Introducing Cats

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 Before you bring your new cat home, set up a safe room for her.  The safe room should have several hiding places (they can be kitty igloos or just cardboard boxes lined with towels), her own litter box, a scratching post or cat tree that she can climb, some toys, and bowls for food and water.  The safe room will not only provide your new cat with a  safe place of her own until she has adapted to and feels comfortable and secure in your home, it will also help your resident cat feel that her territory hasn't been taken over by the new cat.

Close off the doorway between the safe room and rest of your home with a net of some sort (like a fishing or tennis net – or ideally, 3 wire mesh pet gates (Gerry) stacked to fill the doorway. Place the gates in the inside of the door frame so that the door can be closed. This will allow the cats to smell each other but not see or touch each other. The most important reason  for keeping your new cat isolated and out of sight is so your resident will not feel her territory has been violated

When you bring your new cat home, set the carrier in the corner of the safe room, open the door, place a treat on the floor just outside the carrier, then leave the room. Your  new cat may or may not choose to leave the safety of her carrier. After you leave the room, she'll be able to explore her new territory at her own pace and choose her own hiding places. Don't try to force your new cat to come out of her carrier; let her come out on her own in her own good time.

Pay lots of attention to your resident cat but in a casual, non-aggressive way. Don't try to comfort her by holding her. Engage your resident cat in an interactive play session, brush her, feed her, or leave a new activity toy, such a paper shopping bag or catnip toy out for distraction. She'll probably show little interest in anything but what's beyond that closed door. She may sniff around the door, camp out in front of it, even hiss and growl. Don't be alarmed-those are all normal reactions. Depending on your cat's personality, it may take several days to adjust to the new cat behind the door.  When you go in to feed or play with your new cat, try to do it when your resident cat is eating, sleeping, or in another room so your resident cat doesn't sit outside the door feeling upset.

The next step in the introduction of the two cats will involve scent. For this step you'll need a pair of socks. Put one sock on your hand and rub your new cat down to get her scent all over it. Rub all around her face, being sure to go along the sides of the mouth as these areas are rich in scent glands. When you feel you've done a good rub-down (the cat will most likely enjoy it), leave the scented sock in your resident cat's territory. Use the other sock to rub down your resident cat and then leave that one in your new cat's safe room. This enables the cats to begin getting familiar with each other's scents in a controlled, non-threatening way. Yon can do this several times, using a few pairs of socks

The most important element in introducing new cats to resident cats is introducing one sense at a time. Introducing two cats one sense at a time allows them to adapt to each step of the introduction at their own pace and allows you to control the speed of each phase. One sense at a time will allow you to avoid a feline sensory overload and potential fights that could cause permenant damage to your cats' relationship.

After your resident cat has investigated the sock, reward her with a treat and/or conduct an interactive play session so that the experience ends on a positive note.

After the scented sock exchange has been going well for several days to a week, you can then move on to the next step in the introduction process: the room exchange. Let your cat investigate the new cat's room and let the new cat out to investigate the rest of the house. This lets them do a more thorough scent investigation, including checking out each other's litter box. About an hour of this is probably a long enough time. Continue to do the room exchange a couple of times a day for about a week.

Now, if everything is going well and your resident cat is showing no signs of aggression, the cats are ready for the big step! Open the door to the safe room so that the cats can finally see, smell, and hear each other- and approach each other closely enough to touch each other through the gates if they wish.. Be casual about it but also be ready with tools for distraction such as treats or pieces of special food such as shredded cooked chicken, to toss on the floor of each room . Having treats also helps prevents the cats from becoming too negatively focused on each other and helps them connect positive things with each other. If the cats become overly hostile to each other, close the door and begin the process again the next day.  Don't force any step of the introduction process.

  • Keep the cats separated in different rooms until they can approach  each other on opposite sides of the gates without showing signs of fear or aggressiveness. Don't try to bring, force, or entice the cats to come close to one another.
  • Once you see that the cats don't hiss or growl when they see and approach each other through the gates, begin placing their food and water bowls on the opposite sides of gates as far away from the gates as possible but still within sight of each other.  Only later, when the cats are coming close to one another often without showing signs of fear or aggression, the food bowls can be moved progressively closer to the gates.  Always let both cats decide for themselves how closely they approach one another.
  • Don't take the gates away until the cats have shown only normal, peaceful, friendly behavior when they come in contact with one another through the gate - and they approach each other often and eat with the bowls touching the gates without showing signs of fear or nervousness - for several consecutive days.

  • Once the cats begin sharing space in the house, keep the safe room set up for a while so your new cat has a safe place of his own during initial disputes.

  • Keep two litter boxes set up in different locations, not next to each other. This way, if your resident cat is
    feeling territorial, your new cat will have another place to go.

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Screen Door Barrier Installation


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