How to Introduce Your Cat to a New Cat

It can be challenging to bring a new cat into a home where there is an established cat. But there are steps you can take to ease the process.

May 28, 2024By Holly Ramsey
how to introduce your cat to new cat

Cats are more solitary than their canine counterparts, and this makes it more challenging to add another cat or kitten to your home. Adding a new feline friend should happen without disrupting the routine of the established cat. Here are some tricks and tips to help introduce a new cat to your cat.

Before the Introduction of a New Cat

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Before doing any introductions between your established cat and a new cat, first consider each one’s personality. If your cat is a definite loner and not a fan of company a new cat may not be the right choice for your home. A cat that is outwardly hostile toward a new cat may not be receptive to any new cat in their home and will not be buddies with another cat.

It does take a long time for two cats to become friendly toward each other. Patience will be key to a successful introduction and integration. Do not force them together or expect them to immediately become best friends.

Picking the Right Time to Introduce the New Cat

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If you are planning on adopting a new cat or kitten, you will want to pick the right time. There are life events that you want to help your established cat through before you bring home a new feline. If you just moved to a new home, changed your work schedule, got married, or had a new baby, then your cat may still be adjusting to the new routine. This is not the time to bring home a new cat.

It can take a cat several weeks to get used to changes in their environment and during that time they are not as willing to share their territory with another cat or become friendly with a new interloper. You want to introduce a new cat when your cat is comfortable with their home and routine.

Create Separate Living Spaces

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Your established cat will already have claimed their favorite spots in your home. You do not want a new cat to intrude on their special places until they are familiar with each other. Set up a separate room or space for the new cat. A large cat pen or a spare bedroom will work great.

You also want to give each cat their own food and water bowls. Your cat will not be happy to have to share with an interloper. Make sure you have at least one litter box in each cat’s space. They will become familiar with each other’s scents before being introduced face-to-face. Cats use pheromones to communicate and getting used to each other through scent is an important part of the introduction process.

Scent Exchange Between Cats

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After the new cat has been in your home for a few days begin doing scent exchanges. Switch items in each cat’s space every few days. Bedding and toys are great items to switch so cats can become familiar with each other before the face-to-face meeting. Your established cat may be curious about the new cat, or they could be standoffish and not want anything to do with the new cat or its scent. Amazon or Chewy has a nice selection of cat beds and toys for your cats to enjoy.

Controlled Introductions

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Controlled introductions should be done after about a week or so of scent exchanges. This will need to be done in a controlled setting. Use a barrier that allows the cats to see each other without being able to come together and possibly fight. A large wire dog crate is ideal, so the new cat is protected in case your established cat gets aggressive. A baby gate will also work if neither cat is big on jumping and climbing over the gate.

It is very likely that the cats will stare at each other down at first sight. You may hear hissing and growling. Keep the first few sessions short to keep the cats’ stress levels down. As the cats get used to each other you can extend the sessions. You may notice your established cat following you more when introducing a new cat.

Shared Mealtimes

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After the cats stop growling and hissing at each other during the controlled introductions you can start letting them share a meal. Leave the barrier between them but place their food bowls on either side of the barrier. Put a spoonful of their favorite food in each bowl.

Eating near each other will help them become more friendly toward each other. If neither wants to eat, push the bowls farther apart and then over time move them closer together again. Feeding them treats or snacks while they are supervised is another way to help them enjoy each other’s company.

Supervised Interactions Between Cats

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Once the two cats have accepted each other during meal times, even with the bowls side-by-side with the barrier between them, you can move on to supervised interactions. Remove the gate or open the wire pen and let the cats meet face-to-face. Keep a close eye on them for any aggressive behaviors.

Keep the supervised interactions short at first. As the cats show a willingness to get along and cohabitate you can extend the times, they are together. It may only take a few supervised interactions before your cat is accepting of the new cat. But in some cases, it can take several weeks of supervised meetings before they begin showing a willingness to get along.

Continue to Monitor You Cats

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As the two cats begin spending more and more time together, you will not need to hover and supervise them as closely. You will still want to stay near and pay attention to their moods. Be prepared to separate them if they begin to fight. When you are away from home, you will want to keep them in their separate spaces to ensure there is no fighting while you are not home.

Over time, if your established cat accepts the new cat, you will be able to leave them alone together. Do not expect to be able to leave them alone together for quite some time. Quarrels, while you are not there to monitor and interrupt, can cause the cats to dislike each other even more.

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Make sure both cats have a current physical examination and are current on vaccinations before meeting face-to-face. Have plenty of perches and hiding areas for each cat in their respective spaces so they feel secure. You do not want to force the introductions; you can easily make the two cats hate each other for life by forcing the introductions too quickly. Play with each cat and do not ignore your established cat in favor of the new cat, this can cause jealousy issues. And remember, patience is key when introducing two cats.

Holly Ramsey
By Holly Ramsey

Holly is a 2nd generation dog breeder/trainer and has over 25 years of experience with several different breeds. She enjoys working with her Japanese Chin and Rough Collies and helping her mom and daughter with their chosen breeds. Most evenings, Holly is hanging out with her daughter watching movies, crafting, or playing with the fur-kids.