Meet the New Kitty! Tips for Starting a Multi-Cat Family

I’ve seen it time and time again. You’re at the pet supply store buying some food for your resident cat then you notice that the local animal rescue is having a pet adoption event. In the corner, you spy a tiny kitten. You feel an instant connection with the ball of fluff. There is no stopping it. I mean you already have all those cat supplies at home. What’s one more?

Without giving it another thought, you sign the paperwork and head home elated. However, your beloved house cat greets the newcomer with a less than a hospitable tirade of hisses and growls from your –rather angry – feline.

Never fear! If there is one subject I know after living in a house with six cats, it’s how to handle troublesome cat behavior. Hopefully, the information in this post will settle your cat disputes amicably and keep the fur from flying. Following some simple steps will ensure that your new cat will transition into your family seamlessly.

Tips for a Peaceful Transition into a Multi-Cat Home:

  • Have both cats checked by a vet to make sure there are no underlying problems that could increase aggression.  
  • Give them SPACE! If there is one thing I’ve learned about my kitty companions, it’s that they don’t care to have their personal space violated. Let your two cats have separate rooms away from one another so they can exchange greetings behind closed doors!  
  • Wait 2-3 days and swap spaces. Cats do altogether better if they don’t see each other during the introduction. Getting to know each other through smell first will allow your cat to adjust to the new cat’s presence without the chance of a fight. 
  • Keep things positive! Feed and play with both cats near the entrance of where you’re keeping the new cat isolated. Enlist a friend to make it more fun! 

This process must be gradual and can take several weeks in some situations. If successful the cats will remain peaceful when they greet each other. If your house turns into a war zone immediately following the meet and greet – start the introduction process over again.

Warning Signs to Watch for in a Multi-Cat Home:

  • Aggression: Hissing accompanied with growling, prolonged eye contact, bristled tails, and arched backs.  
  • Urine Marking: It may be how dogs say, “hello”, but it is usually how cats say, “go away, this is mine!” Urinating outside of a litter box often means your cat is stressed.  
  • Resource Guarding: This can lead to bullying and aggression. Cats do not like to share – well – anything, so make sure each cat has a food bowl, water bowl, and resting area. The golden rule for litter boxes is one for each cat – then one extra. 

Change is never easy for anyone but especially cats! Breath deep, have patience. I promise in time, you’ll have a peaceful multi-cat home.