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Top 10 Tips for Getting Cats to Get Along

It’s great that your new partner loves your cat and you are quite fond of his. Now that the relationship is getting serious, you need to introduce the cats to each other. Following are 10 tips on merging cat families:

1.Cats are territorial: Ask your partner to bring his cat over to your house in a cat carrier, and place the cat in a separate room. You can bring your cat’s favorite toy or a blanket from home so he feels somewhat comfortable. Your partner can stay in the room with the cat if the cat gets antsy.  Place the empty carrier in a room with your cat, and don’t make a fuss. Just proceed with your normal routine.

2. Let your cat sniff and explore the empty cat carrier. Keep a watchful eye on your cat. Your cat may hiss, attack the carrier, ignore it completely and then come back and check it out. You should try to be as relaxed as possible.

3. Spend at least 40 minutes to an hour with your cat before checking on the other cat: Both cats need time to explore their surroundings and the new items brought into the situation.

4. When your cat starts to relax and looks like he is ready for a nap, go into the other room with a tiny bit of food for your partner’s cat: Cats are excellent at picking up nervousness. So try to sit quietly and talk softly to him. He will come to you when he is ready. Having some food or a treat will help. Just be relaxed about it. When he does come to you, gently pet him, and stay for 30-40 minutes.

5. Before you pet your cat, wash your hands: Try to get the scent off of your hands. Visit your partner’s cat a few times during the day.

6. Stick to a normal routine: Make dinner. Visit with your partner, and relax. Don’t introduce the cats until the hissing from both sides of the door stop. You will have to repeat steps 1-6 a number of times.

7. Spend quality time with your cat, and your partner should spend quality time with his cat: Let each cat know how much you love them.

8. Once the hissing and growling stop by the carrier and by the door, place two baby gates–one on top of each other–at the entrance of the door. This way the cats can see each other and sniff each other thanks to the six foot securely installed barrier.

9. While your cat is distracted, take down the barrier: Your partner’s cat will step out of the room, and the two cats will find each other. Stay close by, but interfere. It’s quite likely that your cat (since this is his home) will stalk your partner’s cat. Don’t leave them alone.

10. If a fight occurs, don’t pick up either cat: Instead, bang a pot with a spoon or throw cold water on them.

Be patient. Depending on the ages of the cats, this can take a few weeks or several months. Kittens are easier; older cats are more territorial. Keep a close watch on both of the cats. Feed them in separate rooms, and dote on each one. Separate the litter boxes too. Make sure the litter box in the newcomer’s room is moved far from the food area.

In good time, the hostilities will decline. The cats may even become close buddies.

4 comments to Top 10 Tips for Getting Cats to Get Along

  • Ellen

    Patience is the key to introducing a new cat. My two older girls (now 14) never had any dealings with other cats until last year when we rescued a young female,( about 7 months old). The process of introduction was slow but steady, and after about 5 months the first of my 14-year olds accepted the youngster. With my other older girl it took another 4 months or so, but diligence and patience paid off, and now they all hang out together. This is the third time I’m using the word “patience” but I can’t stress enough how important it is to the success of introducing new cats.

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  • These are such good tips. Over the past several years we’ve had to introduce new cats repeatedly into our menagerie, and we have used some of them (the stacked pet gates look ridiculous and are a challenge for humans to negotiate, but work well). Once we started letting the cats interact directly, we both kept water pistols close at hand to discourage brawling — that’s the only additional hint I can offer — well, that and investing in lots of those Feliway devices. We think they helped, and they certainly can’t hurt.

  • Wow, interesting article. I had no idea it was so much work to facilitate social skills in cats! It makes you wonder if we humans, in domesticating cats, haven’t taken away some of their natural ability to interact with each other. We live on a farm and so have a number of “barn cats” Most live outside but a few live in the spare room in the house during the winter (with a cat door to the outside) Our cats are either rescues from the local vet or feral cats that end up adopting us. We pretty much stay out of their social lives. I have seen a few disputes and some whacks upside the head but nothing serious. When the weather gets cold they all end up in the barn piled into the cat beds together to share the heat lamps.