Your cat has made an indelible mark on your heart, and yet there are so many lovely cats out there that need homes. As the saying goes, one good turn deserves another, but if you like the terrific idea of adding a new kitten to the household, it may be best to slow down a bit. A resident cat is deeply attached to their territory. To mitigate their protective instincts and reduce possible feline aggression, a slow, patient introduction is the key to a lasting feline friendship.
It can be shocking for a cat to suddenly share their space with an unfamiliar pet. If their first impression is negative it could take them even longer to warm up to a new roommate. A resident cat may need several months to acclimate to a perceived interloper. If their needs and preferences aren’t prioritized, feline aggression is inevitable.
We recommend having your resident cat checked out before bringing home a new cat. If they are suffering from dental pain, injury, or hidden illness they can react even more aggressively.
Causes of Feline Aggression
With your constant supervision, encouragement, and rewards, your sweet kitty can start to build important socialization skills. Otherwise, the following signs of feline aggression may surface because they haven’t yet learned how to behave:
- Stiff posture
- Direct stare
- Puffed up fur and tail with body turned sideways to look as large as possible
- Hissing, growling, or yowling
- Flattened ears
- Quick strikes (claws out)
Keeping Your Cats Safe
Since your resident cat is accustomed to having free reign of certain rooms, keep it that way. Set up an area for your new cat in a back room that your resident cat cannot access. Outfit the room with their own litter box, bed, toys, and food/water bowls.
Your cats will be able to smell each other. Without direct confrontation, they can safely get used to this new setup.
Watch for Signs
Feeding your two cats on either side of the door that separates them is highly effective. They will begin to make a positive association between their meals and their roommate.
- While they’re still separated, take the opportunity to snuggle with each of them.
- Reassure your resident cat that you are still their number one human (lots of high-value treats are great rewards).
- Give your new kitten loads of playtime.
- Outfit your home with numerous beds, perches, crates, feeding stations and above all, extra litter boxes. The rule of thumb is one box per cat, plus one (that’s 3 boxes for two cats).
- Spray Feliway around the house, or use a diffuser.
Over time, you can slowly give the cats access to one another. It is important to supervise them at first. Reward good behavior so they learn how to interact. You will likely see some posturing and mild feline aggression as they try to understand this new dynamic, but they will eventually work it out with your close involvement.
Playful Feline Aggression
They may someday engage in playful feline aggression which can include stalking, ambushing, pouncing, biting, swatting, and more. As long as they aren’t inflicting any damage to one another, this is perfectly normal. If you’re lucky, they’ll even be cuddled up together, allogrooming, and generally hanging out together.
Remember, your newly adopted cat should be seen for their first wellness exam shortly after you bring them home. If we can assist you with any questions or concerns, please let us know at Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital.