- Paw-stive Interactions: Introducing Cats to One Another
By: Lia De Lemos
That being said, when you want to begin the process of befriending your cats, the rule of thumb is to allow the cats to hear and smell one another, but not touch or see. A reminder that each step of the introduction process should span over a couple of days. It gets easy once you implement these little things into your daily routine!
If site-swapping seems too tedious, you can also swap different items between the cats (toys, food bowls, blankets). For example, you take your new cat's towel or blanket and place it near your resident's food bowl. Inch it closer and closer to establish a comfortable relationship with your newcomer's scent.
Scents serve as the foundation to cat relationships. Your cat can smell their favorite person, smell their favorite foods, and even smell their crate when it's time to go to the vet. All of these little things add up to make both your and your cats' lives much less stressful. It always varies on how long until both cats are fully comfortable, from a few hours to even months. Be sure to monitor and take note of your cats' behavior along the way!
After some time, you can slowly allow your cats to visually see each other. Once again, it should be very gradual. If there are no signs of aggression, you can use various methods to ensure a safe and gentle meeting.
One way is to still keep the cats separate but use a screen or pet gate in between them. Encourage a positive association near the gate by providing treats, playing alongside the divider, or placing their food bowls nearby. The cats may be hesitant, so start a good distance away from the barrier and slowly inch closer and closer until they're more comfortable. If this seems too overwhelming, use a "curtain" technique where you use a blanket or curtain to cover the screen or gate. This technique helps ease the more fussy cats and gives you more control over the visual access the cats have to one another.
Again, this process may vary but when you start to notice your cats sniffing closely through the gate or even trying to play through the gate, then it's time for a proper introduction! What if you spot signs of aggression? Then take back a few steps: keep the curtain down, make the opening smaller, or move their food bowls further away. Use your best judgment and adjust accordingly to your cat's line of comfort. We want to keep all the hissing and snarling to a minimum!
As long as you monitor your cats, motivate with treats, and encourage playtime, then your cats should be absolutely fine in one room together. Not all cats are super loving and cuddly. Just getting them in the same room without fighting is accomplishing enough! You should never force them to interact.
We've all heard the saying: Sharing is caring. But cats are quite adamant about having their own things. If two cats aren't newborns from the same litter, you should always give them each their own litter boxes. The same goes for food bowls, beds, and hiding places. Place all their essential resources where they're accessible so that they don't ever feel lost or trapped to find them. Even if two cats are accustomed to being around one another, it's only respectful that they keep their own privacy!
The best time to have these little interactions is when both cats are relatively calm, such as after a meal. Keep their playtimes brief and gradually make them longer and longer. Soon enough you may be able to leave them in one room alone!
You Got This!
As a cat lover, one of my dreams is to own a condo full of cats. Whether that comes true or not, I will be sure to remember the necessary steps in introducing one cat to another. And also remember: patience, patience, patience! All cats are different. And if you truly care about them, you will meet them where they're at and do everything you can to ensure a loving cat home!
Some say that if a cat has mingled with other cats prior, then a newcomer will be no problem for them. However, it's still impossible to predict whether two cats will get along or not. Regardless, I hope this information provides clarity and serves as a foundational guide for starting your little cat family!
Lia is a second-year studying Journalism and minoring in Media Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
She is currently in the Bay Area and is excited to start developing her career in digital media. She has two cats and three dogs living in her household, so you might call her an animal-lover.
Lastly, Lia hopes for her content to be an enjoyable read to