Introducing a new Adult Cat to an existing Cat household
Some of our Melbourne readers may have taken a surprisingly difficult decision when owning or fostering a cat. You can picture the situation … there is a very confident feline in the household already, with everyone doting on this one (very affectionate) creature. Then one day, the decision is taken to ‘double the dream’, and introduce a new cat into the household. This topic comes up in conversation from time-to-time, particularly as we photograph one or two year old cats that have recently joined an existing ‘fur-family’.
This article will focus on adult cats integrating with an existing ‘resident’. However – it is worth mentioning something straight-away. Although it is almost ‘automatic’ to check if a new kitten has been vaccinated and checked by a Vet, this essential veterinary precaution is often overlooked when taking on young Adult cats. Always check this out before attempting the introduction of any feline to the household.
Although every situation is different, it is generally recognised that female cats are more likely to accept another female into the household. Also, the introduction of a younger adult to a more mature resident feline is more likely to be successful than the other way round. Having said this, the age-difference is also an important factor. The wider that gap, the longer this acceptance process will take. If either cat was once subject to stress in their kittenhood, then this factor may also prolong the period of introduction. But please rest assured that in most cases – patience will win the day, and world-peace will again return :o)
A little bit of planning goes a long-way towards reducing stress for the whole household, whether human or feline.
You can start by securing the resident cat in a room. Then, bring in the new feline to the household – and secure them in a different room. Due to their uncanny ‘sixth-sense’, and their acute hearing, they are likely to become aware of each other’s presence almost immediately!
Then, take any small item of your clothing that has recently been washed and dried, so as to minimise any prior ‘contamination’. A cotton sock will do just fine :o) Then take this item, and rub it gently and affectionately around the cheeks and neck of your resident cat. This will absorb their personal ‘aroma’ from their scent glands. Immediately take this item into the other room with the new cat, and slowly ‘offer’ this item for ‘sniffing’.
Already we are breaking down those emotional barriers … they just don’t know this yet.
After repeating this a couple of times during the day, it will be time to start their first encounter. The trick is to keep all the early encounters brief and closely supervised, otherwise it won’t just be hissing and frizzy-upright tails in your home! After all, we don’t want any fighting or unpleasant scent-marking competitions around the home!
We should expect some confusion from this territorial invasion. Having a second litter tray for the new cat in their temporary (separate) room is again something to plan for. And take care to give each of them individual sessions with much love and attention. Let’s face it, both of them will want some ‘snuggle-time’ :o)
You will know when it is time to separate them again. They will obviously want to approach each other, and the ‘sniffing routine’ may take a very long-time. Peace and quiet and a couple of new and interesting toys are an essential backdrop to minimising fear and aggression from the situation. If things get out of hand the first time of meeting, it may be best to separate them again for some hours, or even overnight. If the warning signs of a fight ensue the next time, a banging of saucepan lids will usually distract more effectively than raising your voice at either of them. Just the once should suffice.
The acceptance process can take several days or several weeks, it all depends on their respective personalities – no different from us really! All they need is lots of extra love and attention. The rest should take care of itself. Patient and repeated ‘rewards’ for good behaviour is the ideal positive reinforcement. Cat treats, cuddles, play-time and kind words are all we need to offer here :o)
Here are some examples of our most recent cat photography sessions – some of whom have the run of the house, while others have learnt to share the love with their fellow housemates:
If you would like to read about a slightly different kind of introduction, where the existing incumbent may be a cat or a dog, then you may find this article of interest
Integration – Cat Photography Melbourne