Cats, despite what you may have been told, aren’t solitary creatures and many of them benefit from having feline companions. That said, cats are also territorial so the introduction process requires some finesse and patience. If you just toss the cats together with a “they’ll work it out themselves” mentality, you will put a tremendous amount of stress on both cats as well as risk physical injury to them. An incorrect or hurried introduction can set the cats up to become bitter enemies. On the other hand, the correct introduction can open the door to a lifelong feline friendship.
Cats in High Alert Mode
You may know some people who used the old-fashioned (and not well-thought-out) method of simply putting the cats together and letting nature take its course. Some of these people may have had successful outcomes but at what cost? How stressful were the introductions? And, did the cats really become friends or did they merely divide up the territory and draw a line in the sand? Just because these cat parents don’t see overt aggression doesn’t mean these cats aren’t living under constantly stressful conditions. The “let them work it out” method is risky, ineffective and inhumane. Why would you want to use a technique that puts all cats involved at risk?
Do it the Right Way When Introducing Cats
The way I tell my clients to do new cat introductions is to take it “one sense at a time.” First the cats may hear each other (if one or both are vocal), then they’re going to smell each other (in a controlled way via my behavior modification method) and then they’ll see each other (again, in a controlled way). Finally, they may touch each other (we definitely want this to be a controlled and positive way). As for tasting? Well, that’s optional if one cat eventually licks another. Hopefully, the tasting aspect won’t involve any biting though.
The proper new cat introduction technique must address the emotional and physical needs of both cats. From the resident cat’s perspective, there’s an intruder in his territory. From the newcomer’s point of view, she has just been dropped on hostile turf. Both cats need to feel secure. If they feel as if there’s no safe place for them, that’s when they’ll revert to survival mode and you’ll see panic, fighting and perhaps spraying. If, however, they feel they can remain in their comfort zones while checking out the situation, you can usually keep a lid on the panic button. Both cats need safe areas to decompress during this life-changing event — and it is a life-changing event. Your resident cat doesn’t understand why he no longer has the entire territory to himself and the newcomer must get to know an unfamiliar territory, unfamiliar humans AND an unfamiliar cat. Talk about stressful!