How to Introduce Cats

| February 12, 2010 | 34 Comments

100b842dad725489ebb5af179f81255a How to Introduce Cats

Many people wonder how to introduce cats to each other. Cats are like people. Some will get along and some just might not ever get along. There are some things you can do, as a responsible pet owner, to make the transition with a new cat an easier one.

So, you have decided on bringing another furry feline friend into your home. Now you are asking, “How do I introduce cats to one another?” The first thing to remember is that your cat is going to feel like his or her area is being entrenched on. Try setting up a safe room for your new feline companion. Make sure that there are plenty of hiding places, a separate litter box, and separate food and water bowls. Block the door by either shutting it or putting baby gates up. If you decide to use the baby gates make sure that you put them on the inside of the door so you can also shut the door.

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In fact, it is probably best to allow the new addition to spend at least 1-2 weeks in a room closed off from your other cats or cat. The reason for this is so that the new cat loses the smell of his or her previous home and gains the smell of your own, this is a crucial step in how to introduce cats. Of course, your new cat will always have his or her distinct odor (that only kitties can smell), but as far as fur, etc. is concerned, it is best for the new one to have your home’s smell on it as well as your smell on it. Also, you want to be sure that your new cat isn’t bringing any diseases into the house and to your resident kitty. With a little patience, you can easily avoid a disaster.

Try not to stress your new addition. Bring them in a carrier and place the carrier in the safe room. Open the door and leave, giving them plenty of time to explore the safe room on their own–another crucial step in how to introduce cats. During this time your resident cat might sit out side the door and may occasionally hiss—smelling and hearing the new addition. Don’t worry this is a normal reaction.

Once your resident cat has seemed to calm down a bit and does not seem so interested in the safe room door you can move to the next step. This could take a day or two, but patience is a virtue when it comes to how to introduce cats. Patience is key during this time since one bad reaction could cause long term damage in the cats’ relationship.

The next step is how to introduce cats to each others scents. Take a clean pair of socks or wash clothes and rub each of the cats down with one. Make sure to rub their facial area where many of the scent glands are located. Next place the socks in the opposite cats area making sure to stay away from their litter box or food and water bowls. This can also be achieved by switching the cats’ area. Letting your resident cat have time smelling the safe room and your new cat have time smelling the house. It is probably a good idea to remove the litter boxes and food and water bowls so there is no hard feelings when the rooms are switched back. Cats are very sensitive to other cat’s urine smells, so litterboxes are key elements in the how to introduce cats process. Be sure to introduce all smells.

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Depending on how your cats react to this it might be time to move to the next step. Using a baby gate barrier it is time to open the door and let the cats see each other. They will most definitely be curious about each other. Watch their reactions to each other. If there is any hissing or growling then it is important to take this step slowly.

Once the cats seem to be calm at the sight of each other it is probably safe to introduce the two. Make sure that they are supervised during this initial meeting. If there is any problems during this time go back a step, allowing them to view each other on opposite sides of the baby gate. If things go well you can allow them to spend longer and longer amounts of time together till they are together full time. For the first couple of weeks you might want to provide two food and water bowls and separate litter boxes just in case one decides to get territorial.

There is no sure fire way to tell if cats will be friends for life. Like people there will be some that just don’t mesh. Slow introductions are an important step in doing what you can do to ease the tension of the new addition.

More Information on Introducing Cats

Louann writes, “Powder each cat with baby powder.  It helps them smell the same initially.  The powder also helps relieve discomfort of spay stitches.”

Success Stories:

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Sasha and Bailey

Colleen writes, “Sasha’s brother, Bailey, has arrived. We used your info on introducing a new cat. Looks to have been successful! After 1 day only, we made intros (Sasha was so curious about the new baby so I followed his lead) and now they are inseparable.  Sasha calls for Bailey and he comes running. It validates every thought I’ve had for months that he needed a kitty companion. Bailey came home just 6 days ago….I was surprised Sasha came around so quickly, but we did go at his pace. When I saw his ears up and curious, we made initial intros through the door. Pictures ok to share too. Sasha acts like a Mama cat with the baby. It’s so sweet.

Thanks again for helping with the transition!”

button print blu20 How to Introduce Cats

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Category: Cat Introduction, Health Care, Ragdoll Cat Behavior

About the Author ()

Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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  1. Terri L. says:

    This is such valuable information. Thank you so much.

  2. Mary says:

    I have a problem.

    I just got the kitten of my dreams, but she’s not getting along with my other cat! We tried putting them together, but they started hissing. No flattened ears, just hissing.

    They’re both females, and the older cat has been declawed in the front. The younger kitten is 2 months, and hasn’t been spayed yet. We put them in separate rooms for the night, but what can I do?

    • Jenny says:

      How did you introduce them – did you take the two weeks to do it? If not, I would suggest starting the process over again. It’s not a fun one, but when you have two cats that might live 20 years, it is better to go through the pain of the 2 week process than dealing with cats that hate each other. Cats can take a long time to warm up to one another.

  3. Mary says:

    Well, I read this article AFTER we introduced them. I was going to separate them for a while again, but people keep opening the doors and cooing over the kitten while I’m not there I guess I’ll have to tell people to separate them again.

    They were sleeping in each others’ beds for a bit, is that a good sign?

    They were in the same room today, but every time they saw each other, the big cat hissed (as usual.)

    • Jenny says:

      Yes, very normal. But what can happen is that your older cat (who isn’t doing anything wrong) might start peeing in places, etc. if the introduction isn’t done properly. Sleeping in each other’s beds is fine – but it’d be better if they were sleeping together! I have a friend that just threw her cats together – had a resident cat and then brought home the kitten and let the kitten just wander. To this day, the older cat still hates that kitten. She growls and hisses when she sees him. I think had they been introduced more properly the situation would be different. The nice thing is you have the opportunity to still rectify the situation. Another great thing is to exhaust the kitten (with a string or something) and then put her in a cage in the middle of the room and then let the resident cat come up to her.

  4. Jenny says:

    It’s important to NOT get mad at your resident kitty. She is not doing anything wrong. Her hissing and growling is just saying that she isn’t ready for a friend. Be sure to show her a lot of attention. She doesn’t see the kitten as a cute, adorable thing like you do. But she might in time – with patience and love, it’ll happen.

  5. Mary says:

    Ok. I’ve decided to put a sign on the door letting people know not to mix them, though many of the visitors will start barging in anyways. I’m pretty sure about that. >:(.

    So, I guess I’ll shut them up in their own rooms until they’re ready for the sock test, and go from there. Thanks for the info, and I’ll get back to you soon to tell you how it went.

    Will my older cat still remember the kitten once the real introduction starts?

    • Jenny says:

      How come you have so many visitors because of the new kitten?
      Yes, I think your older cat will still remember, but will appreciate the respectful introduction and welcome it. I still have to introduce my cats to Caymus and Murphy whenever we go to my parents – it’s about a 10-minute process, but I focus all my attention on Caymus and Murphy and tell them that their friends are coming over to play and I hope they have fun. I also tell them thank you for their hospitality. It seems ridiculous, but there hasn’t been a problem yet!

      • Julie says:

        “…and tell them that their friends are coming over to play and I hope they have fun. I also tell them thank you for their hospitality.” Hahahaha! I ADORE YOU!!

  6. Mary says:

    Honestly, I live in the same building that my dad works in, and the ladies from work like coming upstairs to “Chart files” but really they just wanna see the cat. : / My grandma lives with us too, and she believes that the cats shouldn’t be separated, and shes always opening the door when I’m not around…

  7. colin says:

    I introduced my cat to his new home (parents house) where there are two resident cats. The new cat is a Bengal and twice the size of the other two. The Bengali is actually scared of the oldest cat nearly 20 years old and is pretty much oblivious to anything going on. The problem is with the younger resident cat. My mother let out the Bengal on 2nd day to roam the house freely when i was gone. When i returned everything seemed ok so i let him stay out of the safe room. Then i saw and heard new cat chasing and attacking the resident cat. The resident cat was scared for its life and was peeing while running and trying to escape. I eventually caught the cats and seperated them by putting the new cat his safe room where he has been ever since. I was going to begin in a few days with the baby gates. I am wondering if it is simply too late now, will the one cat forever hate the new cat after today event? is there still a chance they can live together in harmony, even if there not friends but maybe just peacefully ignore each other..

  8. pooky says:

    hey jenny, ure comments above seem really useful and so i was wondering if u could help with my situation. About 6 years ago i found myself with 2 beautiful kittens after a friend had run over their mother. I became mum to these kittens who would suckle my hand for milk etc. I lived happily with the kittens and my cocker spaniel for 2 years in the same place. We would all go for walks round the woods together at the back of the house, me, dog an 2 cats, no leads just a pack! Then i moved, kept to the routine of keepin the cats in etc till they seemed to settle. Still all good. After 6 months I had to move again. New place same routine etc…all good. Then 2 years ago, I moved to another house, this time one of the cats, HOBBY, was as usual not too happy with bein kept in initially and used to sit in the cupboard all day meeowin “OWT” “OWT”! The other cat, CALVIN, seemed to be a little less phased by another move. After about 4 days of keepin them in an sneakin out with the dog for a walk, my boyfriend at the time, decided that while i was at work he would take the dog for a walk an let the cats go with them too. 4 went out an only him an the dog came back! After about 6 hours calvin returned but Hobby was nowhere to be found. We searched for weeks and did all the usual things to find him but nothing. For the past 2 years me an Calvin have been in the same place quite happy. Calvin has certainly made his territory quite clear to the other cats around as they get chased off by him if they r spotted anywhere around here. Last week, I was back at the old house (Over 2 miles from where i am now, the place we stayed for only 6 months) and to our amazement, after 2 years missing and nearly 4 years since he’d lived there, was Hobby! He recognized me straight away and after petting him awhile he was still tryin to suckle my hand like he used to. He has been surviving for the last 2 years by hunting and sneaking into kitchens for food in the area, so a lady told me. He was always the wilder of the kittens and more independent of the 2. Now, what do i do? I feel like if I put him in a box and bring him here, Calvin will chase him off as he is so territorial. I have been going and putting food down for him where he has been livin and giving him attention, but i am worried that bringing him here will not b the best thing for him. I would like to know what you think I should do. And how to reintroduce the 2 brothers so that both are happy. Calvin has freedom to come an go with a catflap and i work long late hours so keepin 1 in (or out) and separated will be a knight mare to manage, especially with a now semi wild Hobby thats been out for the last 2 years! Please help Jenny, I dont know what to do for the best? Thankyou.

    • Jenny says:

      To me it sounds as if Hobby doesn’t like where you live now, so I am not sure if bringing him back would be helpful. If I were in your situation, I would try to communicate with Hobby through a pet communicator to see what he has to say. You might also discuss Calvin. It might be something as simple as moving a piece of furniture that bugs him or you might discover he is pleased with where he is! Please tell me they are neutered! You might try posting this topic in our cat forum, to see what other readers have to say.

      • pooky says:

        Well, the decision was made and I brought him back here 6 days ago. After hearing that some neighbours where he was werent happy with him being around. Ive set up a safe room for him with litter,food water toys etc. and he is a happy boy. I am following the routine of introducing cats…..scent swopping, room swopping etc, and so far its going ok. They have not been face to face yet which is going to be the real test. Calvin obviously knows there is another cat around but has progressed from hissing at my hand after ive been stroking hobby to bein kinda hmmmm, i know there is a cat here somewhere. They were both neutered as kittens but calvin had one testical inside and it wasnt as easy a procedure for him the vet said after. Calvin had from time to time sprayed in the house, near doorways etc but this has increased since hobbys been back. Hobby is settling very nicely but I am really worried that Calvin is going to chase him off when they are introduced. I am using tip bits whenever Calvin is sniffing where Hobby has been but he is not happy about the new smells. Any ideas about making the introduction easier or how to reduce Calvins scent marking would be great. I was also wondering if it is any different because they are brothers and have ‘tollereated’ living together before. Will they recognise each other as their brother or will calvin just see Hobby as a threat to his home? I am doing what I can and any thoughts you have would be appreciated. Thanks

  9. Jana says:

    I live in a small apartment – there is no safe room area. How can I introduce my kitties?

  10. Jane says:

    Hi there, I’m cat sitting a friends cat for 3 months alongside my resident cat of a year. My cat sammy is really laid back and isn’t showing any signs of distress. The visiting cat , Max is really unhappy. I’ve set him up in my bedroom during the day with litter tray and bowls then have been swapping at night as sammy always sleeps with me and I don’t want him to feel neglected. It’s only been a few days, I’ve already let them meet a couple of times. Sammy is quite inquisitive and unaggressive whereas Max is hissing and growling. Max is obviously unsettled, away from his home and owners and I know it’ll take time. When he’s on his own in my room he’ll come out from under the bed for a few strokes and food then will go back under the bed. I just wanted to check I’m doing the right things? Should I leave it longer to reintroduce them? It’s so hard as I’m doing it on my own and they’re both so quick!

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Jane, so nice of you to take care of your friend’s cat for 3 months! I would start completely over with the introduction process. Max needs to get used to the sounds, smells and sights of your home. So treat him like he’s the new kitten. I would plan on 2 weeks, but if you can do it in less time, great. I would keep him confined to that safe room and if you can sleep in there with him or spend a good amount of time in there with him – great. Then slowly bring in items that have your cat’s scent on them and visa versa. After 4-5 days, I would then close your kitty off in Max’s safe room and allow your kitty to explore Max’s smells and allow Max to explore your home – repeating this several times.

      You might also try a product called Feliway. It stimulates a cat’s natural pheromones to help your them cope with stress. So it will help both kitties.

      It’s not fun, because you want to live harmoniously as soon as possible. But it is not a process that can be rushed and I would encourage you to take your time, so you don’t have problems (peeing outside the litter box,etc) later on.

  11. Arielle says:

    Hello,just found your site and was hoping you could offer some advice. I have a 4 year old female cat as a 5 year old jack Russell terrier. My mom was recently displaced from her home due to a hurricane, and we offered to take in her 2 year old female cat while she figures out where to go. I’ve read a lot about introducing cats but our main problem is we live in a small NYC apartment that is essentially a studio or railroad style, with no doors. The only room with a door is the bathroom, however I was hesitant to set my mom’s cat up in there because it’s where our cat’s litter box is and a room that is definitely “her’s.” Even if we moved the litter box, I am worried about our cat feeling displaced. Right now my mom’s cat is hiding under the bed, occasionally our cat walks by to check it out and one or the other hisses. Any recommendations on the best way to help the situation with our limited apartment space/layout? Thanks!

  12. Jo says:

    Jana and other people without an area to separate new cats from others a large dog crate works well. The soft ones provide a lot of cover between the animals, but metal ones are good too, just throw a cover over it and it can gradually be removed to give the cats more direct contact with each other before they meet without a barrier

  13. sandra says:

    Hi there! I was hoping to get some possible advice about our cat situation. 4 months ago back in July I came home to a wonderful gift from my boyfriend, a 2yr old maine coon named Lulu. She was so wonderful and affectionate. Her previous owner had gotten a dog for the kids,.. and well Lulu was not too happy about it. So that is how we came to have her. Unfortunately 5 days later she escaped through our window that was blown open during the night. We spent weeks searching everywhere with no luck. So with much debate and a little reluctance we decided to get a 3 month old kitten. We have had her for a little over 3 months now. Then last week,.. we got a call. Lulu had been found!! I picked her up and brought her home straight into our bedroom were she was quarantined. It was obvious she had been living out in the woods for the entire time she was missing. We had her checked out by a vet,.. got her her shots and a clean bill of health. We are now underway with the slow introduction process. Our 7 month old kitten is doing reasonably well. At first cracked door sighting,.. there was a lot of hissing from the kitten and both hissing and growling from Lulu. Its only been a week,.. and we have plugged in a feliway as well. The kitten is more curious now and seems like she is interested in making a friend. Lulu however will glare and growl and looks like she will tear her up if given the chance. I am afraid for the kitten and am trying to be patient,.. but Lulu’s behavior doesnt help with my lack of confidence. Is there hope?? We put Lulu in a carrier today and let the kitten walk up and sniff around. Lulu lunged against the carrier pissed off as hell growlin up a storm. So that was not so helpful.. I dont think we should try that again,.. right?? Is the feliway not working?? Any advice? Is Lulu’s behavior normal,.. or is it a sign that she will not ever get along??

    • Janet V says:

      Lulu’s been through a huge trauma. She barely was used to you when she escaped. Then life in the wild was incredibly stressful, and now she’s back at another place, with another cat … it’s going to take a while. It may be months before she can calm down. I would also take the introduction much more slowly than normal. I hope they can both get along, though.

  14. Jerri K says:

    Hi Sandra,

    I’m guessing Lulu is under a lot of stress after being lost, and coming home to find that a new kitten is in her home. You only had her for 5 days, so she wasn’t really bonded to you yet. I’m guessing poor Lulu doesn’t know what in the world is happening. I would find her a room of her own with her own litter box and food and water where she can feel safe. Go spend time with her one on one, get to know her again and wait until she feels she can trust you before trying to introduce her to the kitten. It might take quite a while, but be patient.

    That’s what I would do.

    Good luck!!

  15. sandra says:

    Okay,.. a little patience and love….. and possibly a few months. I hope it works. We will take it slower then. We will still swap them in and out of eachothers rooms however so they both get the chance to move around. Our bedroom is not that big,.. and after a few months in the big wide open,.. its a bit confining. I know Lulu hasn’t quite bonded yet,.. She seems comfortable around us though and is often purring like an engine when we give her attention. Thanks for the quick relpies and advice!

  16. Kurt says:

    This article has great advice on introducing two cats where one is already established and the other is new. Howabout if both cats are new to a living space, like both moving from seperate apartments into a new house? Is it best to introduce them both at the same time? Or should one get established in the home first and then introduce the other?

  17. Vanessa says:

    Hi

    I’ve read the previous comments about introducing one cat to another cat.

    I’m moving in with my partner who has one cat, but I have 3……should I adopt the same process?

    Any advice would be fab. As I am quite worried about it x

    • Jenny says:

      Yep. Can you start bringing one cat over at a time? So that they get used to the smells of his place? I would still employ the same methods to introduce them slowly. And his cat would be the resident cat. You might also get Feliway.

  18. Heidi says:

    Last night McDreamy had a short and uninvited “play date” with my daughter’s female Siberian “Raja.” Raja didn’t like McDreamy poking around her house and when the girls put them nose to nose they growled at each other. After a few minutes we let them both explore again and they left each other alone. I think they could be good friends if giving more of an opportunity to hang out :)

  19. Heidi says:

    correction: that’s my daughter’s friend’s cat “Raja”

  20. Josefina says:

    Hello!
    Im going to try to summarize my problem! I had to move to Paris because of my work and here is very difficult to find somewhere to live so finally im sharing an appartament with another person, the problem is she had a cat and i brought my cat from Spain …i did the indtrodction as recommended (left my cat in my bedroom for 3/4 days, i let the eat together separeted by a window, rubbed towels….) things were going quite well(some hissing here and there but that was all), they also spent some time together in the same bedroom (just a few minutes), but yesterday they were seeing each throug the window and the other cat try to attackmy cat (fortunately he punched his faced on the window).I dont undesrtand …things were going quite well…why this now? I didn take asmuch time as recommended, but is because both cats are quite calmed and they werent hissing at each other smells or anything…
    Please help! thank you :D

  21. marydean says:

    Miah and Lacey Dean

    I recently acquired my 2nd raggie. Miah is 15 month and the baby Lacey 4 months. I would say the most important bit of advice I followed was to take it slow and do not rush introductions. I treated the house as it was Miah’s and respected her territory till she seemed ok. I made a cardboard half door so I could peek in and not worry about her getting out, plus Miah could hear her but not see her. Slowly be introduced with sight, then in the carry with the baby keeping her from pouncing on Miah. It was a week till playing, separating when they got too crazy, and at night. Two week till free roaming. I did have one issue with my older girl refusing to eat, the little one was pestering her. I fed her with baby locked up till she was comfortable and in no time they are eating together side by side. It’s respecting the resident cat I felt was most important and the baby adapts quickly. I am very glad I took time off work for 2 weeks and got them adjusted and on a good schedule. The advice in Ragdoll kitten guide was my bible and I read it over and over so as not to screw it up. First impresssions are lasting with cats, after the investment and time you have so go slow. Now almost a month they are buddies, eating together, using the box after each other, playing, sleeping, even equal chasing. When I returned from vet with Lacey from her last shot, Miah ran to her greeted her with head bumps, butt sniffs, The baby calls for her and Miah comes to her, it melts my heart. So the best advice it SLOW SLOW SLOW, respect the resident cat first.

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