How should I choose appropriate housemates?
Cats are very sociable animals but do not need to live with other cats. It is, therefore, very important to carefully select your new cat to ensure they get on with your existing cat(s) and they can both live a happy life. The most successful multi-cat households are based on cats being genetically related. However, cats that have been brought up together from an early age but are not related can also live happily together.
How do I introduce a new cat?
When introducing a new cat to a resident cat there are many aspects to consider, for example a cat reaches the age of social maturity between 2-3 years therefore it will be much easier for your existing cat to accept the new cat if she is less than 2 years old and the new cat is of a similar age or younger. If your resident cat is elderly you need to consider their differing needs – a younger cat will need a lot more social play which the elderly cat will not welcome lightly.
The new cat will require their own space to eat, drink, sleep and play – this is classed as its ‘safe zones’. These safe zones should be allocated to your new cat without impinging on the ‘safe zones’ already occupied by the resident cat(s).
To maximise the success of intregrating a new cat into the household it may be beneficial to use their natural method of communicating through scent in order to increase the perception that the house is safe for both cats. A “Feliway” plug-in diffusing in the house a week prior to your new cat’s arrival has been shown to reduce the level of any intolerance – after the kitten is introduce continue to use the diffuser for a month – this should significantly help the introductory period.