Cats are notorious for being territorial and they typically don’t like new additions to their home. Adding a new cat to a multiple-cat household can be very stressful for every cat involved. However, pet parents can minimize the stress by taking precautions and slowly making introductions.
Before Bringing a New Cat Home
Cats bring so much joy to their pet parents, it’s easy to understand why they would want to bring home as many cats as possible. However, the pet parent’s cats may feel differently. Before bringing more cats into a home, pet parents should consider the following:
Space: Cats need to be able to get away from each other. Is there enough room in the home for each cat to have adequate individual space? Each cat should have their own towers and perches — the pet parent will need to find areas to add additional towers and perches for the new cat.
Cost: Another cat means more vet bills, more food, more cat litter, and more toys. All of these expenses add up and can get costly.
Cleaning: Cats shed and use litter boxes. Another cat means there will be more cat hair to clean and twice as much litter to go through. Also, each cat should have their own litter box plus one extra. By not providing extra litter boxes, cats may begin using the bathroom outside of the litter box. Some cats will show their dislike for the litter box situation by urinating and defecating on their pet parent’s furniture.
Current Cat’s health: Pet parents should especially take their current cat’s health into consideration before adding any additional pets. Adding a new cat to the home can be very stressful for the current cats. Senior cats and cats with health conditions are more susceptible to getting sick from stress. Therefore, a pet parent should consider whether or not adding a new cat is safe for the current cat’s health.
Time: Does the pet parent have adequate time to bond with each cat in the home? Cats should receive at least one hour of bonding time per day per cat.
When in doubt, pet parents can consult their vet about adding a new cat to the home.
Introducing a New Cat to the Home
On average, it can take anywhere from two to six weeks — or longer — to acclimate multiple cats living in a home. However, there’s no exact time frame and each situation is different. For example, introducing a kitten into the home may take less time because the kitten will be submissive to the adult cats. On the other hand, introducing a new adult cat can take longer because they may view the current cats as a threat and vice versa.
Prior to bringing the new cat home, pet parents should set up an area for the new addition in a small room — such as a bedroom or bathroom. This area should have a place for the cat to hide, a cat bed or towels, food, water, and a litter box.
When the pet parent gets home with the new cat, they should immediately take the cat to the area set up for them. The new cat should not immediately be introduced to the current cats. Once the cat is released into their new area, they can begin to explore. The new cat and current cats will be able to meet through the door and begin smelling each other.
Socializing cats is a form of cat training and should be done slowly and carefully. As the new cat becomes comfortable in their surroundings, the pet parent can begin letting the cat explore other areas of the home one room at a time. During this time, the cat should be supervised. Also, pet parents may want to place the current resident cats in a separate room while the new cat is first exploring the home.
If none of the cats are displaying aggression, the pet parent can begin introducing the cats without a barrier. Pet parents can also try using pheromone diffusers, Composure Chews, and sprays in the home to help calm the cats. In some cases, the cats never acclimate to each other and the new cat may need to be rehomed.
Also, it’s important the pet parent and other members of the family don’t try to force the new cat into being held or pet. The human family members should be quiet and calm, and give the new cat space. It's important to not overwhelm or frighten a cat that was just taken in.
It’s possible to have many cats living harmoniously in one household. The key is for pet parents to adequately assess their situation and know their cats' personalities. When in doubt, pet parents can contact a vet to ask their cat questions.