Are You Prepared for More Than One Cat?

Conflict between cats can erupt over who gets to sleep on the bed, who gets which toys, access to litterboxes and attention from owners. Resolving territorial disputes or spats over resources starts with figuring out what’s causing the problem. Solving it may be as simple as adding more “resources” — food bowls, toys or beds, for instance — in different places or making sure that each cat gets ample lap time. Intercat conflicts may call for training, behavioral modification or separation. You may need an arbitrator in the form of a veterinary behaviorist or certified applied animal behaviorist.

Making Introductions: 6 Steps to Success

If you’re ready to add a second cat, the tips below will help you make a gradual introduction and reduce the potential for fussing and fighting.

  • Isolate a new cat for at least three days and up to a week in a room with a litterbox, bed, food and water.
  • Swap scents. Rub each cat with a hand towel, especially on the cheeks and at the base (top) of the tail, where cats have scent glands that they use for identification. Let each cat sniff the other’s towel, then rub him with it, so the cats learn each other’s scent. If one of the cats hisses or swats at the other’s hand towel, allow a little extra time before you bring them together.
  • After the isolation period, allow the cats to see each other for three to seven days, but separate them with a screened or glass door or two pet gates stacked so the cats can’t climb them.
  • With another person helping, offer meals and treats to each cat while they are separated but can see each other. This builds the impression that the presence of the other cat is a good thing.
  • After this first week or two of preparation, bring the cats together on leashes, so you can separate them if they hiss instead of kiss. Hand out plenty of treats. Supervise until you’re sure they’re getting along.
  • Be patient. It can take several months for cats to firm up a friendship.

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