What can you do to help your cats become better friends? Cats are wonderfully complex creatures. If you’re reading this article, it may be because you adopted a new cat or are thinking about adopting a new cat, and you have another cat or cats and are looking for tips to help all your cats get along. We’re here to help!
For the best chance of cats being good friend, all your cats should be spayed or neutered and given 30 days to heal and for hormones to subside.
First, you need to introduce them properly: Click here for how to introduce cats Be sure to finish all the steps.
After you’ve successfully completed the cat introduction steps, you now have new cat and resident cat who are spending time together. Just like with humans, cats aren’t usually best friends immediately. During the getting-to-know-you-better time, here are some tips for things you can do to help your cat to cat socialization go as smoothly as possible:
1. Cat spaces
- Give each cat their own spaces. If you had one well-loved giant cat tree, can you fit another equally as awesome (or at least as tall) cat tree somewhere in your home? If you had two super sun napping spots used by your first cat, can you move furniture around or fold up new towels on the floor to make two more new super sun nap spots? Do you have at least one litter box per cat, in separate spaces? Scent is super important to cats. So sharing spaces that smell like the other cat can be stressful at first.
Say your cat likes to: Eat, nap, play, potty. Figure out how to make new eat, nap, play, and potty spaces for your new cat, so he’s not infringing on original cat’s spaces. Your cats might have a slightly different ‘spaces’ like hide, climb, hunt, and so on, so tailor the spaces for your cats.
- Cat flow planning: no traffic jams
Consider how your cat moves through your home. You want to have multiple pathways through a room that cats can use, with "exit ramps" so they aren't trapped in a head-on collision with another cat! Arrange your furniture and add cat or human furniture in each room to make that possible. Walls are often overlooked, adding floating shelves can create a whole other level of cat circulation and easily double your home's territory, reducing cat stress. Narrow spaces like hallways or doorways often need help: Adding a chair, narrow low table or bookshelf, or inexpensive cat tunnel allows one cat to pass by the other without risking a confrontation wreck.
2. No punishment.
- Positive reinforcement. What is going well between your new cats? Are they peacefully sitting on the couch with you while you read or watch TV? If yes, how much reading on the couch can you do together? Do birds outside the window so captivate their attention that they’d forget about each other? Consider installing a bird feeder — or playing YouTube bird videos for cats on your TV or computer. Watch your cats and build on what is going well between them, positively reinforcing that time together is enjoyable.
- No negativity or punishment. You might be thinking, “of course not!” but if resident cat growls or swats at new cat walking by, it can be really hard for us humans not to say “No!” in a sharp tone. You don’t want to feed the stress levels. Harsh words will feed the stress, the opposite of what you want.
Exercise releases stress in cats, just like it does in humans. Be sure to get out any frustration that’s built up with plenty of daily playtime. In the earlier stages of cat to cat socialization, separate playtime is safer. Young cats can get really wound up chasing a toy and forget they are not supposed to body bash into the other cat. Understandably that can be upsetting! That’s the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve with playtime.
4. Be patient: Give your cats time.
It is not uncommon for cats to take weeks to months to build their relationship. Also, young cats are often figuring themselves out, so that dynamic causes cat-to-cat relationships to change until they mature into a more stable adult cat personality.
As our friend Jackson Galaxy says: “Ultimately, you’ve got to be okay with how well (or not well) your cats get along. If there’s no blood being shed, no real violence, and nobody going to the vet, then they are, in fact, working it out… even if “their way” doesn’t look like “your way.” Cats have their own version of diplomacy and dialogue, and at some point, we have to allow them to coexist in ways they can live with. And just as with human bridge-building, trust takes time. Relationships, as we all know, are a process; a road sometimes smooth, and sometimes built on shifting sands. In other words, your cats are not going to become best friends again overnight. Give it time.”
While cat behavior can be hard for most mortals to predict, the good news is that cat behavior can be decoded. Not all cats can get along or be snuggle buddies, but with these tips, patience, and time your cats can hopefully peacefully co-exist together. Maybe finally become “BFF” best friends furever!