Introducing two cats to each other can be quite stressful, for the cats and the humans. All cats are different, all people are different, and all households are different, so what worked for us may not work for you. With that in mind, if you’re wondering how to get cats used to each other, in this article we’ll give you some tips that worked for us and helped our cats to get along better.
There are some pretty complex methods out there to help get cat’s used to each other, but not everyone needs those. So here we’re just going to hit on some major points to focus on.
How to get cats used to each other
In all honesty there is still some occasional hissing going on and our cats aren’t quite to the point where they are cuddling together on the couch. This is still all new to everyone, it’s only been a month.
They are however peacefully living in the same house together (for the most part) and learning to live with one another after lives of being only-kitties.
We hope these tips help your cats to at the very least tolerate one another, sometimes that’s all we can hope for after all!
Note: New-kitty, or incoming cat, refers to the cat being introduced to the household. Old-kitty, or existing cat, refers to the cat that already lives in the house. This does not necessarily refer to the age of the cats.
1. Keep them in separate rooms at first
Right at first, it’s pretty crucial that you separate them. Could they just get along from the start? Maybe.
But they go at it with claws flying everywhere and someone could get hurt. It’s definitely a smart idea to have the two cats separated in the beginning. Prepare a room for the incoming cat where you can immediately put them upon arrival.
Which brings us to our second tip.
2. Make sure new-kitty has their own home-base where they feel safe
The incoming cat is going to feel out of place and frightened, the existing cat is going to feel threatened by this newcomer.
Have a room prepared stocked with food, water, and a litter box that the new-kitty can feel safe in. It should go without saying that this room should have a door that closes.
Let the new cat get used to this room for a few days minimum until you try anything else.
3. Begin putting old-kitty in a secure room and introduce new-kitty to the rest of the house
At some point in the following days, once everything has settled down a bit, take old-kitty and place them in a bathroom or spare bedroom. Just for an hour or even 30 minutes at a time.
During this time, allow the incoming cat to freely explore the house. Let them get their smell on everything, while they themselves smell everything.
Do this every day for the next few days.
4. Place various items that belong to new-kitty in the main house
While all of this slow introducing of sights and smells is going on, begin placing items belonging to new kitty (blankets, toys, etc) in the main house.
This allows the old-kitty to begin getting used to the smell of the incoming cat. The idea here is that once the actual cat is introduced into the home full-time, its smell won’t be as much of a shock.
Consider doing the opposite of this as well, placing a few items belonging to old-kitty into the new-kitty’s safe room.
5. Occasionally open the door to new-kitty’s room, while you’re in there
Eventually you’re going to have to take another step and just see how they react to each other, that’s what this step is.
Make sure that you are in the new-kitty’s room with them, and crack the door open a bit. Enough for the old-kitty to peak their head in and decide what they want to do.
If they decide to come in, let them. Some minimal growling and even hissing is ok, as long as they are keeping their distance from each other. If it looks like a fight is about to start them separate them, and try again tomorrow.
This step went on for us for about a week. The incoming cat’s safe room was down a small flight of stairs. The old-kitty would slowly come down one more step as he got more and more comfortable with the idea of the other cat.
Eventually he as walking around the room with the other cat, all the while he was letting out a low growl. The growling wasn’t ideal, but he was obviously getting slowly more comfortable.
Take the little wins, don’t expect too much too soon.
6. Let new-kitty into the house, but keep a close eye on old-kitty
After they’ve been in the same room together enough times that you are starting to feel more comfortable about the whole situation, it’s time to let new-kitty in the house for short periods.
Wait until the existing cat isn’t waiting by the safe room door, and let the incoming cat out. Just keep a very close eye on both of them. You may have to cut this introduction short if you notice any bad behavior, but don’t cut it short too soon.
If one appears to want to simply sniff the other one, it’s important that you let this happen. Once this initial sniffing happened with our cats, the overall aggression and tension starting going away quickly.
You probably want to continue letting the incoming cat sleep and live in their safe room for a while after this, but continue letting it out in the house for short periods.
7. Be patient and give them as much time as they need
This whole introduction of cats is a process, and it’s not always easy. In the past, I’ve had 2 cats that just seemed to be besties from day 1, and others that seemed to be mortal enemies.
It’s important to let cats get used to each other slowly. In most cases cats will at the very minimum learn to tolerate each other, but hopefully they even become friends.
I think most of us will settle for them simply not fighting and being at each other’s throats.
These tips are not to be taken over that of a professional, but it’s pretty much the steps we followed and we are on a path to a zen household. Not gonna lie, it was rough at first. Our existing cat was quite aggressive at first and was swatting, hissing, growling, and everything else.
Our existing cat is a 2 year old neutered male that’s had no other interaction with cats, aside from his litter-mates. Our “new-kitty” is a 12 year old female who is very, very chilled out and has also had almost no interaction with other cats.
The younger cat who already lived in the house eventually got all the aggression out of his system, now all he wants to do is play. This poses another problem because the older cat that was introduced to the house isn’t too keen on playing.
But, at least everyone is safe now. We just hear an occasional hiss, only now it’s from the older cat. The younger cat who was initially the aggressor, and the one we were worried about, is no longer afraid and just wants to play all the time.