It’s cat o’clock again and this time we’ll be discussing introducing cats. Adding another furry friend to your existing feline family is always a joeys occasion, And it’s always good to know that while you’re away bringing cat food to the table, your kitty isn’t lonely and has a friend to play with. You know how the old saying goes, the more (cats) the merrier! But before going through with your kitty adoption plan there are a few things you should know and prepare for regarding the process of introducing cats.
Cats are territorial animals by nature and having a new cat around will usually cause some anxiety of having to share resources such as food, treats and attention. This is why the process of introducing cats to each other has to be gradual. If you wanna do it right there are a few steps that will help your kitties become best buds (or at least civil housemates).
Introducing cats in a few steps
It is important to mention that this isn’t exact science so there is no specific time frame to this process. Trust your instincts – once your cats are able to chill together without conflict arising, you’ll know.
1. Pre-adoption preparations – necessary equipment
First things first, before bringing a new cat home you should stock up on some necessary equipment. To feel more comfortable a new cat should have his own food and water bowls, his own litter box, a kitty bed and a few toys.
Tip: If the new cat is still a kitten, don’t forget to get him some special kitten food and treats.
2. Complete separation
The deed is done and you now have a new furry family member. In the beginning the new kitty should be confined to a specific room, completely separated from the resident cat/s. This should help the new cat get adjusted and feel more secure in his new surroundings, but also to the scent of other felines in his new territory. Being confined to one room would also help the new kitty get better acquainted with his litter box.
Tip: Don’t forget to spend time with the new cat during his confinement period – he needs to bond with you!
3. Allowing scent interaction only
At this point the cats are completely separated but already know of each others’ presence due to their keen sense of smell. This may be a bit challenging but during the first few days the cats should only be allowed to smell each other.
Tip: Pet both cats with the same damp cloth, to create a positive exchange of scents.
4. Enabling eye contact
After the kitties have already acknowledged each other smell wise, it’s time for a sneak peek. Let them see each other for a little bit to put a face to the smell, But no touching yet. You can do this by holding one of them while approaching the other, or by letting them see each other through a glass window.
Tip: Give the cats a yummy treat during this first encounter in order to distract from a possible confrontation and create a positive first impression.
5. Supervised visitations
By now the cats have already interacted but have yet to play or sniff each other up close. The next meaningful step would be to let them interact freely, under your supervision. Pay attention to how they react to each other, if a few growls turn into a cat fight, separate them for a day or two and try again. This step should be repeated a few times until you feel the cats are ready.
Tip: Make sure you give both cats some positive attention during the encounter. If conflict arises, don’t show anger, simply separate them.
6. Unsupervised, time restricted play sessions
Now the cats will face the challenge of sharing the same space with no human supervision. Leave them alone for a little while at a time, as many times as you feel is necessary. If you come home and find them snoozing next to each other, you’re golden.
Tip: If the new cat is still a small kitten (younger than 16 weeks) make sure the resident cat isn’t being too aggressive towards him before leaving them alone. He’s still a baby and can’t really fight back.
7. Transition to unrestricted interaction
Congrats! you’ve made it to the promised land. This is the last step in the process of introducing cats and it can start once you feel the cats are ready – They don’t have to be best buds yet, but if you feel confident enough to leave them alone, it’s time. and now it’s time to kick your feet up and relax with multiple kitties beside you. I can’t think of anything better, can you? 🙂
Tip: Not all cats get along 100% of the time since it’s very much dependent on their character and the chemistry between them. So don’t beat yourself up over some minor ‘arguments’, you’ve done well.
This whole process can take days, weeks and in rare cases even months, it is very subjective and depends on the nature of your cats. But the most important thing to remember about introducing cats is you have to do it gradually. Your cats need the time to get used to the idea of having a new friend (and not a foe), and while it can be difficult and tire-sum, when it comes to the relationship between your kitties, it’s totally worth it.
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