Introducing a New Cat to a Resident Cat
It is an ill-fated misconception to assume you can put two cats together in a room and they will magically love each other instantly. This rarely happens. Below, we have some simple steps you can take to increase the chances of your cats becoming best buddies.
Please take the steps slowly! Before moving on to the next step, check the cats’ body language. (Cats should be relaxed, with ears upright, tail calm, and fur lying flat. There should be minimal growling, hissing, or posturing with a raised back. All of these actions are normal, but should be a caution to us – proceed carefully!)
1. Set up your new cat’s home base, as described above. For the first 72 hours, DO NOTHING – do not attempt to introduce the cats to each other!
a. Be sure to spend time with both the new cat and your resident cat – we don’t want any jealousy sprouting!
b. These three days are important for your new cat to get used to all the new smells, sounds, and sights he is experiencing. Adding a cat introduction to all those foreign experiences is extremely stressful and detrimental to your new cat.
2. Leave a blanket or towel in the new cat’s room and another in your resident cat’s favorite spot. After they have spent time sleeping on these linens, swap them. This way, the cats can smell each other without the stress of a face-to-face introduction.
3. Create positive experiences while they are safely separated. This will teach them that the other cat is a friend.
a. Feed the cats on either side of a closed door
b. Use a feather toy to play with both cats under the door
c. Give lots of praise and treats on opposite sides of the closed door
4. After a week, swap the cats’ spots – let your new cat explore while your resident cat checks out the new cat’s home base, with the door closed. DO NOT LET THE CATS MEET DURING THIS SWAP! After a few hours, switch them back. Try this step several times.
5. After about two weeks, it’s time to meet!
a. Clip everyone’s claws.
b. Place a treat or yummy food (deli meat works great!) right outside the home base and another serving several feet away, but within sight of the home base dish.
c. Entice your resident cat to partake in the food while the new cat eats his. Allowing the cats to see each other while they eat will again create positive associations.
d. After the treat is done, put the new cat back in his home base.
e. Try again the next day, placing the plates a bit closer together. Repeat until they are close enough to be face to face.
f. Allow the meeting to unfold naturally. Do not interfere! It is very normal for them to hiss, posture, growl, and swat each other.
i. In the unlikely event that the cats actually fight, do NOT pick up any of the cats. Use a towel or a piece of cardboard to block their sight of each other, and then use the obstruction to guide one cat into a safe, neutral place. More time will need to be devoted to creating positive associations.
g. After the cats have spent several harmonious hours together with your supervision, several times in a row, they will be ok left alone.
6. Be patient! Harmonious cat relations take time. And remember to call us at any time!