When cats are brought together for the first time, it is hoped that the cats will be the best of friends. When the cats meet, you should avoid letting the cats “solve it all themselves”. It can take days, weeks or sometimes months before two cats get used to each other and learn to live together. So from our side it takes patience!
Cats are not herd animals and it is not natural for a cat to share its territory with others, so it is not surprising if the cats react and disagree as soon as they see their new “friend”. Feliway is usually very helpful when introducing cats to each other, even Zylkene, which is a calming dietary supplement, can be given to both cats at the introduction.
Cats strengthen their social bonds in different ways. They have their own behavioral patterns. For cats, distance is very important. They need to be able to keep their distance from everything that the cat may feel threatened by. They have like a personal bubble where they feel safe. If someone or something intrudes on this bubble too fast, a conflict often arises. Something that often happens when two cats meet and “have to solve it on their own”. You can do so much better!
We can say that cats have two different “personal spaces” (in English). One is what a cat always carries with it, the personal bubble mentioned above. The other is in a special area, area, cat’s home, etc. All individuals react differently when they feel threatened. Some cats withdraw, hide and just want to get away from the problem. Other cats instead try to drive away what is threatening.
If two cats meet and one gets scared, the other wants to drive away one, or the like, this often leaves deep scars. Here we need to be patient again, the cats need to find their safety in their territory in peace and quiet. The introduction when bringing two cats together is extremely important.
Start by having the cats separated. Make sure each cat has access to multiple sleeping places, dining areas, water bowls and litter boxes. No litter box should be near a dining area, sleeping area or water bowl. Make sure the cats have claw boards to claw on. Occasionally stroke a small blanket or towel along one cat and lay it out to the other cat and vice versa so that they get used to each other’s scents. Also, wipe the towel around corners and places where cats are stroking. Make sure they associate each other’s scents with something positive. Continue with this until you notice that the cats no longer sniff for a long time or react in any other way to the other cat’s scent.
They should not see each other during this time. First they get to know each other through their scents, then hearing and finally at sight. When they sniff one after the other through the lower edge of the door, let this be something positive. Give the cats their food, candy, play and cuddles near the door so that they associate the other cat’s scent with something good. If the cat grunts or reacts in another way that is not good, you need to back off and take it from the level where the cat does not react at all. If the cats are calm and feel safe with each other’s scents, you can try to change rooms so that one cat can live in one room where the other cat previously lived and vice versa. They should still not see each other. You should only do this when you are at home and can monitor the cats.
If you again notice that the cats are calm with each other’s sounds and smells, you can replace the door with putting up a compost grid or other type of grid in the doorway, which then goes from floor to ceiling. Hang over a curtain, the cats should still not see each other. They still get much closer to each other without a door separating them. Make sure they are still allowed to eat, play and cuddle close to each other. Do not force them to do anything, they should be curious and want to be in each other’s presence.
If they avoid each other or feel threatened, you must close the door and go back a few steps until both cats are calm and safe again. Sometimes it can only take a few days when two cats get used to each other and sometimes a few months. If you are unsure if you can take a step forward, wait! When you are sure of your thing, then you can take it one step further.
The next step is to start pulling up the veil a little and let the cats glimpse each other through the grille, for short moments. At the slightest reaction, you need to interrupt, reverse and start again later. When you notice that the cats can live as usual, when they sniff at each other nose to nose, and when you notice that they are safe with each other’s presence, you can think of letting them meet.
Never leave the cats alone together during the introduction. Then you need to read about what to think about when you have more than one cat, see separate article on this.
If problems arise later, separate the cats and start over.