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by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS

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Feline Body Language

Cats typically adapt better than dogs do to being an "only pet"! 

 

 

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Introducing a New Cat to One or More Household Cats


The Possibilities


Ever hear of two's company, three's a crowd? This is what  felines might say when their pet parents bring home a new kitten or cat.
Although not impossible, bringing older cats together, particularly when one has been a resident cat for an extended period of time, is slightly more difficult. One or both cats may hiss and provoke fighting. One or both may begin defecating and/or urinating out of the litter box. Sometimes a cat with a happy, outgoing personality becomes shy or aggressive.

 

However, felines are social creatures and may benefit from being raised with a littermate or being raised by Mom Cat.

 

The Problems

Introducing a new cat to an established household cat or cats is completely different! Cats bond to and claim territory. After adopting a household and its members into their families, cats are not especially open minded when it comes to expanding the family. It is easier to introduce a little kitten than to introduce a cat to an established cat in the household.

 

Think about it from the cat's point of view. How would you feel if a roommate brought home someone new to live under your roof sight unseen? Cat do not embrace change but for that matter neither do people!

 

What to do

The first step you need to take, if you are introducing a new cat, is to add more resources for the existing cat or cats. For example, you need to add litter boxes, food dishes, climbing trees, cat beds, scratching posts and toys.

 

Felines don't always share, well and you don't want your felines fighting over resources.

 

The rule of thumb for multiple cat households is to set up one more litter box than number of  cats and scoop all litter boxes daily as a minimum - twice daily even better to avoid cats eliminating outside of the litter boxes.

 

How to do it

 

First, do not allow the new cat free run of your house. Instead, for at least one week, put the cat in small room or bathroom with his own food, water, litter box, climbing and scratching post with a resting area high if possible or a cat bed as far away from the litter and near the food. 

 

Second, feed other cats and place cat treats and toys on the opposite side of the door to give a first good impression of what the new cat means to them. 

 

Third. gradually increase the introduction by exchanging toys. Also, rub a dry washcloth on each cat's mouth and face and then leave the new cat's washcloth outside of the new cat's room and the existing cat's washcloth inside the new cat's room. This is called a scent exchange. Cats release natural pheromones around their mouths and cheeks.

 

Fourth, on week two, begin to allow the new cat out to explore the house while your cat is confined behind a closed door. When you do open the small room door, make it a positive time of play, affection for all and treats. SUPERVISE all activity then put the new cat back in the small room.

 

Finally, if there is no sign of stress or tension with steps one to four above, begin giving the new cat more freedom, perhaps one room at a time each week so allow the existing cats to sort out their territory issues. Move the new cat and resources into the room the cat's litter box will remain in to establish a toileting location

 

Allow the household cat out first to eat and explore around the new cat's kennel. Reward acceptable behavior with food treats.  If hissing occurs go back to feeding them both in their kennels. 


Tolerance increases with time. Reduce your attention to both cats by only playing or giving treats when they show interest in each other. Play with them at the same time but use different toys. Stop play and separate on a positive note. Gradually increase their time together with supervision. When you have gone a few weeks with no negative interactions, you are ready to give them free roam together.  It is a good idea to separate them when you will be gone if you have any doubts they will get along.

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