by Robin Mudge
How would a 9-year-old cat feel about a new cat entering her home? I wanted to make sure that Manna would find a best friend in the new cat and not just an intruder in her territory. After doing some research, I came up with 5 ways I could help my cats get along.
Manna came into my life when she was only 3.5 weeks old. She was an adorable abandoned kitten found on my father’s porch one morning. At that time, I had a 1-year-old cat named Cinco and so adopting her was an easy choice. Cinco and Manna got along famously!
As it often does, life threw an unexpected twist at my little family in April of 2016. Cinco, who had always been a healthy, vibrant cat, became very ill. The diagnosis was end stage cancer and I had to make the gut wrenching decision to let him pass away peacefully.
Manna mourned for Cinco. I watched her as she searched for him around our apartment every day. She was an only kitty for the first time in her 9 years. I knew that she was lonely and that only another cat could be the kind of friend that she needed.
Method #1: Giving the cats a proper introduction.
Cats get along best if they are introduced slowly. They must dictate the pace of the introduction. When I brought Dexter home (8-weeks-old at the time), I tucked him away in our big walk-in closet so that Manna could get to know him through the folding door.
Cat toys were used to help Manna and Dexter to get to know each other from a distance. First, I would rub a toy on Dexter to get his scent on it. Then I would give the toy to Manna. As they began to accept each other’s smell, I opened the closet door a crack so they could further investigate each other. A highly supervised first meeting followed.
Over the next few days, I continued the supervised visits between Manna and Dexter. I wanted to know that they were getting along well before I let Dexter have free reign of the whole apartment. Manna was very careful with Dexter. She wasn’t very excited about playing with him at first, but she gently rebuffed his attempts.
Method #2: Feeding the cats together.
Meal time is an important part of a cat’s day. Food was a staple in helping my cats to get along. Once Dexter was roaming the whole apartment, I began feeding the cats together in Manna’s usual meal area. The point was to equate something positive with the cats being together. Though they each had their own dish, it wasn’t long until Manna was letting Dexter eat out of her dish with her.
Method #3: Making sure there are enough litter boxes.
Litter boxes can be territorial zones for cats and so I got new litter boxes as soon as Dexter came to live with us. Manna’s litter boxes smelled like her. I wanted to give Dexter a chance to let Manna know that he would be using these litter boxes too.
In those first few weeks, I watched over Manna and Dexter’s litter box habits like a hawk. It was important to me that neither cat was attacking the other while they used the litter box. This didn’t turn out to be a problem for Manna and Dexter, but if it had, I would have added extra litter boxes in my home to give them more options.
Method #4: Enriching my cats’ environment.
Understanding that cats have different needs in their home than humans do is important. Cats get along much more easily when their needs are adequately met. Aside from food and litter boxes, they need:
- Vertical spaces to view their world from above.
- Small enclosed places to hide.
- Appropriate things to scratch.
- Warm, comfortable places to sleep.
- Toys – both things they can play with by themselves and things you can use to interact with them.
Giving Manna and Dexter all the things they need to be psychologically satisfied helped to keep their stress and anxiety low. Stress does not help cats get along.
Each cat always had a place where they could go to be alone and plenty of things to keep them busy. There is never a dull moment when you have a kitten in your home!
Method #5: Giving each cat my attention.
A cat’s most precious resource is time with their favorite humans. Nothing can replace the interaction you have personally with your cat.
It would have been easy to give all my attention to our little kitten, Dexter. Kittens are very demanding. There were a lot of things that he needed me for and he had a lot more energy.
Still, I chose to make plenty of time to focus some attention on Manna. She didn’t need me as much, but I didn’t want to feel forgotten. Manna had just lost her best friend. No one was being replaced. Dexter was just being added into the family.
Do my cats get along now?
How did things turn out? These two cats get along like Dexter was Manna’s kitten!
I still have an image in my head of the day that I knew Manna and Dexter were going to be best friends. Manna was asleep on the recliner when Dexter jumped up and curled up beside her. I waited for her to hiss at him or move away. She didn’t. Rather, she reached over and began grooming him. Broken hearts can flutter again.
How do your cats get along with each other? Please leave a comment below.
Robin Mudge is a blogger and an educated and caring cat parent. Playful Kitty is an educational blog that is dedicated to cats and the people that love them. There is a mix of detailed information about cats, reviews of products for cats, and a whole lot of humor.