The height of kitten season is upon us. Whether you are considering getting a kitten, young cat or even a mature cat for your current resident cat(s), there are some important factors to consider before doing so. Let’s review them together in this article.
Always ensure that both the resident cat(s) and the new addition are up to date on their medical checks and vaccines. A clean bill of health is very important. Consider doing a full panel blood test to check for FeLV (feline leukemia virus) or FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) that are commonly transferred between cats. You also want to make sure they are absent of fleas, ring worm and active feline herpes (upper respiratory) flair up.
Although cats are generally thought of solitary animals, they can certainly enjoy the company of other cats. The main key is to have appropriate expectations and create the right first impression. Here are a few of the factors that could likely make pairing more successful.
It used to be believed that the opposite sex pairing would be likely more successful, but studies have found that sex is not necessarily an important factor. Keep in mind that if there is an age gap regardless of sex, an adult cat may get along better with a kitten rather than a cat of the same age.
This is one of the most important things to consider. Energy level is often linked to age (though not always), it is important to find a cat of similar energy to your resident cat(s). If you have a senior cat with low energy levels, then they probably do not want an energetic kitten to play with. This can cause stress and present some health issues for the senior cat.
Knowing the previous history around other cats may determine how easily they will accept each other. This applies to both your resident cat and the new addition to the household. Those cats with a history of not getting along with other cats are likely to be more of a challenge. If your current resident cat is grown up with another cat (such as a littermate), this will not always translate into accepting an unfamiliar cat.
If you are considering bringing another cat into your household, start with your local shelter or an animal rescue. The adoption coordinator or current foster parent will be able to share more information about the cat’s history and temperament and whether they are suitable for a multi-pet environment. This information will help you find a better match for your resident cat(s).
If the cats that you are trying to introduce have mismatch energy or negative behaviour history, do not panic. The introduction process can still work, but it might need more time and the adjustment might take longer. This requires your time, patience, and commitment to make the process successful. You can also speak with a Cat Behaviour Consultant to ensure the process goes smoothly.
Introducing a new cat to your resident cat will be potentially difficult. It is important to recognize that even when the introduction process is conducted as carefully and thoughtfully as possible, there is no guarantee cats will happily accept each other. Some cats simply do not want to live with other cats. It is important that you are able to recognize and act on this to ensure the cats in your care have the best welfare possible, both physical health and mental well-being. There are a lot of success stories when this information is taken into consideration.
Now let’s talk about setting up your home for the new cat. You want to ensure that you have enough space to accommodate a reasonable number of resources for each cat. This will include having a separate safe space necessary for the introduction process, multiple food and water stations, multiple comfortable resting areas with bedding, multiple hiding spaces, litter boxes, cat trees, toys and scratching posts. Keep in mind the new cat should come with their own or brand-new resources that does not smell of the resident cat which might make the new cat feel uneasy in the new environment (we will talk about the scent swapping in the next article).
Introducing a new cat is similar to getting a single cat. It does not happen overnight! Always remember the 3/3/3 rule: 3 days to decompress, 3 weeks to learn your routine, and 3 months to start feeling at home. Compounded with resident cat(s), patience is a virtue.
Now that you are better equipped with this information and are ready to take the next step, please ensure that other household members are ready and on the same page about the new addition. It is important that everyone is educated on the introduction process so that it is cohesive and goes smoothly.
Stay tuned for the next article where we dive into the introduction process for the new addition.
Article by Krista Schulte
I am a fear-free, force-free, and positive reinforcement Cat Trainer and Behaviour Specialist in Canada. I volunteer in shelters and work on feline enrichment and socialization, and behaviour modification for TLC cases. I threw myself into the Cat Behaviour community and began a path of rigour study, gaining various certificates to attain this goal and will always continue my education. After helping get cats out of the shelters, I transitioned to a Behaviour Counsellor with Toronto Cat Rescue (still with them) to keep cats from going back to the shelter. I am passionate about these cats and their welfare.