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Introducing a New Cat to Your Existing Feline Friend

There are many reasons why you may want to introduce another cat to your family. Perhaps you already have a cat who you feel would benefit from some extra companionship or perhaps you are looking for some extra companionship yourself!

Whatever the reason, we have gathered some useful tips for introducing a new cat into your household that already houses another cat!

Remember though, each cat is an individual with different traits, characteristics and tolerances – so what might work for some may not be as effective for others. Following these tips however can ensure that the whole process of introduction is a lot easier for you and your cats!


Cats Aren’t a Fan of Change…

You are probably aware that cats can be very territorial; they readily mark their territory and are willing to confront other cats who impede. This can make introducing a new cat difficult, but not impossible.

If this is the first time your cat will be sharing the house with another, then it is likely that they will be anxious of the newcomer. They may be jealous of the attention they receive from you, concerned about competition or they may just prefer being alone.

Relationships take time to develop, so expect anxiety at first – don’t expect both cats to get on right from the start (not that it isn’t possible however…).

Also, you know your cat best. Are they dominant? Do they like company? Are they aggressive? Take some time to consider whether your cat’s personality is suited to feline companionship before you jump in to things!

You may find introducing a new cat is easier if you use a pheromone diffusing product such as Feliway for a couple of weeks before the new cat arrives. These products release a natural chemical (a pheromone), that helps cats adapt to change by decreasing anxiety.

Considering Your New Cat

Bringing a new cat into your household will require some extra time commitment from you, for the first week or so, as their relationship develops. Be willing to put in this extra time as it will provide a good foundation for the future relationship between your new and existing cat.

To help you make a good match, consider your current cat’s personality and try to find another cat with a complimentary personality. For example, trying to match your submissive cat with a new dominant male might be difficult.

One of the best solutions is to introduce a kitten. Kittens are much less likely to act aggressively towards your current cat and as such, confrontations over territory will also be less likely. If you have an older cat however, consider whether or not they would be able to tolerate the natural playfulness of a new kitten!

Gender typically isn’t a problem when considering a new cat; some same-sex companions get on just as well as male-female companions. Ensuring that both cats are neutered however will reduce aggression and prevent unwanted kittens in male-female households!

How to Introduce Your New Cat

First and foremost, don’t rush in to introductions! Gradually increase the amount of time your new cat spends with your current cat:

  • Introduce your new cat in stages
  • Keep your new cat completely separate for at least a day as they settle in to their new environment
  • Keep your new cat in a separate room for around a week – separate feeding and litter trays will help to reduce anxiety at first
  • Once settled (after a day or two), occasionally bring your new cat in to the same room with your current cat – be sure to you are there to observe how they react (expect some hissing at first!) and that there is a path for either cat to exit if they feel uncomfortable. Occasional interactions like these help both cats become accustomed to each others’ scent
  • Continue to bring your new cat out of their separate room to socialise until you are confident that they can be left alone together
  • When confident both your current and new cat are getting along to some extent (they don’t have to be best buddies just yet!), you can give them free roam of the house – but be sure they still have somewhere they can go if they need to get away or be alone

Tips on Developing Your New and Existing Cat’s Relationship

As mentioned earlier, don’t expect your new cat and current cat to get on immediately. Their relationship will take time to grow. You can help it develop by:

  • Ensuring both cats have separate litter trays and feeding bowls
  • Give both cats equal attention – don’t favour one
  • Be sure to spend some time with each cat on an individual basis
  • Progressively move their feeding bowls closer together
  • Try to increase scent familiarity by rubbing each cat with the same, unwashed towel
  • Use anxiety-reducing pheromone products such as Feliway

What to Do if Your Cats Don’t Get On

It is inevitable that some cats just aren’t going to get on. If you find that your new cat doesn’t get on too great with your current cat, it isn’t a cause for concern – cats can happily co-exist as long as they each have their own individual space and are able spend time alone.

Despite the fact that they may not get along, the mere presence of another cat will provide stimulation for both that they wouldn’t have received if they were housed alone – so don’t rush out to rehome the newcomer!

There may be some exceptional situations, where one cat may show signs of severe stress in response to the presence of another cat. Signs can include; reduced appetite, aggressive behaviour and an intolerance of people. If after a month or two it still appears as though your cats still aren’t getting on and you believe one may be showing signs of stress, ask your vet to check them over and consult them for further advice. The unfortunate remedy in this situation is likely going to be the rehoming of one cat.

These situations are rare! Most cats will learn to appreciate their new feline companion with time and become happier and more content with daily life. A new companion can reduce boredom and provide great stimulation for both cats!

Your Thoughts

Have you recently taken on a new feline friend? How did your current cat cope with the introduction of a new cat? Let us know your experiences below and feel free to share any tips you may have!

About James Watts

BSc Bioveterinary Science. Editor of PetSci. When I'm not writing, learning, discussing, or reading about animals, you know it's the weekend! Currently developing PetSci HealthTrak, the fast and easy way to monitor your pet's weight and calorie intake. HealthTrak offers a simple way to track your pet's progress, helping them achieve a healthy weight and a long, happy life.

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2 comments

  1. I have a four year old female neutered cat (quite spoilt and pampered) recently a young male (stray) has taken over our shed for the last six weeks… After no success in finding his owner (posted in the local newspaper and Facebook) and most cat shelters unhelpful. i would really like to keep him and get him checked over at the vets flead/neutered etc.. Problem is my female cat is very territorial and seems to despise this new cat with a passion! He is very submissive around my cat and friendly, yet she is still very aggressive whenever he tries to enter the actual house! I’ve still been giving her lots of attention and treats but I don’t want to give my cat stress 🙁 I’ve been scouring the internet for advice and awaiting an order of feliway from amazon. With bonfire night coming up I need to find a way for her to let him come into the house that’s not going to be stressfull for my female cat. Any advice welcome!

    • Hi Sandie – That’s so kind of you to take on the stray! I imagine the Feliway will help both cats to settle in, hopefully you’ll be able to last without it until bonfire night! Just make sure that both cats have somewhere to escape to if things get a little stressful in the meantime.

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