You have to be aware of the warning signs when introducing cats. Living with a cat is so fascinating that many of us think about introducing a new feline at home. We tend to think that our cat will feel more accompanied and that's why he will accept the new member without problems.
However, this is not always the case, especially when the introduction occurs directly, without making a prior presentation that allows both animals to get used to each other. Therefore, in this article, we give you some tips on how to introduce a second cat at home, in order to reduce the likelihood of conflict between them.
First of all, we must make the habituation to the smell of each cat. This will be achieved keeping both cats separated during the first days or weeks, depending on their reactions. We must keep each cat in an area of the house where they have available their most important resources (sandbox, food and water bowls, scraper, shelter area). Every day, we will take each cat to the other's area without them being seen, and we will observe their reactions.
If any of the cats snorts or growls, it is a sign of intolerance so we should not join them yet for the moment. If, after several days exchanging the area, any of the cats shows the previous behavior, we can rub a wipe or rag in the facial region of each cat and place it in the area of the other, without teaching him to smell it, but letting him go and approaches it to smell whenever he wants.
After several days or weeks (at least two) without snorts or grunts, we will let them be seen through a separator. We can use a glass door or a mosquito net. We will begin to make this habituation to the vision at a distance, introducing positive elements; For example, we take advantage of the meal time to put the feed or rewards while they are seen through the separator.
Finally, when they are seen with complete normality through the separator we will join them in the same room, but always under our supervision, to avoid any conflict between the felines. Each day we will increase a little bit the time they spend together until they are able to coexist without any problem for at least one hour.
To reduce the tension and stress due to the arrival of the new cat, we can use synthetic analogs of feline pheromones. Recently, pheromones began to be commercialized specifically for cases in which there is aggression between cats. These pheromones should be placed a few days before the arrival of the new member of the family in the places where they will spend the most time together.
On the other hand, once they are together, we must make sure they have sufficient resources. As we have been commenting in other articles, you must have more resources at home than the number of cats that live in the house or, at least, the same number. In this way, we minimize the risk of conflict among them by access to the sandbox, food and water bowls, scrapers, etc.
Introduce elements to enrich the environment and that can be used as safe areas. This is very simple since they can be simple cardboard boxes, high shelves on the wall, or tall furniture to which the cat can climb. Cats use all the available space and being able to hide or climb to higher areas helps them to feel more secure.
These are a series of simple steps to help the coexistence between cats that are not known to be less tense from the beginning. The time necessary to ensure that they can be together without problems will depend on each cat, their behavior, the degree of socialization, and the management we have with them. While facing the minimum problem among them or the slightest doubt about how to proceed, the ideal is to contact a behavior specialist to help us make an appropriate introduction and prevent our kitties from having coexistence problems.
Borja Ros Villanueva, veterinarian and ethologist in Adetcan.
Adetcan is a project formed by two veterinary ethologists and canine educators who provide counseling, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of behavioral problems in dogs and cats. The service is at home. We are in Santiago de Compostela but we work throughout Galicia.