MeOW Welcome to Service Cats and Everything Feline on Furidays, where we answer your questions and tackle any topic relating to pets, cats in purrticular. Ifin you’ve missed any of the posts in this series, you can click the links on our Training Tips and Everything Feline page. And you can ask your own questions or make topic suggestions in the comments section below or by sendin’ us a private email via our Contact page. Last week we talked about introducing kitty to roommates and a new apartment. Today, we thought we’d tackle the tough topic of introducing and integrating kitty into a household with resident kitties.
The following post will be written in human English for reader and translator ease. Our Service Cat posts aren’t intended to be an all inclusive Training Manual but rather Tips, Tricks and Techniques used/developed by mommy A thru her many years of animal training, cats in purr-ticular. And to offer insight into your questions about Everything Feline. Always remember, successful Training is all about Repetition and Rewards.
It was long thought that cats are solitary in nature and preferred to be the only pet in the house. While that is partly true, we are/can be very social and enjoy the attention of our human/family and yes, even other animals including cats. Of course, we must remind you, that there are exceptions. Mommy A calls them Exceptional Kitties, and believes that even they can be integrated into multi pet households. Sis Lexi had been one of those Exceptional Kitties at one time. There may never be the sound of blue birds singing and bees humming, but most kitties can co-exist beside their patient and loving human(s). There are many reasons one may need to integrate a new kitty, such as adoption, marriage, rescue, new roommates, and even long term fostering to name a few. What we’re going to tell you next is the widely accepted way to introduce new kitties to resident kitties or re-introduce kitties after a trauma causes a rift. This is NOT the method mommy A uses; and we will discuss that in another post.
Pheremone and Stress Reducing Products:
While we’ve not had a lot of luck with pheremone based products, you might want to try using them. They come in collars, sprays, edibles, water additives, and plugins. If you use a plugin, watch it closely and change out the entire unit regularly to avoid burning, or any other mishap. You might also want to try flower essences, treats, or other stress reducing products on the market.
Note: Before bringing new kitty home for the first time, kitty should have been checked by a Vet and have been tested for all communicable diseases. All cats should be up to date on vaccinations and/or healthy before any face to face meetings or co-mingling of furs and bodily fluids.
We do recommend having a Decompression Room/Area for both the resident cat(s) and the newcomer. You can learn how to prepare one here. It is recommended that new kitty and resident kitty be separated in different rooms. New kitty’s space should already be set up with everything he/she will need. We advise including scent markers for everyone in the house, such as a piece of clothing, towel, pillow case, fabric mouse/toy, etc.. Make sure you spend time with new kitty in their space. After a couple of days remove an item that new kitty has scented up and place it in the area of the resident cat(s). Begin feeding kitties closer and closer to the door that separates them. Refresh scent markers in both areas often.
Once new kitty is comfortable with you and their area, you can begin Site Swapping. We can’t put a time frame on any of this, as kitties react based on their previous experiences and personalities. Typically, kittens do acclimate quicker. Site Swapping will allow new kitty to see and smell their entire new territory as well as give them the opportunity to “stake their claim” to it. It will also allow resident kitty to fully explore the scents of their new housemate. During this time, continue feeding both kitties closer and closer to the door that separates them.
Once both/all kitties are within a couple of feet of the door that separates them, you’ll want to start opening the door so they can see each other. A baby/pet gate draped in a sheet or towel can be used to keep the cats separate and yet allow them to view and smell each other over a meal. NEVER leave the cats unattended until you know how they’re going to act/react. Slowly raise the towel/sheet while the cats are eating. The hope is that they will notice each other but continue to eat. Be prepared to step in and distract either kitty with a toy, wand toys work great for this, and block their site. Continue doing this until both/all cats can eat without any aggression toward the other or you.
Finally, allow both/all cats to inhabit the same space at the same time. Observe how both/all cats interact with each other and be prepared to intercede if needed. Do Not be overbearing or baby either kitty during this time. There very well may be a few hisses or growls, but as long as both cats remain calm, don’t step in. And remember, keep each kitty’s Decompression Room/Area set up so they can escape if need be. Remember to take these steps slowly and be prepared to back up a step if either cat(s) shows signs of stress or isn’t ready to take the next step. We highly recommend during this step, cats be introduced face to face through play and/or treat time. We believe it helps “break the ice” and take the stress out of the face to face meeting.
These steps are also recommended if you suddenly find yourself with discord amongst your usually happy coexisting kitties. We previously wrote mommy A’s Tips for Reintegrating cats in the same household. You can read those Tips here.
Well, we do hope these tips help. Join us next week when we discuss moving with kitty. Sis Lexi used to meow ‘bout it all the time. Y, She and mommy moved 12 times in her lifetime, and she was a happy and well adjusted adventure kitty. Remember, we cats bond with our humans, not a house. And remember, if you’ve missed any post in this series you can ketch up by clickin’ the links on our Training Tips and Everything Feline page. And, let us know what topics you’d like to read in the comments section below, or send us an email via our Contact page in the menu above. We’re also joinin’ Comedy Plus fur Feline Furiday. Go by and check out all the other adorable kitties. We’ll see ya’ next week or sooner.
Till the next time…………………………………………….Be Blest!!!
Are you an only (Exceptional) kitty or do you have housemates?
Does everybody get along?
Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses
Deztinee and RaenaBelle
MeOW Welcome to another Service Cat Monday. It seems like furever since our last Service Cat Monday posty, but we’re back. We have a great question ‘bout specific trainin’ methods, but we want mommy to be tip top to tackle it, so tune in next week fur that post. Today, we’re gonna focus on a topic we got via email. Let me get the business pawrt outta the way furst. The followin’ will be written in human English fur reader and translator ease. Our Service Cat Monday posts aren’t meant to be a step by step Trainin’ manual but rather Tips/Tricks/Techniques used/developed by mommy throughout her many years of animal trainin’, cats in purrticular. Training is all ‘bout Repetition and Rewards. Ifin you have any questions, you can leave them in the comment section below or send us an email. Ifin askin’ ‘bout a behavioral issue, purrlease be as specific as pawssible. And, ifin you’ve missed any of the posts in this series, you can ketch up by clickin’ the links at the end of this post. Now, let’s get to our question fur today.
A new reader sent us an email and asked, “When bringing a new kitty into the home with a resident cat, how do you know when there’s a fight or just growing pains? And how do you know when it’s safe to leave them alone together?” That’s a wonderful question. And we’re thrilled that you’re adopting and saving another life. We have another friend going through this very thing right now, so this is perfect timing. This post is not about Aggressive Cats. If you’re dealing with Cat Aggression, please see our post series Calming the Tiger in Your Kitty (links below). So, you’ve decided to adopt a new friend for your existing kitty. Introductions and preparation are crucial to a long and happy relationship between all of you.
Make sure you have all the supplies you’ll need before bringing kitty home. You’ll need a new litterbox. The rule of thumb is one per cat and one extra. Most cat owners will tell you that they can get by with less, but don’t expect to start out that way. Remember, if you set the stage for success, you’ll get success, if you set the stage for failure, you’ll fail; or your kitties will fail. The last thing you want is for your resident cat to start acting out. So, a new litterbox and a spare, new food and water bowls or a fountain. Mommy always likes to buy at least one new toy for the new kitty. Mind you, all toys are fair game for all cats in the home, it’s just that something special for the new kitty. And, it can be something as simple as the little dollar mice at the checkout. Since becoming bloggers, we’ve learned about the Yeowww nip nanna, and the wonders of kickers. If the kitty you are adopting is over the age of 5 months old and you already have a Yeowww nip nanna, PLEASE GET A 2nd banana before you bring kitty home or as quickly as you can. This will help avoid some territorial spats over the “mine” attitude. Yep, even sis Lexi and me had a few spats over the nip nanner until mommy got us a second one. Mommy also recommends some of the prime grade A treats. You know, the ones your kitty flips over?.
Okay, you’ve got the extra basic necessities, now what? Get everything set up in a quiet secluded area (Decompression Room) where the new kitty will spend their first couple of days. You want this transition to go as smoothly as possible and be as free of stress as it can be for the resident cat. We don’t personally have the space for kitties to have their own rooms, but we’re going to address this today as if we do. When bringing the new kitty home, mommy suggests putting kitty in the carrier on the floor for a few minutes before taking them to their “Decompression Room”. This will allow the resident kitty a moment to smell the new kitty and vice versa. There may be a hiss or growl, but don’t leave the kitty long enough for this to escalate. Take the new kitty to their room and leave the carrier door open. It will be tempting to stay and coax kitty out and spend time with them. Do Not!!! Resident kitty needs to know they are still valued and that nothing has changed. Leave new kitty to come out and explore their new room in their own time. Return to resident kitty and give them extra love and some of those Grade A treats. Trust me, we’re not fooled. We know something’s up.
down, pinpointed pupils
Anyways, once you’ve gotten to the introductions and kitties are spending time together in your presence, you need to start watching body language. There will likely be some hissing, growling and posturing. These are all normal. You’re looking for signs of acceptance or a fight. Try not to over react. There may be a tussle or ten. This is also perfectly normal. You know your resident kitty, so watch them especially, for signs of stress. Curious cats will approach one another with ears alert. If kitty’s ears are flat and the back fur is standing erect, Do Not Panic, but be alert, especially if both kitties are displaying this behavior. This is the tricky part. Mommy says, in your mind, you must be thinking positively. Believe this will go well. Expect your kitties to get along. Do Not let them see you sweat. (MOL) An exchange of swats is normal. As long as the claws are retracted, you have nothing to worry about. If kitty’s ears are flat, fur is standing on end and they begin a low rumbling growl and/or bob/lower their head or turn it slightly, remove new kitty immediately and try again later over some of those Grade A treats or a favorite toy.
As long as both kitties can get up/away from the other and they’re not greeting each other with ruffled furs and flat ears, it’s safe to leave them together. Now, we don’t mean after 5 minutes, but rather after several days of no knock down drag out fights. Remember, cats rolling around together is NOT a fight. Cats rolling around together with ears flattened, fur erect, claws out and teeth bared and gnashing at the neck of the other…That’s a fight. More often than not, these meetings will go successfully. Especially if you’ve set kitty up for success and expected it. We know that sounds silly, but remember, kitties feel your emotions and act accordingly. As long as you can remain calm, positive and expecting the best, things should go well.
Cats learn the boundaries from their mothers and littermates/housemates, so expect some biting and swatting. That’s natural and just your kitties way of determining rank. And remember, during this entire process, be sure to give resident kitty lots of extra love and reassurance. We know how easy it is to want to spend time with the new kitty, especially if new kitty is a kitten. Don’t!!! Resident kitty needs to know they’re not being replaced. Try to remember, that resident kitty’s life should be as stress free and normal as possible throughout this whole process. And lastly, sit back and enjoy, you now have two furry purrers to warm your lap and rule your house.
Well, we hope this helped. Mommy says the cases of one kitty trying to kill another or cause serious injury is actually rare. But you do want to take the time to transition successfully to avoid bad behaviors and increase the possibilities of a long and happy life together. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments or send us an email. And remember, you can ketch up on any posts you may have missed in this series by clicking the links below.
Till the next time……………………………………..Be Blest!!!
Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses
Deztinee and RaenaBelle