When introducing a second cat to an already established cat in your home, you need to take it slowly and observe three stages – separation, visual contact and full contact.
A beautiful Siamese cat. Ready to meet a friend?
Keeping Cats Separate
Keep them separate to start with. Keep them within earshot of each other, though, and ‘swap scents’ by introducing each animal to a toy or cushion that the other has been using. This will allow them to get used to each other’s sound and smell, and will help the new cat settle gently into her new surroundings. The best way of doing this is to keep the cats separated by a single door. If it’s the kitchen door, this will allow the established cat to come and go through the catflap (if you have one), while slowly becoming accustomed to the newcomer.
Letting Cats Make Visual Contact
After the first week – or after they’ve stopped hissing and yowling at each other – introduce visual contact. It’s best not to simply carry one of the cats in your arms when you move on to this stage, in case there’s a bit of panic and scratching. A barrier that they can both see through works best – a pair of cat carriers, for example. If you have a glass door, that would be a good option too.
If using cat carriers at this stage, secure the doors and put the carriers close to each (but not directly face-to-face, in case one of the cats wants to turn away and look elsewhere – important parts of cat body language).
Letting Cats Make Physical Contact
When you’re sure that the cats are comfortable in each other’s company – not hissing or looking in any way distressed – it’s time to make the final leap.
Even if you’re happy that the previous stage has gone well, you still need to supervise the first physical contact between the old and the new cat. It is normal for them to hiss or run away from each other, so don’t worry if that happens. Leave a door open in case one of the pets needs to make a quick exit.
One cat grooming another cat
Introducing a New Kitten
Introduction a kitten to an adult cat is usually a lot easier than bringing a new adult cat into the equation. Adults instinctively know that a kitten is no threat, and they are therefore less likely to show any aggression. You still need to supervise the process carefully, though.
Bringing together two kittens from different litters will nearly always be trouble-free too. The kittens will be eager to meet each other and play, just as they would have played with their siblings.
Reintroducing Cats Who Have Been Away From Home
The guidelines covered above apply if one of your cats has been away from home. This might have been a stay in a cattery, or perhaps in a cat hospital. When they return, their familiar scent will have been overridden by new scents. The cat who stayed at home may not recognise her old friend as the same cat she used to know!