Is it a good idea?First and foremost, be honest with yourself – and I mean really honest, going beyond your deepest feline desires to your very core. Will the cat that you already have, that special ball of fluff you’ve committed to providing a home for, appreciate another feline in their space. Cats are very territorial, and their trust in their guardians is so precious. Be careful; if your cat is highly strung or struggles to relax in your company, the results of adding a new cat may be CATastrophic. Consider the sexes of both cats – generally, opposite sex cats cohabit better than same-sex. But this isn’t always the case. Two chilled out dudes or two leisurely ladies could happily live together.
Safety firstFirst off, this is the perfect opportunity to double check that your home is cat proof. Your new cat won’t behave exactly like your existing cat, and kittens are mischievous and endlessly inquisitive. Check that electrical cords are secure and blind cords can be wound up safely. Look out for anything dangling that might be pulled down on top of them. Ensure your plants are cat safe and cupboard doors close securely. Medications and dangerous chemicals must be safely stored away. And double check for concealed exits into the outdoors.
Play in the zoneBeing territorial creatures, consider where their respective zones will be. That doesn’t mean they won’t enter each other’s space or spend time huddled together. But your cats each need to know that they have their own territory. Their territory can be as small as a chair in a seperate room or as big as half of your home. This is an important part of preparing your home for a new cat. They should have their own food and water bowls, and they need their own bed, toys, scratch posts and litter tray. Cats cover their belongings with their unique scent glands, much like they do with us. That’s right, we belong to them.
Be preparedDo your shopping before you bring your new kitty cat home. Have it unwrapped, washed, assembled and put into place. You can not leave them alone together at this critical time to dash out for a new bowl or cat bed.
Slow introductionsBecause scent is such a big deal to cats, use this as their initial introduction. Keep them seperate, in their zones. Take a blanket or anything with their scent on it and leave it in the other cat’s zone. This is just as important for your new cat; they will understand that another feline already resides here. Very quickly, your original cat will pick up on the newbie, giving the scented article a good sniff. Watch for their reaction. The following day, spend time with them both, patting them around the ears and stroking them above the eyes. Monitor how your first cat responds to the newcomer’s scent upon you. If they are unimpressed, leave it and try again the following day. The day after that, try to introduce them face-to-face. Hold your new kitty while your original cat decides how they will respond. If they hiss or roar, place kitty in a carrier and allow them to meet through the safety of bars. Pat and talk to your original cat, offering her favourite treat. When they have settled down, try again. Don’t be surprised if there is a squabble; cats have their own language, and more than likely it will end in your new cat giving signals of submission.
Create a safe placeAs well as contending with the original feline resident of the house, your new cat needs time to settle in. It is essential that they be kept inside for the first three or four days. Consider a harness and lead for outside, at least for the first three days. In the beginning, as with any new cat, they will run and hide somewhere dark and quiet. Provide safe, cosy hidey holes for them to retreat to, such as a cardboard box. Preparing your home for a new cat or kitten is an exciting time. If they are your second or third feline, be ready and mindful with these tips to cement a healthy relationship for you and your cats.