If a second cat moves in, the first few days are crucial for the future relationship between the two cats. Find out here how to get the two cats used to each other and what you should do to avoid jealousy.
You have decided to bring a second cat home. Now it is important that both the “new” and the “old” cat feel comfortable with you. In order for the two to get along well, you as a cat owner should pay attention to two essential aspects:
- Avoid jealousy between cats
- Get cats used to each other slowly
Avoid Jealousy Between Cats
The most important thing when a second cat moves in with you is: Don’t give your first cat any cause for jealousy! Because only when the first cat can be sure of its position in the family is it open to a new friendship. This means:
- Give your “old” cat just as much affection as before, or even pay more attention to it at the beginning: stick to the usual petting hours, always feed it first. Greet them in front of the others.
- Never pay more attention to the “new” cat than to the “old” one!
- Make sure each cat has their own accessories.
- Give both cats equal amounts of “exclusive time” dedicated to just one of them.
Avoid Jealousy: Accessories For Two Cats
In order to avoid rivalry and jealousy between your two cats, each cat badly needs its own accessories. Also includes:
- own litter box (rule of thumb for the number of litter boxes: number of cats + 1)
- own food and water bowls (same food and the same amount, unless this is not possible due to health reasons such as being overweight or an illness such as diabetes or CKD)
- separate feeding places so that both cats can eat in peace and undisturbed
- own sleeping place
- possibly your own scratching post or scratching board
- own comb, own brush
- if you have a cat flap: collar with door opener (magnet, transmitter, etc.)
Recognizing Jealousy in Cats
Cats show jealousy in different ways. All of these can indicate that your cat is jealous:
- Cat quietly retreats
- Cat confronts (aggressive behavior towards the second cat or the human)
- Cat refuses food
- Cat suddenly becomes unclean
If there are no health reasons for this behavior, you should fight the jealousy. Give your first cat the attention it needs. Reflect on your own behavior: Did you perhaps inadvertently neglect them?
Until the cats get used to each other, there may be fights. This is completely normal, you do not have to intervene here. If, on the other hand, there are dangerous territorial fights, you absolutely have to physically separate the cats from each other. You can only try again when the cats have calmed down. Getting cats used to each other can be very difficult.
When Did the New Cat Settle in?
The more similar the two cats are in character, the greater the chances of success. Cats of the same age are also easier and faster to get used to each other. But it is always important: The “old” cat has to accept the growth in its territory.
How quickly the new cat settles in, or whether bringing your two cats together will, unfortunately, remain a hopeless case depends on these factors:
- The simple case: Your cat has had a cat friend before and you, as the owner, follow all the tips for getting your cats together. The cats are similar in character and are the same age. You can expect the cats to get used to each other in one to three weeks.
- The difficult case: Your first cat used to live alone in your household. New cats are more likely to be perceived as invaders in the territory. If the character and age of the second cat have been well selected, territorial wars can still occur. Be patient: it can take months for the cats to accept each other.
- The hopeless case: If the cats only meet aggressively from the start (hissing, territorial fights, fights) and they show no curiosity or interest in the other cat, things are looking bad. A friendship will probably never come about. But only a few cats are so intolerable.
Avoid Quarrels Between the Cats
In order to get the cats used to each other peacefully, you should avoid conflicts from the start. This is the right way to avoid quarrels in the course of getting to know the cats.
Properly Prepare For the Arrival of the Second Cat
Place the new cat and its accessories in a room where it will have company but will not be in direct contact with the other cat. You should note the following:
- Choose a room that the first cat usually rarely enters. Under no circumstances should it be the room of their significant other in the family, as this can lead to jealousy!
- Designate someone else in the household to be the first cat’s caregiver, who will be the primary caregiver for the newcomer.
- If you live alone, you have to be even more careful not to neglect the first cat.
First Contact Between the Two Cats
In order to get the two cats used to each other, you should proceed slowly and carefully. Of course, the pace also depends on the two cats. For example, if the newcomer is still very frightened and stressed from moving in, you should proceed more slowly than with an active and curious cat.
The new cat always spends the first day without contact with the other cat. Sooner or later both cats will be so curious that they will sit on either side of the door and seek contact. Then it can go! Only open the door a little at first so that the cats can sniff and paw at each other, but their heads cannot yet fit through.
Getting to Know the Cats Slowly
Depending on how the cats react to each other, the acclimatization process continues:
- If the cats growl or hiss, only allow them a quick sniff through the door crack at first.
- If you notice that curiosity is rather positive, nothing stands in the way of a real encounter. To do this, you and a second person each take a cat on your lap and observe how the cats behave. If they are more aggressive and hiss at each other, separate them again.
Keep doing this for a few days so the cats can gradually get used to each other.
Fully Acclimate Two Cats to Each Other
After two to three days, let the cats get a little closer together. Proceed as follows:
- Feed both cats before they meet each other.
- Then take the old cat on your lap.
- Place the new one on a raised spot so she doesn’t feel threatened.
Choose a spot that the first cat doesn’t usually frequent, definitely not near their favorite sleeping spot.
Put the two together several times a day – for just a few minutes or even for an hour or more, depending on how they behave.
As a rule, the relationship between the two cats levels off somewhere between genuine friendship and total enmity within about four weeks. Enmity is rare in young cats, but if you put two adult single cats together, it is quite possible that socialization will fail and harmonious coexistence will not be possible.
Getting Cats Used to Each Other: You Can do That
Don’t leave your cats to themselves when it comes to getting used to each other. If you follow these behavioral rules and tips, your cats will get along faster:
- Playing together connects: Encourage the two cats to play. But don’t prefer a cat!
- Remain consistent: The cats expect a clear line, fixed rules in the daily routine and in your dealings with them.
- Avoid coercion: You can’t force cats to get along! Therefore, it’s best to allow the cats to approach each other voluntarily and befriend each other at their own pace.
- Allow breaks: Sometimes it’s better to temporarily separate quarrelsome people rather than force them into each other’s presence all the time. Experience shows that an occasional break from each other can contribute to peace, especially during the time of getting to know each other.
- Observe: During the first few days together, do not leave the cats alone in a room. Take a lot of time, maybe a few days vacations, and spend a lot of time with your cats. However, you should respect the increased need for sleep in a cat that is still young.
- Restrain: Don’t get involved in petty skirmishes, only settle disputes when a fight escalates. Then, distract the cats with loud noises or encourage them to play together, but keep your hands out of the argument. Also, avoid being biased, as this will only draw dissatisfaction towards you.
- Be Diplomatic: Once you both get along with each other, treat both cats the same, but only if the cats are comfortable with it.
It is exhausting and time-consuming to get cats used to each other. A lot is asked of you as a cat owner. But the effort is worth it: If you have selected the cats correctly beforehand and followed these tips, there is a very good chance that your two cats will get along peacefully with each other.