Thinking of adopting a second cat? The following tips can increase your chances of establishing a peaceful, multi-cat home. Any pet requires weeks or months to adjust to changes in their environment and lifestyle. For that reason, first impressions are extremely important when meeting other household pets.
Let them throw in their two scents!
Like any other time you are training a pet, positive re-enforcement works best. Your goal is to have your pets associate good things with the other feline. The first time they meet, it should be through scent alone.
- Keep you new cat in a separate room that has all the things she needs – food, water, her own litter box, somewhere to scratch, some toys and places to climb. This is her private, safe, feel-good space!
- Feed your cats a few small meals a day, a few feet from either side of the door.
- Each day before mealtime, rub a small towel around the cheeks and chin of each cat and place it near the feeding bowl of the other cat. They will pick up the scent of the other cat at a time that makes them happy – supper time! Again, good things happen when the other cat is around!
- If they seem ok with this set up, gradually decrease the distance between the bowls and the door.
Time to see eye to eye
Once your cats are eating beside each other on opposite sides of the door, its time to let them see each other.
- Move the bowls back a few feet again and let them see, but not access each other. This can be done with a baby gate or some other barrier that is transparent, but that they cannot breach.
- Continue with the “scented” towels.
- Again, slowly decrease the distance between the bowls so long as both cats eat without much hesitation and neither shows signs of fear or aggression. If they do, offer a treat or give them a rub on the ear, reinforcing once again that good things happen when the other cat is around.
Try a supervised “Hello”
Once both cats are eating directly on either side of the door with visual contact, without showing signs of fear or aggression, you can try some short, supervised interactions.
- Distract your resident cat with food, some play or petting in a relatively large room.
- Allow your new cat to enter the room, but try to keep her occupied with food, play, or petting as well, but on the other side of the room.
- If your cats interact in a relaxed or friendly manner, that’s ok. If you start to see indications of fear or aggression (this can include extended periods of staring at each other) try to distract them from each other and end the session
- Gradually increase the length of the sessions each day so long as neither cat seems overly fearful or anxious.
As these sessions grow longer and if everyone seems comfortable, you can let your cats roam the home freely. It’s a good idea to continue to monitor them for any signs of trouble, but, hopefully your patience and methodical approach to their introduction has paid off, and you can look forward to a lifetime of peace and quiet and with your two felines as the best of friends!