Choosing to introduce a new cat into your household is always exciting, there's suddenly going to be twice the fluff, twice the toys, and twice the love.
However, introducing a new cat to your resident cat can be a tricky thing, especially if your cat is older and has never had a housemate before, so here are some tips to get you on the right track when introducing your kitties, and how to have a happy, dual-cat friendly home.
Firstly you need to keep in mind your original cat when going out to choose the new one.
Try making sure the new cat and your cat have the same interests or traits, for example, if your cat loves to play get a playful cat to join in the fun!
But if your cat is a snuggly, sleepy cat getting a playful one can make the introduction more difficult, and stress of your cat because of the clashing personalities.
The key is to start slowly, very slowly. Set up a part of your house for your existing cat that has food, water, litter, places to hide, and toys, this will become your cats 'territory'.
Now do the same for the new cat, making sure it is a closed off room that your new cat cannot get into. It is important to keep your new cat in this room for a few days so that it can acclimate to the new surroundings, relax, and figure out the sights and smells of their new home.
It also gives you one on one time with them without having to worry about your other cat being jealous or aggressive with the new one.
This is a good time to share the smells of the cats with each other, try feeding them on opposite sides of the door to each other so that they can begin to associate a happy time with the scent of another cat.
You could also substitute full feedings with handing out treats or playing by the door so that both cats have to opportunity to get a taste of the smell and sound of each other. Remember, at this point, your two cats haven't seen each other at all.
Another method is to rub a clean sock across the cat's face, getting the scent of their facial pheromones and then giving that sock to the other cat and allowing them to investigate at their own pace.
After a few days try reversing the cat's territories, still keeping them apart this gives the new cat the run of a new area, and gives the old cat access to this new cats scent, while allowing them both safe and stress-free time to adjust to something new going on around them.
Cats are creatures that can be very easily stressed so it is important to take things like big changes slowly, and make it a positive experience with lots of love, playing, and time to adjust at their own pace.
If all is going well after a week and the cats are not growling, hissing, or showing any signs of stress it's time to let the cats see each other. This is best done through a screen door, a tall baby gate (that neither cat can jump) or a door cracked about 2 inches wide.
You don't want to just let them loose with each other all at once because they'll need to learn to associate the smell they've been smelling to the cat that it's coming from, and that can take some time.
Even if they've been up until this point often times seeing another cat within their home can be unsettling for a cat, and they can lash out, and that's the last thing you want.
It's best for each of your cats to have a person on either side of the door, or one person per cat just to keep everyone comfortable and calm with having to try and dash through doors.
If your cats are comfortable try feeding them on opposite sides of the door/gate and see how well they react to being near each other during such a vulnerable time for them.
Don't be surprised if they don't seem keen on the idea at first, and never force your cat to be uncomfortable, try moving their bowls further apart until both cats feel comfortable eating and after this, you can slowly sneak them closer and closer towards the door.
Teaching your cat to love a new addition takes time, just like it does us, humans, starting in a new relationship so if either cat seems aggressive or anxious during the introducing period simply close the roof off and separate the cats, and try again another day.
It might take days, weeks, or even a month to get your cats to start warming up to each other but if you're having significant problems with aggression or if you're just feeling a bit lost don't hesitate to call your vet and ask for advice on what to do, they're happy to help.
Now it's time for the real thing.
Start by introducing your cats at the opposite ends of a large room, if you have a helper you should both play with the cats to distract them from one another, and show them that being in the room is a positive experience.
If you're alone, try putting the older, more dominant cat in a cat carrier with some treats or food, and play with the other cat a short distance away. The older cat will be able to watch you playing and investigate on their own terms while also being rewarded positively for being in the room.
This one play session does not mean your cats are ready to live together full time. Keep attempting these sessions for a few days, bringing the cats closer together until they can play together or be in the same space in a positive way.
Don't be worried if there's a bit of hissing at the first meeting, or if one cat just walks away, this is natural for a cat. Give them plenty of boxes or spaces to hide in and let the two cats investigate each other under close supervision.
You will be able to tell how the meeting of the cats is going and as long as one cat does not seem to be actively bullying or harassing the other, the two will sort themselves out.
This might indeed be the hardest part of introducing your two cats, especially if the cat of the house has never spent time with another cat before.
They can be very territorial creatures and the introduction of another cat will feel like an intrusion, however, the slow and steady technique will show them that this cat is not going away but is also doing your cat no harm and soon they will surely become friends.
So there you have it! Tips and tricks for bringing a new furry friend into your home.
Don't forget that now you have two little faces begging for your dinner, two sets of claws tearing up your curtains, and two purring engines warming you at night.
All this trouble of introducing the new best friends will definitely be worth it, so keep at it no matter what! Just keep lots of toys handy because as any cat owner knows, a bored cat causes trouble, so imagine what two can do!
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