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Adding a Second Cat To your home
With so many cats and kittens available, it is hard to resist the temptation of sharing your life with more than one cat. One trip to the local animal shelter will do most cat-lovers in, as they wander the aisle looking at the caged cats that are head-bumping and purring the wire in an attempt to say “Pick me! Pick me!”
Once you are headed home with your new cat, you are probably wondering what your resident cat is going to have to say about this new furry addition. You are also worried about how this new cat is going to adjust to you.
Making some preparations ahead of time will help. Here are some tips:
- Most important! Make a vet appointment: Be sure that you take your new cat to your vet for a complete health check. Even pet store kitties are not always healthy. Most come from kitten mills, so it is important that your new cat is healthy.
- Isolate the new cat: Especially true if kitty has an upper respiratory infection, ear mites, worms, fleas or lice. Until treated and eliminated, these are problems that can pass to your resident cat.
- Secluding the newcomer will also work in your favor. It is a period of adjustment for both of you. You want the cat used to you (not hiding etc…) before introducing the new cat to your resident cat.
- Cats are scent-driven, they communicate through their scent glands. When they are stressed or upset, they throw off a pheromone that puts out the alert to other cats in the area. That alert is a warning- “Stay away from me, I am armed and dangerous!”
- The minute you step into the door with the cat in the carrier, your resident cat will know that another cat has arrived.
- In cat language, height indicates power. Power signifies Alpha cat status. Carrying a new cat into the room with the carrier held higher than your resident cat is could spell trouble. Drape the carrier with a cloth and slide it across the floor to the room you have previously set up for the new cat.
- This room should have two litter pans, fresh water, and cat food both canned and dry. If there is no place for the new cat to hide, then provide her with one, cardboard boxes work great!
- Turn the box on its side with the open part showing, pile the inside with bedding and drape the opening with a dark towel, leaving enough room for the cat to slide under.
- In your home, your new cat is going to be overwhelmed by scents, sounds and the pulse of your home. She is going to want to hide, until she figures out that she is safe.
- If she decides to hide, it is best to let her.
- Be sure that you visit her on a routine schedule with fresh food, water and litter pan control. You want her to get use to seeing you at set times during the day. This will help her relax and trust in you.
- Unless you have to give her medicine, then I confine her in a small place like a closet (empty out the contents) and then just set it up for her use. Block her in with baby gates stretched vertically not horizontally to block the doorway.
- Be sure the mesh of the baby gates are not the sort where she could easily get her head stuck.
- Play music 24 hours a day in her room. Harp music is best if you have a stressed cat.
- Dim the lights and use night-lights in the room.
- Walk softly while in the room and keep your shoes off. This allows her to get used to your scent quicker. In case you didn’t know it, your feet stink!
- Read to her at scheduled times. Sit on the floor near where she is hiding and read a chapter or two, or talk about your day. Keep your voice down, she can hear you.
- When you get up, place down on the carpet where you were sitting, a nice meaty treat. Then leave the room.
If your cat is scared and hiding and does come out, IGNORE her.
Do not look her in the eyes. Cats consider that a threat.
Do not glance in her direction. Keep doing whatever activity you are engaged in and act as if she is not there.
A head-bump is just around the corner, but if you reach for her, or rush to pet her, she will vanish under the furniture again. This holds true for stray and feral cats as well as a shy house cat. The more you ignore them, the easier they will feel around you.
Please see Part II- The Meet & Greet- How to introduce two cats
Mary Anne Miller is a freelance writer, website content provider and member of The Cat Writers’ Association.
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