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How to Introduce a Second Cat

Depending upon how reactive your resident cat is, you can also let him do some exploration of the sanctuary room. Put the newcomer in another room so she can explore safely (or place her in her carrier and put then put the carrier in another room) and then open the door to the sanctuary room so your resident kitty can check things out. Keep toys and treats handy for distraction. Whether to let your resident cat into the sanctuary room depends on how reactive he is so you’ll have to be the judge here. For some cats, the sanctuary room of an unfamiliar cat is too over-the-top. For other cats, it’s a chance to do a more in-depth scent investigation in a safe way.

Step Four: Peek-a-Boo Kitty

The next step involves opening the sanctuary room door just a crack during the feeding sessions. Feed the cats within sight of each other but far enough apart so they don’t feel threatened. Do short sessions where you’re offering a tiny amount of food and then close the sanctuary room door. It’s better to do several short sessions a day that end on a positive note rather than attempting one long session where someone’s tolerance is tested and a fight breaks out. If one cat routinely tries to bolt through the door, use a door stop to prevent the door from fully opening. You can also place a hook-and-eye closure on the door temporarily.

Step Five: Fully Opened Door

When do you move onto this step? That’s determined by your individual situation. There’s no set time limit on how long you should stay in one phase before entering the next. If your cats aren’t comfortable enough yet with eating on either side of the door when it’s cracked open then you aren’t ready to move onto to the fully opened door. Cat introductions shouldn’t be rushed. Take each phase slowly and watch your cats’ reactions to determine whether to move on.

quote from georgia spca

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When it comes time to open the sanctuary room door and you’re worried one cat may charge through or if one or both cats have already attempted that then you take an interim step by putting two or three baby gates across the entrance or install a temporary screen door (with secure pet screening). This will allow the cats to see each other without being able to charge. When the short feeding session is over, close the actual sanctuary room door again. You can even use just one baby gate during the feeding sessions if you’re standing by the door ready to close it in case the worst happens. Even though the cats could easily hop over the gate, it can become a psychological barrier — just enough of one to relax the cats so they’ll be comfortable to eat.

4 comments

  1. hi Pam,
    I have two bonded neutered male cats, aged 7 and 8. I have taken in a cat that belonged to my best friend, who has died. Her husband is allergic and travels. The new cat (neutered male) is around 6 years old, and pretty mellow. He is in a spare bedroom at present. I let my cats sniff him through a crack in the door. The first day, the 7 year old peed on my dining room floor….and was totally freaked out, running and hiding. He’s usually pretty alpha.My other cat, generally mellow, crashed through the baby gate I put up after about a week, and cornered New Cat under the bed, where they hissed and growled at each other. New Cat has been here for almost 2 weeks, with little forward movement on the part of my first two. At least the peeing stopped. But what to do? I’ve never had so much trouble integrating cats!
    Thanks for any advice.

  2. We found a stray kitten in a tree at our home. He is in isolation in a separate bedroom until I can get him vet checked next week. I already have 3 adult cats, all related Mom,10 yrs oldm & her two grown kittens – 8 yrs old). Do I introduce kitten to all three at same time in methods you mentioned?? Bray Cook, Hudson, FL.

  3. Hi,
    I adopted a 8 week old female kitten 2 weeks ago. My resident cat, a 3 year old female was not too impressed. She took to hiding and hissing every time the baby would come to close. She also has become very hesitant with me and won’t come into my room all that often, whereas before she was my shadow.

    However, after very little progress today I got them to play with the same rope, the big cat hiding under the bed and using her paws to grab the rope from around the bed and the little one just running around. There were a few hisses from under the bed but she didn’t stop playing for even a second.

    My question is whether this is progress or not? And if I continue this play therapy is there hope for things to get better between the two?

  4. I have a 1 year old male cat called Kygo, thought with us working it would be a good idea to get him a little friend, so we got a female kitten called Khleo.
    We introduced them through a gate and they just smelled each other so let them see each other, kittens fine loves playing with him does hiss when he moves really fast, but Kygo goes into pouncing position and runs over and paws her but no claws! Is he playing or trying to hurt her??
    Also any suggestions on helping them get on best as possible.

    Thank you in advance

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