It can be a great experience watching two cats bond, but what happens if your new cat is not accepted by your resident kitty, or vice versa? There are many tips you can follow to smooth over the transition into a multi-cat household.
The first question you should ask yourself is, should you get a new cat in the first place? Sometimes, you do not have a choice in the matter. Perhaps you are moving in with a significant other who already has a pet, or recently acquired a cat from someone who was not able to care for it any longer. However, if you are getting a cat because you would like another one, make sure you are doing this for the best interest of your current cat, and not yourself. Cat introductions are easier when you have a young cat at home or have a cat that loves being around other cats. If you have an older cat at home that is happy and established, it may be better to keep your cat solo. Cat introductions can be a long and stressful process, so you have to be prepared to be in it for the long haul if you truly want to be successful.
So, you have put a lot of thought into whether you should expand your pet family and have decided to get another cat--great! Make sure to keep your resident cat and new cat separate for at least the first few days. Your new cat should have its own safe base camp complete with a litter box, food, water, toys and a comfortable place to rest. This will allow your new cat to get used to the sights, smells and sounds of its new home, while having the privacy and security of establishing its own territory.
Let your cats smell and listen to each other from opposite sides of a door. If that goes well, try opening the door a crack so the cats can see each other a little bit. Distract each cat with lots of love, treats, and playtime to create a positive association with one another. Try feeding each cat on each side of a door, slowly moving the bowls closer each day, so that the cats get used to each others scents. Swap toys, blankets and beds with each cat so they can mix their scents together. As time goes on, you can allow each cat to swap places so they can each explore the other cat's territory. When you feel like the cats are ready to meet face-to-face, make sure to do so under supervision and have plenty of positive stimuli nearby, such as their favorite food, to help the cats see each other as friends.
Although it may seem impossible at times, many households are able to create a harmonious household with multiple cats. When we adopted our cat, Midori, it took about 6 months for our resident cat, Tama, to fully accept her. We had a roller coaster of emotions, including fear, sadness, frustration, guilt and excitement through the introduction process. With persistence and following the introduction steps deliberately, we were finally able to get to a point where both cats were happily adjusted. Sometimes, our family jokingly admits that even 2 years later, Midori and Tama are more like frenemies!
If you are looking for toys or beds that you can use to scent swap with your cats, we have some great products on our Tamadori website. Check out our "For Playing" and "For Sleeping" sections for some charming options.
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