Thinking of introducing a new cat into your home?
Perhaps you have been sharing your home with a cat for some time and, for whatever reason, you wish to take on another feline.
It may be a kitten that you are thinking of adopting. Perhaps a friend's cat has had a litter and you could not resist laying claim to one.
How exciting, but how is your cat going to take to the new arrival?
Is there a right and a wrong way to introduce the two and are they going to be sociable to one another?
Much of the same advice applies when adopting an adult cat. You should be very clear as to why you want an additional cat.
Is it because you believe it will be a good thing for your existing cat? It may be, there are many multi-cat homes where all the cats enjoy each others company and get along, at least reasonable well, most of the time.
On the other hand, sadly it doesn't always work out. The chances of it working out are greatly increased if you give a little thought to cat social behavior before adopting another cat.
Think of the other cat. Are you adopting your adult cat from a shelter? How long has he or she been at the shelter? Why was the cat at the shelter?
Perhaps the cat was cared for and loved by a human who, for some reason, could no longer care for her, or perhaps the human passed away.
She was taken from her home to a strange place. Yes, she had food, shelter and care, but where were the humans and perhaps other pets that she loved?
Then you come and take her to another strange place and introduce her to your cat.
More change, more upheaval, more stress. Do you think that your new cat is going to adapt to her new home easily? What kind of reaction will she have to your existing feline?
Think of your own cat. Maybe she is your only cat, perhaps the only pet in your home. She has the run of most of your house and likely regards it as her territory, her domain.
Then out of the blue you bring another cat in to the home – What! A strange cat with strange scent in her home, this can't be right.
Furthermore, you are petting and making a fuss of this invader, if there is any petting it should be her that gets it as she always has.
It is unlikely that these two cats are going to harmoniously socialize with each other right away. When introducing a cat, things have got to be taken slowly, one step at a time.
Before bringing your new cat home you will need to prepare a small room to serve as the cat's temporary sanctuary.
If you do not have a spare room that you can use, then the bathroom can be utilized, but is not ideal because a bathroom will have human traffic throughout the day.
The sanctuary should contain the new cat's own litter box, bedding, food and water and a few toys. If possible, it will help if a screen door can be fixed to the sanctuary room.
Your new cat will be confined to her sanctuary until the two cats are comfortable with each other and can be introduced without any upsets.
Try if you can to keep your existing cat away from the door of the sanctuary for the first couple of days (may not be easy.)
Both cats will most likely pick up the scent of the other cat, this may cause a few changes in your existing cat's behavior.
After a couple of days, take an old towel and gently rub the new cat with it so that it is covered with her scent.
Allow your existing cat to have a good sniff of the towel, observe how she reacts.
Does she react with curiosity but does not run from the towel or try to attack it? Good. Reward her with a healthy treat and some petting.
Do the same with the new cat. Again, if she reacts alright to sniffing a towel with your existing cat's scent, reward her. Do this for a couple of days, if everything is favorable move to the next step.
Allow the two to sniff each other under the closed door of the sanctuary. Use the reward system if reaction is good, do not reward any negative behavior.
The next step is to let the two felines see each other. You can do this by opening the door of the sanctuary just a crack, or if you have that screen door they can see each other through that.
Same deal as before, do this for a couple of days if there is no aggression give a reward.
Finally your cats get to meet. From what you have observed you will know whether the cats are ready or not.
If during any part of the introduction one, or both, of the cats shows disapproval of the other, try going back a step and starting again from there.
A good time for introducing cats is after they have eaten when they are both likely to be relaxed. Allow them just a short while together at first and if all goes well you can gradually increase the length of the meeting.
You should be with them at all times of course, they are not ready to be left unsupervised yet.
Your cats have got to the stage where they can see each other without hissing, spiting, growling or wanting to fight each other. That's good.
Congratulations, because of the time that you took and your patience, the cats should be sociable when they meet. They may instantly be pals, but it is more likely they will just be peaceably tolerant at first.
As a precaution, just in case they totally blow all that acclimatising learn the safe ways to separate Fighting Cats.
Here are some slight alternatives to the steps to introducing a new cat that some cat experts suggest.
Remember, that no matter what the details in your introduction plan, patience is required, there are no shortcuts if you want your kitties to live amicably together.
Correctly introducing a new cat can mean your existing cat has welcome company.
Instead of just rubbing each cat with a towel with the other cat's scent, try also switching bedding over on alternate days/nights.
Try feeding the cats on opposite sides of the sanctuary room door.
Don't put the bowls close to the door at first but gradually move them nearer.
It is suggested that, as part of the steps to introducing a new cat, your existing cat can spend some time in the sanctuary room while your new cat investigates your home.
Both cats will need supervising and making the swap requires at least two people. It is best that the cats do not see each other if this step is tried early in the process.
This method is good for your new cat to get accustomed to your home, without any tension that may be caused by being introduced to your existing cat.
When you are confident that they can eat next to each other without either one hissing, spiting, growling, prolonged staring or trying to attack, you can try the introduction again without the cage.
A calm household will probably help the new cat become acclimatised and help prevent your resident cat becoming stressed. As you go through the steps try and act as if introducing a new cat is no big deal.
Naturally you will want to make a fuss of the newcomer, give plenty of attention to your existing cat too so that she doesn't feel like she is being cast aside.
You may find that a Feliway Diffuser helps to keep both cats a little calmer and relaxed.
Have both cats had a health check prior to being introduced? Introducing a new cat suffering from any Cat Illness or condition, to your resident cat (or vice versa,) and you will likely end up with two sick cats.
Needless to say, both Cats Should be Fixed. Getting two un-neutered cats to coexist would be a difficult job. Even if one of the felines, male or female, is unaltered it can cause problems.
Unfortunately there is no guarantee that any two, or more, cats will get along with each other.
Take any two humans and force them to share the same living space, how likely is it that they will be happy and harmonious? Some would say it's not likely at all.
The chances of two cats, forced to share the same living space, living harmoniously is far greater. But it is not going to happen every time.
Introducing a new cat gradually, one careful step at a time, has the greatest chance of success.
A Large Litter Box For A Large Cat.
If your bigger than average cat keeps missing the litter tray, or point blank refuses to use it at all, a large litter box could be a welcome solution.