Cats are independent creatures. That’s why we love them. But it can make introducing a second cat to your home difficult. Unlike dogs which have a pack mentality, cats don’t feel the need for a companion. This means your first cat might not be too happy about having a new “friend”to share their home. Luckily, there are things you can do to help your cats accept each other and, sometimes, even form a bond.
First impressions count
Things need to get off to a good start. If there’s aggression in the initial meeting, this could set the tone for things to come. Here are a few things you could try to slowly introduce your precious pets to each other:
- Allow your two cats to smell and hear each other, but not touch each other. If possible, keep them separated by an adjoining door.
- Make sure each cat has their own food and water bowl, cat litter box, toys and bed, in a safe and calm space.
- Try and feed the cats near each other (but still separated) for a shared and pleasant experience. Give them a reason to like each other.
- After a couple of days, switch the cats’ locations and allow them to investigate each other’s scent and a new area of your home.
Pleased to meet you…
After a week or so, if there have been no signs of aggression between the two, it’s time to introduce the cats to each other. It might be worth having a friend or family member to help you with this.
- Choose a space where either cat can hide behind furniture or jump up high if necessary.
- If you’re worried that one cat may charge when you open the door or introduce the new cat to the room, install a temporary screen door.
- Put down their food separately and encourage them to eat – but judge how close they can be to each other.
- Be calm and reassuring, rewarding good behavior with treats. Carefully watch how they interact – you may need to separate them again before trying to reintroduce them.
- Once you’re sure they’re not going to fight or chase, use the whole house – the cats will probably find places to sleep and routines which allow them to live peacefully in the same house.
Supervise your cats as they spend more time together. As they become more familiar with each other, allow them more freedom and time in each other’s company. Keep a sharp eye out for signs that things aren’t going well: for example, if one of the cats spends more time hiding or if one consistently harasses the other. To ensure the best home life for all your pets, you might need to seek the help of a qualified animal behavior expert.