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The First Encounter: Introducing a Second Cat Into Your Home

| by Kyrsten Cregger |

We always advocate for adopting in pairs to help rescued cats transition into their own homes; however, we sometimes wonder if it is advisable to bring a new cat into the home of a cat who is already set in their own ways. There have been horror stories of unacquainted cats not getting along with each other in any way at all, but there have also been happy endings where two cats naturally gravitate towards each other. Even if the first encounter between a new cat and your home cat does not go over well, there is no reason to give up. There are a few steps and precautions to take that will help cats to learn to co-habitat peacefully.

Consider the Purrrrsonality

When it comes to adopting a second (or third) cat, it is first advisable to consider whether or not the cat’s personality would mesh well with the cat you already have. If your current cat is very dominant, perhaps look for a cat who seems more relaxed and easy going. If your current cat is more relaxed and easy going, perhaps match that cat’s personality. If your current cat is very lazy, it could be beneficial to look for an energetic, playful cat to bring out the kittens in each other. On the other hand, it would be less advisable to bring a new dominant cat into a home with an already dominant cat which could cause territorial problems. You know your cat better than anyone, so give it plenty of thought about what personality would compliment your home.

Setting Up Your Home

Once you find the right cat for your home, there are a few tactics and steps to take before letting both cats roam freely around the house. First of all, set up a room in the house where the new cat can be “quarantined”. This room should include a cat bed, kitty litter, plenty of food and water, a scratching post, blankets with your family’s scent, a blanket with your resident cat’s scent, and cat toys. The new cat should have everything they could need, but also fabric in the room that will get them accustomed to the scents of the people and other pets in the home. Associating a safe room with the scents of people in the house will help the cat to associate safety with the people and pets as well. 

You are All Setup: Time to Bring the Cat Home

After you set up the room, you are ready to bring the new cat home. As soon as the cat arrives, immediately bring him/her to the new room in the cat carrier with as little contact or sight of the resident cat as possible. It is common for cats to fight or act aggressively during the first encounter, so you want to push off the first actual encounter until they get used to being in the same vicinity as each other (ASPCA). Having the cats separated by a door will allow them to see and hear each other, but not touch each other. It is also important to feed both cats near the door on their respective sides. This will associate being near each other with a pleasant experience, such as food or special treats (ASPCA). Furthermore, make sure to spend plenty of time with both cats independently.

It’s Been 2-3 Days. Now What?

After 2 to 3 days, you can attempt switching the cats for a few minutes so they can explore each others areas and sniff around. You can even trying rubbing the cats gently with the same towel to accustom them with each others scents (ASPCA). After a week or so, if no aggressive behavior is observed, you want to put them in an area where they can see each other but not touch each other (i.e. behind a glass/screen door). If there are still no signs of aggressive behavior, face-to-face interactions are permissible with supervision for another day or 2. Some cat fights or hissing are bound to happen,  but do not let this discourage you. After a couple days, the cats should be comfortable enough with each other to roam the house free of supervision. It may seem like a daunting task, but all the cats need to become friendly with each other are a little time, attention, and plenty of cat treats! 

kyrsten-cregger

Kyrsten Cregger is a student at La Salle University studying Finance and Marketing with a concentration in Risk Management & Insurance. As Le Cat Cafe’s intern, she writes short pieces for the website’s blog about anything and everything cat-related.

Throughout her higher education and career, Kyrsten surrounds herself with professionals in the cat rescue community in order to one day open her own cat cafe and become an established contributor to the cause.

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