Helping Cats Get Along
Plan ahead of time!
If you are thinking about introducing a new cat into a home with existing cats, be prepared to have some patience and understanding. Cats don't adjust as easily or as well as dogs do, since they are primarily solitary animals. In most cases, it can be done painlessly, if you take careful precautions to slowly adjust the animals to living in the same space.
In rare cases, some cats just can't seem to co-exist peacefully. You'll minimize this possibility by following this process.
Set yourself up to succeed
Before you pick out a cat at a shelter, consider the current conditions and personality of your existing pets and the possible new one.
1. How many cats do you currently have?
If you have only one cat, does he/she share living space with a dog or another cat? Having a cat that already has to share is a plus.
2. Are you current cats male or female?
In general, it is easier to introduce opposite sex cats.
3. Is your potential new cat a kitten?
Kittens can be annoying to adult cats, but they are also less of a threat. A kitten will adjust quicker than an adult cat.
4. Are all your cats spayed and neutered?
This is an absolute must if you are introducing a new cat. It is also the most prudent thing to do with cats because there are way too many abandoned cats as it is.
What to put in a safe room
Food and water
A towel or shirt that smells like you and your existing cats.
A room that doesn't have a lot of hiding places.
A room that your other cats don't go into often.
Prepare a safe room
If you've done your best to pick out a cat that gives you the highest chance of success, create a safe room for your new cat. This will be where he/she stays for at least the first couple of days. There are several reasons why.
1. Your new cat will be terrified and shaken up. This is not the time to meet a new animal.
2. Your existing cats will need some time to adjust to the new cat's scent.
3. You will not be able to monitor your cat's every move, and you want to avoid a cat fight.
A gradual introduction
For the first 24-48 hours, do not let the cats meet AT ALL. Give them all a little time to adjust to the scents. Once you are successfully playing and petting your new cat (in her safe room), you can begin the adjustment process. You'll want to have tasty cat treats or wet cat food on hand.
1. Have the cats switch places.
Put your new cat out in the main house and give your existing cat a chance to check out the safe room. They are still separated at this point, but are getting the opportunity to check out the other's scent in a more concentrated fashion.
2. Once you are sure that your new cat has a general feel for the rest of the house, put them back into their existing rooms. With the door open a crack, feed each cat on either side of the door. It is normal to expect a bit of hissing and growling.
3. Each day, offer the cats their treat with the door opening a bit more each day.
- Cat communication - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Cat Body Language | Catster
A guide to reading your cat's body language and what different ear and tail positions mean.
Face to face
After about a week of this method, your two cats are probably ready to meet. A couple things to keep in mind about cat face to face introductions:
- Some hissing is normal. Keep their meeting brief and try to distract each cat with a toy or a treat.
- Sometimes you have to give up the idea that they will ever be friends. If you can get them to eat side by side and ignore each other, that is progress!
- Do your best to protect the new cat from harm (especially if she is a kitten). Have a blanket ready to throw over the cats should they get in a tussle.
- Study up on cat body language so you can get an idea about when a cat is stressed or needing a break.
- Do not leave them unsupervised.
- Make sure you give both cats equal amounts of attention and affection.
If things aren't going well
Sometimes, the introduction process doesn't go smoothly. Here are some extra suggestions.
For the time being, keep their litter boxes separate. Even if they are sharing living space, problems can arise if your cats have to battle for the bathroom. You may find one or the other peeing where you don't want them to.
If you have been unsuccessful in your attempts at them meeting face to face, you can introduce the new cat in a cat carrier on a table. Your other cat should be on the floor. They should be able to make eye contact, but won't be so close that they try to claw each other through the wire cage. Each day, let them get a little bit closer.
Another way to do this (so that the newer cat doesn't feel trapped), is through a baby gate. You may need to be right there so one or the other doesn't hop over it. You can also put two baby gates on top of each other so there is a barrier high enough. This way they can see each other without causing harm.
Things you should NOT do when introducing cats:
- Hold one of the cats
- Try to get them to interact
- Use only one cat toy or dish
- Have other people and kids around
- Hit or slap a cat who is hissing
The best way to avoid cats fighting
Patience. Give each cat time to adjust. Make sure you've carefully assessed the personalities of your existing animals before introducing new ones. Follow the process so that you avoid injury or traumatic cat fights that make the adjustment process even harder.
Try not to flip out if there is hissing. There will be some necessary communication between cats to establish the pecking order. You simply want to avoid injury. If you can follow these steps, you'll have cats that can co-exist peacefully.
Bringing a kitten home?
- Bringing Home a New Kitten
Step by step instructions to help your new kitten get acclimated to her new home!