In yesterday’s article, we discussed the basics of how to make the introduction to a new home smoother and less stressful for a newly adopted cat. Today, we’ll discuss expectations as you introduce your new cat to the other cats in your household.
Currently, I have 14 cats who live in my home. I have another half dozen who live outside (ferals and strays.) We also take in foster cats on a regular basis, so I’m very experienced when it comes to cat-cat introductions. The following is a general set of observations concerning cat-to-cat introductions:
- The younger the cat, the more willing she will be to accept new cats into the household. Also, younger cats and kittens tend to be less threatening to your resident cats, thereby making the integration process much easier.
- Most adult cats do not enjoy meeting other adult cats. This is more true of cats who have lived alone during some point of their life; cats who have always lived with others tend to be more accepting of newcomers.
- The more cats you have, the easier introductions become. It seems counter-intuitive, since you have more personalities in the mix. But I believe that when meeting new cats becomes a fairly regular event, cats become more accepting of other felines.
- Neutering a male cat makes the introduction process much easier. Testosterone-fuled cat fights over territory are extremely commonplace and it can be very difficult to break this pattern of behavior. Whenever possible, neuter the cat before introducing him/her to the household. This way, the cats won’t start off on the wrong foot.
When you bring a new cat into your home, it’s important to maintain realistic expectations. You should expect your cats to peacefully co-exist; it’s not realistic to expect them to become best friends. Just like humans, each cat has a unique personality. Some personalities mesh well, while others do not. You don’t love every human you meet, so it’s reasonable to believe that your cat will not love every cat that he meets. Of course, fighting and aggression is not acceptable, but you shouldn’t expect your cats to become best friends — that’s an added bonus, but it’s really more realistic to expect peaceful co-existence.
In our home, we have 14 cats and they have formed distinct “cliques.” Some cats are very closely bonded with others, whereas in other instances, we have cats who only tolerate certain other individuals. Two of our cats are loners who prefer human or canine companionship, whereas others really enjoy their feline housemates. On occasion, one cat may annoy another, so a swat or hiss isn’t all that uncommon. But generally speaking, they all get along well. There is no true aggression or fighting and that’s all we ask for — peaceful co-existence.
When introducing a new cat to your home, it’s important to avoid interfering with the feline interactions. The cats must be allowed to become acquainted at a pace that’s comfortable for them; forcing two cats to interact is a recipe for a fight.
The relationship building process doesn’t occur overnight. Some cats will bond with others fairly quickly — in a matter of a couple weeks. Other cats may take months or even years to form a solid relationship with his/her housemates. On occasion, you’ll encounter a cat who prefers to simply co-exist with her housemates.
On very rare occasion, you’ll find a cat who simply cannot live with other cats without exhibiting true aggression and fighting. This is extremely rare, as cats are naturally social animals. I’ve seen a few instances where intact male strays or ferals became aggressive with other cats, but neutering has always resolved this problem (and in all cases, these males interacted well with female cats.) So rarely, you will find two individuals who simply cannot live together, but this is a very rare event and typically, it’s a problem between these two specific individuals (vs. a situation where a cat cannot get along with any other feline.)
If you recently adopted a cat, but he or she is not getting along with his/her housemates, it’s best to consult an experienced animal behaviorist, trainer or veterinarian. They can observe the cats’ behavior to identify the root problem and recommend a solution.
Photo Source: Rachel Wiygul on Sxc.hu