The Vet is In:

Cat Introductions

Sissy and Dennis are proof that cats can have a best friend!

If you love cats, then you may be familiar with the expression, “Cats are like potato chips, you can’t just have one.”

You may have seen a plea on social media for a cat in need of a home, or there may even be a hungry cat who comes to your door for food. And indeed your local animal shelter is filled to capacity with wonderful cats waiting for a family. Therefore, if you are thinking of helping one of these kitties, but not sure how your cat will like this idea, please read on.

Cats in general thrive with another cat friend. They may groom each other, play wrestle, and even nap together. However, felines are by nature territorial and an adjustment period for both will take some patience and a strategic plan.

ISOLATE: Your new kitty will need a room of his or her own for a while. Provide the essentials — food, water, litterbox, a scratching post, and a cozy bed that the cat can go into to feel safe. Keep in mind your new rescue doesn’t know where he or she is yet so you need to spend some time getting to know each other in this calm environment.

SCENTS: No doubt the cats will smell each other under the door and may even play pawsies. Brush each of them with the same brush to allow for an exchange of scents. Wear something old and put it in each cat bed and then switch the clothing after a day so that each cat will identify your scent with that of the other one. Let your cat smell the carrier that the new kitty has been in.

BARRIER: After about 10 days, open the door a crack and allow each of them to finally see each other! You may want to put the new cat in a carrier at first and let the other cat sniff him or her to keep everyone safe. If possible, place a barrier between them, such as a propped up screen door or gate. Take note of how they react to one another. If there is no major aggression displayed, continue allowing them to get used to each other by following the steps above. Once they appear to be curious (and not threatened), you are now ready to remove the barrier and let them establish a relationship.

ADJUSTMENT: There will be more sniffing and maybe even some hissing! Don’t be alarmed. This is normal feline behavior in order to establish boundaries. Finally, remember cats are like people. We all need a bit of time to get to know each other. Follow the introduction process and then enjoy all the gifts that cats give to us with their endearing and captivating ways!

New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XLIII, Spring 2024.