They sleep on the keyboard, baffle their owners with weird behavior and have a reputation for running hot and cold, yet cats are among the most popular pets. When a cat owner adds a new kitty to the household, it can lead to tension and trouble. Knowing how to help cats of the opposite sex live together in harmony can keep a pet owner’s life happy and uncomplicated in a situation that could easily turn into a nightmare.
Pick the right animal combination. A female and male cat typically will accept each other better than two males, according to the ASPCA. The cats should be similar in activity levels; a playful cat needs a playmate, while a lazy cat wants a companion who enjoys napping as much as she does.
Spay and neuter the cats to reduce spraying and unwanted pregnancies. Non-neutered males can behave with more aggression than neutered cats. This also reduces a tom’s sex drive, keeping unwanted sexual advances to a minimum.
Introduce the cats slowly. Put the cats in separate rooms, and after a day, switch the rooms. This allows the cats the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the other cat’s scent. Let one cat play with a toy, and then offer it to the other cat. When the cats seem ready for interaction, the Humane Society says, take it slow and gentle. Let them set the pace. If things don’t go well, start over.
Separate the cats if they fight. Good, low-stress ways to separate fighting cats without risking injury include clapping and shooting them with water or compressed air.
Offer the cats their own food and water bowls, as well as litter boxes, on different sides of the room. If the cats use the same litter box and food and water bowls and one cat shows territorial behavior over food or the litter box, he will see the other cat as a threat.
Give the cats treats when they interact well to reinforce desired behaviors.
Trick them. According to ASPCA, some cat owners rub tuna juice on their cats’ head and shoulders, which causes them to groom each other, a comforting and pleasant act for cats. This trick encourages quick bonding.
Distract male cats from an object aggression. Male cats can lash out at other animals when agitated by watching a bird outside or chasing a toy. If the male cat seems agitated, distract him with a treat or close the blinds to reduce the risk of lashing out at the female.
Create a safe place for cats to hide if they get stressed out, like a carrier or bedroom, where the male and female can stay apart.