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Ask Dr Elliot: What’s the best way to introduce a new cat to the cat I already have?



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cat_fightMany people feel that their single/only cat is lonely and therefore they go out and get another cat to keep the first one company.

What they don’t realize is that in the wild, and in general, cats live in matriarchial prides – females rule. So two female cats not of the same pride usually will fight with one another for the territory.
If you have two cats, each cat will claim its own territory. The bigger the living space the better chance there will be more peace in the house.

The best way to introduce a new cat to your household is slowly.
If your older cat’s companion has passed away: bringing home a kitten is not a great idea. Older cats are not likely to welcome a young spry kitten who wants to play play play.
It’s better to bring home a little older (5 + years old) cat who is more settled.

If you have a kitten: it’s pretty easy to bring home another kitten of a similar age. Most kittens will accept another kitten as a playmate fairly easily.

If you are thinking of adopting a kitten, think of adopting two. It usually isn’t that much more trouble to have two as opposed to one.

Kittens love to run and play all the time. If there are two of them they keep each other busy and happy and will keep you laughing. If you only have one….YOU are IT. And will have to constantly be entertaining your kitten who will want to play with you all the time.

How to introduce your new cat to the household
It can take weeks – or in the worst cases, up to a year – for your cats to stop fighting and settle down and start to be friendly, or at least tolerant. Be patient!

Put the new cat in the bathroom or a room with a divider so that the two cats can hear and smell each other but not have complete contact. Keep them separate for a least a week if possible. Then expose them slowly for short periods of time. Expect they may hiss at each other and even look like they want to fight. Be careful not to try to separate two animals that are fighting. You can get hurt.
Use a towel to pick up one cat and separate it from the other if they are fighting.

At some point even if they don’t become friends, if they can tolerate each other and let each other be….that’s great. Many cats after a short getting to know you period do end up being friendly, sleeping on the bed together and sometimes grooming, playing and enjoying each other’s company.

Good luck….and thank you for opening your hearts and homes to these wonderful felines. They do provide so much joy and love and have a way of crawling into our hearts.

Related: Top 10 Things to Do Before You Bring a New Cat Home


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