TO INTRODUCE A NEW CAT TO YOUR EXISTING CAT
With the number of vacancies at local cat shelters becoming rare and
cat populations steadily increasing, shelters, humane societies and pet
stores are looking more and more to current cat owners to make their
home a multicat residence.
Luckily for cat lovers, multiple cats are easier to care for (not to
mention cheaper) than say, their canine counterparts. However, it could
be overwhelming for even the biggest cat lover to learn how to care for
more than one kitty, and especially difficult to overcome the unexpected
symptoms of a multicat home. Some of the issues that arise can be so
disheartening that the new cats are promptly returned to the shelter.
But not to fear! Maintaining a multicat home can be a cinch with a patient
and understanding owner. Learning a few tricks to help your old cat learn
to accept the new cat, and knowing what to expect and tackle within your
home can take the stress down a few levels for you and your kitty cohorts.
Introducing new cats:
Cats are very solitary animals, and unless they are raised with another
feline, they will probably look at an addition to the household as an
intrusion on their territory. The introduction of one or more cats to
your old cat is perhaps the most important step in turning your home
into a multicat residence.
Step One: Before bringing home a new feline friend, prepare an area in
which to isolate the new cat. This area should be somewhere your old
cat does not frequent and will not miss much once the new cat is here
and the two are isolated from one another. Make sure to include bedding,
a new litter box, food and water dishes, and a toy.
Step Two: Once you bring home the new cat, take him to the isolation
area immediately without any interaction with the new cat. Let the new
cat explore the area alone while you take the carrier/box out to your
old cat and let him take in the scent.
Not making a big deal of any reactions of your old cat is key. Let him
react naturally, even if those reactions are negative. You must understand
that your home is his territory and he is protective of it and you. Reinforcing
your love for him is also important. Let him know he is still your kitty.
Step Three: While your old cat is getting adjusted to the scent of a
new cat, spend some alone time in the isolation area with new kitty.
Allow him to come out and approach you when he wants. If you are already
a cat owner, you know almost everything needs to be on their terms. Keep
the cats separated for a few days until any aggressive behavior on both
sides ceases to exist.
Step Four: Once this happens, it is time to let them see one another
but not physically interact. By cracking a door open or putting up barriers
such as a baby gate, this allows them to react to one another without
causing physical harm. Do not try to correct any hissing, batting or
any other aggressive behavior. It is normal and will subside once they
get used to one another. Once this happens, then you may allow them to
roam together freely. If the cats begin to fight, do something to startle
them and break it up, such as throwing a bit of water, clapping your
hands or making loud noises. Do not try to physically separate them yourself
during a fight!
Step Five: Remember that this aggressive behavior is natural. Allow them
to keep as much independence as possible by keeping separate litter boxes
and food bowls. The most vital thing to remember during this process
is that it will not happen overnight. According to the ASPCA, the introduction
process can take anywhere from six to 12 weeks.
Issues that may arise within a multicat home:
Hopefully if you take the proper steps in introducing your new kitties
to one another, they will be properly acclimated and any negative behavior
that occurs afterward will be minor hissing and a few paws batting. Unfortunately,
however, cats use urine to mark their territories and if they have not
had a proper amount of time to get used to one another or the introduction
was rushed, they may feel the need to mark their territories.
If the introduction was carried out properly and the cats are still urinating
outside the litter box, it may be a series of simple steps that will
eliminate this behavior.
Step One: Cats do not like to share anything and it is bad enough that
they have to share you. Make things simpler for them by providing them
with their own litter boxes. If you can separate the litter boxes, even
better; but if not, it will suffice just to provide a litter box for
each cat within your home.
Step Two: The benefit of owning cats is that they fit right in with apartment
living, but space may be limited. If at all possible, making sure the
litter box is a safe, private place for them may make all the difference.
If you cannot separate the litter boxes, try and provide them with covered
litter boxes. This will ensure minimum fighting if they happen to be
using the boxes at the same time. The best solution, however, is to provide
the cats with separate areas for their litter boxes.
Hugs and kisses all around:
Cats depend on their owners to make sure all their needs are met. Bringing
a new cat home will certainly make you happy, but your existing feline
friend may feel abandoned or neglected. It is important to give him plenty
of attention and reinforce your love for him. With all the hissing and
minor cat fights, many people think the idea of a multicat home is an
impossibility and will return the cat to the shelter, leaving the cat
confused and possibly traumatized, especially if you have had him for
a long enough time where he has adjusted to you.
Give yourself the right information and take the steps to make sure everyone
in your home is happy. You never know, your kitties may seem like sworn
enemies today, but a few months down the road, they might be cuddle buddies.