Best Way to Introduce Cats to Each Other
After raising one kitty companion it’s normal to want to raise another. If you’re in this position you’ll need to learn how to successfully introduce cats to each other. While this process can be straightforward for some kittens, it has the potential to be a much longer process for others. Unfortunately this isn’t something you can control as it entirely depends on your cat’s behavior. You’ll need lots of patience, time and some useful equipment to keep both cats happy. In this article we’ll outline the process of introducing cats to each other, covering some of the top “Dos” and “Don’ts” and the equipment you’ll need along the way.
What You’ll Need
Before we get started with the process, you should first learn what equipment you’ll need to effectively introduce cats to each other. First of all, since you’ll most likely need to keep your cats apart for a while, they’ll each need access to their own water and food bowls, beds, litter trays and a few toys. These are important for allowing your cats independence and are essential even after introducing cats to each other. You’ll also need some kind of barricade like a safety gate or room divider.
After some time together and if they feel comfortable, cats can decide to share their things with another cat. Beds, toys and sun perches are all things which can be shared by cats if they feel comfortable but they shouldn’t be made to share from the beginning.
Things to Avoid When Introducing Cats to Each Other
Now that we’ve discussed the equipment you’ll need to successfully raise two (or more) cats in the same house, we’ll take a look at the things you should avoid doing. This list covers some of the most important things you should not do when introducing cats to each other.
- Do not introduce cats face-to-face on the first day together.
- Do not keep the new cat in a crate and place it in the vicinity of another cat.
- Do not restrain both cats and introduce them face-to-face this way.
- Do not open a cat crate and let them loose around the house.
By restraining cats or forcing them to meet in of the ways we’ve just discussed, they will immediately feel stressed and uncomfortable which is the opposite of what a cat parent should want. Instead, care should be taken to keep the cats separated before introducing them gradually when they are ready and comfortable in their new home.
The Best Way to Introduce Cats to Each Other
Now that we’ve learned what you’ll need for this process and what not to do, it’s time to begin! The approach allows cats to be introduced once sense at a time, starting with sound or scent, progressing to sight then eventually touch. As mentioned previously, there is no way to determine how long this process might take as it depends on each cat’s behavior and personality. While it might take just a few days or a week for some cats, it could take months for other cats to adapt to the presence of another feline friend.
Step 1 – Scent and Sound
To start this process, use a door to divide your cats, refusing them access to the other side. Of course they’ll be able to tell there is another fluffy friend nearby using smell or sound which will cause most cats to become curious. As they stare inquisitively at the door, wondering who this new animal could be, they’ll gradually become used to the idea that they no longer have the house to themselves. If one or both cats don’t seem particularly interested or if you’d like them to spend more time near each other, feed them as usual but place the bowl next to the door so they become used to eating with another animal around. You could also put some small toys on either side of the door and if there’s enough space for a paw underneath they might even try to play with each other.
Step 2 – Sight
For this next step, open the door and place a barricade to separate the cats. This divider could be a safety gate or room divider so long as there is a view to the other side but not enough room to get through. The barricade should also be tall enough to prevent the cats from jumping over. If the divider doesn’t reach the top of the door frame, you could pin a bed sheet to the frame to cover the remaining distance, that way the cats won’t be able to access the other side. Continue the process as before, feeding and playing with the cats beside the divider, this time making them used to the sight of another cat. If there is enough room for a cat to reach its paw through the gate then it’s worth keeping the food slightly further away. This will ensure they don’t try to steal from each other or try to strike while the other is eating. After feeding or playing, close the door so the cats feel safe and comfortable in their own space.
Step 3 – Remove the Barriers
After the cats have adapted to each other’s presence, try removing the barrier gradually and letting them explore each other’s space in their own time. It’s important to keep them apart by some distance while feeding and sleeping until they prove that they are comfortable in each other’s company. Over time the cats will learn to fully accept the presence of another cat in their space but until then, use positive reinforcement and the previous tips to help them get there. If you find that behavior problems get in the way or if you have any serious concerns, contact a vet for some expert advice. If your cats don’t seem particularly interested after removing the divider the don’t worry, some cats simply don’t mind others being around. With any luck, the first meeting between your cats will be an undramatic event without any problems. Just keep some toys and tasty treats around in case you need a distraction.