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BEHAVIOR: ADDING A CAT TO A HOUSEHOLD WITH OTHER CATS

YVCipedia BEHAVIOR
ADDING A CAT TO A HOUSEHOLD WITH AN ESTABLISHED CAT OR CATS

There are no introduction techniques that will guarantee a peaceful relationship when a cat is added to a household with an established cat or cats. It is very worthwhile, however, to make an effort to make the introduction as smooth as possible by utilizing these methods.

CREATE A TRANSITION ROOM FOR THE NEW CAT. The transition room will house the new cat while it is gradually introduced to the family. Provide food, water, litter, perches at varying heights, hiding spots, special bedding, toys, and scratching posts. Secure the room by removing valuable items, dangerous items (electrical cords, plants, strings), and potential targets for elimination (plush bath mats, area rugs).
The door to the transition room should latch securely.

PLACE FELIWAY PHEROMONE DIFFUSERS: one in the main room and one in the transition room, about 2 weeks prior to introducing the new cat. (If 2 weeks is not possible it is still worthwhile to place the diffusers, even if it is only a day or two before the new addition.)

MAKE NECESSARY ADJUSTMENTS TO THE REST OF THE HOUSE BEFORE ADDING THE NEW CAT TO THE TRANSITION ROOM. Add litter boxes, food and water stations and perches. Close all access to the transition room except for the secure door. Add bells to the collars of anticipated bully cats.

IDENTIFY THE FAVORITE TREATS OF THE RESIDENT CAT(S) before adding the new cat.

PLACE THE NEW CAT IN THE TRANSITION ROOM WHEN IT ARRIVES.

TIE TWO CAT TOYS TOGETHER WITH HEAVY STRING and place one toy on each side of the door to the transition room.

IDENTIFY A COMMON RAG, TOWEL OR GLOVE to use to pet each cat with daily to transfer scent. Concentrate on patting the cheek and the lower back at the base of the tail.

IF THERE IS OVERT AGGRESSION AT THE TRANSITION ROOM DOOR a neutral zone/room will have to be created by closing another door between the transition room and the rest of the house.

IDENTIFY FAVORITE TREATS OF THE NEW CAT.

START TO ROTATE SEGREGATION LOCATIONS once the new cat appears very settled and comfortable in the transition room. Do this by placing the established cat in the transition room and the new cat in the rest of the house. If the new cat seems particularly fearful as it explores the house you might need to allow it to be able to access the transition room; do this by confining the established cat elsewhere in the house.

BEGIN SHORT (LESS THAN 5 MINUTES) VISUAL INTRODUCTIONS, TWO OR THREE TIMES DAILY. The cats should be able to see each other but not contact each other, for example, behind windows, in crates, on harnesses and leashes. Perform these intros until the cats appear relaxed and there is no aggressive posturing.

THE CATS CAN THEN BE ALLOWED SUPERVISED PHYSICAL CONTACT. Start with brief sessions and gradually increase. Be prepared for aggressive behavior by having on hand water squirt bottles, air horns, large blankets or bath towels. NEVER attempt to directly handle an aroused cat. The cannot be soothed and, on the other hand, they will easily redirect their aggression to the most available target.

WITH SUCCESS, INTERACTION PERIODS ARE INCREASED AND HUMAN SUPERVISION GRADUALLY DECREASED.

BE PATIENT.  Do not attempt to force the situation. Aggressive behavior is self-rewarding: the more opportunities a cat has to behave aggressively, the more likely it is that the aggressive behavior will increase in frequency and severity. 

Yarmouth Veterinary Center
2015

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