Are you thinking of adopting a new cat? Do you already have a cat at home? If so, you’ll need to know how to introduce cats. If you plan ahead, stay patient, and take things slowly, the process should go smoothly.
Patience is especially important when it comes to figuring out how to introduce cats. Whether you’re introducing a kitten to an older cat, cats of the same age, a foster cat, or anything in between, it will be a gradual process.
Always remember to practice positive reinforcement, and things should be fine. This means rewarding good behavior with treats, play, and lots of love.
Start By Keeping the Cats Separated
It’s sort of ironic that two cats who will be long-time companions should be separated at the start. But that will really help to make feline introductions as smooth as possible.
There’s a chance that neither cat will exhibit any aggressive behavior when you bring the new kitten or older cat home.
But if you want to make sure each animal will ultimately be happy, play it safe, and keep the new cat in a separate room – at first.
The “safe” room should be a quiet place, such as a bedroom. It also needs to be one where the resident cat spends a good amount of time. That will help the new cat get used to the smell of the resident cat.1
Cats get used to each other through pheromones. These are substances secreted from glands in the cheeks. When you see a feline rub their cheek against a wall, or your leg, they’re producing pheromones and marking you with their scent.
Now, these pheromones can go a long way toward keeping each pet calm. Gently wipe a towel on the cheek of the new feline. Do the same thing to your resident cat. Keep each towel near each pet, so they get used to each other’s pheromones.2
Feed the Cats
A great way to get your kitten or older cat used to the resident pet (and vice versa) will be through food. Put their food bowls on opposite sides of the door. The cats will be able to smell each other and associate that smell with something pleasant – eating!
If either feline refuses to eat, bring the bowl to a different area. But make sure you put treats on opposite sides of the door. Should either cat show signs of aggressive behavior, such as hissing or growling, you’ll need to keep each animal separated.
It might take a few weeks before the cats start to get along. If both are eating normally, and using the litter box, switch rooms. Keep the litter boxes in the same spot. This will further help each cat get used to the other’s scent.3
The Face-to-Face Meeting
If everything seems to be going well after two or three days, it’s time to start the face-to-face introduction. Start by opening the door and putting a baby gate across the opening. Since most cats can jump a baby gate, consider stacking two gates on top of each other.
Keep the food and litter boxes for each animal on either side of the gate. If everything seems calm and you don’t notice any hissing, scratching, or other signs of aggression, take the gates down. Hopefully, they’ll start to play with each other and you won’t see any signs of problems.
If there are signs of aggression, though, repeat the separation steps for a couple of weeks. Then you can try the face-to-face introduction process again.4
Here’s to A Long, Beautiful Relationship
Sometimes, a kitten you bring home will immediately warm up to an older cat, and vice versa. A shy cat can often get along just fine with an outgoing cat. There are even instances where pet owners don’t need to go through any sort of special introduction process.
But even if it takes a few weeks for your cats to get used to each other, the effort will be worth it in the long run. They’ll likely be the best of friends, playing and hanging out together in harmony in your household!
If you have any questions regarding how to introduce cats to each other, talk to your vet.