Bringing a new cat into your home that already has a resident cat can cause issues if not addressed properly. Cats are territorial by nature so you can’t really blame them for getting a little hissy if a new kitty comes to stay. By introducing cats slowly and maintaining both cats’ comfort levels, most of the time you can create a harmonious multi-cat environment. Here are a few tips to help:
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) stresses that you need to accept that your pets may not like each other. Set realistic expectations and you may be pleasantly surprised!
The introduction may take a few days to a few months, warns HSUS, so be patient with the process.
Keep your new cat confined
Give your new cat some time and space to get used to your home by keeping her in a separate room with a door. This also gives your resident cat time to get used to the smells and sounds of a new kitty in the house. Be sure to spend plenty of quality time with each cat, recommends the HSUS.
Feed your cats near the door
In her Catchannel.com article, “Introducing Cats,” behaviorist Marilyn Krieger, CCBC, recommends feeding your cats at the same time on opposite sides of the door to the room where your new cat is confined. This helps the cats get used to each other and associate one another with pleasant experiences, like eating. Start with the bowls several feet from the door, Krieger says, and then gradually inch them closer to the door each day.
Eventually open the door for mealtime
Once your cats seem to not be bothered by the cat on the other side of the door, Krieger suggests moving the food dishes away from the door and opening it up during mealtime. Stand at the door while the cats eat and once they’re done, shut the door again. Increase the amount of time the door is open until you feel comfortable leaving the door open all the time and letting your kitties co-mingle.
Watch for fights
The HSUS recommends watching carefully in the beginning to see if your cats fight repeatedly. If they do, you may need to start the process again, or consult a cat behaviorist for additional ideas for a happy home.
You may be eager to integrate your new cat into your life and your household but when it comes to introducing two cats, slow and steady wins the race!