Not everyone is aware that adopting a cat when you already have one can be risky. These little animals might be adorable, but they are also very territorial and can react badly to a new roommate.
What should you think about before adding another cat to the house? What are the possible consequences and how can you minimize them?
What to expect?
Most people who already live with a small feline enjoy its company so much that they want to repeat the experience with a second cat. This is of course very doable and many families have experienced it, but there are still some things to be aware of.
Cats are animals that mark their territory, and your first one might not be happy about sharing his home with a newcomer. Unlike dogs who enjoy group living, cats are very happy with solitude and they might view the new pal as an intruder. In most cases, it is possible to introduce a new cat into your household, but it also happens that the eldest disagrees in a rather virulent way: by urinating in the house, by attacking the new feline, by spitting, meowing and scratching the animal (or your furniture…).
Can we avoid these consequences?
Each animal is unique and has its own character. It can therefore happen that the introduction of a new animal goes very smoothly, but let’s face it, this is rather rare… There are however ways to minimize the consequences of this situation:
- Choose a kitten: the first cat will always feel less threatened if it’s a small baby who comes to share his home. He may tend to be aggressive (in your eyes) by bullying the kitten, but these are just games to show him who’s boss.
- If the 2nd cat is already an adult, it will more easily accept an animal of the opposite sex (normal!) than another that it will consider as a competitor who comes to steal its territory. Be careful, however, females are sometimes more difficult and will not accept anyone, male or female!
Once you have chosen your new kitty, you must also follow a few rules to introduce it into your home:
- Choose a quiet day: no noise, no visitors, nothing unusual should happen that day.
- Don’t put the two cats in direct contact. Put the newcomer in a separate room, with its own litter box and food. Pet the two cats alternately and then go pet the other without washing your hands, so they can smell each other.
- Some people recommend soaking a small blanket with the newcomer’s scent (e.g., leaving it overnight in the basket) and then rubbing it on furniture corners and around the other cat’s litter box.
- Cats recognize each other by smell. It may be beneficial to keep the two cats in different rooms for several days so they can get used to each other from a distance.
- It may be a good idea to temporarily place the first cat in a closed room (the bathroom, for example) for an hour or two to let the newcomer visit the house.
- If you don’t notice an overreaction from the first cat (no screaming, spitting, etc.), then you can consider having them meet face to face. To do this, place the new cat in a carrier or cage and let the other cat walk around, smell it, etc. Another option is to install a safety door (for children) between two rooms and let the animals move on their own.
- Observe the reactions of both felines carefully. This step may take several days if you notice the cats reacting violently to each other.
- After a little time (a few hours or a few days, depending on the cats, if they don’t seem particularly violent or disturbed, open the hatch of the cage and wait … Separate the cats at the slightest sign of aggression from one or the other and bring them back in touch with each other more and more often, until they get used to it.
Don’t forget to pay attention to your first cat, to pet it, to play with it often, to give it certain privileges (treats, etc.) so that he understands that you still love him and that the new cat has not taken its place.
From the beginning…
Some cats will acclimate to each other quite easily, while for others it will take many weeks. It is estimated that when the newcomer is a kitten, the whole process can take 1-2 weeks. When it’s another adult, it may take 4-6 weeks or more, depending on the character of each kitty.
If after a period of time that you feel is long enough, it still seems that the cats are ready to attack each other and fight at the slightest opportunity, it may be necessary to start from the beginning… You will have to separate the two cats in different rooms, each with its own litter box, and start introducing them again for a few minutes each day.
If nothing works?
When cats really have a hard time getting along, cohabitation can take several months and never be fully accepted by kitties. They will then be content to live side by side, but without necessarily paying attention or playing with each other. Even if they seem relaxed, then they will fight at the slightest chance.
Be aware that sometimes you can seek help from a veterinarian or a specialized professional. These people sometimes have tricks that will work in a few days, so it’s worth a try.
But sometimes the tension between the two cats is so intense that you have no choice but to move one of them to a new home, even if it makes you sad…