Our advice for introducing cats to cats
Successful integration with other pets takes commitment, time and patience. Always looking from the cat's perspective and at a pace which is right for them.
Although cats generally prefer to live alone, with slow, carefully managed integration, new and existing cats can adjust to sharing the space available, provided they have plenty of resources and do not feel the need to compete.
Contrary to popular belief there is no alpha cat, top cat, pecking order or dominant cat, this type of hierarchy does not exist in the cat world. However the accurate term for cats often described in this way are confident cats, for these cats they are highly motivated by a strong solitary natural instinct to maintain territory within their environment and to stake a claim on resources they value highly.
For this reason when carrying out introductions never fall into thinking if you just put them all in together they will figure it out for themselves, this high risk strategy very rarely works and when it goes wrong it is extremely difficult if at all, to turn the situation around.
Using a throw them all in together strategy causes unnecessary high levels of stress to both new and existing cats or other pets, which can lead to health and behavioural issues such as Cystitis, over grooming, spraying, aggression or becoming subdued. When cats are stressed they can exhibit natural behaviours such as spraying, inappropriate toileting and aggression these are the signals they use to tell an owner something is not right in their world. Sadly owners too often misinterpret this as a cat misbehaving.
Introductions to other cats in the home
Introductions need to be built up slow and appropriately. Before the first meeting takes place your new cat should be familiar with the layout of all other rooms in the house, in particular the room the introductions will take place. Should your new cat feel threatened or anxious during the introduction they will know the escape routes and safe places within the room, to avoid conflict and reduce stress.
Read more about cat to cat introductions here.
Do not place your cat in a cat carrier to do introductions, this will cause them stress
Choose a quiet time without any distractions or demands on your time
Choose a room for the introductions which your new cat is familiar with
Ensure your new cat has free access to return to its dedicated room if it chooses
Use a Feliway diffuser in the room introductions take place
Choose a quiet time, after they have eaten
Have some treats to use as a reward/distraction
Fishing rod toys to use as a distraction
Allow both cats to enter the room unaided (don't pick them up or carry them in)
Stay calm and avoid eye contact
Keep introductions short (10 minutes at a time) then guide your new cat back to their room.
Use distraction techniques to avoid a chase situation or fight occurring
If you have more than one cat, it is a good idea to introduce your new cat to just one cat at a time. Choose the cat who is likely to be the most accepting of the newcomer and build up the time they spend together very, very gradually over many days. When these cats do not react to each other, you can start introducing another cat to your new cat.
When all cats have met each other and at a stage they do not react, continue to build up the time spent together, placing your new cat back in their dedicated room overnight.
Never leave a new cat unattended with existing cats or dogs until you are completely sure they are ok with each other. Build the time left alone together up slowly, short periods at a time, initially whilst you are still in or around the home and then when going out.
Watch our helpful video on introducing here.