For your resident cat, introducing a new cat into your home is a huge thing (s). Why? Because your cats are more likely to see the new cat as a threat than a friend at first. It’s not the best way to start a relationship, but that’s how cats work. There is, however, some good news! Following these guidelines will increase the likelihood that your new cat will be accepted by your existing cat(s), resulting in peaceful coexistence and, ideally, bonding.
Stage 1 – Cat investigate Kitten
It takes time to make a good first impression. DO NOT, try to introduce your new cat(s) to your existing cat(s) right away. You risk irreparably harming the new relationship by instilling fear, anger, aggression, spraying, and litter box issues in the new and/or resident cat (s). It takes time to make a good first impression.
Allow the cats to investigate the situation. As the cats sniff each other from beneath the “safe room” door, let “smell” be the first introduction. Begin daily bedding exchanges between the new and resident cats within two to four days. This helps the cats get used to each other’s scents.
Stage 2: The Cat Keeps investigating Kitten
Allow for more sniffing. If neither cat shows any signs of aggression, such as hissing or growling, the next step is to confine your resident cat to a room and allow the new cat to explore your home for a few hours each day for several days.
Stage 3: Cat Notices Kitten
Arrange for a carrier meeting to be held. Place your new cat in a carrier and keep it somewhere in your house other than the safe room (for example, the living room). Allow the cats to sniff through the carrier door and look at each other.
Are there any signs of hostility? Keep your visit brief and return the new cat to its secure enclosure.
If possible, repeat this phase 2 to 3 times daily until the cats appear to be more at ease with each other.
Stage 4: Allow both cats to Meets
Allow the cats to meet at their leisure. Leave the door to the safe room open a crack if there are no signs of cat aggression. This will allow your resident cat to visit and/or the new cat to explore. For the safety of both cats, supervision is required.
Have a spray bottle of water or a towel on hand in case of aggression. Always put an end to serious threats and/or aggression right away, as a serious fight can jeopardize the possibility of successful integration and relationships.
If your integration plan isn’t working after a few weeks, consider installing a low-cost screen door from a home improvement store. The screen door keeps both parties safe while allowing the cats to continue to get to know each other through sight and smell. In the screened room, each cat can take turns.
When integrating is difficult, a Feliway diffuser may be useful.
Stage 5: Finalization of Integration
Over the next few months, you may notice some hissing, swatting, and grumpy behavior (and years). This is perfectly normal. Cats are naturally hierarchical, so they must establish and maintain the pecking order in your home. Furthermore, just like humans, all cats have bad days.
Please keep in mind that the timelines listed above are only estimates. Some integrations go more quickly than others, and it all depends on the personalities of the cats involved. Remember, you are the expert on your cat(s). When integrating a new cat or cats, use common sense and patience.