Introducing two cats to each other can be a real challenge. Cats are very particular animals that tend to warm up to new animals very slowly and certainly in their own time. It can take days or weeks to acclimate a new cat to your home and to a point where they are at least partially accepted by the other animals in the house.
Male cats in particular can be somewhat territorial, so introducing two male cats to each other can be challenging, even with neutered males. There are multiple things you can do to make introductions between cats go more smoothly, though.
The 8 Great Tips to Introduce Two Male Cats
1. Be Prepared
The key to successfully introducing two cats to each other with as little stress for both as possible is for you to be prepared for the arrival of the new cat. Create spaces for both cats to spend time.
Many people favor a bathroom or mud room as a temporary home for their new cat. Make the space as comfortable as possible by providing bedding, a litter box, and food and water bowls. Toys may also make the transition less stressful for your cat. You should already have all of the tools you’ll need to introduce the cats to each other, like some type of screen or fence.
Also, go ahead and plan out where you’ll add a litter box in your home. The rule of thumb for litter boxes is one for each cat plus one extra, so for two cats, you should have at least three boxes throughout the house. By providing plenty of places to potty, you’ll help reduce the stress levels of both cats after introductions are made.
2. Be Patient
Introducing two cats to each other can be a very time-consuming process. You should, at minimum, expect to spend a few days slowly working your cats towards meeting each other. If you attempt to rush introductions, you may add stress for both cats. If introductions are unpleasant and stressful, there is a greater likelihood that your cats will feel tension with each other.
This may be temporary, but they may also learn to associate each other with unhappy and stressful situations. If you feel like your cats aren’t ready to move to the next step of introductions, then spend more time on the step you’re already on.
3. Keep Your New Cat Comfortable
Your new cat should have a very comfortable space to land in when they arrive. As previously mentioned, a mud room or bathroom is ideal for this purpose. Whatever space you choose should be secure enough that the cats can’t access each other.
Ideally, there should be able to be two doors between your cats. That way if the new cat slips out when you open the door, they’ll only make it into one additional room that your cat isn’t in, as opposed to bolting out into the open house and running into your cat face to face.
4. Swap the Scents
“Scent soakers” are items that are good at absorbing other scents. For cats, this can be blankets, beds, towels, and even toys. After your new cat is settled into the space, give them a few hours or a day to decompress. Once you feel like the new cat has decompressed, swap the scent soakers between the cats. By switching out bedding and other scent-absorbing items, your cats will both get a chance to fully absorb the scent of the other cat.
Some people may prefer to allow the cats to sniff themselves under the door, but by swapping scent soakers, you are not only introducing the cats to each other’s scents, but you’re also getting the new cat’s scent out into the home, making it become more normal to your existing cat.
5. Create a Meal Ritual
Many cats look forward to mealtime, so mealtimes are a good opportunity to create unity between the two cats. Determine a feeding routine that will work consistently with your availability and your cats’ needs.
Start by feeding both cats near the door the other is located behind. At the next meal, you might move the bowls a little closer. Keep doing this for a couple of days until the cats are eating meals right on the other side of the door from each other. By creating this routine around food, you’re providing positive reinforcement for the acceptance of the other cat.
6. Create Safe Eye Contact
Once your cats have had an opportunity to get used to each other’s smell, create eye contact between them. Ideally, you should have two people for this job so you can keep the cats well away from each other. The goal is simply for them to see the other cat, not to be introduced face to face.
Keep in mind that some cats might panic at the sight of another cat, so make sure you and your partner have a firm grip on both cats so one doesn’t escape and create a stressful environment. Whenever possible, allow the first few times of visual contact to occur between a window or screen.
7. Keep Them Separate
Once your cats seem comfortable with the smell and view of each other, you can allow them to get closer together. Some people prefer to use a screen, fence, or baby gate for this job.
Screening is ideal because it doesn’t allow a cat to slip through in the same way that a baby gate or fence might. The item should allow airflow between both sides so your cats can begin to associate the smell and sight of each other. As cats become more comfortable with each other, they may start to rub against the screen or show other signs of affection or territory marking.
As long as aggression and stress signs aren’t noted, you should be on standby, providing both cats with positive reinforcement of successful introductions.
8. Remove the Barrier
Eventually, it’ll be time to remove the physical barrier between the cats and allow them to truly come face to face with each other. Don’t allow these situations to get out of hand, though. Even with proper introductions, this can be a tense time for both cats.
It’s important for you to closely monitor the behavior of both cats so you can end the situation before a fight breaks out. Getting to the point where your cats can be face to face and not tense or fearful can take quite a while to achieve, so don’t forget that you can’t rush this process.
Why Are Male Cats More Difficult to Introduce?
Believe it or not, they probably aren’t. Intact male cats may be a challenge to introduce due to their territoriality and hormones. Neutered male cats, on the other hand, are often considered to be the most accepting of all cats. Spayed or intact female cats can be more difficult to introduce to each other than neutered male cats are.
Just because neutered males are often more laid back, there is no reason to create unnecessary risk and the chance of the two cats not getting along by skipping steps in the introduction process. Keep in mind that even if you succeed in introducing your cats to each other, introductions to dogs and other pets can add time to this process and create a more stressful environment for your new cat.
Patience is more than just a virtue; it’s a requirement when it comes to successfully introducing two male cats to each other. Cats can be slow to warm up to other cats, and intact males are often some of the most difficult cats to introduce to each other. It’s important to follow the steps and move slowly when introducing your cats. Otherwise, you may unintentionally create a stressful and unhappy environment for both cats that makes life more difficult for all of you.
Featured Image Credit: Wasuta23, Shutterstock