Hello, Kitty!

Introducing a new cat to current pets can cause tension. Learn how to ease the transition and help your pets become friends.

By Deborah Draper | Posted: Tue Jan 4 00:00:00 PST 2005

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This also eases your resident cat's misgivings about the new cat's scent emanating from beneath the door. Reduced anxiety makes both animals more receptive to new situations.

Basic Introductions
Begin familiarizing the cats with each other through a scent exchange. Rub a clean towel on each cat, then present it to the opposite cat. This enables each cat to launch an investigation of the other without the stress of an actual encounter.

Curiosity will probably draw both cats to each side of the safe room door, so create positive experiences for them while in this close proximity. Feed them on either side of the door, or engage them both with a toy that reaches under the door. "The idea is to start the relationship off on a good foot," Delgado says. "They'll think, 'Another kitty's nearby, but I'm having this delicious treat right now, so he's not so bad.'"

Kitty Revealed
Now that the stage has been set, you can let the cats get their first glimpse of each other through a cracked door. "Maintain control of the door so you can close it quickly if anyone gets too grumpy," Delgado says. Although some hissing and growling is to be expected during these initial encounters, slashing and lunging are not acceptable. If these aggressive behaviors occur, back up the process to the closed-door step.

Once the cats grow accustomed to the smell, sound and sight of each other, the next step is what Joan Levergood, behavior consultant for the Tree House Animal Foundation in Chicago, calls territory sharing. Close the resident cat in a separate room and permit the new cat to explore the house at his own pace. He will read the scent left by the other cat, and rub against objects to tag them as familiar and safe. After a time, return the cat to his safe room and allow the resident cat out. Like the new cat, your cat realizes that another cat was in her territory.

"This is similar to the natural state for felines, because in the wild they will have overlapping territories," Levergood says. "Continue to do this switch once a dayor several times a day if you canuntil both cats are completely comfortable."

The cats can now meet face-to-face under supervision. Open the safe room door so the new cat can join the resident cat in the rest of the house. Although they are no longer complete strangers, prepare for some introduction anxiety. Do not force interaction. Repeat the visits a couple times a day, if possible.

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Reader Comments

Linda    Coventry, CT

11/9/2007 12:34:52 PM

many helpful suggestions

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