Put two adult cats together for the first time and chances are the claws will come out. Cats are sensitive creatures and introducing a newcomer to the home can be stressful – for everyone.
Even if the fur does not fly in battle, cats who are suddenly expected to live together can suffer from chronic stress, according to British vet and animal behaviourist Sarah Heath. This in turn can lead to health problems and behavioural issues.
So if you’re planning on getting a new cat, here’s how to make it easier.
Each to their own
Provide the new kitty with her own food and water bowls rather than expecting her to share with the other cat. The new arrival should also have her own litter box away from the existing one, as well as her own spot to nap. Often the easiest way to do this is to set up a spare bedroom or bathroom for the new kitty with all the essentials.
Keep some distance
Before they physically encounter each other it is advisable to keep the cats apart for a few days – or even a few weeks – to help the resident cat whose territory is being invaded to grow accustomed to the scent of the new arrival.
Do not force it!
Forcing an introduction is an absolute no-no. So is offering enticements such as food or treats in an effort to get the cats physically closer to each other. Remember, kitties prefer to dine alone. To your cats, eating in close proximity to a stranger is stressful.
Live and let live
Finally, keep in mind that your goal in introducing the cats is simply to help them to learn to live peacefully together. If they wind up pals, that is wonderful. But it will be on their terms, not yours!