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Thursday, 01 March 2012 09:33

Your Cat is getting a new friend?


 


 How to Ensure a SMOOTH Introduction!

 

 Susan was heartbroken. At first, getting the little kitten to keep her other cat, Whiskers, company had seemed like such a good idea, but it obviously wasn’t going to work out. From the first moment Susan had brought Tibs into the house and shown him to Whiskers, Whiskers behavior had been just awful. He had hissed and growled at the little newcomer and scratched Susan. Even worse, although Whiskers had been housetrained for years, Susan found a puddle on her bed that Whiskers had left, and then Whiskers, a neutered male, started spraying in the house. Susan sadly decided Tibs would have to go back to the shelter. 

into the house and shown him to Whiskers, Whiskers behavior had been just awful. He had hissed and growled at the little newcomer and scratched Susan. Even worse, although Whiskers had been housetrained for years, Susan found a puddle on her bed that Whiskers had left, and then Whiskers, a neutered male, started spraying in the house. Susan sadly decided Tibs would have to go back to the shelter. 

Pet owners may find this story all too familiar. Most of us who love animals like to have more than one around—for some, the more the merrier. But it can be difficult to introduce a new pet into a household where there are already cats or dogs. Fights, behavior changes, and housetraining mistakes are all common consequences of upsetting the status quo. Too often, pets adopted from shelters as “company” for resident pets find themselves back at the shelter because “they just didn’t get along.” In some cases, the second pet is adopted to help “cure” the resident pet of bad behavior. When the effort fails, both animals find themselves without a home.

When a new pet is introduced to the household, a period of stress and adjustment is inevitable for both humans and animals—but there are ways to help make the transition a little easier on everyone. Your own behavior for the first few weeks will influence how the resident regards the interloper, whether as friend or foe.


 

Consider These Things

• Cats may play together and amuse themselves while left alone for long periods. But getting a second cat as company for the first does not mean that the animals will require less time from people. All companion animals need to develop and enjoy strong bonds with people, so another animal actually means a larger time commitment from the owner.

• Someone considering bringing home another pet should also be aware of the potential problems that may develop. The introduction of a new animal is always going to be stressful for a resident pet, and stress has a way of finding an outlet (cats may become un-housetrained, and, in some cases, direct aggression towards their owners, as well as towards the newcomer.)

• Cats may also fight— even cats that have been best buddies for years, when a new cat is added. They also become more susceptible to illness and disease when under stress.

• Since introducing a new animal is stressful to the cat residents, it makes sense not to do it at a time when they are already under stress—when you have just moved to a new house or apartment, or when recovering from an illness or injury. Cats are very routine-oriented; they like things done in the same way, at the same time, every day. Any disruption in their routine is stressful, so it’s wise not to add the stress of a new animal at the same time a cat may be feeling stressed from another cause.

• Although you’ve arrived at the decision to bring home another pet, your first responsibility is to the ones you already own. You must protect their health. Make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date; take them to the veterinarian for boosters, if necessary. The newcomer must have all his shots, be dewormed, de-fleaed, if necessary, and kept in quarantine, either at the veterinarian’s, a foster home, or in a spare bedroom or bathroom in your house, for two weeks, which should be enough time for any infectious diseases to appear.


Bringing in the New Cat

Since “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression,” how you stage the initial introduction is important. Cats are very territorial and will resent the presence of an intruder, so the trick to cat introductions is to give them the opportunity to become familiar with each other and each other’s scents without giving them a chance to slug it out.

• Have a stranger bring in the “new cat” — while you and your cat look on in disgust . . . a way of saying, “this wasn’t my idea, you’re my number one cat”.

• Leave the “new cat” in the carrier in the middle of the living room while you and the “stranger” chat — “old cat” circles and investigates the heathen barbarian invader . . .

• Move “new cat” into a bedroom or a bathroom with litter, food and water and close the door — both cats know there’s something going on behind the door and can start getting used to the idea, slowly, without fur flying and vet bills.

• Visit “new cat” frequently but discretely over the next two weeks. He’s very upset about this situation. Clean your hands, lap, etc. thoroughly before coming out to greet a very suspicious “old cat”. Consider wearing an old bathrobe when in the “new” cat’s bedroom — it’s easier to take off the robe covered with “new” cat’s smells, than to descent your clothes. As time goes by, cut down on the cleanup so your “old cat” smells more and more of the “new cat” on you.

• Spay or Neuter both “old” and “new” cats, this will reduce the territorial aggression. But be aware that it may take a month for the raging hormones to work their way out of the cat’s system.

• Dote on “old cat” — he needs to know he’s not losing his primary status with you.

• Feed the present cat(s) and the newcomer near either side of the door to this room. Don’t put the food so close to the door that the cats are too upset by each other to eat. This will help start things out right by associating something enjoyable (eating) with each other’s presence. Gradually move the dishes closer to the door until the cats can eat calmly directly on either side. Next, use two door stops to prop open the door just enough to allow the cats to see each other, and repeat the whole process.

• Switch sleeping blankets between the new cat and resident cats so they have a chance to become accustomed to each other’s scent. Also put the scented blankets underneath the food dishes.

• Once the new cat is using its box and eating regularly while confined, let it have free time in the house while confining the other cats. This switch provides another way for the cats to experience each other’s scent without a face to face meeting. It also allows the newcomer to become familiar with its new surroundings without being frightened by other animals.

• After the hissing and spitting by the closed door subsides, leave the bedroom door ajar (use a door wedge to limit the opening) — both cats look at each other, each from within their territories. Don’t rush it.

• Consider placing a cat carrier, with “new” cat’s bedding in it, in the living room or elsewhere to provide a safe and familiar hiding hole for “new” cat.


Time for the Face-to-Face

• Feed both cats before the introduction — they’ll be less territorial on a full belly.

• Hissing and spitting is NORMAL. Don’t panic over claw-fights – the serious injury comes from biting and rear claw kicking.

• Don’t expect the “old cat” to share his litter box and food bowl. Show “new cat” the litter box several times in the first few days. If “new cat” misses the litter box, “old cat” will fell obliged to “mark over” the spot where the barbarian marked in “old” cat’s territory.

• Avoid any interactions between the cats which result in either fearful or aggressive behavior. If these responses are allowed to become habit, they can be difficult to change. It’s better to introduce the animals to each other so gradually that neither cat becomes afraid or aggressive. You can expect mild forms of these behaviors, but don’t give them the opportunity to intensify. If either cat becomes fearful or aggressive, separate them, and continue the introduction process in a series of gradual steps, as outlined above.

• You’ll need to add another litter box and scoop and clean all the boxes more frequently. Make sure that none of the cats is being “ambushed” by another while trying to use the box. Expect hissing, spitting and growling. If a fight breaks out, do not interfere directly. Instead throw a blanket over each cat, wrapping the blanket around the cat before picking him up.

• After the dust starts to settle, play with both cats using a string pull toy or feather flyer type toy. Start with the cats at opposite corners and let them take turns chasing the toy. Each cat will smell the other on the toy, and associate it with “fun”.

• Separate the cats until they have calmed down. It may be best to leave the cats separated when you are not home until you are sure they are getting along well.


Some Rules of Thumb:

First, select a companion that will match the cat’s personalities and needs. In the final analysis, the personality of the cats is a more significant factor than age, sex, breed, etc.

• Male cats tend to be more affectionate and accepting.
• A cat of one sex tends to accept a cat of a different sex more easily.
• A kitten needs an energetic companion now, but may grow up to be a couch potato.
• You only have one lap, so you should avoid having two “lap cats” competing for it. (your spouse, roommate, etc. can provide

 

How it Might Go

Susan was heartbroken. At first, getting the little kitten to keep her other cat, Whiskers, company had seemed like such a good idea, but it obviously wasn’t going to work out. From the first moment Susan had brought Tibs into the house and shown him to Whiskers, Whiskers behavior had been just awful. He had hissed and growled at the little newcomer and scratched Susan. Even worse, although Whiskers had been housetrained for years, Susan found a puddle on her bed that Whiskers had left, and then Whiskers, a neutered male, started spraying in the house. Susan sadly decided Tibs would have to go back to the shelter. 

Pet owners may find this story all too familiar. Most of us who love animals like to have more than one around—for some, the more the merrier. But it can be difficult to introduce a new pet into a household where there are already cats or dogs. Fights, behavior changes, and housetraining mistakes are all common consequences of upsetting the status quo. Too often, pets adopted from shelters as “company” for resident pets find themselves back at the shelter because “they just didn’t get along.” In some cases, the second pet is adopted to help “cure” the resident pet of bad behavior. When the effort fails, both animals find themselves without a home.

When a new pet is introduced to the household, a period of stress and adjustment is inevitable for both humans and animals—but there are ways to help make the transition a little easier on everyone. Your own behavior for the first few weeks will influence how the resident regards the interloper, whether as friend or foe.


 

Consider These Things

• Cats may play together and amuse themselves while left alone for long periods. But getting a second cat as company for the first does not mean that the animals will require less time from people. All companion animals need to develop and enjoy strong bonds with people, so another animal actually means a larger time commitment from the owner.

• Someone considering bringing home another pet should also be aware of the potential problems that may develop. The introduction of a new animal is always going to be stressful for a resident pet, and stress has a way of finding an outlet (cats may become un-housetrained, and, in some cases, direct aggression towards their owners, as well as towards the newcomer.)

• Cats may also fight— even cats that have been best buddies for years, when a new cat is added. They also become more susceptible to illness and disease when under stress.

• Since introducing a new animal is stressful to the cat residents, it makes sense not to do it at a time when they are already under stress—when you have just moved to a new house or apartment, or when recovering from an illness or injury. Cats are very routine-oriented; they like things done in the same way, at the same time, every day. Any disruption in their routine is stressful, so it’s wise not to add the stress of a new animal at the same time a cat may be feeling stressed from another cause.

• Although you’ve arrived at the decision to bring home another pet, your first responsibility is to the ones you already own. You must protect their health. Make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date; take them to the veterinarian for boosters, if necessary. The newcomer must have all his shots, be dewormed, de-fleaed, if necessary, and kept in quarantine, either at the veterinarian’s, a foster home, or in a spare bedroom or bathroom in your house, for two weeks, which should be enough time for any infectious diseases to appear.


Bringing in the New Cat

Since “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression,” how you stage the initial introduction is important. Cats are very territorial and will resent the presence of an intruder, so the trick to cat introductions is to give them the opportunity to become familiar with each other and each other’s scents without giving them a chance to slug it out.

• Have a stranger bring in the “new cat” — while you and your cat look on in disgust . . . a way of saying, “this wasn’t my idea, you’re my number one cat”.

• Leave the “new cat” in the carrier in the middle of the living room while you and the “stranger” chat — “old cat” circles and investigates the heathen barbarian invader . . .

• Move “new cat” into a bedroom or a bathroom with litter, food and water and close the door — both cats know there’s something going on behind the door and can start getting used to the idea, slowly, without fur flying and vet bills.

• Visit “new cat” frequently but discretely over the next two weeks. He’s very upset about this situation. Clean your hands, lap, etc. thoroughly before coming out to greet a very suspicious “old cat”. Consider wearing an old bathrobe when in the “new” cat’s bedroom — it’s easier to take off the robe covered with “new” cat’s smells, than to descent your clothes. As time goes by, cut down on the cleanup so your “old cat” smells more and more of the “new cat” on you.

• Spay or Neuter both “old” and “new” cats, this will reduce the territorial aggression. But be aware that it may take a month for the raging hormones to work their way out of the cat’s system.

• Dote on “old cat” — he needs to know he’s not losing his primary status with you.

• Feed the present cat(s) and the newcomer near either side of the door to this room. Don’t put the food so close to the door that the cats are too upset by each other to eat. This will help start things out right by associating something enjoyable (eating) with each other’s presence. Gradually move the dishes closer to the door until the cats can eat calmly directly on either side. Next, use two door stops to prop open the door just enough to allow the cats to see each other, and repeat the whole process.

• Switch sleeping blankets between the new cat and resident cats so they have a chance to become accustomed to each other’s scent. Also put the scented blankets underneath the food dishes.

• Once the new cat is using its box and eating regularly while confined, let it have free time in the house while confining the other cats. This switch provides another way for the cats to experience each other’s scent without a face to face meeting. It also allows the newcomer to become familiar with its new surroundings without being frightened by other animals.

• After the hissing and spitting by the closed door subsides, leave the bedroom door ajar (use a door wedge to limit the opening) — both cats look at each other, each from within their territories. Don’t rush it.

• Consider placing a cat carrier, with “new” cat’s bedding in it, in the living room or elsewhere to provide a safe and familiar hiding hole for “new” cat.


Time for the Face-to-Face

• Feed both cats before the introduction — they’ll be less territorial on a full belly.

• Hissing and spitting is NORMAL. Don’t panic over claw-fights – the serious injury comes from biting and rear claw kicking.

• Don’t expect the “old cat” to share his litter box and food bowl. Show “new cat” the litter box several times in the first few days. If “new cat” misses the litter box, “old cat” will fell obliged to “mark over” the spot where the barbarian marked in “old” cat’s territory.

• Avoid any interactions between the cats which result in either fearful or aggressive behavior. If these responses are allowed to become habit, they can be difficult to change. It’s better to introduce the animals to each other so gradually that neither cat becomes afraid or aggressive. You can expect mild forms of these behaviors, but don’t give them the opportunity to intensify. If either cat becomes fearful or aggressive, separate them, and continue the introduction process in a series of gradual steps, as outlined above.

• You’ll need to add another litter box and scoop and clean all the boxes more frequently. Make sure that none of the cats is being “ambushed” by another while trying to use the box. Expect hissing, spitting and growling. If a fight breaks out, do not interfere directly. Instead throw a blanket over each cat, wrapping the blanket around the cat before picking him up.

• After the dust starts to settle, play with both cats using a string pull toy or feather flyer type toy. Start with the cats at opposite corners and let them take turns chasing the toy. Each cat will smell the other on the toy, and associate it with “fun”.

• Separate the cats until they have calmed down. It may be best to leave the cats separated when you are not home until you are sure they are getting along well.


Some Rules of Thumb:

First, select a companion that will match the cat’s personalities and needs. In the final analysis, the personality of the cats is a more significant factor than age, sex, breed, etc.

• Male cats tend to be more affectionate and accepting.
• A cat of one sex tends to accept a cat of a different sex more easily.
• A kitten needs an energetic companion now, but may grow up to be a couch potato.
• You only have one lap, so you should avoid having two “lap cats” competing for it. (your spouse, roommate, etc. can provide another).
• A lazy or overweight cat would benefit from a more energetic cat, but don’t go so far that the lazy or overweight cat refuses to play with the new cat at all.
• An aggressive territorial cat should be matched with one that isn’t territorial.
• A younger cat, not necessarily a kitten, should work for your old cat.
• A “lap cat” will likely work well with a “touch me not” cat.
• Remember that kittens are little chaos machines and need a lot of attention — your old cat will resent the added attention.
• Cats tend to pair up for play.
• Litter mates are always compatible.
• Getting a puppy and a kitten at the same time is good, too, although a very small kitten could be harmed by a rambunctious puppy. A good time to introduce the puppy to the household is when the kitten is about six or seven months old and better able to defend itself and teach the puppy some manners.

It may take six to eight weeks or longer for cats to settle down. Try not to give the resident cats cause to be jealous and don’t force the animals to be together if they do not get along. Cats will rotate their schedules to accommodate the presence of another cat if they’re not particularly fond of each other. Don’t be disappointed if they never seem close. It may be necessary to provide separate litter boxes, separate food bowls, and separate toys and beds to maintain a harmonious household, and give the cats separate individual time with you, too.



 

 
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Last Updated on Saturday, 28 April 2012 23:19
 

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