case the cats begin to fight. As the cats become more familiar with each other, allow them longer and longer periods of time together.
Letting The Cats See Each Other
The initial process should take at least two weeks and, assuming that you see no signs of aggression at the door , you can introduce the cats to each other. One method is to replace the door with a temporary screen door so that the cats can see each other. If you cant use a screen door, you can try using two baby gates positioned in the door jam, one above the other. Its good to do this when there is more than one person in the home, if possible. Open the door to the acclimation room with the gate or screen in place and let the cats meet naturally, dont force an introduction. Generally, the anticipation is so high that once the door is open, your resident cat will be very interested in checking things out.
If they can meet on either side of the door and remain relaxed, reward both cats for this with wet food or great treats. Let them sniff one another at the barrier, speak to them in positive tones and reward them throughout the interaction. You can move on to feeding them meals on either side of the barrier, making sure that these initial safe introductions are supervised and ended if things become tense.
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Start A Scent Exchange
Your cats will be able to smell each other through the door, and theyll pick up scents on you, too. Allow the cats to sniff your hands and clothing when you interact with them, so they get used to each others smells.
You can also rub a towel or blanket all over one cat, then place it on the floor for the other to explore. Sprinkle favorite treats or catnip all over each towel and allow them to approach and sniff. These will help your cats form a positive association with each others scent. Repeat this towel game daily.
Your Veterinarian May Have Advice Or Other Tools
Your current veterinarian will be able to provide advice before, during, and after you introduce your new cat into the home. They might suggest other tools for smoothing out the introductions, such as pheromones sprays that relax some cats. Veterinarians especially those who also board animals in their clinic are uniquely informed about how to introduce cats, so use their expertise to your advantage during this process.
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Before You Take Your New Cat Home
- Set aside one room for your new cat away from the resident cats favourite place.
- Have at least one comfortable sleeping area, one hiding area such as her carrier box, crate or a tent bed, a litter box, a water bowl and a food bowl.
- Plug-in a Feliway® diffuser. You can get one at your veterinarian office. It reproduces cat facial pheromones that are pacifying to cats. It will help lower their stress. Its a good idea to have a diffuser in the new cat room and somewhere in the house where the resident cat spends time.
Hope For Friendship But Some Cats Are Only Children
No matter how you introduce your existing cat or kitty when you bring your new cat home, any outcome is possible. Friendship between two cats is never guaranteed. In fact, a relaxed ambivalence isnt even always an option.
Some cats are just meant to be only children and will struggle to accept a new kitty sibling. But if you follow these tips and guidelines for how to introduce cats and take your time, success is far more likely.
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Two: Mealtime = Cat Training Time
The key to a successful new cat introduction is to give the cats a reason to like each other. You cant just separate them for an extended period of time and then open the door expecting them to magically form a bond. Theyll need to see good things happen when theyre in the presence of each other, and later, within sight of each other. The best way to do this is with food and treats. Food is a powerful motivator!
Feed the cats by placing food bowls on either side of the closed sanctuary door. How far from the door itself will be determined based on the reactivity level of each cat. If your resident cat wont come within six feet of the door then place his food bowl well within his comfort zone. In subsequent sessions youll gradually move the bowls closer and closer to the door itself.
If one cat eats faster than the other you can give that cat a bowl with some obstacles in it . You can also push the food against the bottom and sides of the bowl so the cat has to spend more time licking at it.
Dont offer too much food during each training session. Its better to do frequent sessions that are short and that end on a positive note.
Why Introductions Are Imperative
Cats are territorial animals. Even neutered cats – both male and female – are likely to experience a great amount of stress when confronted with a strange feline in their territory. A strange cat is a potential threat, and their instinct is to either run away or try and scare away the intruder. It’s a classic “fight or flight” scenario.
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If you adopt a new cat and simply bring her home and place her in front of your resident cat, you’re basically creating a home invasion. Imagine how you would feel if you waltzed into the living room to find an entirely strange person just standing there?
Here’s what happens in the wild when a feline invades another’s territory. Once they make visual contact, the two cats will stare at each other and make threatening noises. They will adopt a threatening body posture to try and seem larger and scarier. Eventually, one of them may decide the other one is indeed too big and strong to try and take on. If that happens, that cat will try to back away and flee the area. Sometimes neither cat will run away, in which case a vicious fight will ensue, often for life or death.
While eventually some cats learn to tolerate each other’s presence, the process is very stressful to all concerned. It can also be dangerous. Scared cats will fight tooth-and-claw to protect themselves and their territory. They can seriously hurt each other .
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But Why Are The Cats Fighting
We often see questions by new members in the cat behavior forum about cats who have recently been introduced. A common question is: Are the cats fighting?It can sometimes be hard to tell if the cats are playing aggressively – as kittens often do – or whether are they actually fighting. To complicate things even further, it’s possible for one cat to initiate play-fighting only to have the other respond with genuine aggression.
If you suspect the cats may actually be fighting, look for telltale signs of fear-induced aggression:
- Flattened ears
- Dilated pupils
- Loud howling
When rough playing is one-sided and the other cat feels under attack, he or she is also likely to actively avoid contact with the perceived attacker. Observe the interaction between the cats and see if you can find a pattern.
Still not sure? Try to capture the interaction on video and post your video here in the cat behavior forum. Our experienced members may be able to help you figure out if this is play behavior or actual fighting.
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How To Introduce Cats: Successful Methods & What Not To Do
Hissing. Sniffing. Swatting. Hiding. This is all just part of introducing cats. Its a stressful process for everyone involved, but with the right preparedness and procedure, your cats will be hanging out on the couch together in no time. Who knows? They may even like each other!
A lot of people wonder how to introduce cats theyre particular creatures after all. So, lets take a closer look at why cats act the way they do when a new kitty is introduced and what you can do to make your current cat and new cat get used to each other in the safest and most effective way possible.
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How To Introduce New Cats To Your Home
Bringing a new cat into your home is a big deal for your resident cat. Why? Because your cats are likely to initially view the new cat as a threat as opposed to a friend. Thats not an ideal way to start a relationship, but thats the reality with cats. However, there is good news! By following these guidelines, your new cat is likely to be accepted by your current cat and there will at least be peaceful coexistence and, ideally, bonding.
Introducing A New Cat To Your Other Cats
First impressions between pets are just as important as they are between people. By providing a slow and steady introduction, the result can be rewarding for both your feline companions. Here are a few tips and precautionary steps to help make cat-cat introductions pleasant for everyone involved.
Keep the cats separate at first. House the new cat in a separate room for at least seven days with food, water, comfortable bedding, a litter box, and all of the necessities to keep him happy and healthy. This allows the cats to get used to each others scent without needing to confront the other. We recommend using Comfort Zone® with Feliway® diffusers or spray during this separation, as well as the initial stages of the introduction. The Feliway® pheromone helps to reduce anxiety during times of change.
Encourage positive associations between the cats while they are separated. Do this by feeding treats or canned food to them near the door that separates them. You can also swap bedding every couple of days so they can further explore each others scent. Some hissing is normal during this stage. Dont punish the cats for hissing or growling as that can form a negative association about the other cat, as well as you.
Allow the cats to see each other once there has been no hissing for a couple of days.
If you would like information from an Anti-Cruelty Society Behavior Specialist regarding this behavior topic, please call 312-645-8253 or email .
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Briefly Leave The Cats Alone Together
After a few days of supervised physical contact, you can allow the cats to be alone briefly together. If all has gone well to this stage, and youve been patient and allowed plenty of time at each type of introduction, this phase will probably go smoothly.
Its unlikely a cat will wait to attack another until youre out of the room, but it is certainly possible. Keep the unsupervised visits short at first and graduate to longer periods. Before long, your cats will be able to roam freely as part of a communal pair or pack!
Factors That Will Impact Your Cat Introduction
Every cat meeting is different. Cats have highly individual personalities, and a cats demeanor and attitude will play a huge role in dictating how the introductions proceed. Deciding how to introduce cats to your resident feline will be influenced by a number of factors, including:
- The age of the cats being introduced
- Each cats gender
- The number of cats being introduced
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Allow A Supervised Physical Meeting Between The Cats
Eventually, after a few uneventful visual meetings, it will be time to remove the physical barrier. Make sure both cats are happy and occupied when you do this. Do not force the cats to interact or call attention the moment that the barrier is lifted and they have physical access to one another. The graduation to physical contact should be done with as little fanfare as possible.
If this goes well, you can feel free to allow it as often as possible but this physical contact needs to be supervised for a while. Dont immediately leave the room. When introducing two cats, you need to take your time with each step, even if everything appears friendly and positive.
Do Two Male Or Two Female Cats Get Along Better
It is common to think that two female cats are more likely to cause drama, but, in reality, it is hard to predict whether cats will get along based on gender alone. Stereotypical behaviors associated with gender, however, still exist, and it’s important to keep them in mind when choosing the sex of your kittens.
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