There are plenty of reasons to get a second cat, but, unfortunately, there are also plenty of ways to mess up their all-important first meeting. Some owners find that just putting them together and letting them work things out naturally will be fine, but it's worth remembering that these are territorial animals that might not react perfectly to either having a new cat introduced to their domain or being put into an environment where another cat already rules the roost. First impressions really are important for cats, so make sure you follow this guide to get it right.
Set up a Separate Room
Firstly, create a safe place for the new cat. It's pretty stressful for them to move in to a new environment, even without a resident cat to deal with, so make it a smaller room that can be closed off, and remember to include everything they'll need for a day or two. That means a litter box, food bowl, water bowl, a few toys, and a hiding place (preferably the carrier).
This won't just let the newcomer get settled – it also lets the resident cat know that they aren't losing all of their territory at once.
Start With Smell
After the new cat has started to get settled, you're going to need to start taking more active steps towards a meeting. You'll still need to go slowly – in fact, you'll almost be taking it one sense at a time.
Cats use their noses a whole lot more than humans do, so they will need to get to know each other's smells. You can prep them for a face-to-face meet by exchanging their blankets after the first night. They'll learn what the other one smells like slowly, and they'll associate that smell with the calming environment in which they snooze.
Yes, this is likely to be both kitty's favourite step. Food is the most powerful feline motivator that there is, so it's time to use it to your advantage.
Position each cat's food dish on either side of the door to the newcomer's separate room. Start with each one a couple of feet away from the door, then bring them closer over a day or two. If either cat seems reluctant, try using tempting treats in addition to their standard food.
Embrace the Face-to-Face
It's now time for your cats to be properly introduced. The steps above should have prepared them for each other's company, but that doesn't mean everything will go completely swimmingly.
Let the cats go at their own pace. They might ignore each other. They might hiss at each other. They might swat at each other. This is just their way of getting to know each other, so only step in if one of them is actively bullying the other. This should be a rare occurrence if you follow the steps above; if it does happen, try separating them and then starting again.
Introducing a new cat to your home might go perfectly, but it's worth taking the time to follow these measures. After all, one bad introduction could mean a lifetime of kitty fights, and you might even be forced to give one up. Contact a local vet clinic, such as Ivanhoe Veterinary Clinic, for more advice.