Cats have unique and independent personalities, leading to a popular misconception that they prefer to be alone. However, for some cats, it can be quite the opposite. They love to be social and have the company of other feline friends. With such a contrary attitude towards companionship, it can be hard to tell if and when cats are bonded. This guide will help you recognize when your cats have truly bonded.
How to Tell if Your Cats are Bonded
It’s true that some cats prefer to be solitary, but many felids live in groups. Picture a pride of lions or a colony of feral cats. They do this to share the load of hunting and provide each other with protection. While your housecats don’t require help in either of those areas, living closely with other cats does have its benefits. How can you tell if multiple cats have accepted each other and actually bonded? Look for any of these signs:
- Collective Grooming: What’s better than having a friend that can groom those hard-to-reach places? Cats that have bonded will spend inordinate amounts of time grooming themselves and each other. You may find them curled up cleaning each other’s ears or nibbling the itches on each other’s backs.
- Sleeping Peacefully: Cats that aren’t bonded won’t dare sleep near each other. Bonded cats will often curl up together to share warmth and comfort, whether in the same bed or sharing a sunbeam. This shows that they have put complete trust in their furry counterpart.
- Playful Pairing: Friendly kitties will PLAY together. While play and fighting can often look alike, you’ll be able to tell the difference by your cats’ body language. Cats that are playing are at ease; they may be rough and tumble, but each cat is enjoying it. Cats that are fighting will be tense, flatten their ears, and aggressively twitch their tail. There is often an aggressor initiating it instead of both cats being equally involved.
- Tail Touching: Think of it like holding hands. Bonded cats may touch or even intertwine their tails when sitting or standing next to each other.
- Spread Their Scent: All cats have scent glands in their cheeks, paws, and other areas of their body. They will rub these parts on things they consider theirs. If your cats are rubbing their cheeks on each other, it’s like giving their stamp of approval. This goes for people as well; a cheek rub is a sure sign that your cat likes you.
You won’t find bonded cats chasing each other away from their resources. They also won’t take playtime too far to the point that they are hissing or growling at each other. Bonded cats also won’t ignore each other. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be the occasional snag between friendly kitties, just that the majority of the time, there is peace and happiness.
How to Introduce Cats to Each Other
Not just any pair or group of cats are going to bond. Sometimes it will take a lot of effort to forge a friendship. With this in mind, be sure not to force anything between your cats and follow these tips:
If you’re dealing with kittens, chances are your work is already done for you. Most kittens will take to each other very quickly, especially if they’re from the same litter.
Bonding An Adult Cat to a Kitten
Now, if you have an older cat and are trying to give them a younger friend, you may have more trouble. Depending on your older cat’s personality, you may have to try some different methods.
Some older cats will take a kitten under their wing like an older sibling accepting a younger protégé. Others will be offended that you’re trying to replace them. If that’s the case, you may have to give the older cat some space.
Kittens are rambunctious and will try to get the other cat to play. Make sure your older cat has a safe place where only they can go should they feel the need to escape. Only allow supervised interactions until you’re sure they can get along and separate them if either gets too grumpy.
Bonding Adult Cats
When introducing two adult cats, you’ll want to start slowly, especially if you have a cat that’s been with you a while and is used to being solitary.
- Start by keeping them in separate rooms. They should hear and smell each other but not see or touch. Reward each kitty every time they smell around without getting upset. Give this a few days and if everyone is comfortable, move on.
- From here, allow them to see each other but not get to each other. You can do this with baby gates or a screen door. Supervise their interactions and reward good behaviors. If one or both cats get upset, separate them and try again later. Continue until everyone is comfortable.
- Remove all barriers and let the cats touch each other. Only do this if you can supervise. Give rewards when your cats are friendly, and be sure to separate them if they get angry. Be very careful when dealing with an agitated cat. They may lash out at you instead if you try to move them. Also, if your cats start to fight, don’t grab for them. Instead, use a gate, piece of cardboard, or another sturdy divider to put in between them, so you don’t get scratched or bitten.
Even though some cats are very accepting, and you may not need to go through all of these steps, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you have a particularly friendly cat and are introducing another friendly cat, you may start at the step where they can see each other and gauge their reactions. If they don’t go for it, you can always move back a step and try again.
Some cats may never bond, and that’s okay. Just be sure to give them both their own safe spaces, food, water, and even litter boxes. Many cats may choose to coexist by ignoring each other rather than bonding.
Cat parents of multi-cat households always dream of friendship and harmony between their feline friends. Hopefully, after reading this, you will be able to determine if your feline friends are friends themselves and what you can do to set up successful introductions.
Dr. Chyrle Bonk has been practicing veterinary medicine since 2010. She lives in Idaho with her husband and two sons, where they spend their free time exploring the great outdoors that is right in their backyard.