Multi Cat Households
Introducing a new cat or kitten into your home can be a very exciting time, however it can also be very stressful if you already have another cat in the house, as it is hard to know whether they will get along well or not. It’s important to remember that cats are not overly social like dogs are, and should be introduced to each other very carefully to ensure they have a respectful and harmonious relationship. Here are a few easy steps to take to give your new addition the best chance of making a good impression with your already loved furry housemate: 1. Slow and steady wins the race with introductions! It is essential to ensure that your current cat and your new addition do not lay eyes on each other straight away. I usually recommend the resident cat to be put into a laundry or bathroom area to start off with. The main purpose of this is the ensure that the cats’ are gradually introduced through scent before they actually see each other. This may seem odd, but it is a non-negotiable, essential part of the introduction process. This makes for a much more predictable and harmonious introduction, because they can become familiar with each other prior to any visual assessment. Once both of the cats are doing well with each others scent (this can take a few weeks), you can start what we call site swapping. This allows each cat to explore the other’s territory without laying eyes on each other. This is also an opportunity for key signposts, like cat trees, litter boxes, etc to take on a shared scent. This works by site swapping on alternating days so no one owns too much land. But you also site swap because if a cat is locked up all day, his/ her energy can build up into a potential “cat bomb”. This is where they get too hyperactive and can start exhibiting signs of aggression from having too much pent up energy. To start site swapping, follow these next steps: a. Carry the newcomer out of their base camp, put him/her in the bathroom, and shut the door. b. Allow the resident cat to walk into the newcomer’s base camp at their own pace, then shut that door. c. Allow the newcomer to explore the rest of the home. d. Rinse and repeat. From there, it’s just a matter of them having quality time in each other’s environments, I wouldn’t put a timer on it. Make sure that you’re swapping back at predictable times during the day, so you’re not asking your existing cat to be in a closed space for extended periods or asking the newcomer to sleep around the rest of the house all night long, right off the bat. Just remember, when it comes to site swapping, there are no hard and fast rules about when and how often, as long as you are consistent. You don’t want to swap randomly, and you don’t want to allow anyone to get too comfortable in one space. You can swap once a day, every other day, or even two or three times a day if the cats are happy. Just don’t let yourself fall into a rut. If this goes well after an extended period of time, this is when you can start short, supervised interactions with the cats at their pace and let their relationship continue from there. 2. Another important step of this integration is ensuring you have enough litter trays. It sounds simple enough, but ensuring you have enough trays around the house is a very good start to assisting with any inappropriate urination that may arise due to stress or territorial issues. The general rule is 1 litter tray per cat, plus an extra one. For example, if you have 2 cats, you will need 3 litter trays, spread in in different, low traffic locations around the house. Also ensure it is not near their food and water dishes. 3. Last but not least, using a Feliway diffuser. Feliway is a formulated cat pheromone that helps to naturally alleviate tension and create a calm and relaxing environment for cats which can help them to deal with any situations such as adding a new cat into the home.