“What is this??! Why is it here??!!” – Svenn (right) about Alexa (left)
Guest Post by Jackie
As I am sure you already know, cats can be extremely territorial animals. When the subject of introducing one cat to another comes up, people often just say to put them in the same room together until they work it out. While this works sometimes, it’s pretty risky and can just as easily start a fight. Introducing a new cat to your old cat’s space triggers their territorial nature and can cause cat fights. So, instead of letting chance take care of it, here are some tips to make the integration go as smoothly as possible.
Keep them separated at first
You cannot just throw two cats together and expect them to become best friends. They need to be introduced slowly over a period of time. At first, it helps to keep the new cat separate in its own room so it can get used to its surroundings. This room should have everything the cat needs; litter box, food, and water. Try to make it so the two cats can smell and hear each other. You could feed them both by the door, for example. The cats will learn to associate the smell and sound of the other cat with a happy experience. After about 2 to 3 days, switch the rooms and let each cat get used to the other space.
It also helps to introduce each cat’s smell to the other. You can do this by rubbing a towel on one cat to pick up its pheromones and hanging the towel in the other room for the other cat to investigate at their own pace.
It’s also wise to give them their own litter boxes to avoid any unnecessary drama around the litter box. You should still invest in a multi cat litter to combat the extra smell that comes with an additional cat.
Let the cats see each other
By this point, your cats should be aware of the existence of the other cat beyond the door. If they aren’t hissing and growling through the bottom of the door, you can go ahead and visually introduce them. A screen door or a baby gate makes a nice see-through barrier that lets your cats see each other but still remain physically separate. Continue feeding and playing with both of them in view of the other so both cats continue to associate positive experiences with the image of the other cat.
Let them meet face to face
The next step is to introduce them face to face with supervision. Open up the barrier between the two space and let the cats investigate each other. By this point, they should be used to the sight, smell, and sound of another cat in the house. Don’t worry if they initially ignore each other or hiss a bit at each other; it takes some time for them to realize they are a friend and not a foe. Keep an eye on them so you can break up any potential scuffles. If you notice them being very aggressive or skittish, then it may be that the match just won’t work out. It also helps to give them something to do. Putting two cats in an empty room alone is a quick way to start a cat fight.
Let them out together home alone
At first, it is a good idea to keep the cats separated whenever you are not home. If the in-person meetings seem to be going smoothly then you can take the next step and leave them out together unsupervised. Make sure you give them ample time around each other and that you know how they interact.
Introducing a new cat to your home can have a big effect on your old cat. If not done properly, they can get off on the wrong foot and never be comfortable around each other. That is why the key thing is to take your time while introducing the cats. Don’t rush it and do not try to force their interaction. Doing so can damage any chance of them getting along in the future.