There are few things more exciting than extending your family (or furmily) with a new fur kid. It’s a chance to provide some company for your existing cat, and bring new energy into the home. But the process takes some time, and it’s important to keep a few things in mind if you want a happy, harmonious relationship between your cats.
Get the right personality
The first thing to consider is choosing the right cat to add to your family. If you’ve already got a particularly sedentary cat, it’s best not to get an overly playful cat, who may potentially frustrate or even irritate your more relaxed cat.
Similarly, if you have an older or more temperamental cat, a kitten with boundless energy may present a source of anger or aggression from your cat, who has clearly established your home as their territory. While the cats don’t have to be the same age or have the exact same personality traits, it’s important to think about your cat’s well being and preferences as much as your own.
When bringing your new cat into the home, the next consideration is space. Cats are naturally territorial, so it will be important for your existing cat to feel that their territory has not been invaded, and at the same time, it’s important for your new cat to get to know your space.
Establish clearly demarcated spaces for eating and sleeping, and a clear separation of litter boxes, to minimize clashes at mealtimes and bathroom breaks. For most cats, being separated entirely might be best, with the new cat (particularly if it is a kitten) best kept in a separate room. One technique used by cat behaviorists is bringing each cat to either side of the door, so that they can smell each other, communicate, with the safety of the door separating them.
Your cats may well start to eat or sleep together over time, but it’s important to let them come to that decision on their own, instead of being forced into it.
When it comes to play, this is where the relationship can be make or break. Cats have different personalities, approaches and habits when it comes to play, so it will be important to make sure that play is initially supervised.
Gentle interaction and play will also give your cats a chance to get used to each other’s scents, which is a key part of their bonding process. However, this must not be rushed. Before you allow your cats the opportunity to meet, giving each cat a towel with the other cat’s scent is a more passive way to create familiarity.
In the cases where your cats display signs or anxiety, aggression or violence, it may be necessary to take them both to a cat behaviorist who can intervene on a more skilled level, and suggest more techniques for their interaction.