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How long will it take for 2 cats to accept each other?

03.01.2024 - Reading time: 5 minutes

Two cats are sitting side by side and one is looking at the other from the side.

Keeping two cats together is not always as easy as you might imagine. Find out here what you need to consider before bringing a second cat into your home.

If you want to give two cats a new home, it's possible in theory. Most house cats appreciate the company of another cat. Animals that are familiar with each other clean each other and (when mutual affection is particularly important) cuddle each other. Before taking the plunge, you may be wondering “How long does it take for 2 cats to accept each other?”.


What is it like to live with a group of cats?

Cats are often thought of as solitary animals by nature. This is true for wildcats, i.e. cats that have never been domesticated and live with no human contact. In their case, population density is minimal and the male lives as a nomad. This sub-species should not be confused with the feral cat, which was originally domesticated but returned to the wild. Although both are scared of humans and do not usually allow themselves to be approached, the feral cat sometimes lives in a group when certain conditions are met. This is the case, for example, when humans feed these free-roaming cats. Studies carried out on urban cat colonies in cities such as Rome have shown that these small felines live in groups, often made up of related cats. The group is mainly made up of females and their young. Some prepubescent males are sometimes included, but they are not involved in breeding kittens. Interactions within a group serve, among other things, to guarantee the survival of its members. They are rare from one group to another and often lead to confrontation.

Zwei Katzen fressen aus Näpfen

What problems can arise when cats live together?

There are several reasons for getting another cat:

  • Your house cat is bored
  • You are not there during the day and your cat is alone
  • One of your cats has died
  • We suggest you adopt a cat or kitten in distress

In all cases, this situation is very delicate, both for the cat you already have and for the new cat: if the cats are introduced to each other with little preparation, the newcomer is likely to find themself thrust into unfamiliar territory – without being able to retreat on its own.
The “owner” of the territory, in turn, is forced to accept an unfamiliar cat that seems to represent a threat to its resources. To avoid fights and potential injuries, don’t put the two cats directly in a room together.

Are there some breeds of cats that are better suited to cohabitation?

Some breeds of cats are known for getting on well with other cats and pets. This does not guarantee that the first meeting will run smoothly, but increases the chances of living harmoniously with several other cats. These “sociable” cat breeds include:

  • Ragdoll: particularly calm, gentle and patient, this cat does not show any aggression. Another calm companion will suit them well.
  • Birman: calm, loving and easy to love with, they enjoy the company of other pets.
  • Bombay: sensitive, intelligent and loving, they usually get on well with other cats.
  • Abyssinian: gentle with all members of the family, also cohabits well with other cats.

For cat breeds that like peace and quiet, adopting a kitten is not the best idea. If it’s too boisterous, it’s likely to disturb your little feline, who’s used to a peaceful life at home.

Getting cats to live together – Tips

You can do a number of things before the cats are socialised to minimise any foreseeable problems. If possible, make sure the cats are a good match for each other!

  • Age range: The new arrival and the territory owner must be of similar ages. A well-settled senior cat may find a lively young animal a little too lively for them. In general, socialising a young animal with an experienced female is not very problematic.
  • Sex: it is almost impossible for two unneutered male cats to live together. For neutered cats of both sexes, socialisation is often not a problem, as long as the animals are compatible in terms of age and temperament.
  • Character: try to find out as much as possible about the nature of the potential newcomer before adopting them. Make sure that the two animals are “in tune” and that a mischievous cat with a bold character is given a playmate who is just as lively.

The next step is to ensure that the animals get used to each other in a controlled environment.

The following points may help with getting cats to live together:

  • Spatial separation: no matter how brave or friendly your existing cat is, don’t leave the two cats alone straight away. Prepare a room that will initially be reserved for the new housemate. This should contain everything that the cat will need during the first few days: bowl, water fountain, litter tray, scratch post, toys and a sleeping area. Keep the first cat away from this room for a few days in advance so that they don’t associate not being allowed in there with the arrival of the newcomer. If possible, ask an “accomplice” to bring the new cat into the house so you can distract your resident cat in the meantime.
  • Olfactory contact: get the animals ready to meet each other and arouse their interest in each other by swapping blankets or rubbing them with the same towel.
  • Protection zone: when the cat has acclimatised to their new environment, after a few hours, you can initiate the first contact, but it is essential to provide protection. Specialist retailers sell security mesh that can be inserted into the door frame. The cats can sniff each other out and see each other through the mesh, without fighting or the newcomer intruding on the territory of the existing cat. Continue to initiate contact through the grid for several days and resist the temptation to remove it, even if the cats seem to get on well together.
  • For the next step, make sure both cats are hungry and prepare a bowl of food that they particularly like for each of them. It will be easier if you ask someone to help you. Each person will then place a bowl in front of one of the cats, one in the newcomer’s room and the other on the other side of the door, but at a distance of 1-2 metres. Leave the door ajar. If the cats start to eat, everything is fine. Repeat this process for several days, gradually bringing the two bowls of food closer together. When the cats are eating peacefully face to face with little distance between them, the hardest part will be over.
  • Neutrality: do not intervene when the cats finally come into direct contact and are confronted by one another, even if they occasionally paw at each other. Each of them will eventually find their place at home. By trying to separate cats that fight a little at first, you risk being scratched or bitten. If the fight seems too intense, throw a cushion near the cats.
  • Fairness: give the resident cat no reason to feel jealous, and treat both cats with the same degree of care (treats, cuddles, games, etc.).
  • Suitable equipment: cats don’t like sharing so each one needs its own bowl. Two or three water fountains in different rooms will help them get on well with each other. One litter tray per cat, cleaned regularly, is recommended. If you have enough space, set up two cat trees, various high-level bunks, as well as cosy hideaways.

Coming back to our question “How long will it take for 2 cats to accept each other?”: for the first few days, you must absolutely separate the two cats. You can gradually extend contact across the mesh. Bear in mind, however, that it can take several weeks, or even months, for a harmonious relationship to develop between cats, depending on their character. If after this period of time, your two cats show a clear dislike towards each other, it might be worth considering another solution for them. Perhaps you have a relative that can take in the new arrival and offer them a home with no other cats. The less space your cats have, the greater the risk of conflict between them. By letting your little felines go out, you’re giving them the chance to get away for a while when they need to. Even if they haven’t become best friends, they’ll tolerate each other.
But maybe you’re lucky enough to have adopted a cat who quickly gets on well with your other little furball. In this case, you will see them cleaning each other, playing together if they are still young and even sleeping next to each other on the sofa.


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