Authored By: Nicky LaMarco.
So you want a second cat and you are not sure how your current cat is going to respond? The truth is a lot of your current cat’s response depends upon how you go about introducing the new cat into the fold. There are several considerations if you have other animals, or even if you have children. Let’s look at the process for introducing a new cat to an established cat.
The Established Cat
You have to remember that you are bringing the new cat into the established cat’s territory – their home base. Cats are very territorial. You cannot just bring in the new cat, or your established cat is likely to feel threatened and will try to defend their territory. Your established cat will have routines that you want to continue to honor, particularly if you are bringing in a kitten. Feeding times and playing times for your established cat should stay as much the same as possible. Feed your new cat what your established cat is already eating if that is possible. Do not upset where your established cat sleeps and has their litter box.
The New Cat
Be aware that the new cat might not be welcomed by the established cat in the beginning, and may react with either insecurity or aggression. Be prepared for this. Make sure the new cat has its own bed, blanket, toys, and bowls. Cats don’t like sharing, especially when first being introduced to a new cat. You will need a second, separate litter box for your new cat, because cats are territorial.
Process of Introduction
Do not just throw the new cat in with the established one. Keep the cats separated when you first bring the new cat home. Keep them separated by putting the new cat in a room by himself (with his own litter box, food and water) with the door closed. This is so that they cannot physically see or get to each other. This is also to keep the established cat from behaving in a confrontational way with the new cat. The cats will, however, be able to smell each other, which is important. This becomes the first introduction for the two cats.
After two days, begin to gradually introduce the two cats into the same physical space by simply opening the door. Do not pressure either one into physically meeting the other. Allow this to happen naturally. After they can be in the same space together, work at having them in the same room eating from separate bowls.
Treat both of the cats equally. This might bother your established cat at first, but you will never have harmony unless the cats end up feeling equal to each other. Make sure both cats get affection and both sit on your lap either together or at separate times.
You can expect your two cats to come to a truce and tolerate each other. They might even grow to care for and need each other as you hope they will. Just don’t try to force it. Allow the cats to make their own decisions. They may very well become best friends.
If you want these two independent creatures to come to a shared space, then introducing them in this manner is absolutely critical. If you just throw them together, they might fight for next 20 years. If you take the time to introduce them patiently – no matter how long or tedious that process is – you will likely end up with peace in the cat household.
Photo: Courtesy of scragz via Flickr (CC by 2.0)