Alley Cat Rescue’s Program Manager Niki Cochran knows for sure, because it’s easy for anyone to love her cat Lucy, whose tongue permanently hangs out on the left side from a dog attack before Cochran adopted her.
“[Cats] may act crabby at first, but as long as they’re not charging or attacking -- that’s OK,” Cochran said.
The first way to introduce a new cat like Lucy to an older cat, like Meg, would be to place the newer cat into a small room, such as a bathroom or a guest room. It is important to keep them isolated from one another for a couple of days to a week, said ACR’s Director of Operations Denise Hilton.
To acclimate the cats to one another, you can switch each of their cat beds so they grow used to one another’s scents, Hilton said. You can also place the cat food on both sides of the door so the cats eat near one another, Cochran added.
After some time has passed, it’s safe to switch the door out for a doggy gate so the cats can see each other face to face, and you can gauge how they react. Hilton added it might be good to get a few gates, as “obviously cats can jump a lot higher than dogs.”
Once you feel enough time has passed to introduce the cats, make sure to never do so without supervision. They should not be left unsupervised when you’re not home, Hilton said.
In addition to supervised introductions, cats may start to get along if you use interactive toys such as cat dancers that not only help with the cat’s prey drive, but also keeps cats focused on the object rather than one another.
If all of these steps are followed, even grumpy cats such as Meg may start to get along with newcomers like Lucy.
“Every once in awhile they do this weird play thing that involves hissing -- but it’s playing,” Cochran said.
Though not all cats become best friends, or take up to a month to get along, avoiding aggression is key. Because if you do not take these steps, there’s the chance that the cats may never get along, and even attack one another.
Introducing cats to dogs is a whole other situation, however, and you can read about that in our next blog.