Introducing a New Cat to an Existing Cat

Your cat is lonely and you decide to get him a new friend.

The problem is he hates his new friend.

And to be fair his new friend in not particularly keen on him either.

Every time they are anywhere near each other they hiss, spit and attack each other, and you are worried about their safety.

(and how much it is going to cost at the vets if either of them gets hurt)

Introducing a new cat or kitten into an existing cat household can be a nightmare if not done correctly.

But it can also be done with little to no stress. No risk of injury. And no worries about massive vet bills.

Here’s how you can introduce a new cat or kitten to your existing cat family in five easy steps.


Let me show you.

#1 Safe Room

Having a safe area for your new cat or kitten is a must. Start them off for a couple of days in a ‘safe room’ of their own. Give them everything they need such as food, water, litter tray, toys and your company.

I also like to leave the carrying box the new cat arrived in available to sleep in. But I don’t lock them in, just give them the option. (this comes in handy when doing the face to to face meetings)

Allow your existing cats access to all the usual areas of the house but do not allow them in the safe room.

Give your new arrival a couple of days to settle in and get used to the smells and noises of your home. After all introducing an already stressed out cat to your existing cat family is unlikely to go well.

Far better to allow your new cat time to settle down after their journey and change of home.

Allowing a safe area and a little bit of time will enable both your new and existing cats chance to get to know each other before they even meet.

Let me explain.

#2 Smell

Cats rely on their sense of smell heavily. So use this to your advantage.

By allowing your existing cats full access to the other side of the safe room door you enable both your existing cats and your new cat to smell each other without any face to face contact.

You can also take this one step further by swapping over cat blankets so both sets of cats can smell the other.

I recommend you do this for a couple of days.

If you find your cats are not approaching the door or when they do they get very upset then try encouraging and distracting them.

Here’s how.

#3 Food

Wait for meal times and place each of the cats food dishes a couple of feet outside each side of the doors.

Cats are so interested in their food that they are likely to forget that they can smell somebody they dislike.

By putting their food near the door you are giving them positive reinforcement that approaching the door results in a reward. Additionally despite the smell of the perceived threat nothing bad actually happens.

When you eventually progress to having the cats in the same room food can be used again, I will come to that in a minute.

But while we are still using the door as a barrier you can add this next tactic to your arsenal of trickery.

#4 Play

Playing with your cat to distract them is another excellent method of getting them to both come closer to the door and also ignore the threat behind the door.

While they are concentrating on playing they are distracted from the smell of the imagined enemy behind the door.Just like with food by giving them positive reinforcement when near the door you remove the negative association of the smell of the other cat.

After a couple of days of smelling each other through the door and the hissing and spitting subsiding it is time for introductions.

But there is a right way and a wrong way . . .

#5 Face to Face Meeting

My advice here is to give both cats some space.

Wait until meal time.

Put your new cat in his carry box with some food.

Then put food down in the safe room for your existing cat family and open the door.

Now chances are all the cats will just get on with eating their food. Fill their bellies and then start grooming themselves.

Only after this little ritual is complete will they notice each other.

The first face to face will be through the bars of the carry case. There might be some mild hissing while they sniff each other but this is nothing to worry about.

Pet your existing cats, and after a few minutes (and the sniffing and hissing has subsided) try playing with your existing cat.

Now open up the carry case and continue playing with your cat.Pretty soon they will notice each other.

Again you might get some hissing or maybe a quick bop on the head but this is fine. Anything short of a full on fight and just let them get on with it.If they are not fighting then your introductions are done.

No need to separate them again.

Word of Caution: All cats are different. Some cats will be ready to make friends immediately while some will need a few days to a few weeks to get used to the idea. Only do the face to face when things seem reasonably calm when your new cat is still secure in the carry case.

Bonus Tip

There is nothing wrong with giving your cats a helping hand with these calming remedies.

Remember they are not magic pills that will put your cats in a trance like state open to make friends with anybody or anything. Think of them as a calming remedy that will make the whole process of settling in a new home or welcoming a new pet far less stressful.


When a cat feels safe in its environment, it will rub its head against furniture, walls or the bottom of the curtains, leaving substances called facial pheromones. Feliway is a synthetic copy of this pheromone and is proven to reassure and comfort cats, helping them to cope with changes in their environment.


Zylkene is a natural product derived from milk proteins that has been proven to help your cat or dog cope in times of stress and adapt to change. Can be used for short periods or continuously if needed.Zylkene is a revolutionary new product used to help cats and dogs cope with stress..                                        


A variation of the original stress relieving remedy available for more than 70 years contains a blend of the same five flower remedies found in Rescue Remedy in an alcohol free formula, ideal for cats. Rescue Remedy Pet is available in dropper format, allowing cat owners to easily administer it to cats.

There is a lot to be said for taking things slowly when introducing new cats and kittens to your existing cat household.

The last thing you want is disastrous first meeting that will make any future friendship almost impossible.

Take your time.

Keep your cats calm. Distract them with food and play.

Dive in and give nature a helping hand with some calming remedies.

Help your news cat or kitten become a member of the family . . .

Without upsetting your existing cats.


About the author

Ross writes extensively about cats and kittens and has been featured in magazines such as Your Cat and Our Cats and has also guest authored on newsletters for various cat organisations. He is also a guest speaker at cat seminars.

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  1. Hi Ross
    Thanks for your first letter. I don’t kno w if you remember me but we have corresponded for the last three years. It started when I wrote you about my Siamese kitten. We had trouble with her when she was little scratching and biting. We persevered and know have a extra smart loving three year old cat. We are Older and she has been great company for my husband and myself. I must admit it is still her way or the highway for a lot of things. The problem I think with our cat when she was little was that she was taken from the litter when she was only six weeks old. She was trained and was good at eating but she had not learned any social graces. I strongly recommend no one take a kitten before eight weeks. As weeks at least. I cam not sorry that we got her and look forward to the adviyou gave aim your first letter. As I said we are elderly and will have to give her up in a few years. We have a couple that will take her and we will follow your advice for re homing her. Thanks again. Barbarayorfriend in canada

    1. Hi Barbara

      I remember our emails about your girl. So pleased my advice helped.

      I agree that kittens need to stay with their mum much longer than 6 – 8 weeks as they need to learn some social graces.


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