Adopting another cat can be an exciting time. However, cats are quite picky about the company they keep. A sudden, new addition to your cat’s space can cause stress and result in behavioral problems. That makes it important to control how you introduce your two cats to each other. If done badly, they may dislike each other for the rest of their lives.
It can take a cat 8-12 months to become friends with another cat. Male cats are slower to accept a new feline, especially if they’re unfixed. They are also more likely to engage in physical altercations. Female cats are less likely to fight another female, but they will challenge each other regularly. It can take less time for them to accept each other but longer to stop these subtle conflicts.
Kittens or cats that are introduced at a young age may get along within a few weeks. Older cats are more likely to ignore each other, while average adults are the most likely to dislike one another. Of course, your two felines may get along much faster (or slower) depending on how you introduce them. Giving them space, discouraging territorial behavior, and trying to maintain a steady routine should help. If you have two friendly adult cats, this may be in as little as 2-3 months.
How Long Does It Take Two Male Cats to Get Along?
Male cats tend to lead more solitary lives than their female counterparts. They will also claim larger amounts of territory for themselves. According to the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, unfixed males are far more protective of their space and prone to showing territorial behavior. If you introduce a new male cat into your home, your first cat might see this newcomer as a threat.
There is no set timeline for how long it can take male cats to get along. Neutered males or kittens tend to get along much faster than older and/or unneutered males.
Cats will first display signs of aggression before actually engaging in a physical fight. This posturing is meant to intimidate the newer cat into submission. Your cat might yowl, hiss, or puff its fur up at the other cat until it backs down. If your new cat responds in kind, however, it might then break into a fight with:
- Screaming at one another
Your cat may also feel defensive about its territory being encroached upon. Rather than outright fight the other cat, it may display other signs that it is ready to attack. This can include:
- Crouching down with its legs and tail pulled close to its body
- Rolling on its side slightly
- Flattening its ears against its head
If your cat gets in this position, it’s wise for neither you nor the other cat to approach it. Instead, separate both yourself and the other cat from it until your angry cat calms itself down.
How Long Does It Take Two Female Cats to Get Along?
According to the Cat Care Clinic, female cats in the wild tend to live together in a group. Most of the females in this colony are often related to one another in some way. That means they are already used to each other and rely on the group for resources. An entirely new female cat would not be welcome in their colony at all.
If you adopt multiple female cats, they might be wary of one another at first. However, they will learn to get along much faster than when putting two male cats together. This is especially true if both females are spayed before the meeting.
Of course, female cats can be just as territorial as males. Instead of outright fighting, they are likely to posture and hiss to intimate rivals. This can last for several months, even if your cats otherwise get along and tolerate each other’s presence. You should still make sure that each female has her own space to retreat to if needed.
If one female gives birth to a litter of kittens, it may become more aggressive toward anyone who approaches the kittens. That includes you or any cats it may have been friends with before. This is a basic maternal instinct kicking in. The aggression should wear off once the kittens have weaned. It is best to have your cat spayed soon after this, too.
Why Don’t Cats Get Along With Other Cats?
When compared to other pets, cats are relatively solitary animals. They can hunt, eat, drink, and sleep by themselves, and some even prefer it that way.
This is especially true if your cat was an independent stray or came from an abusive home. In these cases, it’s already quite the ordeal for it to learn to be around you and your family. Adding another cat into the mix might stress out your cat even more.
If you are thinking about adopting a new cat friend, then you need to consider different factors. These will impact how willing your cat is to accept a friend:
- Your cat’s age
- If your cat has been socialized around both humans and cats
- Your cat’s gender
- Where you will create a space for your new cat
- Your cat’s personality and temperament
- How to introduce both cats to one another
- Your cat’s health conditions
All of these factors will play a role in how your cats get along (or don’t get along). The most obvious ones you’ll see, though, are:
Unfixed cats are territorial, especially if they’re a male. Even fixed cats may be defensive of their space if they’re poorly socialized. That’s because they won’t understand how to compromise in a group dynamic.
While most cats learn this skill as kittens, cats that are weaned early or rarely exposed to other pets may not. As such, these territorial cats might see any new felines as a threat.
With that said, all cats are less territorial if they are kept strictly indoors, according to Acta Analytica. Since they cannot explore wider areas and lay claim to broader resources, they’re more willing to compromise.
As such, if your first cat was allowed to roam freely outdoors, it may be more resistant to a new cat. It considers your home part of its vast territory. Because of this, it’s more defensive of it than a strictly indoor cat.
A Break Of Routine
Even well-socialized cats may become stressed if their routines become disrupted. Felines are creatures of habit and will become used to certain schedules. For example, your cat may rely on always:
- Having access to a precise sunning spot
- Being fed at certain times
- Playing with you at one exact point in the day
If a new feline disrupts this schedule, your cat may become upset. It will be smart enough to know that the new pet is what instigated all this confusion. That can even happen when cats are introduced to new roommates or guests frequently. As such, it is key for you to control how the two cats first meet.
Lack Of Space
According to another study in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, cats don’t have a strict social hierarchy. They do form a pecking order, but it’s constantly in flux. It doesn’t automatically mean one cat is the dominant one, even if it won a fight.
Instead, cats depend on compromise. They only fight when it’s crucial to them or when they can’t just wait the other cat out. Even still, cats may feel a fight is always warranted if they’re crowded, overstimulated, or lack space.
Creating an entirely new space for your new cat will often involve a lot of trial-and-error. Cats do not like eating food near where they drink water, and vice versa. They will also want to have separate areas for sleeping and going to the bathroom far off from these other areas.
You need to arrange your new cat’s belongings carefully around its room so that it will not smell the new cat encroaching on its space. You should also provide ample resources so they will not feel the need to fight.
If they do fight, you will need to first distract both cats with a loud noise or spray bottle to get them to stop. Putting yourself in the middle of the fight without doing this first will result in you being injured. It is best to separate your cats for a few days. Keep them in their own areas and away from each other in the meantime.
How to Get Two Cats to Like Each Other
Introducing a new cat into your home must be a gradual and slow process. You might have a handle on how your first cat acts and thinks. However, it isn’t easy to know what to expect with your new cat.
Knowing if your new cat has been properly socialized with both humans and cats is important. According to Animals, a more socialized cat will come within 2 feet of humans or other cats, as opposed to those less socialized.
It will also be more likely to allow unfamiliar people, either with or without unfamiliar pets, to approach it. In comparison, cats that are less socialized toward other cats or humans will display a higher tendency to:
- Tense up around those they are unfamiliar with
Age will also play a large role in how long it will take for two cats to get along. Older cats that are used to being the sole pet of the house will not be eager to make friends with a new kitten, for instance. It may take them even longer to get used to this new cat around. That’s especially true if your cat has not been socialized around other cats at all since its adoption.
Indeed, siblings or kittens raised together from a young age tend to get along much better than a much older cat and a kitten would. The kitten’s energy might become very irritating for an old cat that cannot keep up or needs more rest. That makes it key to adopt cats with similar dispositions. They will be more likely to get along than cats that are seemingly polar opposites.
Setting Up a New Cat’s Room
You will first have to place your new cat in its own separate room with its food bowl, water bowl, and litter box. Keep this new cat in the room for 2-3 days while you help your first cat adjust to the new feline’s smell. There are plenty of ways you can allow your cats to get used to each other’s scent:
- Allowing your cats to stand near the closed door of your new cat’s room
- Mixing their scents up by using the same hair brush or rubbing a cloth on both cats so they will have the other’s scent already on them
- Lightly spraying artificial cat pheromones at their nose level around their spaces
Giving both cats a treat each time they respond positively to the new scent will teach them that this new companion is nothing to fear. They may even learn to anticipate treats and good feelings with this new cat before even meeting it.
This separation period should allow you enough time to understand your new cat’s personality a little better. It will also give the new cat time to acclimate to its new home.
Letting Your Cats Meet
Once a few days have passed, you can let the cats see each other, but don’t let them get too close. Setting up a baby gate, wire fence, or another transparent barrier would be a good start.
If they start to hiss or try to scratch at the other cat through the barrier, it is best to keep them separated for a few more days. If they both remain calm and curious, however, feel free to give them treats. Play with each cat to show them that there is no danger.
If they react positively to this, you can then let them interact without these barriers. It is best to supervise them both during this time. Allow either of them the option to retreat to their own spaces if they want to.
Your cats may not exactly get along with one another, even if they do not fight right away. When they start to become aggressive, you will have to separate them for a few days and get them used to each other’s scent again.
This can be a tedious process. However, it’s necessary if you hope that your cats will get along with one another one day.
Signs Cats are Starting to Get Along
Cats will display similar signs of affection for each other that they show to you. This mostly includes rubbing their faces on each other’s bodies.
This rubbing is actually your cat’s way of marking the other cat as a friend or one of its own. The sebaceous glands of a cat will cover an object in the cat’s own scent. This can help it determine the familiar from the new. These glands are located around its lips and chin, and the scent it secretes will last a fairly long time.
If your feline considers this new cat to be a friend, it will trill or meow like it would with you. It may also groom the other cat, especially if this new cat is a kitten.
Cats do not like anything or anyone near their stuff. As such, if your cat allows the new cat to sleep next to it, then they have become great friends that trust each other.
If you notice your cats not getting along all of a sudden, then it is best to separate them for the time being. If this problem persists, Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practices states that you may need to ask your veterinarian to look into some behavioral treatments for your cats. Your vet can be instrumental in helping your cats get along if you’re truly at a loss.
Cats Not Getting Along All Of A Sudden
You should keep in mind that not all cats fight because they hate each other. This might just be your cat’s form of playing with the other cat, especially if both cats are fairly young.
The difference between a real fight and a play one lies in how aggressively your cats are fighting. If one or both yowls in pain when the other tackles or bites, then you need to separate them immediately. It is never okay to let your cats fight it out. This can result in injuries and future resentment for both cats.
This aggression may also be redirected aggression. That means something else might have irritated your cat, and it is taking out its stress on your new cat. Of course, this behavior is not okay. You need to do your best to find a peaceful way to redirect your cat’s current anger towards something else. This may be toward a:
- Piece of cloth
- Scratching post it can attack to feel better
It is also possible that one or both cats are sick, and the pain is making them overly aggressive. Cats tend to hide any signs of illness until it becomes serious. That’s because they see this as a form of weakness they cannot afford to display. If they show other negative health symptoms, then you should call your veterinarian right away. Bad signs include:
- Refusing to eat or drink
- Different litter box habits
If possible, try to schedule a vet appointment for both your cats at the same time to ensure that both cats are healthy. Once they feel better, they should get along.
Will My Cats Ever Get Along?
Training your cats to get along is definitely one of the most difficult aspects of owning multiple cats. You cannot force them to like something they already decided they hate, after all.
Of course, this does not mean that your cats will never get along with one another. It will just take some patience on your part. Continue to treat the idea of a new pet as a good thing for your cat. Over time, your first cat may at least learn to tolerate or avoid the other’s presence.
You must allow your cats to set up their own spaces around your house. Setting out multiple food dishes, water bowls, litter boxes, and toys will let your cats know that they do not need to fight for resources. Rather, they can live in harmony with one another while knowing that they will be provided and cared for.
Unfortunately, some cats will not accept a new cat at all. They may actively try to bully, chase, or fight with the other cat each time they even see them nearby. This can result in a stressful environment for everyone. If that’s the case, it may be best for one of these cats to go live in a different home.