Cat Tip: Preparing for a new cat

In general, cat owners tend to assume that cats will get along in multi-cat households. There is an assumption that, at the end of the day, all will be well and sometimes not a lot of consideration is given to the possibility of a disharmonious group of cats. This can happen despite the domestic having evolved into quite a sociable animal compared to his/her wild ancestor.

Preparing for the introduction of a new cat
Preparing for the introduction of a new cat. Photo by Rob DiCaterino with words by Michael
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Also, it has to be said that it is not always obvious that cats in a multi-cat household are not getting along very well because cats will carve out their own space within a home if they are full-time indoor cats. The space will be too small and far from ideal but in creating separate mini-territories domestic cats can keep the peace between themselves if needs be.

But there may be hidden stresses in all this. Stress can cause or exacerbate disease such cystitis and dermatitis.

In a forthcoming BBC television series on domestic cats we are promised some interesting insights, one of which is how cats in multi-cat homes who are not getting along (even though their owners think they are) fight over such things as who gets the best spot on the bed. I am sure there are some subtle cat psychological games being played out without the knowledge of the cats’ owner.

There is common sense in the idea of separating eating areas and litter trays for these reasons.

Dr John Bradshaw, a well-known cat behaviourist and author of Cat Senses, suggests the following clever tip to ease the way for a speedier introduction of a new cat to the household.

He says the owner of the existing cat should take two old handkerchiefs and rub one on the head of the existing cat and put it in the cage of the new cat at the rescue centre where he/she currently resides.

With the other handkerchief she should rub the head of the new cat with it and then place it in her home. Both cats then get to smell the other cat before meeting. Dr Bradshaw neatly describes this as being like an exchange of photos for humans before they go on a blind date.

I think it is a neat idea which is why I have written this short article. What do you think? Do you have any clever cat introduction techniques or does your household totally disprove what I have written on this page.

11 thoughts on “Cat Tip: Preparing for a new cat”

  1. Well with my Own experience in introducing Jasmin to the Other Cats took awhile. It took up to about 6 Weeks. It took abit longer with some of the others. Tiger, has finally accepted her after 6 months. They even Play together now which never happened before. I think the thing is to give them all equal attention. I guess with your situition Tina, it would be rather hard. The other Cats probobly feel threatened. As with the others, I gave them time to get to know each other while being their in the background in case of any Probs. In fact, I think Jasmine was the more Confident One. Ozzie, still believes he’s the top Cat and trys to boss The Older one & my baby rebel. Eventually they all get used to things, but I agree if a sitution cant be reached with agressiveness its prob best to find an safer home. 🙂 Hope your well Tina.

  2. I’m having a similar problem. Mr Jinks who has now healed from his broken leg chases Alfie off the back of his favourite chair every time he gets on there and its really getting to me because Alfie just runs off upstairs and stays there 🙁 Just as I was about to write this he did it again and when I went upstairs Jinks was looking under the bed to where he’d just chased poor Alfie 🙁

    I’m at my wits end as well and if this article hadn’t have appeared I would have written one to see if contributors have any ideas?

  3. I’m considering that too, Dee. Tyson gets along with the 3 he was brought home with though. Such a dilemma that I don’t like being in. We’re going to try different sleeping arrangements tonight and see how it goes.
    Thanks for your input.

  4. Yes, I’ve been considering finding the newest cat(Echo)a different home. Last night, after I wrote this post, I opened the bedroom door and Echo charged past me into the room where Tyson (the aggressive cat) was. It was mayhem. Then sister Misty joined him on the charge against Echo and she would not back off, even with the lure of food. I was pulling my hair out, but I know they will never mix so the question is: Keep them in separate rooms and Tyson roams free so he doesn’t become destructive. Or (and here’s a wild card) bring in Echo’s feral sister, who hangs around outside the house because she misses her sister since January, and try finding that pair a home together. I’d sure feel better re-homing if two went together..

    • My thinking is, yes, bring in the sister.
      But, before pursuing a new home for both, watch what happens.
      Perhaps, it is actually Tyson that needs to be rehomed to be an only cat somewhere since he can’t tolerate others.

  5. I’ve never really had much of an opportunity to conduct proper introductions here. New members generally just appear, a few just walking in like they own the place.
    Maybe they do own it; I’m not sure anymore even though my name is on the mortgage.

    But, there is always a certain amount of upheaval for a week or two until the newcomer finds his niche. My cats are very cliquish. They have grouped themselves, with each group having their own feeding, toileting, and sleeping areas. There are 4 nomads that peacefully are able to mingle. There’s rarely a dispute and, fortunately, I have enough room to accomodate.

    I don’t expect that everyone will like everyone, but I expect tolerance.

    I do like Dr. Bradshaw’s hanky rubbing practice though.

  6. I brought a freezing cat (who is the mother to some here) into the house in January, and 2 of 4 still chase her into corners, under the bed, etc.. I still must keep them in separate rooms and my most aggressive one is destructive when I put him in his room (tearing up carpet, woodwork). He’s driving me crazy…

    Any other suggestions?

    • Hi Tina, Phew….is my reaction because I don’t think there is much more you can do. Some cats are less tolerant of having other cats in the same place. They things things calm down over time but in your cats six months is long enough.

      You may have to bite the bullet and find a home if possible for the cat you rescued, sadly.

      Sorry that I have no super ideas.

    • I agree with Michael, the kindest thing to do is to try to find the newest cat a good home, for her sake. It will be hard for you to part with her I know, but once settled she will be much happier.
      Some cats just won’t tolerate others, we can’t take any more in because of Walter, only Jozef can handle him! We had to keep him separate when we had Ebony and Popsy too, it’s very stressful all round!

        • Walter is a cat who should have had a home all on his own, some cats are just solitary like some people are. He is happy with humans but not with other cats around. He’s very intolerant of the other cats here in our neighbourhhod but not until they are adults lol He came face to face with a neighbour’s kitten yesterday, guns ablazing but just stopped dead when he realised how young the kitten is. We just accept him as he is, as he accepts us.


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