If there’s one thing to know about cat lovers, it’s that they cannot get enough of their cat. You can find many cat owners who started off with one or two cats, and eventually grew their cat family into a house of three or more!
While owning a cat can be a big responsibility, there are advantages to owning multiple cats. Although they can thrive on their own, cats can still get lonely, especially when their humans are not always home. Multiple cats can help calm each other’s anxiety just by simply being in their company.
But if you already own two cats, how do you introduce a third cat into the family? Here are 10 helpful tips!
Introducing a Third Cat Into the Family
Before introducing a third cat into your home, understand that cats are territorial creatures with their own unique personalities. While most cats enjoy the company of other cats, their behavior toward outsiders can be unpredictable.
It is important to introduce your cats slowly and smoothly while keeping the environment controlled to reduce stress, anxiety, and the risk of confrontation. While some cats can welcome the newcomer quickly and easily, some cats may take more time to adjust. Patience is necessary when introducing a new cat into the family.
1. Get a Kitten!
If you’re still at the point of considering adopting a new cat into the family, a kitten would be a good consideration. Kittens are still in the process of learning, allowing them to adapt to their new home and companions more easily.
Adult cats are also more likely to respond favorably toward kittens than other grown cats. They may have natural protective instincts toward the young kitten and can even look after the young one. They may also hiss and show displeasure at the new arrival, but they ultimately wouldn’t see the kitten as a threat to their resources.
2. Ensure Your Cats are Spayed or Neutered
Ensuring your cats are spayed or neutered is important for more many reasons. Neutering cats can reduce hormone levels and lessen the risk of aggressive behaviors. This is also helpful to avoid any unwanted pregnancies, especially if your cat family is mixed with both males and females.
3. Keep the Third Cat in a Separate Room
As mentioned, cats are territorial creatures—meaning they take personal space very seriously. An outsider can trigger territorial instincts, which can easily start unwanted conflict. When first arriving in the house, keep the new cat in their own room with their own space for the first few days. This also gives them an opportunity to familiarize itself with the new environment.
While the newcomer is settling in and feeling at home, the resident cats can also familiarize themselves with the new scent in the house to prepare for when they finally meet the new feline of the family.
4. Let the Other Cats See and Smell the Third Cat
After a few days, once the newcomer has settled in, the three cats can finally meet each other in a controlled environment. This can be done by keeping the new cat in a cage or pet carrier, allowing the new cat to see the resident cats while in a safe space.
Let your two resident cats smell and see the new cat. It is important that the resident cats can see and recognize the new cat, as well as smell their scent, to help them adjust to the newcomer becoming a new normal part of their home.
5. Let Them Switch and Explore Each Other’s Space
To get your cats more comfortable with the idea of a newcomer, let them roam each other’s rooms and spaces while the other cat is away. This allows them to familiarize themselves with the new scent around the house while also spreading their own scent.
Sharing of beddings and toys from one room to the other can also help with their adjustment.
6. Begin Supervised Interactions
Finally letting your new cat and resident cats interact face to face can be unpredictable. They should mingle and interact in short play sessions, always with supervision at first. It is important to bring the new cat into the room with the resident cats, so that they see that the newcomer is under your protection.
Allow the cats to mingle, roam freely, and interact with one another while observing their behaviors. Talking to your cats and staying involved in their interaction is beneficial, but it is important not to intervene even if there is hissing involved, as this allows the cats to familiarize and gauge one another.
Your cats can feed off energy from their owner, so staying relaxed and composed can help them ease up to the new situation. As time goes by, increase the time they spend together until you are comfortable with the three cats being together. If you observe your cats exhibiting physical aggressive behaviors, keep them away from each other and try to build them up with the previous steps.
7. Associate Pleasure with Interaction to the Third Cat
Another tip to facilitate and promote their interaction with one another is associating pleasurable activities with their togetherness. This can involve feeding, playing, and petting when around each other.
When feeding, ensure that they are feeding from separate dishes in the same room. This may take a little more adjustment, as one can recognize the other cat as a threat to their resources. Feeding them during their interactions helps to give the resident cats the idea that being in the company of the newcomer means feeding time!
8. Ensure They Get Along Before Unsupervised Interactions
Before you can leave your cats to interact with each other alone and without supervision, ensure that they get along based on their behaviors during their supervised playtime.
Eventually, they won’t have to be kept separate anymore and they can then share the house together. This may take time, so it is important to stay patient and gauge the behaviors and personalities of both your resident cats and the new cat.
9. Show Affection to All of Them
Cats are also known to get jealous. As cat parents, it is important to make sure that each cat feels loved. Introducing a new cat into the family can be overwhelming for your two resident cats, so be sure to spend time with each of them individually. This can greatly reduce the negative emotions your resident cats may experience, and can be a sign of assurance that they are not left out.
All cats are different, with each cat expressing their affection in their own unique way. It is important to show each of your cats the love and affection they deserve so they don’t feel neglected—especially when introducing a new kitty into the home.
10. Know Your Cat’s Limitations
In most cases, cats can easily get along with other cats. However, some cats just may not get along together. If you find your cats exhibiting continuous aggressive behaviors toward one another, co-existence in the same house may be unlikely.
In such cases of cats not getting along with each other, it may be best not to adopt the third cat, to prevent any further conflict. Another option is to seek professional help for training the cats to get along with each other.
Cats are solitary animals, but they can also learn to love and enjoy the company of other fellow cats. Introducing a third cat to the family can be overwhelming, but the two resident cats can learn to welcome the newcomer with time and patience.
All cats are different, with their own unique personalities. Regardless of how many new cats are introduced into the family, we as cat parents must ensure that they are all kept safe and feel loved!
Featured Image Credit: Nynke van Holten, Shutterstock
- Introducing a Third Cat Into the Family
- 1. Get a Kitten!
- 2. Ensure Your Cats are Spayed or Neutered
- 3. Keep the Third Cat in a Separate Room
- 4. Let the Other Cats See and Smell the Third Cat
- 5. Let Them Switch and Explore Each Other’s Space
- 6. Begin Supervised Interactions
- 7. Associate Pleasure with Interaction to the Third Cat
- 8. Ensure They Get Along Before Unsupervised Interactions
- 9. Show Affection to All of Them
- 10. Know Your Cat’s Limitations