Getting cats used to each other: how it works
If a second cat moves in, the first few days are crucial for the future relationship between the two cats. Find out here how to get the two cats used to each other and what you should do to avoid jealousy.
You have decided to bring a second cat home. Now it is important that both the “new” and the “old” cat feel comfortable with you.
In order for the two to get along well, you as a cat owner should pay attention to two essential aspects:
- Avoid jealousy between cats
- Get cats used to each other slowly
- Read here which tricks you can use to do this.
Get cats used to each other and avoid jealousy
The most important thing when a second cat moves in with you is: Don’t give your first cat any cause for jealousy! Because only when the first cat can be sure of its position in the family is it open to a new friendship. This means:
- Give your “old” cat just as much affection as before, or even pay more attention to it at first:
- Keep the usual stroking hours, always feed them first. Greet them in front of the others.
- Never pay more attention to the “new” cat than to the “old” one!
- Make sure each cat has their own accessories.
- Give both cats equal amounts of “exclusive time” dedicated to just one of them.
- Accessories for two cats
- In order to avoid rivalry and jealousy between your two cats, each cat badly needs its own accessories. Also includes:
- own litter box (rule of thumb for the number of litter boxes: number of cats + 1)
- own food and water bowls (same food and same amount, unless this is not possible due to health reasons such as being overweight or an illness such as diabetes or CKD)
- separate feeding places so that both cats can eat in peace and undisturbed
- own sleeping place
- possibly your own scratching post or scratching board
- own comb, own brush
- if you have a cat flap: collar with door opener (magnet, transmitter etc.)
Recognizing jealousy in cats
Cats show jealousy in different ways. All of these can indicate that your cat is jealous:
- Cat quietly retreats
- Cat confronts (aggressive behavior towards the second cat or the human)
- Cat refuses food
- Cat suddenly becomes unclean
If there are no health reasons for this behavior, you should fight the jealousy. Give your first cat the attention it needs. Reflect on your own behavior: Did you perhaps inadvertently neglect them?
Until the cats get used to each other, there may be fights. This is completely normal, you do not have to intervene here. If, on the other hand, there are dangerous territorial fights, you absolutely have to physically separate the cats from each other. You can only try again when the cats have calmed down. Getting cats used to each other can be very difficult.
When did the new cat settle in?
The more similar the two cats are in character, the greater the chances of success. Cats of the same age are also easier and faster to get used to each other. But it is always important: The “old” cat has to accept the growth in its territory.
How quickly the new cat settles in, or whether bringing your two cats together will unfortunately remain a hopeless case depends on these factors:
The simple case: Your cat has had a cat friend before and you, as the owner, follow all the tips for getting your cats together. The cats are similar in character and are the same age. You can expect the cats to get used to each other in one to three weeks.
The difficult case: Your first cat used to live alone in your household. New cats are more likely to be perceived as invaders in the territory. If the character and age of the second cat have been well selected, territorial wars can still occur.
Be patient: it can take months for the cats to accept each other.
The hopeless case: If the cats only meet aggressively from the start (hissing, territorial fights, fights) and they show no curiosity or interest in the other cat, things are looking bad. A friendship will probably never come about. But only a few cats are so intolerable.