Time and patience are the keys to successfully introducing cats.
A single hostile encounter between two unfamiliar cats can set their relationship tone for a long time – so let's keep it positive.
Step one: give them time
Allow your new cat at least 24-hours to adjust to your home and get to know you before beginning any pet introductions.
Step two: swap items
Swap a couple of their bedding items with your resident cat's, so both kitties can adjust to each other's scent. Keep your new cat in their separate, comfortable area, and give both cats treats while doing this, so they associate the smell with something good.
Step three: swap areas
Once your new cat is ready to explore your home, swap the rooms your cats can access. This way, they can explore each other's territory at their own pace. Pop your new cat back in their room afterwards.
Step four: a first glimpse
When your cats are relaxed with each other's presence, open the door dividing their spaces so they can see each other without being able to touch each other. You might need a room divider or screen.
Give both cats toys and treats on each side of the divider.
Step five: first meet
Once they're comfortable with limited exposure, try feeding both cats on opposite sides of the same room. Then return the newly adopted cat to their room again.
Step six: a gradual increase
After a few days of shared mealtimes, they might be ready to try sharing the house. Let your new cat access the rest of the house for a few minutes at a time, gradually increasing the time they're allowed to explore.
Things to remember
- Take every introduction at the cat's pace
- Be patient, quiet and never force your cats to be together
- Praise both cats throughout meetings and give them treats. Never punish or use harsh tones
- Give special attention to your resident cat – this is their territory
- Keep them separated when you are not home to supervise until you are confident they can tolerate each other
- If the cats become fearful or hostile, return the newcomer to its room and close the door. A minor setback will not ruin their friendship, but both cats will remember a fiercely aggressive encounter
- Have one litter tray per cat plus one extra – cats don't like sharing