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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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JenniferLeFevre

With all due respect, the guidance given here regarding the introduction of a new cat to a one-cat household is not entirely realistic, especially depending on the size and layout of the house in which they live. I've been considering getting a second cat, but don't want to rock my current cat's world too much. However, the advice given here is just not possible for me. Any other suggestions?

Vanessa

Wish if I had read this article 5 years ago!!

I rescued a sweet feral cat and did not properly introduce her to the Queen of the home. They've "put up" with each other for 5 years but I am concerned now because they are getting a little more aggressive towards each other. My first cat is 10 and the other is approx 6 yrs old. The roles have shifted and my sweet rescue has now become the aggressor. My older cat is fierce but is now scared of her. Is there some way to bring peace to the home without having to give one of them up? I've tried everything. How do I fix this? Help!!

Graciela

Vanessa, try reintroducing them as if for the first time. Also some Bach Flower essences will help develop tolerance, acceptance and chill out bully animals. Ask a registered practitioner.
It's very common though for a younger/submissive animal to become dominant over an alpha cat who gets older or ill.

Phyllis Salta

I have had cats that happily welcomed a newcomer and others that just couldn't stand the idea. My last intro , was re-introducing littermates after 12/2 years. The owners decided they didn't want them anymore. I had to keep all of them apart for months,I even put up an extra door to ensure every cat's safety. It took almost 18 months for me to be able to leave thm alone together without locked doors. I did scent switching with bedding and combs for months, positive rewards if they passed each other in the hall without a hiss or growl. It takes work, but it can be done. I have many levels of escape for them also. Bookshelves and climbing trees offering safe alone spots.

Alberto

I live on a 2 floor, 250 square mts house on my farm, my cat go out once every two days, spend the day out and come back when I call him. He is 2 years old. How do I introduce him a new baby cat a would like to buy?

Barb

Have one female about 7 years old from Humane Society that lived here over a year with our dogs. No problems until we took in 5 year old male that needed to be rehomed. Both were spayed/nuetered. Have had them now for almost a year and female cat still howls & spits at the male. They each go the the opposite side of the house.
When I brush the boy & let the girl smell the brush and I have caught her a couple of times checking him over. A few times the male was "over it" and chased her around the house. No hissing from him just trying to play. After the initial running around the girl will get up on a high spot and look down & hisses at the boy.
Have their own eating & drinking areas also.
I'm hoping in time they will get along. It is possible that some cats never learn to toleratate each other?

Doris Carman

I have a siamese mix 7 yrs old. and a bobtail 20 mos.old. both neutered females.Siamese hates the other cat who we brought in as soon as weaned. Now they argue every tme the siamese comes into the presence of the other.The siamese always chsses the other one.I dont know what to do.

Jaimee

I recently adopted a teen cat from the shelter who loves to play( and can play rather rough) I am thinking of adopting a kitten to be friends with him, one with the same energy level. Since I have only had the first cat a week I don't think he sees himself as king and he loves other animals, but are there any special protocols for this?

Laura

I had a male tabby for a year and he was very playful so I wanted to get him a friend. The only other time he had interacted with another cat his first reaction was to roll over on his back. So I was pretty sure there wouldn't be any problem with introducing another non-dominant cat. I found the perfect fit, another one year old male who is the sweetest thing. I brought the new cat home and left him in the carrier for maybe 15 mins and let my other cat sniff him. I then let the new cat out and as he explored the apartment my first cat followed him cautiously. There were only two altercations, one hiss (I had never heard my first cat hiss prior to this) and one attack when the new cat tried to drink from his water dish so I would definitely recommend having multiples but after a few days they were playing together, and within the week they were drinking from the same dish, bathing each other and even occasionally using the large litter box at the same time! I know my case isn't typical but I think these guidelines are just that "guidelines." Each case is different. Some cats are more dominant than others and there will be more of an issue. Start out cautiously and take it one step at a time.

Chris Horton

To the person who said they wanted to "buy" another cat, I hope you misspoke (mis wrote?). The point is, please DONT BUY a cat, there are millions of homeless ones that need homes and can be adopted, for a small fee or for free.

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