So you’re thinking of adopting a second cat. Congratulations! Life is great with one kitty and even better with two. However, cats are creatures of habit. They are territorial and hate change. It is important to follow a careful plan of introduction to ensure your new cat and the current cat don’t end up hating each other.
You should never just drop off the new kid and hope for the best—that’s a recipe for disaster! By taking the first week or so to introduce your new furbaby, you can ensure years of harmony in your home.
Here is a great way to introduce a new cat into your home. These three easy steps may seem like a daunting task, but you will love the results and your kitties will thank you.
Three Steps to Help Introduce New Cats to Your Home
Step 1: Controlled Introductions
Before you arrive home with your new cat, prepare a room with a solid door for him to hang out in for the beginning of his stay. It should have everything a kitty needs: food and water dishes, toys, a comfy place to snooze, and a litter pan. When you arrive home with your new addition, release him or her into this room. Your two cats will be able to smell and hear each other without being able to see or touch one another. Some feline behaviorists suggest rubbing a clean sock on each cat’s face (to pick up their pheromones) and then letting them investigate each other’s “Eau de Chat” on their own.
Spend equal time with each cat, playing with and feeding them near the door that separates them. Make sure to offer plenty of delicious cat treats, and lavish them with praise. They will feel they are the best feline citizens ever just for existing close by this door. The idea is to make being near each other a GOOD thing. Continue this for the first two to three days of having your new friend in the home. If all goes smoothly, proceed to Step 2.
Step 2: Face to Face (Sorta)
For the second step, it is ideal if you can separate your two cats with a screen door. If you do not have a screen door, stacking two baby gates on top of each other can also work. The idea for Step 2 is to keep doing pretty much what you were doing in Step 1, but now your two cats can see each other. Keep making them both feel like they’re amazing just for existing. It is also helpful if you can have another human helper so both cats can get treats and praise at the same time.
During the first two steps, some growling or hissing is normal. Your cats may even posture, arching their backs and puffing up their fur. Keep praising and encouraging your cats. You may also try and distract them from one another with toys. Do not try to pet an angry or overly fearful cat; they may lash out at you in fear or confusion. If Step 2 proves too stressful for either cat, go back to Step 1 for a few more days until they are comfortable again.
Step 3: Together at Last
The final step of introductions is to allow both of your cats into the same room. As before, you may want to have a second human present to help things go smoothly and ensure both cats get rewards at the same time. Distract the kitties with toys and treats, praising incessantly. Supervise this phase very carefully. If either cat shows signs of severe stress, end the interaction immediately.
Be careful! If cats show signs of fighting, never try to pick one of them up with your bare hands. Keep a blanket or towel handy. If a fight looks like it’s going to break out, drop the cover over one of the cats first, then scoop him up and remove him from the situation. Take him to a quiet room to decompress and chill out.
This introduction technique might seem like a long, complicated process, but it is essential to ensure your cats get the best first impressions of each other. If either of the cats is middle to senior aged, this introduction process may take longer (especially if they have been an only child most of their life). If your home already has multiple cats, do the introduction process with each of your current cats separately to have the most control over the situation. The biggest key to introducing cats to one another is patience. With enough patience, love, and treats, anything is possible. Enjoy your multi-cat household!