Contrary to what many believe, cats can be quite social animals. They do prefer to hunt alone and they like to be the boss of their territory but this doesn’t mean they don’t want company.
Thinking of adding a new cat or kitten to your home? Here are some tips on welcoming an additional friend without causing the fur to fly.
Before you jump in and pick out your new family member, consider what type of cat will be the best fit for your home.
If you have an older cat, it may be a good idea to find another senior puss to join your family. Another option is to bring home two kittens who can play (and annoy) each other while your older cat adjusts to the intrusion.
Some animal handlers recommend you try to match the personality of your new cat with your existing pet. If you adopt from a shelter, the carers there will be able to share insights on the behavioural qualities of each kitty.
Gently does it
When you have found the ideal cat and you are ready to bring it home, your goal is to keep the environment as calm as possible.
Set up a room where your new pet can explore and make itself at home away from its companion. Set up a bed, a food bowl and a scratching post. Keep this area secure — your newcomer may try to make a run for it back to its former base.
One way to make the transition easier is to leave the carrier you used to bring your cat home in the room for a few days until it feels comfortable in its new surroundings.
One big happy family
Once your new cat has made itself at home in one part of the house, it is time to make introductions.
Start with sound. Let both cats hear there is another cat around before they meet face to face. You could also let them see each other through a window or glass door, just don’t be surprised if there are some fierce hisses exchanged!
Some experts suggest switching the cats around after a couple of days. Doing so allows them to pick up on each other’s scents, and the new cat will have the chance to explore without being ambushed by the current ‘ruler’.
Another tip: play with your cat next to the door of the new cat’s private quarters so he or she can associate the scent of the new cat with play and fun.
The final step is borderless coexistence (and let’s face it, even humans aren’t the best at this all the time). There may be a few tackles and spats over the first week as your cats establish a ‘scratching order’.
What if your two cats never get along?
Cats are known for being territorial so the process of introducing a new pet can take a while but if you find things aren’t settling down after a couple of weeks there are a few tips to try.
A lot of tension between cats can come down to a lack of resources, so make sure you have multiple litter boxes, separate food bowls and ample food supplies. Also, share your attention equally between your pets to prevent one becoming jealous and lashing out. You may also need to keep one cat out of reach of the food while the other eats so it doesn’t have the opportunity to bully its less dominant pal.
Separate ‘quarters’ can also help reduce fighting between your cats. Give them their own space in different parts of the house. If your home is very small, a high up spot with a blanket or bed on a shelf for one of your cats could do the trick.
The truth about cats and dogs
If you are introducing a cat to your dog, the process will be somewhat different, however, you can still set up a safe room for your new cat.
Start by introducing the two between a closed door, the same as you would with two cats. Another clever way to introduce them to each other is to place kitty in the travel crate she arrived in and walk your pup around the box with a leash. This way they can both get used to each other’s scent.
From there, allow your new cat to explore your home while your pup is nearby on a leash. After a week or so, they should both be comfortable enough to live together, although your dog might have to endure a scratch in return for getting too close!
If you’re nervous about introducing a new cat to your home, have a chat with your vet. He or she will be able to share some tips on making the transition easier for all involved.
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