Any cats behavior can be very stressful when introducing cats to each other, here’s how to make it go smoothly..
Maybe you’ve decided it was time to give your furry friend a companion or two. As some cat owners may know, it may not be as easy as it seems to introduce your feline to another. Consider how long your cat has gone without contact with one of their own. Usually, when contact is cut for a certain amount of time, it is common for them to become quite territorial or nervous when new cats enter their environment.
For some cats, their behavior can lead to isolation..
To start off, it’s pretty obvious that if your cat has previously lived in another household with other felines, they are more likely to adjust to their surroundings quickly, same goes for dogs as well. It’s still important to know certain behavioral signals, warning signs, and the proper steps to take in order to bring new playmates into the picture.
From personal experience I’ve done this the wrong way. I had made the mistake of introducing my cat, whom had been away from the shelter for about a year and a half, to a family members 3 year old Maine Coon who had just been adopted.
Right away, my cat had begun to show noticeable signs of aggression while inside his kennel, and we had no idea what to do besides get the 3 year old out of the room and pretend none of it happened.
Unfortunately after another year of isolation he became extremely bored. Some of his habits included:
- Scratching and biting of furniture. When confronted, only replied with a smug meow.
- Days spent sleeping and inactive, more often than a normal cat. Cats can normally nap up to 15 hrs a day, but his was excessive.
- Moping around the house, uninterested in most of the things that would normally bring out his natural feline curiosity, even food.
Bored cats can be troublemakers, its important to keep them mentally stimulated to avoid any bad behavioral habits.
Now its true that a cat doesn’t necessarily need another cat to entertain them, after all a good pet owner should be engaged with them whenever possible. Cats are naturally independent creatures, and it’s perfectly normal and okay to not always have the time for them. We all have lives that don’t revolve solely around our cats (unless you’re a crazy cat lady).
Bringing in another cat into your lives can help ease their loneliness and boredom when you’re not around, and giving new play ideas when you are.
That being said..
Here are some major elements that are focused on making the introduction go just as planned.
Firstly we need to get the new cat comfortable in your home..
- Let them enter your home to mark their territory. Create a separate space they can call their own that can contain food, water, a litter box, outdoor view, and a place of rest (kitty condo, etc).
- Play with them until they begin to feel more comfortable. If signs of discomfort or aggression begin to occur, allow your cat some time to adjust to themselves.
- Similar to dogs, food helps them stay grounded and build trust early on. Give them treats in their space so they remain calm and happy throughout the introduction.
A feline’s scent marking is critical for introducing cats
A cats natural instinct is to rub their cheeks on nearby object to mark their scent. This will be one of the first points of contact for your furry friends to meet, knowing each others smell and being aware of each others presence.
We can start by giving the new cat some of your cats bedding, toys, or any piece of clothing that has your cats scent on it, and vice versa. Both cats should be introduced to the others scent well before the initial meeting itself. This is one step a lot of pet owners miss and arguably the most important.
Never rush the initial meeting!
One of the worst things you can do is just outright let them play and chase each other during their first meeting. This can lead to some very nervous and aggressive felines which will make it harder for everyone involved.
A stair gate is one of the best tools you can use to finally introduce them. Cats are very territorial creatures, so this allows them to smell and meet the other without actually having to interact. Let both cats warm up to each other at their own pace as they will most likely keep their distances at first.
This is the perfect opportunity to give them food as its a distraction and a positive association to eat in each others presence, it helps build trust.
Allow them to slowly begin to become comfortable in each others company. All cat’s have unique personalities, so this process can be as easy as a single afternoon, or over the course of a week. It’s important to have both cats feel comfortable first before moving on to full play mode. If they display noticeable signs of aggression, continue scent swapping for another day or two, and then continue again with the stair gate introductions.
Once they are comfortable, allow them to finally interact, sniff, and play. Keep a good watch on them when they play, as some cats can get overstimulated very easily and can become aggressive. If they start to get rough, simply calm them both down and give them a treat to reinforce good behavior habits.
Cats can also be toddlers, they hate sharing..
Whether its their food bowl, bedding area, or toys, you will quickly notice how territorial your feline can be. Try making your home accommodating for both cats in the first few months by making separate areas for them to sleep, play, and do their business. Cats are naturally solitary creatures, so its important to know and respect their boundaries.
Introducing cats requires patience and an understanding of cat behavior.
You’re now well on your way to becoming a multi-cat owner! It’s a rewarding experience caring for multiple cats, especially those who desperately need homes. Use this guide whenever you or someone you know decides to bring another cat into the picture, because as a pet owner it’s important to keep them comfortable in a new environment.