Monday, July 26, 2010

Cat-to-Cat Introductions

Whisker Tip of the Week!

Many of us feel that cats are like chips, you just can't have one. The way we introduce a new feline into our homes with resident cats can make or break a relationship. Although most cats get along well with members of their own species, there are things that you can do to help ensure a successful introduction.

#1 New Cat gets Own Space

We recommend that you set up a separate, enclosed space for your new cat or kitten with everything that she needs inside, including: litterbox, scratching post, food and water dishes, toys and a comfy bed. Bring your new cat (ideally in the carrier) into her new room; close the door, and then open the door to the cat's carrier. She may not come out initially, but that's OK. Over the next few days, visit with your new cat often, and make sure that she is eating and drinking normally. If she's chosen to hide initially, know that this is how cats deal with stress in a new environment. The best thing to do is let them be, but you can try to entice her out with some treats or even a toy. If she comes out on her own, you've done a great job at establishing trust. If you reach into her hiding space and pull her out, you've just done a great job at exasperating her fears. A cat will come out of hiding when they are ready, which is why it's important to monitor food, water and litterbox usage.

During this time, your resident cat will surely know that another cat is in the house. They will be able to smell the new cat under the doorway. It's important for your resident cat to know that you're not replacing her. If possible, spend even more time with your resident cat during the introductory period so they begin to view this odd smelling thing as something positive.

#2 Introduce the Two Cats S-L-O-W-L-Y

Once your new cat is ready to meet their new cat brother or sister, open the door from the new cat's safe room, and allow her to leave on her own accord (or your resident cat to come in to investigate.) There may be some initial hissing or growling, which is common as long as it doesn't escalate. After a few minutes of quiet introductions, separate the cats again; placing the new cat back in her "safe room" without the resident cat. Repeat this process over the next few days or weeks, until you are confident that an enduring friendship has been made. It is recommended that you supervise interactions during the introductory period. Whenever you aren't around, keep your new cat and resident cats separate for everyone's safety until you feel comfortable leaving the cats together.

No Kitten Planting

I promise you that we are not planting kittens at The Sonoma Humane Society. Although that's what it seems like every year when we are in the midst of "kitten season" and the number of cats and kittens just keep growing. Believe it or not, there is a cycle in the year usually between May and December where kittens are bountiful in shelters everywhere. This is mostly because the breeding cycles of cats tend to kick-start as soon as the weather begins to warm, and then diminishes once the weather becomes cold again.

This has been a particularly difficult year for shelters all over the Bay Area. It seems that large scale spay/neuter efforts are paying off and thankfully we're not seeing an increase in the number of underage kittens being surrendered to our shelter. However, the Sonoma Humane Society is experiencing a dramatic decrease in the number of cat adoptions as compared to July of last year; the causes of which have yet to be determined. In an effort to find as many homes for cats as possible, and to ensure room for others awaiting space in our shelter, the Sonoma Humane Society has reduced our adoption fee for cats and kittens to just $40 (that's over $100 in savings). All of our cats and kittens have been sterilized, vaccinated and micro-chipped.

10th Annual P.A.W.W.
This Saturday, July 31st from 11-4 PM the Sonoma Humane Society will be participating with local area shelters in the 10th Annual Pet Adoption and Wellness Weekend at the Airport Cinemas in Santa Rosa. If you're considering adopting a cat (or dog) into your family this is the purrfect weekend! Don't miss our double feature. On Friday from 6-8 pm at the Raven Theatre in Healdsburg, Mutt Lynch Winery kicks off the weekend by hosting a screening of the movie "Remembering Playland", complete with a Q&A with the films' Director, Tom Wyrch. Tickets are available for purchase at any of the Santa Rosa Entertainment Cinemas for $25, which includes wine and food tastings and free kisses & tail wags from adoptable dogs. All proceeds benefit local animal shelters. I hope to see you this weekend.


Kiska Icard, Executive Director
Sonoma Humane Society