18 Must-Know Tips Before Adding Another Cat to Your Feline Family

orange tabby cat in blue background
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Many people opt to have a cat as a friend. Humans naturally seek companionship, but cats may not crave it as much. Introducing a new kitten can stir up a lot of tension. So, if you’re considering adding another kitty to your family, here are the must-know tips before adding another cat to your feline family.

Get to Know Your Cat’s Personality

black and white cat lying on brown bamboo chair inside room
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Most cats are content flying solo, but whether your current cat will welcome a new friend depends on their personality and age. Does your cat love company and playtime or prefer its own space? If your kitty is older and prefers peace, avoid adding a lively kitten to the mix—it could stress out your senior feline. Look for a new cat that matches your current cat’s lifestyle instead of disrupting their routine.

Make a Cozy Retreat for Your New Cat

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Set up a particular room for your new cat, complete with all the essentials, and make sure they can be completely separated from your current cat. The Humane Society emphasizes that this step is vital for both cats to feel safe and begin adjusting to each other’s scents and presence before a formal introduction. Take your time—rushing the process isn’t worth it!

Book a Vet Checkup for Your New Furry Friend

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Before introducing them, make sure both cats receive a comprehensive medical checkup and are up-to-date with their vaccinations. This step is crucial to prevent the spread of disease or parasites between them and ensure they’re both in good health to handle the transition. A cat with underlying medical issues might struggle or become anxious when a new pet enters the picture.

Introduce Familiar Scents for a Smooth Transition

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Avoid assuming that cats will get acquainted in the same way humans do—they heavily rely on scent to communicate. Exchanging scents is a helpful way for them to become familiar with each other before meeting directly. Simply rub a towel on the new kitty’s face and bedding, then place it in your resident cat’s space. Repeat the process in reverse to help them adjust.

Keep an Eye on Their First Meetings

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Always be present when introducing cats to each other. Start by keeping the new cat in its starter room, but allow your resident cat to explore the area and sniff around the door. Later, you can use a baby gate as a barrier. Supervise them closely and gradually increase the time they spend together. If any aggression arises, like hissing or swatting, separate them and try reintroducing them later.

Reward Good Behavior with Treats and Praise

Close-up Photo of Cat with its Eyes Closed
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Encourage calm and curious behavior from both cats during introductions by rewarding them with treats, toys, and praise. This positive reinforcement helps them see accepting each other as a good thing and creates a positive association between them and rewards. Avoid punishing aggressive or scared behavior—it can escalate the situation. Instead, separate the feline friends and give them space to relax and de-stress.

Make Sure There’s Enough Stuff for Both Cats

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As experts advise, make sure you have an adequate number of litter boxes, food and water bowls, toys, and scratching posts for all the cats in your household. Properly spacing these resources is important, especially when expanding your feline family. Resident cats may feel territorial and anxious if they think their resources are being threatened by competition.

Schedule Some Fun Playtime Sessions

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Set up playtime sessions for both cats and let them observe each other playing through a baby gate or another transparent barrier. This can help them view each other as harmless and enjoyable companions. Use fun toys to engage their hunting instincts and direct their energy positively. Supervised play like this can create acceptance between the cats.

Be Patient as They Get to Know Each Other

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Think about how you’d feel if a stranger suddenly moved into your home! Building rapport takes time and positive engagement—and it’s no different for cats. Avoid the urge to hurry or push them into interactions before they’re comfortable, and always pay attention to signs of fear or anxiety. While it might be trying and time-intensive—patience will pay off in the long run for both furry friends.

Have Realistic Expectations About Their Relationship

Gray Tabby Cat Lying on White Surface
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You might daydream about your cats becoming best pals, inspired by adorable online cat videos. While some cats form strong bonds, many coexist peacefully, and some may never become close. Remember, your goal is to have two contented cats in your home—not a fairy tale of inseparable feline friendship. Keep calm and give your pets the time they need.

Ensure Your Home is a Safe Space for Both Cats

Orange Kitten
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Ensuring your new cat’s safety is super important, particularly if it’s a curious kitten. Prevent any potential escape routes or access to hazardous areas within your home. If your cat will be an outdoor pet, wait at least three weeks before allowing it outside to explore. Take measures to prevent falls from high places, such as balconies, to keep them safe and secure.

Give Them Vertical Space to Explore and Chill

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Do you know? Cats feel safer when they can oversee their surroundings from a high spot, which can be especially comforting for your resident cat during the adjustment period with a new arrival. Offer ample vertical space such as cat trees, shelves, or climbing posts—allowing both feline friends to observe each other safely and retreat if needed, reducing stress.

Spread Your Attention Between Your Feline Friends

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While it’s tempting to lavish attention on your adorable new addition, especially if it’s a cute kitten, neglecting your resident cat can lead to feelings of resentment toward the newcomer. Animal experts advise balancing your time to ensure both pets receive attention, play, and affection. During the initial introductions, prioritize spending time with your resident cat to prevent feelings of jealousy and ensure they feel valued.

Stick to a Consistent Daily Routine

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Introducing a new kitty might disrupt your daily routine a bit, but strive to keep a consistent schedule for feeding, playtime, and litter box maintenance. While your new cat may not notice—your resident cat will. Keeping things consistent helps reduce stress and insecurity during this transition, making your existing cat feel more at ease amidst the changes.

Don’t Ignore Any Issues with the Litter Box

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Litter box issues can arise in homes with multiple cats, requiring careful observation of your cats’ bathroom habits. If either cat begins eliminating in inappropriate places—it could signal stress or a lack of adequate litter box options. Use the same type of litter your resident kitten is accustomed to, and position the litter boxes in safe areas where they feel comfortable.

Know How to Handle Any Fighting or Aggression

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As cats start living together, they might play, fighting for toys and attention. During the initial days of free interaction between your cats, monitor their behavior closely. While normal play involves batting and pouncing, aggressive displays like hissing and arching should be avoided. If either cat shows signs of aggression, divert their attention with a loud noise or toy—allowing them to disengage and retreat if needed.

Feed Them Separately to Avoid Conflicts

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Initially, it’s best to feed the two cats separately to avoid disturbing your existing cat’s routine and prevent competition or territorial behavior. As they become more accustomed to each other—slowly introduce feeding them in the same room. However, keep a safe distance between their bowls and ensure one cat doesn’t try to take food from the other.

Offer Plenty of Hiding Spots for Privacy

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Hiding is a typical behavior for cats, especially when they feel uncertain or stressed. It’s very important to provide safe hiding spots for both cats to retreat to when they need personal space or feel overwhelmed. Ensure there are plenty of hiding places throughout the house for both felines—such as cardboard boxes, covered cat beds, or designated areas behind furniture, all serving as comforting sanctuaries.