Having more than one cat in your home can be very enriching for you and your feline friends. Two cats in the same household can provide a more active social life. Your cat won’t need to rely solely on you for social interactions. They will have another friend to play and hang out with. It’s important to take certain precautions when bringing another cat home and accept this may be a slow and gradual process. Cats are very territorial and it’s best to avoid the potential of the relationship starting off on the wrong foot…er, paw.
Before bringing your new family member home, ensure the shelter/pet store will accept returns. Just like people, some cats don’t get along. You may need to bring multiple cats home before you find the right fit. Make sure to prepare your home for the new addition. You’ll want to control initial interactions between the felines. Have a second room set up for the new cat including a litter box, food, and water. Cats get anxious when there is a change in their environment. This will give the newcomer a chance to get use to the new smells of your home. The cats should still be able to smell and hear each other. Try feeding them at the same time with a door in between. The separate, but tandem feeding will help the cats associate a positive experience with the other.
After two to three days, let the cats experience how the other smells. You can do this by switching the cats’ locations. Let the new cat explore the rest of the household, while putting your current resident in the isolated room. Another option is to use a clean sock or towel to introduce the scents. Rub the same sock or towel over the new cats’ face then let the existing cat investigate.
If the cats seem comfortable and aren’t growling or hissing at each other through the door, it’s time to visually introduce them. You can do this by using a baby gate (make sure they can’t jump over it), using a screen door, or have a person with each cat to control them. Continue to provide positive experiences like feeding or playing around the physical barrier.
When you think your cats are ready, you can introduce them face-to-face. Don’t be surprised if they initially ignore each other. It will take some time for the cats to decide whether they like the other, or not. It may be a good idea to keep a squirt bottle handy in case they begin to fight. Keep an eye out for one cat being a bully. If you are introducing a cat to multiple felines, make sure to introduce them each individually before they mingle in a cat pack. Remember to have a separate litter box for each kitty and plenty of hiding spots in case one needs to retreat. Place food and water out in the open. This will prevent cats from feeling trapped.
Cats can be fickle creatures and it may take awhile for them to make up their minds about another feline. Be patient and make sure you are providing lots of love and attention to both.
Check out Jackson Galaxy’s video on introducing cats-