Have you ever tried introducing two adult cats to each other? It’s stressful!
This post isn’t going to tell you how to introduce two adult cats to each other. For that, I refer you to the many experts and great resources out there. And fear not, I’ve put a lot of those links at the end of this article. Instead, this post is going to give support and guidance on how you, the human, stay sane during this ambitious endeavor.
Bringing a new cat into your home is stressful for everyone —humans and felines — especially when there is already a resident cat in the house. It’s even more so when both cats are adults. Cats are territorial; out on their own they rarely seek another cat for companionship. In fact, Paws.org sums it up best, “They actively avoid it.”
So, is it any wonder that the process might take time and come with a few challenges? Our kitties definitely feel the stress of change —whether behavior, territories, or routines— but as cat moms and dads who are invested in making the process successful, we probably feel even more stressed out! Therefore, it’s important to take special care of our own well-being during this process.
Here are five suggestions to help you remain your cool cat self as you attempt to introduce a new adult cat friend to a resident adult kitty and your home.
1. Remember, You’re Human
This is helpful on many levels.
We’re human, which means we’re not going to get this perfect, and we’re going to make mistakes. Perhaps you planned to follow every step of Jackson Galaxy’s complete guide to introducing cats, but your kitty friends had a different idea, escaped, and met before the mandatory separation had concluded.
Don’t beat yourself up!
Likewise, remember that our cat friends are animals. Sure, they have feelings, stressors, and need our respect and love, but as felines they relate to the world differently than we humans do.
For example, cats don’t need to have face to face contact with each other right away. It’s good practice to keep new cats apart from each other for as long as needed. In fact, it’s recommended. And while a cat’s hiss and growl can be quite frightening, it’s actually just kitty communication. It might be the cat’s way of saying he or she is frightened, annoyed, or will get aggressive if the cause of their fear or annoyance doesn’t stop. The other cat needs to hear that.
However, this kind of behavior doesn’t mean all hopes of friendship are lost. Two hissing cats can literally be curled up next to each other a few hours later.
2. Take Breaks
Just like your kitties need breaks from the introduction process (hence the hisses!), so do you. You cannot be assessing, strategizing, and agonizing about how things are going every moment of the day.
And I don’t just mean sitting down in the living room with a cup of coffee and your favorite Netflix Original. Instead, get out of the house and away from all those cat pheromones. Go visit friends, see a movie, eat out with your partner. Do something that doesn’t involve seeing or thinking about cats at all.
This does not make you a bad cat mom or dad! Ask parents of human children, and if you don’t happen to be one, read about the importance of self-care to good parenting. Constant stress and laser focus wears us out in ways we don’t even realize. While short breaks may seem negligible, they can help you reset as you prepare to tackle the complex cat dynamics again. You owe it to yourself and them!
3. Talk About It
As with any great endeavor, and introducing two adult cats is very much a great endeavor, you need a solid team behind you. If you live alone, don’t isolate. Reach out to friends, colleagues, and family who have done this. Talk to them. Lots of them.
Use your team!
You can get great ideas to help integrate your kitties quicker, and you also won’t feel so alone. You’re going to find that there are as many different paths to a positive outcome as there are different types of cats. That’s exactly what you need to hear! Be flexible. Try their suggestions, especially if your expert’s strategy isn’t working out. That’s the cue to try something new.
And don’t forget the vet! Of course we all take new kitties in for a physical check up, but the veterinarian’s services and support don’t have to end there. Kitties acting out? One or both cats not eating? Someone suddenly peeing outside the litter box? Or is there excessive growling and hissing? Give your vet a call and see what suggestions they have. There may be solutions available that you had no idea existed.
4. Be Patient
Always easier said than done.
You may have noticed that I’ve mentioned a couple times already that this is a long journey. That’s not a deterrent. Think in terms of cat time. Cats do everything in their own time and often take their sweet time in whatever they do. Think about those long naps, stalking birds at the window, and even just clearing out their food bowl.
Some cats will get along soon after a quick introduction. Others may take months. In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear folks say, “After about eight months, they finally became friends.” This may seem daunting, but it should also give you hope. It could take months for your new kitty to acclimate, or it may take a year for your resident cat to decide they’re ready to cuddle with the new roommate. As long as there aren’t cat brawls and fur flying, don’t pressure yourself in thinking they need to be best chums right away or that you’ve failed.
5. Lastly, Be Realistic
Time has gone by, you’ve put in your best effort, followed all the advice, and the kitties do not get on. This is the hard part.
Sometimes two adult kitties will never be friends. If you have the space for them to coexist and they don’t seem miserable, then maybe that’s okay. While your dream of kitties swirled together in naps may not have manifested, you’ve given two fellow creatures a good home, and they each have you.
But if one kitty is downright miserable, marking your entire house, or getting increasingly aggressive toward the other, it might be time to consider rehoming. Because no amount of Feliway pheromone plugins or collars will make a difference.
No one wants to think about this option. It brings up feelings of failure or that you’re letting them down. More than that, you’ve probably bonded with the new kitty even if your resident cat hasn’t. Here’s where you have to put their interests first because it’s not fair for either kitty to live like this. And I’m not talking about returning them to the shelter or kicking them outdoors. Not at all! I’m talking about diligently and compassionately finding them the purrfect forever home with new cat parents you’ve screened and assessed.
But this is a last resort! The odds are good that with lots of patience and creativity it will not come to this, and it can take some pressure off to remember that another good, furrever home exists. Finding them takes its own energy and commitment, but the option is there in worst case scenarios.
Really, it all comes down to one thing.
What do all these tips have in common?
As we’ve established, bringing a new kitty into our lives is both exciting and stressful even when everything turns out purr-fectly, which it usually does. But at the outset there will be unknowns and challenges. Things rarely go to plan despite best efforts, but that doesn’t mean things won’t end well.
Take it day by day, and keep it all in perspective. Don’t focus too much on one thing; remember there are many different moving parts, especially with cats! Some days are two steps forward, some days are one step back. Be mindful and aware of the journey ahead and the ultimate goal.
Getting two adult cats to coexist peacefully can be a long daunting process and can be exhausting for the cat parent. Need to take a sabbatical? A Meowtel sitter is the perfect person to care for your kitties and continue introduction efforts while you enjoy a getaway. After all, Meowtel is here to help cats and cat parents live their best life.
Below are some of the resources out there to learn how to go about introducing two adult cats and troubleshoot potential obstacles: