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How to introduce cats

Let me show you the best way to introduce cats. I know. I am a cat. You can’t introduce a kitten to an older cat like you introduce a child to their Great Aunt Gertrude.

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Oscar is taking a nap with me.

 

Remember, cats are not human. I know. I know. Cats are so smart, we often get mistaken for humans. But, we are not human. We are feline.  Now let me show you how to introduce cats.

The Best Way To Introduce Cats

1. Safe
2. Slow
3. Separate
4. Smell
5. Share
6. Sight

1. Safe

Have your new cat examined by a veterinarian, especially if they are a stray. It would be wise to make sure the new cat is healthy. You want to be careful there are no parasites, upper respiratory problems, or other health issues. We need vaccinations just like humans to help prevent disease.

2. Slow

Take your time. You can’t rush love. No matter how much I love the kittens, Oscar and Clara, who we adopted, I didn’t meet them for several weeks. Slow, is the key word here. Not fast, or rush, or hurry. Slow.

The most important tip: Take your time.

When I first came to live at the Hodges house, I was kept in the bathroom. I didn’t get to see any of the cats who lived here for two weeks. The humans came and sat with me and Martha, the dog, sat outside the door and told me stories

3. Separate

When you bring the new cat home, place it in a separate room from the resident cat. In the room, you will need a bed, a water dish, food, a litter box and a toy. My favorite toy is the ball in the little spinner thingy. If you put the cat in the bathroom, put a cardboard box in too, upside down with a hole cut out of the side. A cat might be scared and will want a place to hide. If you put the cat in a bedroom it can hide under the bed.

Please put the new cat in a room with a sunbeam. We love our sun, it makes us happy and relaxed. And a relaxed cat won’t be as stressed out by the big move. Leaving our siblings at the animal shelter, never seeing our mother again, and driving in a car, is very scary.

The cats may need to be separated for several weeks or longer. Please don’t rush. Meeting a new cat can be stressful. I know, I was adopted into a family of three cats one year ago, and two weeks ago we adopted two kittens.

 

4. Smell

Let the cats smell each other before they see each other.
Rub a towel on the older cat and place it in the room with the new cat.  Then take the same towel and rub it on the new cat’s fur. Take the towel back to the older cat to smell.

Feed your older cat in front of the door where the kitten is staying.
There were three other cats who lived at the Hodges house when I was adopted. They took their meals in front of the bathroom door after I had lived here for a few weeks.  We could smell each other through the door. 

Note: Wait a week or longer if the kitten is sick. You don’t want to spread germs. I was really sick when I was adopted from the Humane Society. I had an ear infection and a sinus infection. It took three weeks before the three cats who lived in my house first and I were able to exchange blankets. 

5. Share

Let the kitten and the older cat exchange rooms

Place the older cat in the room the kitten has been living in, and let the kitten roam in the rest of the house. The kitten’s smell will blend in with the other smells of the house. The older cat can smell the kitten without the stress of having to meet the kitten.
Note: Make sure the kitten is healthy before you let it roam around in the house. My typist wouldn’t let me go in the rest of the house until I was current on all of my vaccines.

Make the kitten smell like the older cat

The first time the older cat meets the kitten, the kitten should smell familiar, and should smell like the older cat. That’s why it is important to exchange bedding and to rub a rag on the cat’s face

Let the cats play with a toy under the door
After my cold and ear infection was healed, I was allowed to play with the other cats under the door. There was a big space and the cats and I would play together.

6. Sight

The last step is for the cats to see each other. Open the door into the kitten’s room and let them peak at each other. Bring the kitten into the room with the older cat and let them meet each other. The older cat might hiss and walk away, or they might come and sniff the kitten.

Please don’t leave the cats alone in the room. Watch their behaviour. If the older cat shows any signs of aggression, like hissing, or crouching down. Pick up the kitten and put it back in its room. It might take a few introductions before they are really comfortable together.

If the older cat keeps being aggressive, consider taking it to the veterinarian, it might be sick and need medicine. Meeting a new cat can be stressful, and it can make a cat sick.

Tips to make the transition easier.

  1. Get two kittens instead of one. The kittens will wrestle with each other and not bother the older cat as much.
  2.  Purchase extra litter boxes.  The older cat will not want to share his litter box. My staff purchased six more litter boxes and placed one in every bedroom in my house.
  3. Clean the litter boxes daily. Cats can be very stressed out by having a new cat using the litter box. Keep it clean.
  4. Give the older cat a place to escape to. Make sure the older cat has a place to go where the kitten can’t bother it. A separate room or a cat tower the kitten can’t climb yet. When I came to live at the Hodges house, the cat in charge, Charlie, would go in the basement and close the door. Charlie didn’t want to play as much as I wanted to.
  5. Play with both cats. The older cat might get sad if you only play with the kitten. We are very independent, but we do love to have our faces scratched.
  6. Give the cats cardboard boxes to play in. We love cardboard boxes. It is nice to have a cardboard box to hide in and play with.
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This is me, Harper, and Clara taking a nap together.

An Encouraging Word From A Cat

Please don’t be discouraged. It takes time for cats to get to know each other. All of my experience is with introducing kittens to older cats. I know you can introduce an older cat to another older cat, but it might take more time. Some old cats can get set in their ways and not like to share their house.

My Aunt Betsy had two cats and they never got along. They lived in separate rooms and never liked each other. The cat therapist they consulted couldn’t help. So one of the cats went to live with Aunt Betsy’s parents. Personally, I don’t understand. I like having a cat help me groom. I can never reach the spot on the back of my neck. And, cat naps are better with a friend.

Do you have any more ideas of how to introduce cats? Please tell me. I would love to know. Click here to comment.

All my best,
xo
Love Harper

 

About Harper Hodges

Hi, it's me, Harper. I help humans understand their cats. I write about what a cat thinks. I know because I am a cat. Mrs. Hodges is my typist. I dictate and she types.

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  • La McCoy

    Harper Lee, This is a very good list on how to introduce cats.
    Gpa came to our house, on the way to heaven, and brought Ella.
    Edel was so upset to have a guest she had to take medicine.
    Ella protected Gpa and now she protects me and tries to eat my food.
    Slowly the girls have been able to be in the same room and be out side together.
    For a German Sheppard Edel has been a very good host. All she wants to do is sniff Ella. Ella growls and charges Edel. Edel looks at me and says this is dumb. But Ella can trash talk Edel untill Edel starts to get mad. Not good for Ella.
    So I am a canine referee now full time. Exhausting. I tell the girls to “get a room or let it go.” They do for a while. sigh. and then……

  • Skittles Anderson

    Hello Harper,

    It’s good to hear from you, You are a very wise cat, sounds like you have done lots of research and study about how to introduce cats, We cats are experts in a great many subjects. When I was rescued eight years ago the big guy didn’t know a lot about taking care of multiple cats, so my first few weeks were scary, I hid a lot in the closet from the other two cats. So when Sierra came along the big guy was more prepared to go more slowly with her, and when the three kittens Sabre, Captiva, & Lone Wolf arrived he did an excellent job of getting them all checked up and neutered & spayed before he let them out of the extra bedroom, The biggest challenge was Sanibel, we were all kittens when rescued, but Sanibel had been living outside on her own for over a year, when we moved Sanibel came with us and lived on the patio before joining us inside. For the most part all six of us get along, there are some challenges from time to time, Sierra & Captiva and Lone Wolf & Sanibel don’t always like each other, but a few growls & hisses maybe a swat or two then they wander off, and soon there sitting on one of the cat condos together. I’m glad things are going well with you, those are great pictures of you two cuddling, So far things are going good here, Sierra went to the VET for her physical, and she’s in excellent health, I’ll be going soon, not looking forward to being poked, prodded, and getting shots, but I know that the big guy cares about me and my health. Well you take care *Big Paw Hugz* Purr-Purr

    Skittles

  • Marie

    This is wonderful advice Harper! Well thought out and useful! The only thing I would add is that sometimes, no matter what you do, kitties don’t agree with each other. And that can be ok as long as they have their own space to retreat to and hang out in. MacKayla the Empress does not get along with Mittens the Magnificent (the names alone might give you a clue to the problem therein!) but they both have their own areas of the house — MacKayla has the back bedrooms and Mittens has a bedroom and the dining room. So there is a truce in effect most of the time. We are moving this weekend though and that may require some renegotiation of the terms so it might be a bit rough for a week or two. Wish us luck! Purrs and head butts from MacKayla the Empress, Joel Gray, Mittens the Magnificent and Giblet Paws.

    • Harper Hodges

      Hello Marie,MacKayla the Empress, Joel Gray, Mittens the Magnificent and Giblet Paws.
      Thank you for your wise advice. You are right, some cats might never get along. There can only be one Queen in a country. It appears you have created two countries. Please let me know how the move goes. I wish you well.
      May I include some of your advice in a little pdf I am making? I am turning this blog post into a new giveaway for my blog. Ask MacKayla and Mittens if they mind if I use their real names.
      All my best,
      xo
      Love Harper

      • Marie

        Oh certainly Harper you may use whatever you wish and MacKayla the Empress and Mittens the Magnificent said you may use their real names as well. And that is very true, there can be only one Queen in a country and we have the challenge of an Empress and a Magnificent (which Mittens says is like a Queen). It gets a little crowded but the new house is bigger which is nice. Although, come to think of it, they might just expand their respective kingdoms!!