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Why Can’t We Be Friends? Introducing a New Cat to Your Resident Cat

Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 12:30pm
black and white cat next to brown and white cat

Here at the ASPCA we often chat about how two cats are better than one. However, for a solo kitty who is accustomed to being king or queen of your castle, er, house, introducing a new feline friend to your home can be a bit stressful.

If you decide to bring a second cat into your home, proceed slowly and with patience. It takes most cats 8 to 12 months to develop a friendship with a new cat. By following these three steps, you can make sure that the transition goes smoothly:

  • Making the introduction:  Allow the cats to smell and hear each other, without any visual or physical contact just yet. Give each cat his or her own food and water bowl, litter box, scratching post, and bed on separate sides of a door in your home. After a few days, switch the cats’ locations so they can check out each other’s scents. Try playing with the cats near the door. They might even reach under the door to play “paws” with each other!
     
  • Seeing eye-to-eye: After a week or so, assuming neither cat has shown signs of aggression (hissing, growling, etc.), let the cats meet each other face-to-face. You might want to put a baby gate or screen door between them. Set each cat down a few feet away from the barrier. When the cats notice each other, call out their names and toss them some tasty treats. Over the next few days, continue to offer treats, meals and playtime close to the barrier.
     
  • Together at last:Supervise your cats’ initial interactions very carefully. Allow them to spend time together when things are low-stress, such as after strenuous play. Keep a spray bottle on hand in case they begin to fight. As the cats become more familiar with each other, allow them to gradually spend more and more time together.

For more information about introducing your resident cat to a new feline friend, please check out our full list of helpful tips from ASPCA experts.  

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Bob

I think this comment is a little over sensitive: when you adopt a cat, you still have to pay for it? So when you adopt a cat, you still have to buy it. And the SPCA further shows evidence that 30% of animals abandoned are the result of animals people got for free.

Ilka Siegmund

I introduced a 7month old stray kitten to my 3 1/2 year old girl and 11 year old boy. When the first girl came (6 month at the time my boy couldn't have been happier! # years later I am introducing the 7month old girl. Both would have been fine with the new sister but unfortunately she must have had such bad experiences in her first 7 month trying to survive that she goes into survival mode not just fighting made when she encounters one of the other cats. Worse with the girl than the boy since he just backs up when she tries to attack him. I have kept them separate at night for a year already but soon we will be moving and all 3 will have to live in the same room when I travel. I now make them sleep in the same room and so far so good. They retreat to their corners and sleep but my stray is afraid to eat by herself or go to the bathroom when they are around. I have to stand next to her for her to go the the littler box. She actually comes and gets me when she needs to go. All of this works as long as I am home but when I'm not home and they have to be in the same room I doubt that she will eat or use the litter box. All this has now been going on for over 1 year. What do I do??? I move in 4 month!

Linda LARNERD

After going thru the "introduction" phase for 3 cats, decided to adopt brothers when the cats passed on...has been SO nice....would recommend it anyone who can do it!!

July

I tried introducing a new young male cat to my household with 2 older cats (male & female). It was a total disaster, after $700 in vet bills and a trip to the ER for me (fell down the stairs trying to break up a fight), I had to give the new cat away to a home with no other animals. It was a hard lesson for me, but all cats are happy now and the new cat is very happy in his new home. I think I will wait for my cats to pass before I try adopting any new cats. Next time I will adopt siblings so they will get along from day one.

Teresa Schwab

I have 5 cats---all rescues. Cats are territorial & they have different needs, and even though they pretty much get along, there are still little scuffles---hissing when one gets in "the space" of another, no biggie. However, sometimes it goes beyond that, and in those instances, I put some baking soda on both of them after the fight breaks up----it neutralizes the 'odor' and calms everyone down. I always take baking soda with me when taking one to the vet----it neutralizes the odors they pick up at the office. I also use various homeopathic calming drops in their water (Petco has one & Only Natural Pet online has lots) when tiffs escalate---usually during season changes. All my cats have separate food dishes & I have multiple water dishes & litter pans. I used to have a male (who saddly passed at 16) who really got riled up & I would through a lightweight blanket over him & that would distract him from focusing on another cat---water squirts only made him madder.

I was adopted by my 3rd cat Sheen in Oct 2012 when she was as stray one of my pet sitting clients was feeding. She was oober friendly - came right up to me, sat on my lap & gave me kisses! ;-) Being it was Sept I knew as an all black cat I had to get her off the street before Halloween!
I know there is always a period of adjustment with a new cat but I did not expect it to take as long as it did! Sheena HATED other cats but LOVES people. She wanted out of the room she was in & would make herself at home anywhere as long as there weren't other cats around. http://www.shannonspetsitting.net
After a month of the separate room thing not working I ended keeping Sheena in a large dog crate for about a month in the living-room so she would go accustom to seeing the other 2 cats. My older cat didn't really mind her. But my 4 year old would purposely annoy her & try to show Sheena she was top cat. She was basically a bully. I was at my wits end trying to get the 2 of them to stop fighting.
I think I let Sheena out of the crate in December. I left the crate in the livingroom with the door open for about 2 weeks so she could go in there if she wanted. I took it out completely at the end of January. The next 2 weeks I'd hear fight & Sheen awas actually pooping in fear of Kaize. I started squirting a water bottle at Kaize when she would bully Sheena for no reason. It seemed to work.
Its now the end of February & they are just now getting along! Or tolerating each other I should say. Its been a LONG 5 months. But I'll still hear a fight break out once in a while but for the most part we have a peaceful household. My advise to cat owners just hang in there! It will get better! It just takes time!

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Kathleen

I have a cat and dog who get together great...cat is 4 and dog is 15 and well. I thought it might be time to bring in another cat [same sex and age and mine] The new cat hid for a few days after the introduction and now has become so aggressive that Shuga, my regular cat hides and goes outside whenever. Her whole world is upside down and I need to decide if I can make this a peaceful home again without getting rid of cat #2? Thanks for any hep.

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