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.


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