Last Updated on: February 3, 2023 by Crystal Uys
Once you’ve jumped into owning a cat, it’s easy to want another furry friend to keep them company—or simply because you adore cats. We’ve all seen adorable pictures of cats cuddled up with each other, but introducing pets to new arrivals isn’t always easy.
You might think there are set rules for pairing cats. Females with other females, or males with males, or perhaps a female with a male. Gender doesn’t play as big a part as you might assume though. Here are some “rules” that I have developed for pairing your existing cat with the adorable kitten you’re planning to adopt.
My Top 4 Rules for Pairing Cats at Home:
1. Similar Age
It can be challenging to introduce a cat to your household at the best of times but a cat that’s a similar age to your resident feline will be more likely to suit their temperament. Matching an adult with another adult, for example, might help prevent an over-excited kitten from getting on an older cat’s nerves.
However, you do have to consider that the older the cats are, the more likely they are to have established territory in your home to fight over.
Kittens With Kittens
The easiest way to pair cats in your home is by adopting two kittens from the same litter. Kittens are the most adaptable to new situations—including meeting new friends if you happen to adopt two kittens from separate litters. Adopting two kittens from the same litter also ensures they’ll be familiar with each other already, saving you from having to introduce them.
Two kittens will also be better able to manage each other’s high energy levels than if you pair a kitten with a senior cat. Kittens are more likely to play with each other rather than prefer to relax.
Similar to kittens, young adult cats are usually more likely to tolerate a new feline friend. They might be less inquisitive than kittens—or less quick to befriend cats that aren’t their litter mates—but they are often more accepting of new cats. This isn’t always the case, so you still need to make the proper introductions to make sure your cats are compatible before you officially welcome them home.
If you do want to introduce a new kitten to your cat, the younger your resident cat is the more likely it is that the initial meeting will go well.
In general, the older the cat is, the less likely they are to accept a new arrival. Adult and senior cats have had much more time to settle into themselves and carve out their territory. They’re also more likely to prefer relaxing over playing with an energetic kitten.
There’s also the possibility that adult cats have had more negative experiences with other felines. In this case, it’s unlikely they’ll take well to having another cat in their home. This goes for the adult cat you want to adopt as well.
While this doesn’t mean you can’t introduce a kitten or an adult cat to your existing cat, you should take extra steps to ensure the initial meeting goes well. Keep in mind that some adult cats might never be happy with a new arrival and you should take their preferences into account too.
2. Personality Types
When it comes to pairing cats, their temperament is just as important as their age. This is where adopting an adult cat can sometimes be better than adopting a kitten. An adult cat will have already settled into their personality and you’ll be better able to see if they’re energetic, laid-back, or aggressive toward other cats.
It’s similar to how two kittens are often more suited to each other’s energy levels than a kitten and a senior cat are. If your resident cat is happier napping all day instead of playing, they’ll be less likely to enjoy having a strange kitten pounce on them every time they cross paths. Similarly, a timid cat might be too wary of a more confident cat to form a bond.
3. Male or Female?
Nobody truly knows whether it’s better to partner female cats with other females, males with males, or pair a male with a female. When all is said and done, it’s the age and personalities of the cats you’re introducing that play the biggest part in a budding friendship or disaster.
Female cats can be just as aggressive as males, while Tom cats can be surprisingly timid. When it comes to their personality, neutering doesn’t always change every facet of their temperament. While it will interrupt the more hormone-driven behavior and it can be said that neutered males are friendlier in general, neutering might not make them friendlier toward other cats.
In the end, the choice between male and female cats is part of your personal preference more than a preference cats have for each other.
Introducing a new cat to your resident feline is always stressful, even if your existing cat is easy-going and young enough to adapt easily. Cats like routine more than anything else and a new arrival will cause stress by interrupting their usual day-to-day activities, it’s inevitable.
Most healthy cats will adapt to their new companion, especially if you make sure the cats are compatible and introduce them properly. However, if your cat is older, injured, or sick, the stress might make their health worse. If your cat is getting on in years or has a medical problem, it’s best if you forgo adopting a new cat until they’ve recovered or passed on.
How to Introduce a New Cat to Your Existing Cat
There aren’t any set “rules” on how you should pair cats if you plan on adopting more than one. However, with so many cat lovers around, there are tried and true methods of how to properly introduce your new arrival to your current feline resident.
The first introductions are always the hardest and don’t always end up with your cats being best friends. Using the right method can help to increase the odds of another cat fitting into your home but it also relies on the cats themselves. Here are my favorite methods:
1. Remember Age and Temperament
As we mentioned earlier, age and personality are the two biggest factors when it comes to introducing a new cat. You’ll need to carefully consider if the kitten you’re planning on adopting will be welcomed by your aging feline or whether they’ll be too energetic for your older cat’s laid-back temperament.
2. Start Introducing Scent
We all know dogs are the champions when it comes to good noses but cats rely on scents too. They’ll use their scent to mark you and their favorite sleeping spot as theirs and don’t take kindly to strange smells—like that of the new kitten—invading their territory.
Before your old and new cats come close to each other, you need to introduce their scents first. You can do this by introducing a blanket used by the kitten to your existing cat—and vice versa—to get both animals used to the smell of the other.
As you introduce your new cat to your home, continue to exchange items they’ve used with your current cat’s possessions.
3. Separate Rooms
It’s exciting to bring a new cat home. To make the transition as smooth as possible though, it’s best if you start with the cats in two separate rooms rather than jump straight into the first meeting. It’s recommended to use a bedroom or bathroom with a door you can close so you can keep a barrier between your existing cat and their new roommate.
4. Feeding Together
Despite your cats being in separate rooms, you can still encourage them to eat meals together by placing their bowls on either side of the door. This works best if the door to the room you’re keeping your kitten in has a gap underneath so both cats can still smell each other while they eat. They’ll be able to tell the other is there even if they can’t see each other. It’ll also help you determine whether your cat is ready to meet the new arrival or needs a few more days.
5. First Meeting
Once both cats are happy enough interacting with each other on their sides of the door, your next step is properly introducing them. You can start by using a gate of some kind that your cat can’t squeeze through or jump over. This way your cats can see each other but won’t be able to reach each other. Once they can tolerate the sight of each other, you can remove the gate.
Don’t leave your cats alone together until you’re sure they’ll get along. Not all first meetings go well. While cats often work out their problems themselves, they can cause each other serious injuries if things go wrong. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll need to be on hand to safely intervene.
Pairing your cat with a new feline friend mostly relies on their temperament and age. Determining whether they’ll get along with a new cat means carefully considering whether they have previous experiences with other cats or are too old to welcome such a drastic change in their routine.
Generally, two kittens from the same litter stand the best chance of getting along from the get-go while introducing a strange cat can take some more work. When you’re looking to adopt, find a cat with a similar temperament to your existing feline and introduce them slowly for the best results.
Featured Image Credit: xixicatphotos, Shutterstock
About the author
Cat mom to Ivy – a feisty little rescue kitten that is her one and only child. For now! Throughout her life, she has been introduced to the special love that can be found in the bond with a cat. Having owned multiple felines, she is more than certain that their love is unmatched, unconditional and unlike any other. With a passion to educate the public about everything, there is to know about felines, their behavior, and their unique personalities, Crystal is devoted to making sure that all cats and their owners know the importance of conscious living – and loving!