Bringing a Second Cat Home

Making Room for More: A Guide to Adopting a Second Pet Cat

Introducing a new furry friend to your home can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it is crucial to prepare and anticipate any potential challenges. In this article, Sihan Ng shares her firsthand account of adopting a second pet cat and the steps she took to ensure a smooth integration with her existing feline companion.

Almost two years of being a beloved member of our family, we all agreed that it was time for my first cat Fungus to have a companion. I adopted Fungus at the peak of the pandemic when we were all working from home, and he had gotten accustomed to our presence. As the pandemic restrictions eased, we found ourselves returning to our offices more regularly, leaving Fungus alone more frequently. It was heart-wrenching to hear him mew whenever we left the house.

Although most cats are typically solitary animals who guard their territory and prefer their privacy, it was clear that Fungus craved companionship. He exhibited friendly behaviour with dogs while we were out on walks, and was never shy about wandering into his feline friends’ homes whenever we went to visit them. Perhaps his time living in the SPCA shelter had made him grow accustomed to having company?

Fungus going on walks at Jurong Lake Gardens with his canine friends, Heihei and San

If you’re considering adopting a second cat, it’s important to consider the following factors:

  • Your resident cat’s personality: Is your cat generally sociable and friendly towards other pets? Will a new cat bring undue stress?
  • Your resident cat’s health: Does your cat have any pre-existing health conditions such as FIV/FeLV that could spread to another cat?
  • Your financial situation: Can you afford the expenses that come with caring for an additional cat?
  • Your home’s space and resources: Do you have enough room to accommodate another cat, including providing for their litter box, food, bed, and toys?

Once you’ve weighed the above factors and determined that you’re prepared to welcome a second feline companion into your home, the next step is to consider the personality traits that will best complement your resident cat. In my situation, I developed a list of characteristics that were important for me in a second cat:

Checklist of things I’d prefer regarding my second cat:

[ ] Preferred age: 1-2 years old (to match Fungus’s 3yo energy)
(There is some research that younger cats/kittens may have a higher chance of being accepted by your resident cat.)
[ ] Loves to play! (Fungus never tires from playing, and we want both cats to be playmates!)
[ ] Docile and non-territorial personality (to avoid any conflict between both cats)
[ ] Community cat, no preferred colours/patterns

Creating a checklist of your desired cat characteristics will simplify your search for the perfect addition to your family at the shelter. This list will also help the shelter staff guide you towards cats that meet your specific needs. Thanks to my checklist, I was recommended two gorgeous cats that met all my criteria!

Solar, 2 years old
Gyoza, 7 months old

While I preferred that Solar was slightly older, Gyoza was a lot more docile and shy, which I felt would better complement Fungus’s personality. My father’s initial encounter with Solar involved her scaling the walls of the cattery, which led to some concerns if she would be suited for our home. We ultimately decided to adopt Gyoza and renamed him Ginkgo. After signing the adoption papers, Ginkgo officially became the newest addition to our family and our second forever cat!

The most challenging aspect of the process is introducing your second cat into your home. However, with proper preparation, you can ensure a smooth integration. Here are a few essential steps to consider beforehand:

  • Ensure that you have at least one month for the introduction process.
  • Set aside a spare room where your new cat can be confined initially.
  • Provide boxes or pet beds for your new cat to hide in if needed.
  • Have an extra litter box, food/water bowl, and blanket ready.
  • Install tall baby gates, pet gates, or a sturdy net to separate the cats.
  • Use a large pet playpen to allow controlled interactions between the cats.
  • Offer plenty of treats to encourage positive interactions.


Once your new cat arrives, begin by letting him/her explore the spare room with the door closed. It’s best to keep this room out of bounds from your resident cat, for at least a week. Ensure that all necessary items, such as litter boxes, food, water, and bed, are readily available. If your cat is shy or timid, it is recommended to provide covered beds or boxes for them to hide in as needed.

Ginkgo snuggling in his new bed that I bought just for him
Fungus sensing Ginkgo from outside the room

If your resident cat is not as perceptive, it may be best to make him/her aware of the new cat by giving him/her a sniff or a brief glimpse. Once your resident cat is aware of the new cat, be prepared for some meowing, yowling, and even hissing. This is a normal reaction and should decrease over time as the cats get used to each other. Cats may be territorial by essence, but some cats may be socialised through assimilation.

With the right approach, your cats can learn to tolerate and even get along with each other quickly. However, if the introduction process is rushed and a negative first impression is made, it may be difficult to fix. Therefore, it’s important to be patient and take the time needed to ensure a successful integration.

During the first week of the introduction process, it’s crucial to spend plenty of time with both cats. This includes feeding both cats at the door simultaneously, playing games like teasing them with the same toy under the door, and occasionally exchanging any blankets or pillows they’re using. This helps the cats associate each other with positive experiences. It’s also important to note that your resident cat may show signs of jealousy during this time, so it’s essential to give him/her extra love and attention.


Although it may seem intimidating, it is now time to remove the door and replace it with a tall pet gate (make sure it is sturdy and high enough so that the cats cannot jump over it). Even though this may result in another round of meowing, yowling, and hissing, it’s expected and necessary for the next step.

Allowing your cats to see each other removes anonymity, and gives them an idea of who they are “dealing” with, which can reduce fear and potential aggression. It’s important to note that your cats may even start playfully attacking each other through the gate, so it’s essential to use a sturdy gate.

We started with a DIY mesh net, and we realized it wasn’t sturdy enough when Fungus kept ramming into it.
We switched the gates to a metal one and they worked perfectly!

Throughout the second and third weeks, continue with the controlled encounters between the cats, with the gate between them. Make sure to stage feeding times, playtime, and any other interactions with both cats in close proximity to each other. The distance between them should be gradually reduced as they become more comfortable. There is no one right answer for how close they should be, so adjust it based on their comfort level.

As you near the end of the third week, the cats should be more relaxed around each other during meal times. This is a good time to start exchanging rooms for brief periods of 15-20 minutes. Allow your new cat to explore the rest of the house while your resident cat smells traces of your new cat in the closed room. Start with 2-3 sessions per week.


Now it is time to open the gates, but only for short periods of time. It can be tempting to become nervous and anxious, but try to remain calm because your cats may pick up on your energy. Allow your two cats to interact with each other for 5-10 minutes at a time.

Face-to-face interactions

Having a human between the two cats as a barrier is an essential safety measure during initial interactions. It is also crucial to provide each cat with their own designated safe space, such as a separate room or hiding spot, where they can retreat to if they feel overwhelmed or threatened.

Things you want from the interaction:

[ ] Sniffing one another
[ ] Calm energy
[ ] Both cats in lying positions
[ ] Playing without aggression

It is important to end the interaction within 10 minutes, regardless of how well it went, to prevent over-stressing the cats. You can repeat the interaction once every two days, or as needed based on the situation.

Should any of the below happen:

[ ] Yowling/Hissing
[ ] Aggresion (e.g. teeth barring, puffed tail, flattened ears, claws out)

Separate the cats immediately by removing the aggressor out of the area. If a fight breaks out, repeat the whole process of behind-the-gate interactions for another 1-2 days before attempting another supervised interaction.

*Some degree of roughhousing and tussling is normal as the cats establish dominance. However, if the fighting becomes aggressive and there are signs of potential harm or injury, it’s essential to immediately separate the cats by removing the aggressor from the area.

*It is important not to punish the aggressor in any way as they may start associating the other cat with the punishment. Simply removing them from the room is sufficient.

Fungus and Ginkgo after multiple supervised interactions and I felt confident enough to not sit in between them.

Playpen interactions
To gradually introduce your new cat to the rest of the house, consider placing him/her in an enclosed playpen for up to 30 minutes to an hour each day. This will allow your resident cat to get used to the presence of the new cat in a more open space. It is best to choose a larger playpen to provide more room for your cat to play and relax, as well as to accommodate a litter box, bed, and food and water bowls. Additionally, having a larger space allows you to sit with your cat and bond with them during playtime.

Fungus and Ginkgo enjoying a meal together in the living room
Me sitting in the playpen with Ginkgo while they play with one another through the barrier
Fungus playing with Ginkgo’s tail through the gated DIY playpen

During the fourth and fifth weeks, it is important to continue monitoring and facilitating interactions between your cats. However, it’s essential to remember that there are no hard and fast rules for this process, and you should pace the interactions based on how well your cats are doing with one another.


Once you feel comfortable with your cats being in each other’s company, gradually increase their face-to-face interactions until you can remove all barriers and gates. Congratulations, your cats are now tolerant of each other! However, it’s important to remember that every cat and their relationship is unique – some may become fast friends, while others may always maintain some level of wariness. As a responsible owner, it’s important to provide safe spaces in your multi-cat household to ensure that each cat has a comfortable area to retreat to when they need their own personal space.

*Please note that the information provided is intended as a general guide for first-time cat owners who are bringing a second cat home. Every cat is unique, and the timeline and outcome of introducing two cats to each other may vary based on their individual personalities and circumstances. It is important to adjust the process based on the comfort level of both cats and humans involved and seek professional advice where required.