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