It took less than a week for your new kitty to get comfortable around your friends and family. But now, several months have passed since you brought home another cat, and it seems like you can’t go a day without them hissing, swatting, or downright avoiding one another. All you want is harmony and for your cats to be best friends — so how long does it take for cats to get along?
It may take cats 8-12 months to get along. However, territorial cats and felines lacking proper socialization during kittenhood may struggle to bond with another cat. Easing into the introduction, giving each cat their own space, and tiring each out with playtime can fast-track the process.
Cats may not be as welcoming to new friends as dogs are, and there’s no guarantee that your four-legged pals will become buddies themselves. To learn about how long it takes for cats to get along (and how to make the process less stressful for everyone), read on!
Why Cats Might Not Get Along
It’s only natural for cats to feel nervous (or even slightly aggressive) when meeting a new cat that they’ll soon call “roommate.” Just think about all of the stresses that come along with forcing two new stranger cats to coexist and share everything:
- Learning where they stand in the new social hierarchy.
- Getting a grasp on the other cat’s personality.
- Determining whether they can trust (and befriend) this new kitty.
- Beginning to accept the sharing of space from this point forward.
If you’re bringing together a kitten and an adult cat or two kitties with similar personalities, they might be sharing food bowls and cuddle sessions in 8-12 months. However, the following hiccups might prolong the peace and harmony you’re desperately craving:
Cats are naturally territorial critters, and, out in the wild, a feline may freely roam a territory as large as 4.9 acres. Cats are also very keen on letting other kitties know that this is their territory by “marking” it — spraying the perimeter, leaving piles of poop uncovered, and rubbing their scent glands against nearby objects. At home, your kitty deposits her scents on her favorite places, people, and things to mark the areas that make her feel safe and “at home.”
Not surprisingly, this can become problematic and wildly stressful when you have two territorial cats fighting to claim their favorite blanket, a specific food bowl, or even you! Rather than seeing this new kitty as a friend, your cats may view one another as competition invading their territory. This unusual scent can cause frustration and stress, leading to skirmishes and confrontations.
Lack of Socialization
Often, cats develop a disdain for one another because one (or both) of them was never adequately socialized as a kitten. A cat separated from its litter between 2-7 weeks and lacking later positive interactions with other cats may struggle to understand the bond. As a result, a poorly-socialized cat won’t have a firm grasp of other kitties’ body language, not know when they’re crossing boundaries, and misread play as aggression.
To further complicate this budding relationship, many multi-feline households have an unspoken hierarchy. One cat may adopt the “dominant” role and assume the title of a matriarch, grooming other cats, claiming specific areas of the home as their own, and sometimes intimidating fellow housemates.
If both cats insist on being at the top of the hierarchy or struggle to find their place in the new social ranking, it can lead to perceived competition.
Other Minor Yet Important Factors
You might bring home a brand new kitty who presumably gets along swimmingly with other cats, only to find that she’s hostile around your current cat. The following small (yet huge) factors can impact the time it takes for cats to get along:
- Age: Older cats may find an overactive kitten to be stressful and annoying, and adult cats may feel intimidated or nervous when introduced to a fellow adult kitty. Therefore, the best age pairings seem to be kitten/kitten or kitten/adult.
- Sex: Behavior-wise, a male/female duo is more likely to get along than a female/female or male/male pair. However, getting your cats fixed can better control the territorial instincts and hormones, making any pairing viable with proper introduction.
- Availability of resources: The number of water bowls, food bowls, litter boxes, and beds within the home will play a pivotal role in how well your cats get along. If a cat senses competition for food or a litter box, she may skip eating entirely or eliminate on the floor instead.
- Personalities: The personalities of cats genuinely run the gamut, ranging from sweet and docile to aggressive and confrontational. Cats with laid-back personalities who enjoy being handled and are welcoming toward new people and animals are more likely to get along well and quickly.
How to Get Cats to Like Each Other
The good news is that the lingering animosity between your two kitties doesn’t have to last forever, as long as you’re willing to put in a little work to ensure they build a positive bond. Let’s review a few tried-and-true ways to get your cats to like each other:
Slowly Introduce New Cats to the Household
Throwing both cats in a room with one another and hoping they leave best friends is a surefire way to get this relationship off on the wrong foot. Start by keeping each cat in separate rooms and scent-swapping — giving each cat the toy or blanket of the other to get used to the new kitty at a distance. Allow the cats to eat on the opposite sides of a closed door, let the cats see each other through a screened door, and then transition into supervised interactions.
Ready to introduce two cats the right way? The Jackson Galaxy video below will walk you through making this highly stressful introductory process easier for everyone:
Give Each Cat Their Own Space
Even if your cats wind up being best friends down the road, most cats prefer to have their own space that they can retreat to when feeling stressed or sleepy. To prevent your cats from feeling “on top of one another,” give each cat an entirely separate space in the home that includes their food bowls, water bowls, litter box, and bed.
Never Underestimate the Importance of Playtime
All cats should be getting at least 15 minutes of playtime per day to maintain a healthy weight, but play sessions can also be a fabulous bonding tool for kitties! On top of letting your cats release all of their pent-up energy, mutual play sessions with the mouse or wand toy can also be an incredible bonding experience.
Reward Cats for Good Behavior
Even two cats who are the best of friends may swat or hiss at one another. One of the best ways to ensure that your cats build a positive relationship is by rewarding healthy interactions between the two of them. When your cats rub against one another, play together nicely, and don’t brawl in scenarios where they usually would, reward them with a pet and a treat.
The best way to ensure that your two cats get along is to be more selective of the kitties you adopt. Cats are more likely to become friends if they’re an adult/kitten combo, even-tempered, and have similar energy levels.
It’s also essential not to rush the introductory process. Both cats are walking into new territory — your original cat must now share her space with a new feline, and your new cat is learning her place in your household. It might even take fewer than eight months if you let the process play itself out naturally!
- Homeward Trails: Introducing Dogs to Dogs
- Animal Humane Society: Adding a second cat to your household
- Illinois News Bureau: Researchers track the secret lives of feral and free-roaming house cats
- Cats International: The Cat’s View of Territory
- Pet Central: How to Introduce Cats: A Guide to a Smooth Transition
- VCA Hospitals: Considerations When Getting a Second Cat