“Oh, just put them together in a room, and they will be fine!” Is that the best advice you’ve got when it comes to introducing new pets to your resident pets? We’re here to tell you, never do that!
Just like us hoomans, some cats are more social than others. And just like us, older cats might be set in their ways and find it difficult to accept new companions. Cats are immensely territorial and will need some amount of coaxing to get used to other animals.
Take it slowly to prevent aggression and fearfulness and your cat should be just fine. Here are a few tips from the Wagr experts to get started!
Give separate individual spaces
Your existing pet would already have their safe space, a corner to which they can retreat to sleep, play, or generally get some alone time. Establish a similar, separate space for the new cat. Don’t let your pets bump into each other as much as possible. Your cat will need ample time to get used to not just the presence of another animal but to your family and the surroundings, as well.
Gently start the introduction process
Subtly introduce your current family pet and cat to each other by letting them smell each other’s blanket or other items. You can even give them your hands to smell after handling each pet. This will help them get used to each other’s unique scent. However, make sure your resident pet does not feel threatened. Wash the areas they frequent the most - windowsills, a corner on the sofa, a bed, etc. - to retain a clean space where they can still smell their own scent.
Once they appear to accept each other’s scent, you can swap territories. Allow each pet to explore the other’s corner but only in the absence of the owner. Give them time to settle in with these new sensations.
Ease in a first sighting
After a couple of days, let them catch a quick glance of each other and observe their reactions. Friendly? Violent? Gauging? If they seem amenable to each other, allow your new cat to enter more areas in the house. Let them get used to their surroundings. Remember, it’s still not yet time to let them be alone with your existing pet, at this point.
Meeting for the first time
Ideally, this exercise should happen with the aid of a mesh cage with one pet inside and the other outside. This might not always be possible, though. Instead, try to rope in a family member or a friend to help. While one person holds your new cat in their room, the other person should ensure your current pet is present, not too far away, and visible.
There might be some amount of antagonism and irritation at seeing each other and the mesh prevents it from getting out of hand. If this meeting felt too soon take a few more days, follow the steps above, and reintroduce them.
However, if you get lucky and things go well give them both their favorite treats for some positive reinforcement!
What if they don’t take to each other?
As time passes and everything goes like clockwork, your pets should develop a great friendship, playing with each other and sharing their territories.
Don’t force your pets to be in each other’s corners. Give them time and the space to escape into if they feel the need to be alone.
Sometimes nothing works. The thumb rule is approximately two weeks. If they are unable to get along no matter what even at the end of this period you might need to call your vet or an animal behaviorist for professional advice. In extreme scenarios, you might even need to give up your new pet and let them find a family where they’re more comfortable.
It’s disappointing for you but your pets would be happier if they have two very different, irreconcilable personalities. In the long run, it’s better for them and for you, as well. And who knows, the next cat you get might simply become best friends with your family pet without any fuss at all!