Take your time when choosing a second cat. You’ll be bringing in a companion who will hopefully become a lifelong buddy for your resident cat so don’t rush the decision. I know situations come up, such as a cat who is rescued and brought into the family suddenly, but if you have the opportunity to do your homework when considering a feline companion for your kitty, use that time to make a good choice.
If your search involves going to a shelter, keep in mind there’s a risk of making an impulsive decision that could not be the best for either cat. Rely on the wisdom of the shelter staff and what they may know about the cat you’re considering, along with your own knowledge of your resident cat.
Pleased to Meet You
Once you’ve made the decision on which cat you want to bring home as a companion for your kitty, you’re next big step will be preparing the cat-to-cat introduction. This is where many cat parents drop the ball and the result can be a disaster. Take your time and do a gradual introduction. Give the cats a reason to like each other. Don’t toss them in together and expect them to be friends. Provide the newcomer with a sanctuary room (usually a bedroom or some other room you can close off) and let him get his bearings. Then you can slowly begin to introduce him to your resident cat. A gradual, positive introduction is the only way to go.
Even with all the research and planning you’ve done, new cat introductions can take a wrong turn. If things start to go south, evaluate whether it’s because you may have moved through the introduction steps too quickly. I find that’s often the case, rather than the cats being a bad match. Since you are working to help the cats develop a friendship that will last a lifetime, it’s worth the time to go at the pace most comfortable for them. Some cats become friends in a matter of days but in most cases, it takes weeks or even longer. Stay positive and move at the pace of the most stressed-out cat. Even if your progress feels as if you’re only taking baby steps, you’re still going in the right direction.
After working on the introduction, if you feel the cats aren’t a good match, talk to the behavior staff at the shelter for additional guidance. You may find you’ve missed a step in the intro process. In some cases, you may need some additional professional help by calling in a certified cat behavior consultant to develop a specific plan for your cats. Talk to your veterinarian about a referral to a certified behavior professional.
Here are some helpful articles on introducing a second cat.