Introducing cats to one another
Cats have a reputation for being independent pets who don’t require the same level of stimulation or companionship as dogs, and this is largely true. It’s possible that a cat will welcome a new feline friend in to the home with open paws – and there’s lots you can do to help them live in harmony.
Understand your old cat – and your new cat
Before committing to introducing a new cat in to your home, make sure you understand the characteristics and needs of any cats currently in the household. Consider whether either cat has previously lived happily with another feline and if they have competing characteristics, such as one being very boisterous and playful and the other being very quiet and relaxed.
It’s generally easier to introduce a kitten in to a home with an adult cat, rather than trying to move two adults in together. Adults don’t perceive kittens as a threat in the same way they view each other as one.
Gradually introduce the cats to each other
Introduce the resident cat to the scent of its new housemate as soon as you can, and if possible get your new cat accustomed to the smell of your existing cat too. Swapping bedding around is a great way to achieve this. Scent is the main way cats communicate, so having both accustomed to the scent of one another and your home can make a real difference to integrating them.
Make sure the new cat has its own space, feeding area and litter tray to begin with. Ideally it should have its own room. Try and make that initial introduction in a room which you could class as ‘neutral’, where both animals don’t spend most of their time. If possible, use something which can keep them separate such as a mesh gate.
Cats like to suss other things out so don’t rush those early introductions and let them make their way to one another in their own time. Keep those initial introductions short to avoid overwhelming either cat. They may hiss at one another but that’s perfectly normal behaviour those first few times they meet.
Whether over a period of days or weeks, it’ll take perseverance and time to get the cats accustomed to one another. It will be a fantastic, rewarding feeling if your cats become great friends. Even if you manage to get your cats to a position where they live happily and comfortably in the same home, without interacting much, you should be proud.
What if your cats are showing no signs of socialising?
If, despite your best efforts, there’s still no signs your cats will co-exist peacefully, consult further with your vet. They may be able to offer further advice. If you feel like you’ve tried everything, the right thing to do for everyone in the home may be to consider rehoming the new cat. If either cat is showing signs of aggressive or distressed behaviour, this is unfair on them. Ultimately, that could be the best outcome for the health and happiness of all humans and animals in your home.