How to Introduce Two Cats When One Won't Go Near the Other

Let her get acclimated before introducing her to your other pets.
Let her get acclimated before introducing her to your other pets. (Image: Janie Airey/Lifesize/Getty Images)

You spend a lot of time at the office lately and realize that Oscar needs a playmate. After careful thinking and perusing around the local shelters, you finally find the perfect addition for your family: a little tabby named Molly. But when you get Molly home, Oscar wants absolutely nothing to do with her. They just met and don’t have to be best friends right away. Just give them each their space, allowing them to get to know one another on their own. They’ll both be curled up in your lap together in no time.

Separate Spaces

Imagine how you would feel if you were dropped off on a stranger’s front porch and expected to share a bedroom and bathroom with someone new. You’d feel out of place and a little scared. Clearly your new addition feels the same way. Set her up in her own area for a few days -- maybe in your master bedroom or in the office. She should have her own litter box, toys and food and water bowls. Keep Oscar away from the door while Molly gets adjusted, otherwise you’ll hear some hissing. By giving Molly her own room, she’ll have time to get acclimated to Oscar’s scents and sounds, without coming face to face with him. Oscar will be able to do the same thing.

Switch Locations

After a few days, make your kitties switch places for several more days. Put Oscar in Molly’s room and allow Molly to lurk around on her own for a bit. Oscar will be surrounded by Molly’s scent, making it become more familiar to him. Meanwhile, Molly will start recognizing Oscar’s own fragrance, but she still doesn’t have to see him yet.

The Barrier

As long as each kitty seems content in his own personal space, slowly start allowing introductions. When you’re home to supervise, put up a baby gate between the main living area and your office. Let Oscar and Molly get some one-on-one time together with the barrier in place, but don’t allow either fur ball to hop the fence. Ideally you should do several small sessions like this daily for a few days. If no one is growling or swatting through the fence, you’ll know they may be ready to come into contact with one another.

Exchanging Scents

Exchanging scents is a key component of getting your fuzzy chums to get along. When you get home from work, go into Molly’s area and rub her down with a clean towel. After she drifts off into a blissful slumber, take that same towel and give Oscar a good rub with it. You’ll be secretly coating him with Molly’s signature perfume. Continue taking that towel back and forth between kitties, allowing each one to become accustomed to the other’s aroma. Before you know it, they’ll have no problem going near each other.

Feeding Tips

Introducing two cats sometimes takes just a few days, while other times it takes several weeks. If it seems like you’re not having any progress, try feeding your finicky pals near each other, but not in the same room. For example, while Molly is locked up in your bedroom, place her bowl of kibble as close to the door as possible. Oscar’s food dishes should be right on the other side of the door. They’ll start to learn that good things happen -- like a fresh feast -- every time the other kitty comes around.

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