How to introduce a new cat to your other cat, so they get along
Q. I would like to get a new cat, but am worried about how my other cat will react. How should I introduce them so that they get along?
A. As a cat lover, I can tell you that two cats can be twice the fun of one and they can be the best of friends. The two should be gradually introduced so they have a chance to get used to each other, however. Please do not just throw them together and leave it to chance.
Before that, I recommend you take your new kitty to your vet. You will make to make sure it gets a clean bill of health before you expose it to your other cat. A very important step will be to have it tested for “kitty AIDs”. There are two viruses that cause this disease: Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. A simple blood test will make sure the cat is not an asymptomatic carrier of these viruses. I also strongly recommend you make sure your cat’s vaccinations are up to date. I’m sure the last thing you would want is to exposure your cat to any diseases when you bring the new cat home.
Set up a new room for the new cat to live in for the first couple of weeks. A small bedroom or bathroom is best. Let the two cats hear each other through the door or stick their paws under the door. Don’t be surprised if they hiss at each other a lot at first. This is normal and expected behaviour.
After a one week quarantine period, if the new cat has not shown any signs of disease, you can trade their blankets back and forth so they get used to each other’s scent.
Let the new cat explore your house and get familiar with its new surroundings only if your other cat is kept confined to another area. It would be pretty frightening to try to adapt to a new home while being stalked or being pounced on by the resident cat.
Once the two felines do not seem to react to each other’s scent and sounds, put the new kitty in a carrier and place the carrier in the middle of a neutral room, one that does not have the food bowls or litter boxes of your other cat. Let your old cat sniff the new cat through the carrier door. Give both food treats to make it a pleasant experience and to reward positive behaviour.
After a few days of this, you can try putting them together in the room for a short introduction. Make sure you supervise them carefully and don’t allow any situations that will induce fear in either cat. After 15 minutes or so, put the new cat back in its room and spend some solo time with your old cat.
Slowly work up to longer times together, over 2-3 weeks, until they are calm around each other. Hopefully they will start playing and napping together. Be patient, since cats are territorial animals, and since it may take a long time (up to 6 months) for them to be best buds.