The Best Way To Introduce Cats

Comfort CatsI write these pages to give knowledge and experience to those who are just getting cats or even possibly to the cat owner who just didn’t know these things existed. I say this because I too just didn’t know enough about cats before I brought them into my life. In fact it was starting to have a negative impact on our relationships and it was all due to my misinformation or lack of information. So I appreciate everyone here who is following along and helping out with their own lives about their experience with cats. If there is ever something I mention that is wrong or I do not have included on one of my posts please let me know so we may look into it.

In this post I would like to describe in more detail my experience with introducing our cats to one another. I have gone into the scenario briefly on another blog but felt like it was a topic that was worth getting a little deeper into. When I first got my second cat she was just a kitten. We brought her home and unknowingly, threw her right into the thick of things. Our first cat was about a year or so old and had been having a wonderful effect on our lives and in our home. We learned a lot from her and wanted to get another cat as well as a companion for her as she was home alone while we were at work. We did little to no research before getting our new cat and did not think it would be any different than it was bringing our first cat home. When we brought our second cat inside we knew things would be much different than we had envisioned. You see, we had pictured the meeting of two cats as a kind and gentle get together between cats. We thought it would be calm and nice like two people meeting for the first time. When the hissing, growling, and swatting began we were not ready for it and knew some research was needed. Here is the rest of the story and my findings.

The Introduction Story!

Had I known what I know now I feel like the introduction of our cats could have been much better and may have changed the way their first meeting played out! However it was not all a waste of time. This prompted me to think aboutCat Introduction the introduction process of cats and how to make it a better experience using products for cats that make their lives easier as well a ours. I have now learned the proper way to introduce cats and will tell you. However I want to describe the environment of our home in the first few days so you may have an idea of why we wanted to research this and what it was like.

When we set our second cat down in our home she was just a kitten, I believe just two months old or so. She was very small and seemed fragile and innocent. Now keep in mind our first cat was almost a year old, not a full grown cat just yet but very close to it. Aside from the rescue shelter we had gotten her from she had never been around other cats while growing up in our house. Even though she was in the shelter with other cats she was still very young and did not have to spend much time there. Also in the shelter we picked her because every time we went to her she would try to hide unlike the other cats. Almost as if she was not wanting to be picked, or wanted to but couldn’t bring herself to show off.

So when we placed our kitten down the first cat’s tail fluffed up and she started to hiss and growl a very low growl at her. We watched them for the next few minutes go through a very nasty introduction. There was practically no contact being made and even though it was tense we did not intervene because remember we had no experience with cat introduction at this time.

The cats, when together, would both hiss and swat at each other and get all puffed up and threatening to each other. The kitten would not do this as much because she didn’t really understand why our first cat was acting this way. The first cat would attempt to bat the kitten around and hiss and growl until she left the area. Then she would run and hide under the bed or in some other obscure area, such as the litter box, until the kitten had not been on the floor or around her for some time. We would keep the kitten close to us so nothing harmful would happen to her if we left them to their own devices. At night we would keep the kitten sleeping near our heads that way there was no way anything could happen while we were asleep. Then during the day we would make sure there were two areas of food and water so they could both have access to this while we were gone.

This went on for about three days and nights of pure terror. We did not know if our first cat would ever be the same and if the kitten would turn out skittish and not friendly because of this type of environment. We discovered a show on TV called My Cat from Hell and that seemed to be a turning point in this war. In the show there is a man who knows and helps cat owners that are having troubles with their cats. We watched a couple episodes and picked up some tricks however this opened my eyes to the fact that I could do research on different subjects regarding cat behavior. I’m not really sure why I hadn’t thought of this before as I had done research on different cat products numerous times. Thinking back it was probably due to lack of experience and the fact that we were new cat owners that were unsure of how two cats would act when together.

Either way this show opened my eyes and made me realize there was a whole world of information out there available for the picking. I went to the internet, library, and even the local vet to get information on the best way to introduce cats. The first thing I learned and probably the most valuable information I found was that throwing two cats together is not the best was to introduce cats. Some cats are better than others and take to new cats like white on rice however most cats do not feel this way. Evidence had already shown us our cat did not take kindly to a new intrusion into her territory.

This brings me to the second thing I learned about cats. Cats are territorial animals and mark and protect their territory by doing certain things. I always thought that our first cat was scratching up the box spring on our bed when in fact she was marking her territory. A cat will scratch up certain areas in a home to let it be known that this is their territory and they will defend it. My thoughts were always that it felt good to her to scratch that area, which may have been the case sometimes, but it is more likely that she was marking her territory. Now that I had this basic knowledge I knew there had to be a better way.


The Process!

two cats

I had mentioned that I went to the library and online but could not find anything specific at the time that was related to introducing new cats. All I could find were informational books about cats alone or in the wild and websites that wanted to bombard me with products I knew nothing about. Also the websites provided little to any information about these products. I was only able to find one website with the best cat tree and cat product information to go with it. This is one of the reasons I was inspired to create this blog.

The place where I learned the most about introducing cats to each other was the place where my journey with our cat had begun. This place was the rescue shelter where we got our first cat. I went to them and they provided tons of information, in verbal form I might add, to me about how to introduce our new cat to our first cat. I was surprised to find they had no books or pamphlets with this information but could give you every step by word of mouth.

Here I learned that two cats when being introduced to each other should be separated into individual rooms. The reason behind this is that cat’s sense of smell is much greater than that of a human. Even though your cat may have never seen a new cat enter your home they know that it’s there. There are certain hormones and scents that cats give off that give them this indication. So even though they have never seen the cat they know a lot more about this cat then you would think. The reason to separate them into different rooms is to let them get accustomed to the smell of the new cat in their environment. While they are getting used to this smell they do not have the stress, and possibly fear, of interacting with a cat they are not accustomed to. This allows them to become comfortable with the new cats smell on their own time.

Another helpful item to help your cat get accustomed to the scent of the new cat is to give both of them something to sleep on. If you have had your first cat for some time this should not be difficult because we all know cats will sleep on just about anything. Then after a day or so of them being on or around this item you can switch the items. Give your first cat the item the new cat was sleeping on and give the new cat the item your first cat was sleeping on. By doing this you are giving them a more direct scent of each other and they can grow accustomed to that scent even further. This also allows each one to get used to their scents on their own time. It is important not to force the situation because you can create more stress on the cat by doing this than they may be comfortable with.

After a day or two of scent familiarization you can start to move your cat’s feeding areas closer together. What I mean here is slowly over the course of a few days move each cats eating area closer to the door that contains them. This way they will sense the other cat’s presence and even get used to eating near each other. After a few days of moving the food areas closer to one another each day, you can move the food away a bit to get ready for the next step of introduction. The next step is an important one and if done incorrectly could be the factor of having to start the process all over again.

When separating the food areas again you want to make sure the area is again closer to where the other cat will be eating but not far enough away to sever the connection of eating near the other cats. Then you will want to get some type of gate or see through barrier like a screen door or knitted blanket and place it where the door used to be. The intent here is that each cat can now see one another. After the first appearance of the other cat they should be used to their scent and will now just begin to get familiar with actually seeing the other cat. In my case I left this barrier up for 3 days to allow them to familiarize themselves with seeing each other. This time length may vary depending on cats. For us knowing their first experience was not a good one we wanted to make sure they were alright before we started moving the food closer to the see through barrier.

In this time our cats became familiar with each others scent and sight. So now we began moving the food areas closer to each other. I do want to let you know we used a gate similar to a child proofing gate and hung a knitted blanket up so they could not jump over it. Hence the reason I suggested these two items. Over a course of three more days we moved the food closer to the barrier until both cats were eating at the same time next to each other like they were having a casual dinner. On the 7th or so day of the process we decided it was time to remove the barrier. I would like to let you know the suggestion from the shelter was to watch our cats, then when they seemed to not be bothered much that the other cat was there, it was an indication that they were ready to be together again. It was also suggested that at each step we watch them for signs that they are uncomfortable and to do this until they seemed fairly comfortable.

We removed the barrier on the 7th day and our cats were now in each others territory. To my surprise each cat was more interested in the others environment then the cat itself. They did stop in passing to get a quick whiff of each other then wandered into their space to explore. After about a good hourImage of exploring they just seemed as if nothing had really changed. My thoughts on this are that since you are getting them used to the scent and sight of the other cat until they are comfortable when you remove the barrier they already know the other cat so it is not much different for them. I have been told that if it is done too soon you will know because they will go back to acting the way I first described when we just threw them together so to speak. This will then result in the process needing to be repeated over until they are comfortable with one another.

The Conclusion

Cat Laying TogetherDon’t get me wrong as with all processes this will take time and do not get discouraged if it does not work on the first attempt. I feel the reason our cats were so easily introduced was because they had already seen and felt each other during the first three days so after the introduction process they already had a certain level of knowledge about one another. Also another thing to remember is that all cats have different temperaments, personalities, and cat types and each cat will react differently. The suggestion we received was a week for each step or until each cat was comfortable. We did it during the time frames I have mentioned because they were definitely comfortable. I do not suggest you try this if your cat appears uncomfortable. Cats are not like humans and will not just deal with the stress and play nice.

Today I can say this process created a friendship between our cats that we would never have guessed possible by the way things were when we first put them together. I am so happy to have gone back to the shelter and had spoken with someone who knew what to do. I wanted to share this information and our experience in detail so that you do not have to travel the same road we did at first. Most of my pictures here are of our actual cats and both of them have our cats relaxing together. These are moments I have captured while the cats were just being themselves it was not something I have set up to look good on the internet. Although this probably can be done since they are now so comfortable with one another they are hard to separate. The hard part now is getting them to stay still because they are constantly playing and rough housing with one another. I truly hope this makes a difference for you and your cats. I hope this process will allow you to have the relationship that we have with our cats and that our cats have with each other.

Giving my cats a good environment to go through this whole process all made things that much easier. Instead of having two cats who were unsure of the place they were living we had one who had all of the cat toys, cat trees, and cat comfort products she could ask for. We certainly did not leave out anything for our cats because we love them very much and through all of this we have learned the correct way to do things and the not so correct way to do things. We were also able to get a lot of helpful information on the items we had for our cat that would be good to have and what was not so good to have. This came in handy because when introducing two cats it’s always a good idea to have two of certain things such as food and water bowls, litter boxes, cat beds, and anything else they may want to use on their own without the new cats presence. Over all it has been a great experience and I do not regret one moment of it because all the information I have gotten and things I have learned about cats has truly enhanced all our lives!

As always please share any information you may have because it could make the difference between making a miserable experience and making a great one for you and your cat.