Cats are like a bag of chips–you can’t have just one, and you’ve found the perfect kitten to bring home to your older cat. But your cat might not appreciate this young new upstart invading its home and territory. How will you introduce your new cat to your old cat without creating tension or aggression?
To introduce a new cat to your old cat, you need to ensure that the new cat has lived with cats before, and the personality matches your older cat’s personality. You need to provide a safe space for your cats to hide if necessary, and they both need their resources to avoid territorial disputes.
When given the right opportunities to socialize, cats can get along nicely. Find out how to introduce them properly by reading further.
Adopt a Cat That’s Lived With Other Cats
Cats that have lived with other cats for longer than a few months as kittens are more likely to get along with other cats in their forever homes. If you adopt a cat that is used to being alone, you might see territorial disputes between your new cat and your old cat. Cats that have lived with other cats can get along better and know how to handle conflicts better.
When cats are more playful, they might live with other cats better than cats who tend to hide at the first sign of conflict. Cats that have lived with other cats will be more used to conflicts and know how to deal with anything that comes up better than cats used to be the center of attention.
If your cat is used to being alone, you might have some aggression problems when you introduce a new cat to your old cat. In that case, you need to go slowly and allow them to get to know each other at their own pace.
Consider Your Older Cat’s Personality
While the new cat’s personality should be considered before you adopt it, your older cat’s personality should be considered before adopting a new cat. If your cat runs at the slightest hint of conflict, you might not want to adopt a new cat. You might get more than conflict and perhaps outright aggression if your cats don’t get along very well.
If you have an elderly cat who is laid back and with low energy, adopting a high energy kitten that runs around and creates more problems might not be a good idea to bring home. On the other hand, if your older cat is mischievous and loves playing pranks, adopting a shy cat might create more problems.
If your older cat does not like visitors or “strangers,” you may want to reconsider adopting a new cat.
Provide a Safe Space For Both Cats to Hide In
When introducing a new cat to your old cat, each cat needs a safe space they can hide in if a conflict arises. Some cats will hide under a dresser if they are scared, while other cats find their safe space in the bathtub behind the shower curtain. Several sources suggest that you put the cats into separate rooms at first when bringing a new cat home, or at least separating them with a baby gate.
If you have the space to do this, it can help ease the transition for both cats as they will start getting used to each other’s scent, as that is how they get to know each other. Cats can tell several things from the scent of another cat, including its health status. Once they’ve gotten the scent of each other, let them meet in person, but keep their rooms open in case they need to retreat.
If you don’t have the space to do this, let the cats go at their own pace while not forcing any interactions. Your old cat might either be curious or downright petrified or anything in between when you bring a new cat home. If your old cat doesn’t respond to the new cat in the way you hoped, it’s okay. Eventually, your cats should start getting along, or not, but at the very least, they will at least tolerate each other.
A safe space under furniture or closet will help your cats feel safer, so you’ll want to provide easy access to these areas.
Ensure Each Cat Has Its Own Resources
Being the territorial creatures they are, cats tend to fight more often if there are limited resources like food, water, litter boxes, or sleeping spaces. You will need one litter box per cat, plus one extra if one box is near the washing machine and the machine is in use.
Provide extra food and water bowls, at least in the beginning, to keep the aggression to a minimum.
Cats can sleep on the floor, yes, but they find more warmth and comfort on your furniture, and they will leave their fur behind. To protect your furniture, place an old blanket, sheet, or towel where they will sleep and wash it once in a while. Cats will fight over a favorite spot on the couch, so perhaps you might want to place coverings over all your furniture, so your cats have extra places to sleep.
Or, buy a couple of folding camping footstools. Cats love these, and it keeps them off your other furniture.
Watch For Overly Aggressive Behavior From Either Cat
Despite your best intentions, either cat could become extremely aggressive towards the other. Signs of aggression might include screeching, yowling, biting, hissing, and scratching at each other. They might also puff their fur up while in conflicts to appear more threatening.
While cats will play rough at times, the best way to tell if your cats are playing versus fighting is whether or not they are taking turns chasing each other, and if they are mostly silent while fighting, they are playing. If there are shrieks or howls, they are fighting.
So what can you do when your cats are overly aggressive towards each other?
First, don’t physically interfere when they are actively fighting. Clap your hands or throw a dish towel in the mix to distract them long enough to make them forget about fighting.
Second, if your cats are still aggressive, try putting them in separate rooms for a while to help them calm down.
Last, your old cat might be jealous of the attention the new cat is getting. After your cats have calmed down, try giving your old cat some attention and cuddles to help it know that you still love it. As with children who have to deal with a new baby in the house, cats might feel like you no longer love them.
If you provide your old cat with the same amount of attention as you always have, there might be fewer aggression instances.
Patience is required when you introduce a new cat to your old cat because they will not get along just because you want them to. If you make the new cat feel welcome while maintaining a welcoming stance with your old cat, there will be not as many issues for them to fight about.
In the initial stages, when cats are allowed to meet at their own pace, they have more of a chance to get along. You might want to watch your anxiety as well because your cats will pick up on that. Approach each of them calmly and allow them to investigate each other, and your home will hopefully be harmonious.