06 February 2014
Cats do not actually need to be social creatures - unlike dogs they function happily on their own and do not have a social structure. They are unlikely to feel the 'need' for a companion even though you may like another cat around. You cannot make cats to like each other yet some will live with a newcomer easily. Some cats never get on and they may just manage to live alongside each other in an uneasy truce - you can only try. However, if there is no competition for food or safe sleeping places (as in most good homes) then cats will accept each other eventually and some will even seem to form close bonds with one another.
While it may be a matter of feline choice as to whether cats get on, how you introduce a new cat or kitten into your home and to a resident cat/cats can make the difference between success or failure. Once a relationship becomes violent or very fearful and the cat feels threatened it can be very difficult to change the behaviour patterns. Therefore careful introductions which prevent these reactions and taking things slowly are vital.
Adults or kittens? A kitten is less of a threat to a resident cat than an adult cat as it is still sexually immature. Sometimes it may be better to get a kitten of the opposite sex to the resident cat to minimise competition. Neutering helps to remove most problems, but it still may not eliminate them altogether. If you are getting an adult cat again it may be better to get one of the opposite sex.
Timing: Choose a quiet time when the household is calm - avoid big celebrations, parties, visiting relatives/friends and find time to concentrate on calm reassurance for both cats.
Smell is important: Remember that scent is a cat's most important sense in terms of communication and well-being. You can integrate the new cat into your home making it feel less alien by getting it to smell of 'home' before you introduce it to the resident cat. To do this stroke, play with or hold each cat without washing your hands and mix scents in this way. You can also gather scents from the cat's head area by stroking it with a cloth and dabbing it around your home and furniture to mix and spread scents. Likewise let the cat get used to the new smells of the house and another cat before their initial meeting and it can make it more tolerable. For this reason it is advised to delay the cats first meeting for a few days or even a week. During this time keep them in separate rooms allowing each to investigate the other's room and bed without actually meeting.