Cat introductions can be very difficult. They typically take 10-14 days of appropriate introduction to give your cats the best chance of coexisting. Kitties may never become best friends, but usually they can at least learn to coexist without major conflict. Proper introduction of cats takes time and patience!
Keeping your new cat separated from your first cat is crucial in the beginning. Physically isolating your new cat will help make sure there are no dormant illnesses, as well as letting the cats get used to each other’s scent. When the new cat first comes home, put them immediately in the room you will be isolating them in. Generally a bathroom is suggested as it will tend to be cozier and easier to clean in case there are any accidents. Have a litter box, food, water and a cat cave (carrier, box, etc.) ready for them in there. This will give the new cat time to decompress in a safe space.
Spending Time With Both Cats
Make sure both of your cats are feeling the love! You do not want your first cat to feel like anything is being taken away from them like your time, toys and even litter box. Continue to treat your cat as if nothing has changed. This way they are more likely to accept the new cat and continue to normally live their day-to-day life. If you are taking turns allowing access to certain rooms in your home, your new cat will be a little confused about where they are and if they are safe at first.
Your main priority is to let them adjust at their own pace. Making sure they feel safe can range from not pulling them out of a hiding place to letting them curl up on your lap. Each cat moves at their own pace.
Meeting on Opposite Sides of the Door
Just because the cats are separated, doesn’t mean they can’t start adjusting to each other. One great way for them to pick up each other’s odor in a positive way is to feed them on opposite sides of the door. This way they will associate their scents with the positive smell of the food.
Once they become comfortable with that, try scent swapping. Place a clean blanket or towel where each cat likes to sleep. After a few days of the cats sleeping on those blankets, swap them, so they can adjust to each other’s smell without actually meeting face to face. You can also rub the blanket on the opposite cats so they are covered in each other’s odor to adjust.
Finally, let the cats swap spaces without meeting. Put your first cat in the isolation room and let your new cat explore the rest of the space. Do this for about an hour at a time over the course of 3-4 days.
Meeting Face to Face
The time has come for the cats to see each other! First open the door to the isolation room just a little so that the cats can see each other. If either exhibits signs of fear or aggression, close the door immediately. Once they are relaxed looking at each other, you can let them out to meet face to face. If any signs of fear or aggression take place, separate the cats again. Continue this process until both cats are comfortable.
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