Cats are territorial and solitary hunters by nature, but friendships can and do develop even in feral populations. If you already have a cat and are planning to adopt a new one, there are some things you should consider.
- Respect the resident’s space. Do not immediately drop a new cat into the territory of your resident cat without some acclimation time. It may be wise to confine the new one to an area that is not “prime real estate” to your resident cat, maybe a bathroom or bedroom where the resident does not spend much time. The new cat needs to adjust to you and your home before he meets his new house mate.
- Make the home a calm and safe place. Pheromone sprays or diffusers may help create a tranquil environment. Cats are very tuned in to the cues and scents. Feliway®, synthetic facial pheromone mimics a safe and secure marking that tells your cats on a basic level that everything is alright. Provide hiding spots and quiet places for both cats far from the other where they can retreat if feeling threatened.
- Be sure there is no competition for resources. Give each cat their own litter box (and even one extra), food dishes and hang out places. Make sure there is a wide birth where the cats can choose to avoid each other completely if they want to. This way, the confrontation is not forced and the cats can choose their interaction without feeling like their survival is in jeopardy.
- There should be no other big changes to your home during the introduction period. When you are moving to a new house is not an ideal time to add a new cat. All cats are intolerant to change and if you change too much too soon, you set both the cats up for a poor introduction. Even interior remodeling or home repairs where workers and new people will be around can add stress to cats.
- Be patient. Cats can be slow to accept the presence of a new competitor and often see little advantage to friendship. Eventually, the cats will likely come to an agreement about tolerating each other, but may never be friendly. Be sure not to lose patience and try to force an alliance. Immediate forced confrontation is more likely to end in a fight. This process can take weeks or even months. Some cats never truly bond, but learn the boundaries of the other’s territory inside the home and live in peace.
It is always wise to plan out face to face interactions when you can be present (with a squirt bottle if fighting starts). Choose a time when both cats have been fed a hearty and enticing meal and if you can interact with each one separately first, it helps. If they are both full, happy and tired, you encourage a positive introduction. Consider all of these tips to weigh the odds in favor of a pleasant introductory period and a happy fur-ever after for you and your cats. Please look me up on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ . I love hearing about your pets!
About The Author: Dr. Kathryn Primm is a practicing small animal veterinarian and practice owner at Applebrook Animal Hospital in Ooltewah, TN. She has consulted on articles for national magazines, done numerous radio interviews and appeared on local television. She has contributed to articles for Prevention magazine (April 2015) and Woman’s Day (Feb 2014 and June 2015). Her radio segment Chattanooga Pet Talk airs each week on all the local iHeart Media affiliates.
She has a social media presence on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and enjoys interaction with others about her passions, animals and communication. She has written a book, Tennessee Tails:Pets and Their People. The book received recognition as Runner Up in the Memoirs category at a national book festival. You can read more about Dr. Primm and how to get the best value for your pet care dollar at her website, www.drprimm.com.