Cats dislike change and they can be territorial, which makes it challenging to introduce new pets into a household with a cat. However, there are benefits to a multi-cat household (such as companionship and mental stimulation). Here are some best practices to help ease the transition of integrating a new feline pet into your family.
- Keep both cats in separate rooms and allow them to smell and sense each other.
- Can use a blanket/towel to transfer scents — rub the towel on one pet and let the other sniff it.
- Praise each cat for positive interactions (i.e., not hissing, remaining calm, sniffing, showing curiosity). Once both cats seem comfortable (i.e., "chirping," playing with each other's paws under the door, not hissing), you can think about the next step.
- Monitor for signs of sneezing, coughing, respiratory congestion, nasal discharge, poor appetite, etc., which can be signs of an upper respiratory infection.
- Allow the cats to smell, sense and SEE each other but not interact together for short periods of time (10-15 minutes a day). You can do this by keeping them separated by a screen door, or by placing a baby gate between them. Alternatively keep each cat in a carrier during the supervised time.
- Use a buddy system — one person for each cat
- Consider feeding them in each other's presence, or giving treats as a reward when they behave calmly with each other.
- Allow the cats to smell, sense, see and INTERACT WITH each other. You should ALWAYS be present in the room with them, and use a "buddy system."
- Initially, only allow interaction while you are there with them, then re-separate them.
- Feed them in the same room and gradually, as they are calm with each other, try moving the food bowls closer together.
- Reward them for calm behavior with no aggression.
- Always provide separate food bowls, water bowls, and litter boxes (at least 1 litterbox per cat).