Thinking about introducing a new cat to your home? Cat people will tell you that one is not enough, but how do you make sure all of your cats will get along? Cats are very territorial, and the situation can get out of hand very quickly.
The short answer is, there’s no sure-fire way to make cats like each other. And unfortunately for the new cat, it may take some trial and error to make it feel welcome. But there are some ways that you can help the process along and create an environment that is conducive to a successful addition.
Hopefully for you, and the cats, the transition goes smoothly. But it might take some time, as well as effort, to fully integrate a new cat – sometimes weeks or months. Here are some ways to help the process along.
give your new cat its own space.
Like we mentioned before, cats are very territorial. They are also solitary. This means that they are most comfortable being alone in a space that they can control. This is exactly what you need to foster for your new cat. Get them their own space with a dedicated litter box, food and water bowl, bed, and toys. Don’t be surprised if your new cat prefers to stay in this space for a week or more.
During this introductory period is also a good time to have it taken to the vet for an exam. Just in case the new cat has something that is contagious or infectious, you wouldn’t want to pass that on to any other animals in the house.
Feed them close enough together that they know there is another cat, but keep them physically separated.
The easiest way to do this is to feed your cats on opposite sides of the same door. They’ll be able to smell each other from under the door and maybe even communicate a little bit with each other. The idea is to associate eating, which they like, with the presence of another cat, which they may or may not like. This association is important to breakdown their territorial walls and even welcome the presence of another cat while they’re eating.
Open the house up for your new cat.
Once your new cat is comfortable with their dedicated space and the other cats in your home, let it explore. Give it carte blanche to sniff, rub, inspect, and go where it likes. Put your other cats in a bathroom or in your bedroom while the new cat is becoming acquainted with the rest of the house. Do this for increasing amounts of time until the new cat seems completely comfortable with the rest of the house.
Let the cats meet under your supervision.
This first encounter could go one of a number of ways. The cats might totally get along and become immediately acquainted with each other. Or it could go in the complete opposite direction. Some cats are highly aggressive, and you will know as soon as one of the cats is feeling uncomfortable; their hair will stand up making them appear puffy, their ears will fold back, and they may hiss or swat. If there is any sign of aggression from either cat, separate them immediately for their safety and yours.
Continue the supervised meetings until they are comfortable with each other.
There is no telling how long this will take ultimately. Some cats are more accepting than others. The important thing is to take it slow and do not try and force your cats to be friends. This will only antagonize them and slow down the process.
If you have questions about any furry additions to your family, or you’ve already made one and want to schedule their first appointment, get in touch with Catonsville Cat Clinic.