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How to introduce a second cat to the home

Thinking of getting another cat? Giving your pet some extra company is a nice idea in theory, but introducing two cats to each other isn’t always plain sailing. Here’s how to do it.

Thinking of getting another cat? Giving your pet some extra company is a nice idea in theory, but introducing two cats to each other isn’t always plain sailing. Here’s how to do it.

Written by
Anna McEntee
Home, pet and travel insurance expert
4 min read
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Tips for choosing a second cat

If you’re still considering the idea of getting a new cat, here are a few pointers for choosing the right one:

  • A cat’s gender isn’t all that important – age and personality are more significant when it comes to finding the right match. 
  • If you’re choosing from a litter of kittens, don’t pick one that shows signs of aggression towards its siblings – it doesn’t bode well for a harmonious household. 
  • Many established adult cats are more likely to accept a kitten than another adult, as they’ll feel less threatened. Some older cats, however, may find a kitten’s playfulness annoying. Consider what will work best for your pet.  

How to introduce a new cat

Introducing cats can be tricky, especially if your original cat is old and set in their ways. But if you do it sensitively, it can be rewarding for both you and your pets.

• Give your new cat a safe space - For the first week at least, give your new cat its own space for a bed, litterbox, food and water.

• Keep the cats’ bowls separate at first - Start by feeding the cats separately, then gradually move their bowls closer together until they’re eating side by side.

• Give your new cat freedom to explore - Keep your older cat confined to one room while your new cat explores its surroundings. This gives both pets time to get used to each other’s scent.

• Be extra kind to your old cat - They may be feeling usurped, so give them plenty of fuss and attention.

 Make sure your cat has access to high areas - Cats like to jump up and access high areas, particularly if they’re feeling anxious. Your cat may feel better if they have high shelves or a cupboard as a hide-out.

• Swap your cats’ bedding - Again, this gives both cats the chance to get used to the other’s scent without confronting one another.

“When we brought our new kitten home, we kept the two cats separate for a week, and started by introducing them to one another’s scent by stroking them both without washing our hands in between,” says cat-owner Jenny Elliott from Hull.

“Then, after a few days, we started letting them see one another through windows and doors, but still kept them separate. Once we introduced them, we made sure each had their own safe space and bed to retreat to if they needed it.”

More first-time encounter tips for cats

• Arrange to pick your new cat up on a Friday, so you have plenty of time over the weekend to help them settle in.

• If you’re worried about aggression, crates and stair gates can help cats get used to each other without physical contact.

• Don’t forget to have both cats fully vaccinated before you introduce them. And if there’s any risk of unwanted mating, make sure they’re spayed or neutered too.

• If the cats take a dislike to each other, you can use treats to distract them – and reward them for playing nicely.

What to do if your cats don’t get on

If your cats take an instant dislike to each other, here’s what to do:

• If the cats actually start fighting, distract them and separate them as quickly as possible.

• Give both cats a few days apart, to clear the air.

• Supervise encounters until they get used to one another.

• Be patient. It can take a month for an established cat and new kitten to get used to each other – even longer for two adult cats.

• Don’t expect your cats to share food, beds or litterboxes. Cats like to have their own space, even if they get on well.

Do I need pet insurance for my new cat?

Pet insurance isn’t compulsory, but it can offer protection in the event that you find yourself facing a hefty vet bill.

Finding cat insurance, even for an older cat is easy. Simply give us a few details about you and your pet, and we’ll get you a quote.

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