Adding another cat into your household...how do I do it?
Updated: Apr 6
"What greater gift than the love of a cat?"
There's many things to consider when taking on another kitty into a household that already has one. Granted, if you have an adult cat, it's easier to get a second cat that's still young since adult cats can be territorial. However, older cats can also work out in your favor.
Older cats, especially those who have been around other cats all their lives, can be an easy addition to your household since they're used to it. Your cat may have some territory issues at first, but give them time to get to know each other, and they'll grow to be fond of each other's company.
I speak from experience since I, myself, have 7 cats I've adopted. My first cat (John McClane aka Mac) was a kitten I had gotten from the shelter. I hadn't planned on it, but the shelter was having an adoption special, and my niece walked out with her puppy while I walked out with a kitten. I had him only 4 months when I introduced another kitty (Sansa Stark) into our household who was about 8 months older than him. Luckily for me, it didn't take them long to sniff each other out and start playing together.
It would be another year when I would adopt my third one, Raymond Stantz. I actually adopted him from Catnip Inn, where he was abandoned after coming from an abusive home. He didn't trust anyone, but he sure trusted me enough to constantly seek my attention and even perch himself on my shoulder like a parrot (as shown in the first post). He got along quickly with Sansa, while he was still a bit territorial about sharing me with Mac.
A few weeks later, I adopted Ray's brother Evan Baxter. It had always been my intention to adopt both brothers since they had "claimed me" as "their person". It didn't take long at all for Evan to get acclimated into my household. It was funny, because my vet had told me that I should slowly integrate my cats, keep the new one in another room and only introduce them to the kitties who already lived in my home. But, I've had luck in the past with just putting them all together, so I took a chance. Ray and Evan knew each other right away, though Ray was still hesitant about "sharing me".
Adding my fifth cat (who was a kitten) was easy. She got along with everyone very quickly. My sixth and seventh adopted cats were both adults, already 4 and 5 years of age when I got them. They were quite easy to integrate because they had been around cats all their lives and so were mine.
When I looked online, a lot of articles also recommended that I wait to integrate my new kitty to the rest of the family, but I took my chance, and for me, it paid off. It might not for you, so I advise that you follow the vet's instructions.
It's always good to also know your own kitty's personality and temperament. If they've ever been around other cats and they're okay with them, then they might just be okay with you introducing a new kitty into your house.
Here's some great information I got from the Animal Humane Society about adding another kitty into your household:
Introducing your new cat to your resident cat:
Cats are solitary and highly territorial creatures that often require 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. Cats that are introduced too quickly and fight may never learn to coexist peacefully.
Create a sanctuary room for your new cat. When you bring your new cat home, confine him to one room with his own litterbox, bed, food, and water for a week, or at least until he has been examined by your vet.
Feed them on opposite sides of the same door. At the next meal, place the two cats’ bowls on either side of the door to that room. The aim is for the cats to associate the pleasurable activity of eating with the presence of the other cat. Gradually move the bowls closer with each feeding. When they can eat calmly with both bowls directly across from each other, open the door a crack — for just a few seconds — so they can see each other as they eat.
Let your new cat explore. Once the new cat seems comfortable in his new surroundings, is eating well, and using his litter box, confine your resident cat in another room and let the new cat explore the house. This allows the new cat to come in contact with the resident cat’s scent without direct contact. Another option is to exchange the cats’ bedding for a night.
Monitor the cats’ first encounter closely and limit the time they spend together at first. Some display of fearful or aggressive behavior (crouching, hissing, ears back) is to be expected, but you want to avoid letting them establish a pattern of aggressive or fearful behavior, which may be difficult to change. If these behaviors intensify, separate the cats again and go back to step one.
If they fight, distract and separate. If an actual fight breaks out, throw a towel over them (to distract them) or make a loud noise to separate them. Lure the new cat back to his sanctuary room (don’t pick him up while he’s still aroused) and give them a few days to calm down. Do not hold either cat in your arms during introductions: if either one reacts aggressively to the other cat, you could be scratched or bitten.
Continue to provide supervised encounters with both cats, watching closely for signs of tension or aggression. If one cat appears to be freezing, staring, or fixating on the other cat, have some treats or fun toys nearby to direct them away from each other. This will also continue to teach them that good things happen when the other cat is near.
Tips and reminders
Be sensitive to what a big change this is for your resident cat. Give him the security of his usual routine and his own special time with you.
Keep in mind that “success” doesn’t necessarily mean your cats will be best buddies. Some cats become bonded to one another while others spend the rest of their lives avoiding and hissing at each other. Realize that either of these scenarios might happen. Your goal in facilitating introductions is to set the stage for the cats to peacefully share their living quarters, but understand you simply cannot “make” them like each other.
This process takes time: count on 2-4 weeks if integrating a kitten and an adult, and 4-6 weeks (or longer) if integrating two adults.
While following this protocol will maximize your chances of success, know that some cats simply never learn to coexist peacefully. If you have followed the introduction process and do not see any improvement after a month’s time — especially if one cat is terrorizing or injuring the other — long-term success may be unrealistic. Rehoming one of the cats or keeping them permanently separate may be necessary for everyone’s safety.
Source website: Adding a second cat to your household | Animal Humane Society
Well, folks, I hope you learned something today!
As always, be kind to each other, be kind to animals, love your pets.