How to Introduce Cats to Each Other
Most cats enjoy spending time with their feline housemates, whether they’re playing a rousing game of tag or using one another as a comfortable pillow for an afternoon nap. This gives them both a chance to get a whiff of their upcoming roommate and may help to reduce tensions on move-in day. If you introduce cats gradually and create comfort levels for both, you have the best chance of creating a harmonious multi-cat home.
Bring a small blanket or toy with your cat’s scent to the new cat while she is still at her current home to introduce them before they meet. Choose something that your current kitty does not consider a favorite. Then bring something scented with the new cat’s scent for your resident cat to share. Cats, on the other hand, are generally territorial by nature, and introducing a new feline into the mix can be stressful, especially if your current princess is used to being the only cat resident or is naturally dominant.
Keep your new cat in a closed-door room. This allows her to gradually adjust to all of her new surroundings’ sights, smells, and sounds. It also allows your resident princess to think about the possibility of a new feline in her kingdom while hiding behind a closed door. In her sanctuary, provide your new cat with all the comforts of home, such as a litter box, toys, climbing or scratching posts, and a soft bed to curl up in. On a daily basis, both will demand a lot of your attention.
Cats have scent glands on their cheeks that produce ‘friendly pheromones,’ according to Certified Cat Behavior Consultant Marilyn Krieger. After a few days, Krieger recommends petting both cats on the cheeks twice a day with a sock covering your hand.
“Start with the bowls several feet from the door and gradually inch them closer to the door each day,” Krieger advises.
Move the food dishes away from the entranceway and open it during mealtime once your cats appear to be comfortable eating on opposite sides of the door. Stand by the door while the cats eat, then close it again when they’re finished. Increase the amount of time the door is left open until you’re comfortable leaving it open all the time and allowing your cats to interact.
Provide separate litter boxes, food and water dishes, and enough space for them to spend time apart at different times of the day to treat both equally and limit territorial squabbles. Continue to keep an eye on your cats for signs that their squabbling is more than just a squabble over a toy or a favorite snoozing spot.
Expect the process to take several weeks to a month or longer. Seek advice from your veterinarian or an animal behaviorist if your felines don’t seem to be warming up to the idea of sharing one home or are becoming more aggressive rather than settling in.
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