Introducing Cats To Cats

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You have gotten so much satisfaction out of your one resident cat; you decide it's time to introduce another feline into your home. So you go out and you bring home a cat either from a shelter, or you found a stray or visited a cattery. What is the first thing you need to do now?

Safety Issues

First off, for any newcomer, if not already vetted, you need to have the new cat or kitten over to the vet to be tested for all the standard diseases. If it is a stray or rescue ask the vet to do a fecal, check for fleas and flea-dirt, ear mites, lice, ringworm, etc. If the kitten is of the correct age get them started on their first series of shots.

You do not want to bring a kitten into the same proximity as the already resident cat. At least until the newcomer has been completely checked out.

Putting two cats together right away without a vet check could open up your resident cat to some danger of exposure. It is always best to be sure the kitten or cat has been given the all-clear.

Once you return home with your new cat, you need to seclude the newcomer in a small room. The kitty should have two litter-boxes, one to urinate in, and the other to defecate in. Provide the new one with new food bowls, not plastic though (harbors bacteria), glass or metal is best. Put in a few toys so the newcomer has something to amuse herself with, and then just shut the door and leave her be.

Check your linen closet for an old blanket you don't care much about and give this to the new cat to lay on. If the newcomer does not show any interest in the blanket, you can rub some catnip on it, or spray some catnip on it to entice her to consider rolling around all over it.

The purpose of this blanket is to saturate it with the newcomer's smell.

Warning Signs

Play interactive games on top of the blanket, using a feather or a string, so the kitty gets it good and covered with her scent. Let her have this blanket for a few days then take the blanket out and without washing it, leave it in the corner for your resident cat to find. When the resident cat approaches the blanket, observe closely the body language.

Normal language would be sniffing, pawing, and even growling. Warning signs would be flattened ears, twitching tail and hissing, if you see any of these warning signs, you may be in for a bit of a battle when the two first initially meet.

Let the resident kitty do what he or she wants to the blanket, let him/her have it for a few days. Rub resident kitty all over with the blanket, play interactive games on top of it. Then, still not washing it (yep, probably pretty grungy about now). Turn around and give it back to the newcomer.

Let the new one have the blanket for a day or so, and watch the body language looking again for any warning signs.

Take the blanket, and if it will fit, lay it flat on the floor underneath the door that separates the two cats. Shut the door, so now the blanket lies on each side of the rooms and feeds both cats on top of the blanket near the door. This way they will be able to smell each other through the crack in the door, plus they will smell each other "blended" on the blanket as well.

You will be able to observe what type of reaction each cat presents at this time. Put tasty treats on the blanket so they will acquaint each other's smells with pleasant associations.

If you don't see a major battle breaking out during these times, it is safe to let them finally meet. I have also been known to take and sprinkle catnip along the crack of the door on top of the blanket, this helps each cat to relax and play with each other although still separated by the closed door.

Supervised Meet Up Time

Now, it is time for them to meet. Make sure the first meeting is supervised with more than one person present if possible. Have a blanket or heavy towel nearby in case you have to toss it over a fighting cat to break them apart. Open the door and let them meet nose to nose for the first time.

If you haven't rushed the process, because you either felt sorry for the isolated newcomer, or you didn't have time to follow through all the steps, all you should see is a few initial hisses but no bloodshed. Watch them closely for the first hour.

Don't be surprised when they decide to curl up together and go to sleep on your bed.

While the newcomer is isolated, try and go in as much as possible and just sit on the floor and be with the new cat. I always read out loud to my newcomers.

This gets them used to my voice. I read very softly for about 10 minutes a day. I also give them an old tee shirt that I exercised vigorously in to permeate it with my own scent, so my scent becomes familiar to them as well.

If the newcomer hides from you in the beginning, don't worry, the cat just needs to get used to the new world opening before her and she will adjust. Just have patience with her, or if she seems really scared, you can play classical music on low to soothe her, take a ticking alarm clock and wrap it with a towel and put it near where she sleeps, this simulates her memory of her mother's heartbeat.

In Closing

I have used this procedure repeatedly over the years with great success. It is not a fast process, but it is effective and it will stop most problems before they start. As long as you can divide your time between both of these cats prior to meeting each other, so neither one feels neglected, this procedure will serve you well. It has never failed me yet. Let me just hit on the important points to wrap this up:

  • Vet visit before letting the two cats even sniff noses.
  • Isolation for the newcomer supplying two litter boxes, food bowls, water dish toys.
  • Visit the newcomer often sit on the floor and read out loud softly.
  • If kitty hides, just accept it, she will come out to you eventually, don't chase her.
  • To soothe the newcomer use the alarm clock trick, play classical music.
  • Use the blanket trick, it really works and makes that initial first meeting less stressful for everyone.
  • Add an old tee shirt that you got really sweaty to the newcomer's room.
  • The first meeting has help and a blanket or heavy towel at the ready-to-toss over any aggressive kitty.
  • Don't neglect either cat during the isolation period. Interactive playtime between both of them and yourself is very important.

We have a more recent and thorough article on the topic. If you're dealing with introducing cats make sure you check out this guide too:

How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide

Good luck and thank you for bringing yet another cat or kitten home to love.

Read more: multi-cat-household

Written by Mary Anne Miller

Mary Anne Miller is a freelance writer and member of the Cat Writers' Association. She is a web copywriter, and passionate about feral cats/kittens and bottle babies. You can read more by Mary Anne on her Feral Cat Behavior Blog.

Comments? Leave them using the form below. Questions? Please use the cat forums for those!

9 comments on “Introducing Cats To Cats

Sarah July 7, 2020
What if you are trying to reintroduce two brothers that have been separated for almost three months?
    Furballsmom November 27, 2020
    Sarah, if you come back to the site, please register with us (it's free) and post in the forum that's dedicated to this type of question, because that is where members will see your post. The forum is If you are unfamiliar with forums this may be helpful;
Ashley&Cats July 24, 2017
So happy I was introduced to this article! I have had a blanket inside my newcomers "safe room" since getting him Friday night. I will be taking it out tonight to give to my resident cat! We've so far been using the baby gate introduction method which wasn't working till today. I'm hoping by the weekend we will be able to introduce them and all will go well! :)
Dee Ashley December 31, 2016
Thank you for this article! My 9 y/o cat just lost his brother that he was very attached to and it's become obvious he needs a companion cat to help fill the void. While I'm not expecting (although I'd be thrilled if this were to happen), him to become as close to a new family member as he was to Jack, I'm hoping his behavioral issues that have started after the loss of his brother will be lessened with another cat. The last thing I want to do however, is add to his stress instead of alleviating it, so the idea of a new kittie has me both hopeful and anxious. I love your blanket approach. Putting the blanket under the door with the additional positive reinforcements (food/catnip/etc.), is brilliant. I'm definitely going to try that approach when the time comes! Thanks again, Dee
catsmeow100 November 22, 2014
I have a 2 year old female small stray just here 3 weeks and 2 -5yr olds already. I am finding this a wee bit of a stressful time because I feel bad for all three of them. My two just keep running scared upstairs and walk as far away as they can from the pet gate I have up for the new one. SHe jumped the pet gate and ran after my one and I was on the stairs. I snapped my fingers and said calmly her name and she came down. But as I picked up her, she was fine but soon as she got to where my other cat was in the path, she started flailing her paws and hissing. It will be a slow process but hopefully after a week or so, it will get better.
fellowstring June 10, 2013
I have the same problem with my 13 year old neutered tom. I have rescued an abandonded neutered 2 year old tom and the introduction process isn't going too well. I know my resident long time tom is lonely as he continually seeks out the company of my neighbours cats, but won't tolerate the latest intrusion of the very sweet and gentle new boy and is very aggressive towards him. I will be continuing with all the advice above and hold thumbs for at the very least, a mutual tolerance.
pamela derouen July 2, 2012
Give them time....
Anne February 16, 2012
Hello Caro, we welcome comments on articles, but I suggest you post your question on the behavior forum, where more people are available to offer their help. The forums offer a better platform for the "back and forth" that might be required.
caro February 16, 2012
Hi Mary Anne I introduced a 9 year old neutered tomcat to my 2, 6 year old spayed females, 6 days ago and followed the procedure recommended, isolation/scent & territory switching etc. When the girls started to get curious I let them meet Stan the new boy. It went OK, first nose to nose, then they backed off and hissed at him. he does not retaliate. However one of my females, Polly is timid and she seems to be scared of him (though he is a very sweet, gentle boy) and he has started to stalk and corner her (more out of curiosity I feel) but Polly reacts terrified, with ears flat, lying down growling. Then I separated them and put him back in his room. The other cat Henrietta simpy seems to hate him. later, after the initial meeting she smacked him when he came too close but he seems to respect that and stays away. My friend says just leave them all toegether and let them sort it out but I'm worried for Polly. Any advice please. I am getting very stressed and it's only 2 days since they met! Caro

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