This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Many people choose to live with a cat. As a social species, we often crave companionship. But the same cannot necessarily be said of our feline friends. Domestic cats evolved from a largely solitary species that defended its territory from other cats.
Although modern cats can live together in friendly groups (given sufficient resources), bonds generally only develop between cats who are related or who grew up together. It’s natural for cats to feel threatened by strange cats. Owners should consider whether it really is in their cat’s best interest to have another cat in their home, especially if they are generally an anxious cat.
If you’re looking to add another cat to your home, plan the introduction carefully.
Prepare for your new cat before you bring her home. Reserve a room for them and make sure they have at least two comfortable places to sleep, a water bowl, a feeding area, a scratching post, and toys. Provide at least one litter box (preferably two) well away from food, water, and roosting places.
When the day comes to bring your new cat home, take her straight to “her” room. Allow them to leave their stretcher on their own time. You will startle if you try to pull them out. No matter how excited you are to interact with your new companion, you may need to leave the room to allow them to explore themselves.
Your new cat will have to stay in her room for several days. This will help them calm down and will allow you to introduce them to your existing cat via the scent.
Scent, particularly facial pheromones, helps cats identify other cats they bond with and is important in maintaining bonds between cats. Swap out the sheets each cat slept on and toys. Place these so cats can find them in their own spaces, but away from beds, bowls, and litter boxes.
No cat should show any signs of avoidance or aggression toward the wipes before proceeding. Then you can trade the scent directly between the cats. Pet one cat, especially around the cheeks and the area in front of the ears, and then go straight to the other cat and pet them. Repeat in the other direction.
This will transfer the cat’s scent profiles and facial pheromones as if they were rubbing directly against each other. In return, look for relaxed rubbing or poking.
Once both cats are relaxed and petting your hands with the scent of your other cat, they can finally see each other and your new cat can explore the rest of your home. You can purchase a plug-in diffuser that releases copies of a feline facial pheromone, which may help with initial introduction as it has been found to reduce cat-to-cat aggression in households.
There should be plenty of escape routes to allow the cats to move away from each other. Make sure there’s a cat tower or furniture like a bookshelf that you can jump onto and that the cats can easily exit the room if they want to. Cats like to hide when they feel threatened and soar high.
First, lock the cat you first adopted in a separate room and let your new cat out of theirs to explore. Once they are familiar with the house layout and the escape routes and safe places, you can let your other cat out. Supervise the cats and be ready to step in if tensions rise.
Watch out for avoidant or agonistic behaviors, such as B. Running and hiding, laying back ears or hissing. Never punish your cat for aggressive behavior and avoid using food to draw cats closer together. Cats are solitary and would not normally eat in close proximity to other cats, including those to which they are bonded.
Since it can be difficult for cats to form new relationships with other cats, especially as adults, your cats may never become best friends. To avoid conflict, make sure both cats have access to food, water, and litter boxes without having to walk past each other.
As a general rule, you must have one more of each resource than the total number of cats in the household. For example, three litter boxes for a two-cat household. When your cats go outside, it can also help to provide more than one entry and exit point, as the cat flap is another common area of conflict between cats.
Similar advice applies if you’re looking to add a different type of accompaniment to your home, e.g. B. a puppy. Introduction can be more successful if the puppy is introduced gently and gradually before he is 12 weeks old.
Don’t allow your puppy to chase your cat. Reward the puppy for calm behavior. Your cat should never feel cornered and should always have the choice to walk away from any interaction, whether with a human or non-human animal.
This article was republished by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.