Cats are hardly known for being social butterflies, so introductions between felines are often shaky at best. At worst, they can lead to aggression and cat fighting. Fortunately, there are easy steps pet parents can take to ensure that new cats get off on the right foot.
How to Introduce Cats
When it comes time to introduce cats to one another, the most important step is to go slowly. Cats are creatures of habit and very few of them take well to sudden change.
Cats that are introduced too quickly or without enough time to get used to one another are likely to react with aggression or anxious behavior, which can last long after the initial introduction has ended.
With that in mind, follow these easy steps to ensure your cat introduction goes smoothly for everyone involved:
Keep Cats Separated: This is especially important if you are introducing two new cats to the household. Confine the cats to separate rooms with litter boxes and food and allow them to get comfortable there for a few days. This will allow each cat to form a bond with the space and feel safer in the environment.
Begin Introductions Gradually: When it comes time to let the cats meet face-to-face, it is important to go as slowly as possible and not force either cat. Start by introducing the cats through an open door blocked by a baby gate. Leave the door open and supervise the cats. Although they may not approach one another immediately, they will eventually begin to gaze at one another through the gate and make small, preliminary moves toward interaction.
Remove the Barrier: Once the cats have gotten used to one another from a safe distance, remove the barrier and allow them to interact on their own time. Be sure to supervise the cats so that you can break up any potential fights but avoid pushing them into an introduction. Most cats will avoid one another for quite some time before becoming friendly. During this time, ensure that each cat has a safe place to escape and hide, if need be.
How Strange Cats can Become Fast Friends
Cats have a complex social life and it often takes cats a good deal of time to become affectionate or comfortable with the presence of another cat. The exception, of course, is cats that grew up together or have known one another for a very long time.
In order to ensure that your cat introductions go as smoothly as possible, take it slow and allow the cats to interact on their own time. As long as interactions are not forced and each cat has ample space to get away from the stimulus, you stand the best chance of minimizing trouble and encouraging friendship.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian.