If you are considering introducing a new cat to your resident cat or cats, this article is for you. Our vet told us that sometimes, even with all of the proper steps taken, cats may never completely accept each other, but may learn to coexist by avoiding the other. We are happy to report that our end result has been a happy one with all being feline friends. And be sure to read this article all the way through to see some additional safety tips for the cats and the humans at the end of this post.
Yesterday I wrote about how we ended up having a household with felines that equal the number of human residents. Although we never ever planned to be a 4 cat family, the story of our fourth and FINAL kitty cat rescue is here.
We took our time, about six weeks, to be sure that our three cats truly accepted our new stray kitten that my hubs named Sadie. It did help that she was brought in as a kitten. Adopting a kitten may make the process a bit easier with adult cats who don’t feel as threatened with the new kitty’s tiny size, although I don’t want to discourage you from saving an older cat because that can work with the proper steps and patience.
The one time that we just couldn’t get our brood of cats to adopt a new one was when we fostered a big tomcat. Since we already have a big tomcat, he just couldn’t accept another male that was his size and stature. So we haven’t always been successful, but we were able to find him a very good home. However, little Sadie has been a success, so here are the steps we recommend you try if you are considering bringing in a new cat…
1. First keep the new kitty in a totally separate and safe room until you know that she is healthy with a visit to your vet. We are big fans of Foothills Animal Hospital, especially Dr. Alex MacKenzie.
2. Next let cats play paws under the door, but don’t open the door yet.
3. Move new kitty into a new safe room and let resident kitties visit the room that new kitty had been in for a few days. Let them smell her scent and leave a blanket or toy behind for them to get familiar with that had new kitty’s scent on it. Don’t let them see each other yet.
4. Although I’ve never read this in the guide books, I brought Sadie out and held her in my arms so that the existing cats could see that she was wasn’t threatening and was already accepted by the humans in the house. I also let them smell her while she was in my arms, being careful not to let them get too close. And if they acted aggressive, I put Sadie back in her safe room, for everyone’s safety, including my own.
5. Next slowly introduce new kitty to resident cats in a large and open space with items that cats can jump up on, like a cat tree, to escape meeting when needed.
6. Supervise the cats closely and you will know if it is time to integrate the new cat or if you have to go back to the previous step, which happens a lot and is normal. One step forward, two steps back. Light hissing and growling is normal.
7. Play with cats with cat toys so that they associate fun playtime with each other. You can try feeding them together as well, but place bowls far apart so that they enjoy comforting feed time with each other while not feeling like they have to compete for food.
8. Once cats groom each other, you know that acceptance is 100% complete and you can enjoy your multi-cat household that will keep bugs and critters away (a real perk here in the desert with the scorpions) and give your family lots of laughs and cuddle time!
Here a few fun pictures that captured some of the acceptance moments….
A few other points that I should make is that it may be easier to bring in an opposite sex cat, although we have two males and two females, but our two males were adopted together from the shelter when they were both kittens. Make sure that everyone is fixed. Neutering and spaying is essential. Also when your resident cats…..or the newer cat for that matter…..become aggressive with each other, calmly tell them no without extra stress or yelling coming from your voice. Throw a towel over the aggressor and then separate them. Never ever try to pick up an angry cat or you may end up with a bite or a few scratches. Our cats didn’t like the towel action and learned to quickly back away when we said no. Then we were able to move the kitten back to her safe room. It took time, but this all worked well. We took a full six weeks to fully incorporate them and to leave our fab foursome alone at home, all together, when we went out.
So if you are considering adopting a companion for your house cat, have patience and be gentle with the process and it should eventually pay off for you with double (or four times in our house!) the cat love.
Disclaimer: I am not a vet or a trained cat expert. I did a ton of research before successfully introducing two new cats in the last three years and I have adored felines since I could first crawl, my Mama tells me 🙂