If you have followed the steps laid out in Part 1 of this series (http://nobowlcat.com/posts/how-to-add-a-new-cat-to-your-feline-household-part-1) then your new addition is happily settled into their studio apartment for one! There has been lots of time for the newcomer and the established residents to investigate each other under the door. Now it is time to progress. These next few steps are simple to do but can make all the difference for a smooth transition.
1 - Bedding swap - Cats rely on scent and chemical messengers to communicate. When we understand how these work, we can try to use these messages to make cats feel safe. Do your cats have a favorite resting spot with comfy bedding? You can take this bedding and swap it between the new cat and the residents. That way, each cat has a chance to get to know the smell of the other in a non-threatening way. You can swap this bedding every couple of days to allow for all of the cats to familiarize themselves with each other’s scents.
3 - Togetherness! - Now your cats are happily interacting under the door that separates them and there is no sign of stress in the cats. It is time to remove the barriers and co-mingle the cats. If a stressful event occurs, take a few steps back and slow the process down until harmonious co-mingling occurs.
4- Set the stage for long term success - When you fully integrate the new cat with your existing feline family, set them up for long-term success. Let’s get back to the basics.
Litter boxes: Make sure that you have a least one more litter box than you do cats and put them in separate locations in your home.
Water sources: Provide your cat family with multiple water sources. Place the water sources in separate locations from the food (http://nobowlcat.com/posts/cats-and-water-3-things-you-should-know)
Hangout spots: Make sure that you give your expanded feline family lots of resting places (cat trees, beds etc), and multiple scratching posts.
Hunting, not bowl feeding: Finally, cats are instinctively solitary hunters that should spend much of their waking hours hunting for their food. Providing them with this natural outlet solves a lot of conflict on its own. This helps keeps cats happy hunting and not competing for food resources, which leads to stress and fights.
That is a lot to digest! There is a lot more to integrating a new cat into your home than flinging open the carrier door and hoping for the best, but most of it is very simple to do and will make a huge difference. By employing this slow and steady method of introduction, your and your cats have the best chance for cohabitating bliss.