How to introduce two cats
Does your cat get lonely? Should you get them a sibling? As a loving pet parent, you’ve probably wondered if you’d make your kitty’s life happier by getting them a pal. But, as cats are notoriously independent creatures, just how do you go about introducing an existing cat to their new roommate?
Published on the 15/08/2020, 14:00
You’ve no doubt seen cats on the street, hunting, exploring and looking for food but one thing stands out, they usually roam alone. Unlike dogs, cats don’t actively seek out company, some of them even actively ignore it but when cats do accept each other as friends, there can be few things more wonderful to witness. If you’re contemplating introducing a second cat to your household then read on…
Are cats happier in pairs?
Two cats that get along well will provide each other with company, exercise and mental stimulation. Ideal if you work or spend a lot of time out of the house. Some cats will take to a feline sibling immediately while others will be much more wary.
An older cat who has never been around other cats may struggle to get used to having a newcomer around while a younger cat or kitten separated from their siblings will likely enjoy having company. Provided introductions are carried out carefully, most cats will accept another cat before long.
How long does it take for two cats to get used to each other?
If you’re introducing a new cat then patience is key. Aim for a gradual introduction where both cats are given their own space and the opportunity to acclimatise. With the right introduction process, cats will usually get used to having another feline around. Some may become best buddies, others will simply accept that there’s another cat who shares their living space.
How do you introduce two cats quickly?
The truth is, cat introductions can take time and it’s important to have realistic expectations about this process. Slow introductions can prevent problems from arising but this doesn’t mean you need to rent out a spare house until they’re used to each other! A baby gate or other form of room separator will allow each cat to have their own space while you work on the introduction process.
Can two cats share a litter box?
Sharing a litter box can be stressful for cats and, in fact, it’s advisable to have an extra litter box. So, if you’re introducing a second cat to your home, you should have three little boxes. Cats can be territorial so to make for an easier life, aim to have separate food and water bowls, litter boxes, scratching posts and beds.
Does gender matter when getting a new cat?
If both cats are neutered or spayed then the gender doesn’t play a huge role in how well the cats get on. Temperament and age are far more important factors so either select cats of similar age and activity levels or go for a kitten, as most adult cats will nurture and guide a young kitten.
How do you get a cat to like another cat?
The million-dollar question! A slow, considered introduction will be your best shot at getting your cats to become firm friends. Check out our list of do’s and don’ts below…
The Do’s and Don’ts of Introducing Cats
- Keep your cats separate for a while – don’t rush the first meeting.
- Divide your space into two using a baby gate or partition.
- Allow cats to smell and hear each other but don’t let them see or touch each other right away.
- Feed the cats near the baby gate that separates them so that they associate the other’s smell with something positive.
- After a few days, switch the cats’ side of the gate so that they can explore each other’s smell.
- If all is well after a week or so and neither cat is exhibiting signs of aggression, then allow them to see each other. Call their names and toss them treats when they see their feline sibling.
- It’s a good idea if the first meeting is when they’re calm, for example after they’ve eaten and had chance to play and work off any extra energy.
- Keep their time together brief to begin with and gradually allow them more and more time in each other’s company.
- Don’t rush the meeting. You could get lucky but it’s likely that a stressful initial meeting such as this could mean your cats will never bond so don’t take the risk!
- Don’t mix energy levels. A young cat with heaps of energy and an endless desire to play is likely to annoy an older and more sedentary cat. When choosing your second kitty, aim to match them with your existing cat in terms of energy and vigour.
- Don’t force cats to share litter trays and food boxes, this can lead to territorial aggression.
Cats are often thought of as less social than dogs but as highly intelligent animals, they’ll usually learn to adapt to their surroundings. The key to a great bond between cats is gentle perseverance on your part.
Frequently asked questions
What should I do if my cat has been bitten by another cat?
Cats are territorial creatures so it's no suprise that they get into scraps every now and again. If your cat has been bitten, treat the wound with salt water (and clip away fur if necessary). If it hasn't begin to heal within 24 hours, it's a good idea to visit your vet.
Learn more about what to do if your cat is bitten by another cat here.
Do neutered cats still have the urge to mate?
Desire, and the behavioral issues that go with it, will be greatly reduced once a male cat is neutered but some cats may continue to show interest in females. A neutered male cat may still mount a female cat in heat.
How to introduce a cat to a baby?
Living with a newborn can be quite the adjustment for a cat who's used to being the sole "baby" in the family. Plan in advance and get your cat used to the nursery and all the new baby paraphernalia. Respect your cat's space and don't force them to spend time with your baby but do engineer a calm and controlled first meeting.
Find out more about how to introduce your cat to your baby here.
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