Bringing a new cat into a household that already has one or two can be tricky. Do it slowly and hopefully you will soon have a home full of friends.
How to make your pets friends
Cats are territorial creatures. They’re particular about marking out their own turf and not always quick to welcome home a new arrival. They live by a strict social pecking order and any newcomer that breaks the rules is likely to be put in their place swiftly. So if you’re bringing a new cat into a home that already has a resident or two, here are some tips to help make the introductions easier.
- When choosing a new cat, it’s worth noting that your chances of domestic harmony are greatly increased if one of the cats is a kitten or juvenile and if both cats are desexed. The older the cats, the more intolerant they’re likely to have become.
- Separate your cats. Don’t try to bring residents face-to-face with a new arrival immediately. Instead, introduce them gradually. When you bring the new cat home, confine your resident pet in a room she is comfortable with. Keep your new cat in a separate room with her own food and water bowls for a settling in period.
- Once your new cat is settled, allow the resident out, letting her smell your hands and clothing while talking softly and offering a reward. Don’t neglect your resident cat and stick to her normal routine to prevent any upset. Meanwhile keep the new cat in its safe room. The length of this separation will depend on the reaction of both cats.
- Get your resident cat used to the smell of their new companion. Slowly mix your newcomer’s smell into the household. Swap feeding bowls and bedding over the first week. If either cat reacts badly to the scent, quickly associate it with a positive experience, like a tasty treat.
- Once both cats appear comfortable with the other’s scent, allow them to explore each other’s territory at different times. Don’t let them come face-to-face yet. Finally, when both cats seem relaxed in the other’s area, it’s time to start formal introductions.
- The best time for a first meeting is at mealtime. Put their bowls in the same room but in separate areas. The desire for food will probably override suspicion. Don’t force them to approach each other and allow plenty room for them to keep apart if they wish. Expect a certain amount of staring and hissing as they work out hierarchy. This is normal. Have a blanket ready just in case you need to stop a fight. If there is any violent reaction, separate them immediately and go back a step.
- Separate your cats immediately after feeding. Gradually, leave them together for progressively longer periods until they become relaxed in each other’s presence. Slowly your resident cat will associate the company of the new pet with their favourite food. Share your time equally with the cats so that your scent is also integrated with theirs, and there’s no perceived favouritism.
If your cats are consistently aggressive, you could speak to your vet about medication. This may help calm the cats while you begin introductions again. But keep in mind that some feline personalities just don’t mix, so you may ultimately have to consider rehoming the cat you were hoping to introduce.
About the Purina PetCare Advice Centre
The Purina PetCare Advice Centre brings together a team with in-depth knowledge, experience and special interests with the skills to advise about health and nutrition, behaviour, training, socialisation, as well as basic first aid for your cat or dog. Our team of dedicated pet lovers can also provide information about Purina products and services to help you give your pet the best possible care. If you've got a question about any aspect of pet care, then ask the Purina PetCare Advice team.