How to Introduce a Cat.
The Holidays are around the corner. Perhaps your youngster has been begging, “Mom can’t I have a kitten for Christmas?”.
You are wearing thin. If you already have one cat, is it that simple to add another kitten to your already hectic lives? Well yes and no.
Often we get questions regarding how to handle the predicament of
adding another feline (or canine) to the household. You must understand
that the cat who currently reigns feels very threatened by newcomers.
A cat who has her favorite chair, window ledge and scheduled pathway
to roam about the house is not likely to welcome a frisky stranger.
Mistakes are easily made.
What you should not do : Don”t immediately introduce these pets together by rubbing their noses
together or closing them together in a room. By all means do not scold
either pet for not meeting your expectations. This is a stressful event for them.
What you should do: Create a safe place for the new cat or kitten. A good option is a
back bedroom. In this room, arrange all the comforts of home: food,
water, litter pan and toys. For the first two weeks, play with your
new kitten in this room only.
In the meantime, the resident feline will know something is up. The
smell of the new kitten will be on your clothes and sounds of the
new kitten will be heard. The two felines can smell and investigate
each other under the door without scratching or biting. In the next two weeks you may allow the
new kitty out for short stretches
of time. You have to monitor these time periods. It is easy to imagine
how a cat fight could be dangerous and traumatic. This takes time,
but keep in mind you are in control of the adjustment period. In the fourth week you may allow
more extended periods of freedomfor the new kitten, but keep monitoring. Try to show equal
one on one time for each pet. It can be difficult to be impartial. If however,
one pet is more upset than the other it is acceptable to show more
Beginning week four you can start to feed both cats in the same feeding
area. Feed the cats at regular times so that they have a good appetite
and are more concerned about their food than the other cat. You are
trying to create an association in each cats mind: Every time I see
that other cat I get rewarded with food. Nothing bad happens!”
The food bowls should be as far apart as possible. Gradually move
the bowls closer together over a period of several days. Now you are
testing the waters. Go slowly. If any hissing or upset occurs you
will have to retrace your steps and put the bowls further apart again.
Also, find some special toys that both cats like. They will have these
toys only when they are together in the same room. A couple of strings
are great. Drag a string for each cat so they are independently playing
and again you are creating an association: Every time the other cat
is playing I get my special toy and special attention!”
Most cats will be over the hurdles in eight to 10 weeks. If they are
not pals after three months, they never will be. It may be that your
cats only tolerate each other, but you may have rushed the process.
Try backing up a few steps and going slower this time.
Young kittens are usually easier to mix. Their adjustment period may
only be a week. A dog entering into a cat household is somewhat similar.
Dogs and pups tend to be rambunctious. Most resident cats will hide
in the back room and the roles are reversed. This is OK.
A new kitten for the family is a wonderful experience . Make sure the
guidelines are understood by the household before the pet arrives,
and make the introduction a joy for all!