“They’ll learn to live together” is a common phrase people use when bringing a new cat into the house. But, this is rarely the case. In fact, improperly introduced cats usually end up with vet bills and leave owners frustrated and dismayed.
Jackson Galaxy, author of Catification: Designing a Happy and Stylish Home for Your Cat (and You!) and host of Animal Planet’s My Cat from Hell, shows how cat owners should properly introduce a new cat.
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#1 – Introduce Through a Door
“it’s about territorial ownership,” Galaxy says. Bringing home a new cat and just ‘throwing’ him into your old cat’s territory is a great way to make him feel threatened. And when a predatory animal feels threatened, it fights. Instead, have a door separate them so they can smell each other but not see.
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#2 – Site Swapping
“Frequently switch areas of the house where you are keeping your cats separated,” Galaxy says. This way they can smell each other.
#3 – Feed Together
Feed both cats on either side of the door at the same time. No free-feeding, Galaxy advises. This gives the cats a positive association (through food) of the other cat. Give them 3’ on each side of the door. If you see an aggressive behavior, place food further from the doors.
#4 – Coming Together
Start gradually moving the bowls closer to the doors, as the cats get more comfortable with each other’s presence. It must be done gradually, keeping kitties comfortable the entire time.
#5 – Visual Introduction
Next, you will want to graduate to a baby gate, draped with a towel, Galaxy says. The towel is there so you can slowly add visual “stimulation” for the cats. Do this by raising the towel by just half inch. And then slowly raising it as the cats are comfortable.
#6 – Eat, Play, Love
Put cats in the same room, but have them interacting, play, eating, and attention with separate people and ignoring each other. “I just want them to ignore one another, that’s the object of the game,” he says. End before the cats notice each other and on a POSITIVE note.