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 hour 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.