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Feline Friday: Cat-to-Cat Introductions

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New kitten? Awww...but what will the cats at home think?

You have GOT to check out the new Simon’s Cat video, below. He nails the behavior, and could be “channeling” most feline’s opinion of that (HISS! SPIT!) interloper. Cat lovers often decide to adopt a new pet without consulting the old-fogey feline. Seren would NOT be amused!

Here’s the deal–would you want to have a funny-smelling stranger come into your home, sleep in your bed, eat from your place, poop in your toilet (without flushing!) and go cheek-to-cheek with your beloved? Proper intros work wonders to smooth the hissy fits. With the holidays fast approaching and new kittens possibly on Santa’s list, here are some tips for proper kitty intros.
cats greeting sniff

YOU SMELL FUNNY!

Getting hissy with strange cats is a NORMAL cat behavior. In the wild, the feline that’s too friendly with a weird interloper risks getting eaten. Cats identify safe people (or other pets) by their familiar smell. A fresh-from-the-shelter a new pet that hasn’t been kitty-groomed by the group with licks and cheek rubs might as well be Frankenstein-Cat.

The sight, sound, and smell of a strange cat pushes kitty buttons to extreme. But blocking one sense (sight of each other for example) reduces arousal. That helps enormously during cat-to-cat intros, which is one reason my must-do list includes initially separating the cats. That also allows your older cat to maintain run of the house and ownership of all the prime kitty real estate.

A ROOM OF HER OWN

Confine the new kitten in a single “safe room” so the resident cat understands only part of his territory has been invaded. Young kittens that haven’t a clue anyway won’t care. But if they’re the least shy, being sequestered offers a safe, soothing retreat with a litter box, food and water bowls, toys, scratch post and other kitty paraphernalia. Being the “new kid” can be stressful for shrinking violet kittens so build the baby’s confidence with a room of his or her own before the whisker-to-whisker meeting.

Keep the solid door closed for at least a week before risking a face-to-face. Watch for your resident cat’s reaction. Hisses are normal. Trust me on this! It may take more than three weeks before those growly-sounds fade.

See, if you try to intro them too soon and the fur flies, the cats will remember that AWFUL-NASTY-TURRIBLE-DEVIL and bring a bad c’attitude to future meetings. It’s better to take it slow and avoid having the kitties practice bad behavior. They’ll have a lifetime together so what’s a delay of a few days or weeks?

Sniffing and paw pats underneath the door are positive signs. The cats should “know” each other by scent before they ever set eyes on each other. Expect normal posturing, fluffed fur and hissing and when that begins to fade, you’re ready for the next step.

THE NEXT STEP

Swap out the cats after a few days. That gives the old cat a chance to get up close and personal sniffing where the devil new cat has been. And it allows the newly adopted baby to scope out the environment. Kitties have no interest in meeting new people or pets unless they feel comfortable with their environment.

Reduce any potential kitty controversy by creating a house of plenty. Your home should have so much good-kitty-stuff like lots of toys, litter boxes and scratch trees that there’s no need for the kitten and old cat to argue over it.

Onyx & Tango cuddling

With time, the cats can become BFF!

LOW-KEY IS BEST

Once the BIG DAY arrives, just open the “safe room” door, stand back, and let the cat’s meet. Supervise, of course, but don’t force interaction. You can feed them on opposite sides of the room or play interactive games at a distance to smooth this first meeting. The cats may ignore each other for hours or days and that’s fine, too.

A bit of posturing with hisses, cautionary swats and other snark-icity is to be expected. Do stop the interactions if growls start rumbling. You may want to replace the closed door with a baby gate so the cats can sniff and meet through the safety of a barrier but still be segregated. Until you’re sure the old cat won’t mangle the baby, or the baby won’t terrorize the oldster, supervise or keep the new kitten segregated when you can’t. It can be love at first sight, or may take weeks or months to accept somebody new into the family.

Do your cats get along? What do they think of the new kittens? What has been your experience? Please share! And I hope you’ll share this blog with other cat lovers debating about adopting another kitty. You can find many more cat introduction tips and tricks in the book Complete Kitten Care.

#AskAmy

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Feline Friday: Ask Amy, Cute Kittens & That BITES!

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kitten clawing feather

Gimme the FEATHER!

It’s Adopt-A-Cat Month! Are you in the market for a new kitten? There’s sure a bumper crop this year. In fact, my friend and colleague Lynette George hosts a kitten adoption event tomorrow at Sherman Petco, starting at 10 am. I plan to visit for some SQUEEEEE! kitten photo ops, and hope to see you there. Likely my Seren-kitty will make me sign in blood that I won’t bring home an “interloper” but the Magical-Dawg would welcome a new furry friend.

(WARNING: blatant self promo…) You can find all must knows on adopting and raising kittens in the award-winning book, Complete Kitten Care, updated and available in all Ebook and print formats. Or if an older furry friend strikes your fancy (gosh, I hope so!) discover the rewards and special issues of these golden oldies in Complete Care for Your Aging Cat, also updated and in all Ebook and print formats.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be a special month for y’all to adopt a cat. Shelters and rescue organizations do the work of the angels every day, all year long, and some go the extra mile.

CWA colleague Mary Anne Miller routinely takes in furry waifs and finds them homes, but the expense both in $$ and emotional trauma can be an issue when not all have happy endings. She’d taken in 10 needy cats from a colony, and despite above-and-beyond medical effort, most died. *sigh* To recoup the expenses so other cats can be helped, Mary Anne hosts a one-week-long fund raising auction of donated items (BLING ALERT!) so visit and if you’re of a mind, support with a bid.

Should you adopt a kitten, try to adopt an older baby–one 12 weeks old or more so s/he’s already been taught how to inhibit claws and teeth. Or adopt a pair, so they can use each other as kitten punching bags! Otherwise, you’ll run into problems like the owner in the Ask Amy question!

Did you plan your kitten/cat adoption? or did your cat find you? Seren showed up on the back porch of a friend. Have your “free” found pets cost you more than expected (like Mary Ann?). But weren’t they worth it! Please share.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!