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Introducing your resident cat to a new cat can be a challenging task. As a furparent, you need to know some warning signs when introducing cats.
Cats are very territorial and they sometimes prefer having their solitary space. You might run into some problems when you bring a new kitty to your home without prior preparation.
Your resident cat may not like it when a new cat gets into their territory.
The resident cat may become hostile to the newcomer. They may hiss, growl and rumble and even show aggression towards each other.
It is possible to see cats physically attacking each other in such a situation and this is dangerous and can be life-threatening.
With proper preparation, you can introduce cats flawlessly and reduce the chances of aggression and hostility.
Introducing cats may take a few days, weeks, and even months. If you do it properly, they will get along without much resistance and within a shorter time.
How To Prepare and How to Start the Introduction
Cats are very territorial pets. Your resident cat may not welcome your newly adopted kitty because they feel threatened.
Your resident cat will become defensive and try to push out the newcomer from their territory. Whilst this can be normal, it can sometimes turn out to be ugly if the cats are not handled properly.
1. Prepare for a multi-cat home
Before bringing your newcomer cat to the house, you need to prepare to host them. Create a separate room that will host the new cat alone.
The room should be lockable and easily accessible to all family members. It should further be spacious enough to house all the accessories that your cat will need.
You need to get more cat resources for your furry friends. Increase the number and variety of toys, cat treats, cat gears, and other essential accessories. You don’t want a situation where your furry partners fight for limited resources.
2. Immediately after the adoption
After adopting your new cat or kitten, you need to take them to the vet first. Let your vet diagnose them for all the common cat health problems.
If they’re found to be suffering from any medical condition, they should receive proper care and medication immediately.
If it’s the cat’s time to get vaccinated, let him get the prescribed shots. You should not take an unvaccinated cat to your home.
They may easily get some communicable diseases and pose a danger to your feline family.
3. Bringing your new cat home
Get your cat and place him inside a cozy carrier box. You can place a few toys and cat treats in the box to keep your cat engaged through the journey.
The carrier box holding your cat should be safely secured on your car’s seat with a safety belt.
Once you arrive at home with your newcomer feline, take them to their separate room. Do not allow your resident cat to see the feline visitor yet.
Leave the cat inside the carrier box while open and let them come out at will. At this point, the newcomer is probably a little stressed and anxious to know his new home.
Introducing Kittens to Your Adult Cat
Introducing adult cats may be different from kittens. It is much easier for kittens to get along with adult cats.
Some kitty parents have found it easy to get their resident cats to accept the newcomer kitten. You can expect your kitten and resident cat to get along in less than a week.
Kittens are playful and exciting to have around. They are yet to get their natural territorial instincts which come along as cats get older.
Your resident cat will also feel less threatened to see a small newcomer than a mature one. However, you should not assume that your adult cat will accept a new kitten immediately.
Follow the following tips to ensure your feline partners get along together.
1. Know your resident cats’ personalities
Does your cat love kittens? You consider whether your cat can freely welcome kittens to play with them endlessly. If you have an elderly cat, then they may get along quickly.
2. Start training your kitten
The best way to ensure that your newcomer kitten blends with the fur family is by training them. Train them not to scratch the furniture and show them the more convenient scratching post.
Let your newcomer grow up with the same life values as your resident cat and they can easily get along.
3. Get them to play together
Cats love playing, and kittens love it more. One of the best ways to let your newcomer kitten feel at home is to give him a playing companion.
Give the feline partners enough cat toys and let them play together. From tugging games to chewing toys to jumping on cat trees, let your cats enjoy and maximize their fun.
For more in-depth details, make sure you read our ultimate guide on how to introduce cats.
Have a look at the video below from Dr. Kim Chainey where she talks about the 10 things you need to know if you have a new kitten.
If you have a dog, don’t worry! Learn how to introduce your cat to your dog at home with our ultimate guide.
Warning Signs When Introducing Cats
You can minimize the cases of intolerance by your feline pets by carefully looking out for warning signs. Your resident cat will be reacting to the new cat, while the newcomer tries to adjust to the new environment.
The following are some of the warning signs when introducing new cats:
1. Staring at each other
Your feline partners will stare at each other immediately after they spot each other. The resident cat may stare at the newcomer for long because they’re feeling uncomfortable or threatened.
If you notice a prolonged stare, then the cats might be building up aggression which might turn out to be ugly. You can come in and separate the cats to calm them down and prevent any attack.
Cats growl to show their fear, anger, repulsion, and distress when in uncomfortable situations. Both the new cat and the resident or one of the cats may start growling at the first instance of meeting. In most cases, the cat who feels more uncomfortable will growl first.
If your resident cat starts growling on the first meeting, they are just trying to communicate their discomfort of having another feline in the house.
Growling is largely normal and should not cause a major concern. In any case, it shows you that your feline partners are mindful of their peace and would raise an alarm if they’re uncomfortable.
Growling may not be enough for the cats and they may now move it up a notch. The cats may start hissing at each other when their fear levels rise.
Hissing is a defensive sound that is produced by cats when they feel victimized or antagonized.
If you notice your cats hissing against each other, you need to come in and separate them. Failure to intervene might make the cats escalate their tension.
4. Ears flat or pushed back
Another warning sign to check out when introducing cats is how they move their ears.
Cats will flatten and push their ears back when they feel nervous, threatened, or anxious. They do this because they feel threatened by the new feline.
Cats flatten their ears and moved them back to protect them from any external attack. At this point, your cats are fearful that the other cats may pounce on them and start fighting.
5. Dilated pupils
Your cat’s pupils might become dilated during the first encounter. This shows that the furry partners are fearful and defensive. They are keeping a close eye on what might happen next.
6. Puffing out their fur
Your feline partners may puff out their fur at the first instance of meeting. This is a defensive move as the cats are trying to bulge out their bodies to appear big. The cat that feels more insecure will puff out more fur than the dominant cat.
7. Chasing and hiding
In cases where the dominant cat is scaring off another cat, then the less dominant cat will run and hide for their safety.
Common places where cats can find safety include under the bed, sofa, and behind the curtains.
Sometimes the hiding cat may refuse to come back because they’re scared of the stronger cat. If this happens, then you need to separate the cats and look out for the hiding cat to show them some love.
How To Get Cats to Get Along
There is no definite time when cats will all get along. Some cats will be friends within a few days, other weeks, and some will take months.
You can however come into play and help your cats get along faster and more peacefully.
1. Increase your Cats’ Resources
If you have a single cat, then you need to prepare your home to host multiple cats. The preparation will entail providing the cats with adequate resources to live happily and in harmony.
Cats should not compete for any resource. This may build up tension and make them fight in some cases.
Ensure you add an extra cat litter box for your newcomer. Cats are hygienic animals and they may not be willing to share a litter box.
You can get an automatic cat litter box if you have a newcomer kitten to make it more convenient for them.
Cats may similarly not find it easy to share feeding resources. This may make the feline partners hostile to each other while competing for food.
Create another feeding station for your new cat. Feeding points should have cat food bowls, an automatic cat feeder, and cat water fountains.
You need to separate where your newcomer will sleep. They should sleep away from the resident cats’ sleeping area.
Consider getting a tall pet gate to separate the two rooms, where the cats can see each other but they can’t physically reach each other. This can help speed up the introduction phase.
For the start, it is important to have the cats sleep in different cat beds. They can, later on, share their beds when they are used to each other.
Get more interactive cat toys for your feline pets. You should ensure that your furbabies do not clash during their play time because of inadequate cat toys.
2. Allow your resident cat to cool down
Once your feline partners have met and raised their curiosity, you need to allow your resident feline to cool down.
Take them to a separate room and let them cool down from the possible aggression build-up. Do not force your cats to get along with a newcomer immediately. Allow them to become friendly at their own pace.
3. Eating together
If your fur friends do not compete for food, then you can have them take their meals near each other. Have different food bowls for all cats and let them eat in harmony.
Make sure all the cats have a generous food portion to reduce any chances of a conflict.
4. Use a Pheromone Diffuser
Your newcomer cat will easily adapt to their new home, and the resident cats will easily accept the visitor. You can plug these diffusers in your new cats’ rooms, the living room, and walkways.
5. Reward your cats when they tolerate each other
Have some tasty cat treats and reward your cats when they’re staying calm together. Show them that you are happy when they embrace each other.
6 Signs Cats are Starting to Get along
You can know if your feline pets are getting along by looking at how their behavior changes. Cats who once could not stand each other are now embracing each other.
There is no specific time for cats to get along. Some become friends after a few days while others take months.
1. Sharing a room
If you notice your furry partners spending some time together in a single room, then you can be sure that they have started to embrace each other.
The resident cat is now accepting the newcomer as part of the family. There’s no more hiding and chasing.
You can also observe how the cats are behaving in the room. Are they still very alert or do they feel safe together? This will show you the extent to which they have embraced each other.
2. Eating from the same bowl
Friendly cats have no problem eating from the same bowl. You can notice this even when you have given every cat their bowl but they still eat from one bowl while interchanging.
3. They great each other
Your furry partners are now raising their tails and meowing when they meet. This is a sign that they are mindful of each other.
They can go further to rub their heads together and even lick each other for some time. This act is an exchange of love and affection.
4. They groom each other
Friendly cats will groom themselves regularly. A cat will help their partner to clean some areas of the body that are out of reach.
5. Playing together
The tugs and runs are no longer boring. Friendly cats will participate inclusively in their games to get the most excitement. They no longer fight for toys. They can now share some of their toys without much competition.
They further engage in running, jumping, and chasing battles, especially on their scratching posts.
6. They sleep together
After playing together for some time, your feline partners are now tired and sleeping together on the couch. This is to tell you that they can now share the same space without conflict.
If your kitties are showing the above signs, then they have finally accepted each other. The newcomer has now become part of the family and they feel at home.
However, you should not assume that the cats no longer need their solo spaces anymore. Sometimes cats may want their alone time in a solitary place to rest and calm down.
You should therefore maintain every cat’s room and hiding area. Let them have all the resources available for them whenever needed.
What To Do If Cats Get Aggressive
Sometimes cats can become aggressive when introduced. At such a point, you need to intervene and prevent a possible physical attack. This is especially common for aggressive cats and those that are too territorial.
To prevent your cats from fighting, you need to introduce them in the presence of a second person. Both of you should stay alert and watch out if there is a possibility of an attack in the first instance.
If you notice any signs of fighting, you need to immediately back off and take the furry friends to their respective rooms. This is a warning sign that the cats might take much longer to get along.
You can then swap your cats’ scents, which plays a role in making the host cat accept others in their territory.
Get some accessories e.g., towels with your resident’s cat scent, and take them to the new cat’s room. Let the newcomer get the resident cat’s scent.
Do the same for your resident cat, let him get the scent of the newcomer. You can also switch the cat’s beddings.
Let them interact with each other’s scent and smell. As you do this, continue making use of the pheromone spray.
Once you have done this for a few days, you can now reintroduce the cats. This time a bit more careful to prevent any aggression build-up.
Have more than one person do this for you to contain any possible physical attack by the fur babies.
I have written an article on how to deal with an aggressive cat. You can check out that article to find more tips on how to cool down your cat when aggression builds up.
What Not to Do When Introducing Cats
Now that we have looked at some of the things you can do to introduce cats, what about the contrary? There are some things that you should try to avoid whenever you want your resident cat to welcome his newcomer furbaby.
1. Introducing your cats too quickly
Once you have arrived home with the newcomer, do not rush to introduce them yet. Let the new cat stay in their house for some time, even days.
Allow them to get familiar with the new house. If you introduce them quickly, then the new cat might feel intimidated. They’re trying to catch up with a new environment plus a new furry friend.
2. Leaving your cats unsupervised
Your cats should not be in close proximity while unsupervised. Every time you want to bring the cats in close contact, ensure you are there to watch over them. You can then be able to monitor their interactions closely.
The cats will also feel safer in your presence. They would come down and have a reduced chance of building up tension.
3. Forcing your cats to get along
Be patient and allow your furry friends to get along with time. Do not force any of them to immediately accept friendship.
You might cause more damage than good when you do this. Make the process as natural as possible. If your furry partners will naturally get along, then they will maintain the bond for long.
4. Shouting at them
When you shout or punish your furry friend for not accepting a visitor, then he might become aggressive. Shouting at your cats will only increase their stress levels and make them more anxious.
If you observe any warning signs when introducing cats, it is best to separate them immediately. Do not force your resident cat to immediately accept the new furry friend.
Let them take their time to learn and embrace each other at their pace.
Thank you for reading through this article. If you have any questions, please leave a comment down below and I will get back to you.
Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a also a pet writer and expert with more than 20 years of experience of working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.