How to Introduce Your Cats to Eachother
Kitties can be shy, and they’re not always eager to make new friends. That can be a problem if you want to bring home a new little bundle of fur, but don’t worry. Most cats will eventually make friends—or at least tolerate each other—with a little help.
If you’re introducing two kitties who live in the same house, don’t rush into things. Give each of your fur babies his or her own, private space with a separate litter box, bed, dishes, and toys. Then, you can start the process of helping your kitties become friends.
1. Familiarize them with smells.
Kitties are very sensitive to smells, and when they meet a new cat, smell is one of the first things they pick up on. So that’s where we recommend starting. The goal is to mix both your kitties’ unique smells into a familiar communal scent. This is known as scent swapping.
One of the best ways to swap scents is to take a blanket from one of your kitty’s beds and put it in the other’s. When your kitty cuddles up with this blanket, the two scents together will create a communal smell that should make your fur baby more comfortable with the other cat. Once your kitty is completely comfortable and relaxed with the new bedding, put it back in the original bed.
Pay attention to how your kitty reacts to the blanket. Some cats will sniff it a few times, then settle right in. Others will avoid it at all costs, or even hiss at this strange new smell. If this happens, you may need to give your fur baby a little more time to adjust to the new scent before letting him meet the other cat.
2. Let your kitties explore each other’s spaces
Once both kitties are totally chill with each other’s bedding, it’s time to let them check out their new friend’s pad. Keep one kitty out of the way (maybe in a bedroom or other space) while the other explores that cat’s part of the house. Then do the same for the other kitty.
It goes without saying that you don’t want to confine either cat if it’s going to cause further stress, and if one or both kitties are new to your house, you’ll want to wait until they’re comfortable with their new surroundings before you stick them in a bedroom by themselves. It may help to have someone else pet or play with your kitty while they’re confined.
3. Let your cats see each other
This is the big moment. Your kitties have smelled one another and explored each other’s space; now it’s time for them to meet face to face—but not quite paw to paw. The first time your cats see each other, there should be some kind of barrier between them. A child gate is the best option for this, but feel free to get creative, just as long as the barrier effectively separates your kitties and allows each to move freely on their side.
Your kitties will likely be very curious about each other, but don’t let things devolve into a staring contest. Allow your cats to sniff each other through the barrier if they want, then try to distract them. You might play with one of the cats, then the other, or put food on each side of the gate and let them eat at the same time. You want this to be life as usual for your fur babies: just with the presence of another kitty at a safe distance.
Do your best to keep the interaction positive. If your kitties do want to sniff each other, watch closely for any signs of impending growls or hisses. If your cats start to get visibly anxious or testy, distract them with a toy or treat. If it’s not going well, end the session ASAP, but don’t punish your kitties for not playing nicely. That will only make things worse.
4. Remove the barrier
Once your cats have become comfortable seeing each other through a barrier, it’s time for the next step. Find a moment when both your kitties are chill and, without making a fuss about it, remove the barrier. Avoid making any loud noises as you do this, as you don’t want to alarm your fur babies.
Don’t force your kitties to meet. Just let them go about their business. If either one of them starts to get scared or angry, put the barrier back in place and try again later.
5. Let your kitties mingle
Are your kitties completely relaxed in each other’s company? If so, you can move on to the next step: letting your cats interact without your supervision. Start with a few minutes at first, then gradually increase the time until you’re confident your fur babies don’t need you to be a helicopter parent.
Make sure both kitties still have their own space, though, so they can retreat to a safe hideaway if they need to. After a few days, if all seems to be going well, you can leave the doors of these spaces open so each kitty can roam free.
How do I introduce a kitten to an older cat?
If you’re bringing home a new kitten, give her her own space (with plenty of food, water, and comfort items) where the other cat isn’t allowed. Wait until your kitten is happy in her new home before trying to introduce her to your other cat. Once she is, you can follow the steps above. Kittens have a lot of playful energy, and your other cat may not appreciate that, so keep a close eye on things.
How can I introduce my cat to a new friend for a play-date?
If you want to introduce your fur baby to a friend’s cat, you may want to start with the scent swapping technique. Then you can try letting them meet through a barrier and see how they react. If all goes well, you can try removing the barrier and letting them play. But stick around and supervise things in case your kitties decide they’re not ready to make friends just yet.
How long does it take for cats to get used to each other?
Most kitties take a few weeks to warm up to each other, but every cat is different!
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