How to introduce a new cat into your home

Planning to add another cat or kitten to your household? ‘Paws’ until you’ve read our expert tips for making sure cat meetings go smoothly.

Getting a new cat or kitten is a joyful and exciting time – but it can be a big change for any cats already living in your home.

‘Cats are naturally very individual creatures,’ says animal behaviourist Inga MacKellar. ‘They like their own space, and it can take time for them to get used to the idea of sharing it. Even if you already have two cats living together happily, there’s no guarantee that they’ll welcome a third.’

What’s the best combination of cats?

When it comes to choosing a companion for your existing cat or cats, there’s no magical combination of ages or genders that will be guaranteed to hit it off.

However, choosing a new cat that’s similar in age to your existing pet, will help to ensure they have similar energy levels. It’s really all down to individual personalities but to give your cats the best chance of getting along, here are some steps you can take.

Plan your cat encounters

  • When introducing cats, things are more likely to go well if you take it slowly.
  • Get your cats used to each other’s scent before they meet face-to-face. You could use a piece of cloth that you've gently wiped on the cat’s cheeks (one of their scent gland areas).
  • Let them see each other before they meet, for example through a mesh barrier.
  • A crack in the door can work – just make sure neither cat pushes through it.
  • And never force a meeting, as that will just cause stress.

If your cats take these encounters in their stride, you can move to a face-to-face meet-up – but keep it short and sweet, even if they seem to be getting along fine.

Always supervise your cats and separate them at the first sign of aggression, especially if one is a small kitten.

If it’s not going well, go back a step

Some cats will be fine around each other within minutes, but with others it can take weeks or months – and some cats just never get along.

Go back to letting them see each other behind a barrier, or scent sharing, and try again more gradually.

How to help them settle in

Cats aren’t crazy about sharing, so to help them get along, especially when they’re getting to know each other:

  • Give each cat their own separate resources in the house, such as feeding bowls and litter trays, positioned away from each other.
  • A second cat flap can be useful.
  • Continue with your existing cat’s routine – so don’t pop your new kitten into your old cat’s bed, for example.
  • Make sure each of your cats has their own cat-friendly spots – such as cat beds and high shelves to use as lookouts – to choose from.

As your new cat settles in, be alert for any subtle signs of bullying, such as one cat blocking the other from food. Look out for signs of stress, and seek advice if you’re worried.

Hopefully, though, all your diplomacy will pay off.

Given time, many cats will happily share their space with others, even if they’re not the best of friends. You might even spot them cuddling up together or grooming each other’s fur – sure signs that they’ve accepted each other and formed their very own colony!

Have you, or someone you know, introduced a new pet to the home? We’d love to hear any other tips and how your pets have bonded. Simply share your story on Instagram using the hashtag #PethoodStories

We work in partnership with the UK's animal charities and have seen first-hand the devastating impact Covid-19 is having on their income and the vital funds needed to support the animals in their care. For over 30 years we have been providing 4 weeks free insurance for rehomed pets and giving 10% of rescue pet premiums back to animal charities. In June, to help support animal charities through the Covid-19 crisis we paid over £700,000 in funds that our partners would have received from us in the next 6 months now, in one lump sum, to help them get through the pandemic.

Back to top