Recently we got a new cat from the local shelter. He is a one year old rag doll cross and we are head over heals in love with our new ball of floof. My old cat however has only lived with dogs her whole life and her encounters with other cats were always on the street and not necessarily positive. These days my cat lives inside 100% of the time. The new cat will also be an indoor cat so it was very important for the two to get along. This article is about how to introduce cats and aims to provide some good advice, insights and lessons that I have learned from this experience.
Bringing the new cat home
These first few days are going to be the most important for the introduction process. You don’t want your resident cat to see the new cat straight away otherwise it may feel that its territory is threatened. Its important to keep the two cats separated for a few days with the new cat living in say the master bedroom and the other cat the rest of the residence. You also want to stop any free feeding and start having a feeding schedule as food is the main tool used to introduce two new cats together. Once the new cat as scented a few items, take those items out and feed the old cat alongside the scented item. You are trying to get your old cat to associate the smell of the new cat with something they like (most often, food). You want to also do something similar to the new cat (although I’m sure the room they are living in will smell entirely of your old cat anyway). After the old cat eats quite happily near the scent of the new cat (which can take up to a few days, so be patient), start to move to the next phase.
Smelling and Hearing the other cat
Start to feed the cats opposite sides of the bedroom door. You want your old cat to be able to smell and hear the new cat, but without having full visual of them. If your old cat is very hissy and upset, move the food bowl away from the door until they feel comfortable to eat. Over the next few days slowly inch the food bowls closer to the door so the cats can get used to the sound of each other eating. If they start to act up and hiss again, move the food bowl away and start the process again. For us this particular stage of the process took the longest. A full 7 days. During that time we also let the new cat have small explores of the unit and the balcony with supervision. Once the cats can eat happily next to the door you can start the visualization phase
Making visual contact with the new cat
Start to leave the door cracked open during feeding. You want to let the old cat start to see more of the new cat. Again, you many need to move the food bowls away from the door and slowly inch them towards the door until there is no hissing and the cats are eating next to the cracked open door. Start to slowly open the door more and more until the cats have full visual of each other while eating. It could be useful to have like a large cage or some screen door so that if they do look at each other the wrong way they can’t fight. Hopefully, if they are used to the sound and smell of the new cat, it shouldn’t take too long for the old cat to be okay with the full visual of the new cat.
Finally living together
Once the cats are happily eating together you can start to let them interact with supervision. It’s a good idea to have playtime in the same room but separately (a second person is a must for this). You want them to be able to play and feel comfortable with the other cat in the room. If there are any fights, don’t yell, that will only make the cats more scared. Instead through a pillow or blanket next to them to startle them and make them forget the other cat is there. Also try to separate them here until they have calmed down and then can be reintroduced later in the day. After a few weeks they should be able to live together without much supervision.
Final Thoughts on Introducing Cats
Cats are on the most part fairly solitary creatures, but that doesn’t mean that they wont appreciate a new feline friend. Just remember to be very patient with your cats and where they are at in this introduction process. Some cats may be able to be fully introduced in a matter of days, some may take weeks (like ours did), just don’t give up on you cats and eventually you will all be one big happy family. If they start to fight again you may need to do parts of the introduction process again, but this shouldn’t take anywhere near as long as the initial introduction process. With that I wish you good luck. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to send me an email through my contact page.