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Making Friends: How to Introduce Cats to Each Other

Posted June 14, 2016

You might be excited for the newest addition to your fur family, but your other cats already in your household might not share the same enthusiasm. A new cat member can often cause jealousy, competition and fights. It may not be the pleasant experience for either party that you were expecting.

To avoid any negative feelings towards each other and unnecessary stress, we have provided a few suggestions for introducing two cats to each other.

Remember the 3 general rules of thumb:

  1. Slow and steady wins the race.
  2. Make a proper introduction, but allow them to determine the pace.
  3. Allow them to establish their own boundaries – it is only natural, although you may need to play referee at times.

One way to introduce a new cat or kitten to an existing cat is through slow interaction.

  1. Divide and Conquer.

Put the new kitty in a separate room and close the door. Provide each with access to a litter box, food and water and a hiding place like a cat tent or even a cardboard box with a blanket or towel in it.

  1. Blind Introduction.

After your new kitty has had time to adjust to its new space, you can start scent swapping by bringing an article that your resident cat often uses (ex. a blanket) and placing it near the new kitty’s food dish and vice versa. This will give both of them the opportunity to get used to eating in the presence of the other kitty’s scent.

If there is no hissing or growling at the item, then at the next feeding, swap food bowls between the two. If there is hissing or growling at the item move it further away, where they can approach it at their leisure.

Using a cloth or small towel pet one cat around the cheek area as this is where they release “friendly” hormones. Then take the cloth or towel and pet the other kitty in the same way. This will help them get used to the scent in a friendly manner. You can also further the “friendly” feelings towards these scents by giving them a small treat every time you introduce a scented item.

The next step is to place a food dish somewhat near (but not too close) to each side of the door so that they can feel comfortable eating without feeling threatened, although they will know that another cat is present. Gradually move the food dishes closer to the door so that they are more in each other’s presence, but still separated.

In addition to this, you can try switching their designated areas as well. Try putting your original kitty in the room, while letting the new kitty roam around. This will give them the opportunity to get used to being in the same space with the other cat’s scent, as well as get used to the environment on a grander scale.

  1. Limited Visibility.

Eventually prop open the door so that they can see and smell each other, but cannot get through. This will allow them to approach at their will and will also allow either one, if threatened, to be able to retreat.

  1. Face to Face Finale!

Once you feel that there is no aggression towards each other you can let them meet fully. If any aggression occurs, make a loud noise or toss something on the floor (like a set of keys) to distract their attention and hopefully end the potential fight. If that does not work, you may need to split them up and slowing reintroduce.

Keep in mind that some small signs of aggression, like hissing or posturing, but no actual attacking may just be determination of hierarchy and establishing the pecking order between themselves in order to live together. If it is prolonged or progresses into physical contact you will need to separate them and go back to where they were comfortable in the introduction.

Additional tips:

Do not leave the cats alone together for the first little while even if the face to face seems to have gone well. The new kitty should be returned to their room when no one is home to avoid any fighting or bullying when the parents are out.

Just like human siblings, sometimes cats can get along; eat out of the same bowls, share beds and a litter box, whereas other times they may be able to live together, but will require separate food bowls, sleeping areas and litter boxes.

All pets will have some fear of change, and some cats may have greater difficulty adjusting than others. It’s a good idea to try using a natural supplement to help calm the nerves. We recommend NHV Matricalm for cats. Ideally, you will start using the NHV Matricalm with the cat who is already in the household for a couple of weeks before the new cat or kitten arrives. In addition to calming the nerves, Matricalm will help reduce aggression and is even safe for puppies and kittens.

You may also want to try giving healthy treats, like My Little Lion cat treats, to each kitty for good behaviour.

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