By: LISA RADOSTA DVM, DACVB
It is easy to fall in love with a kitten and bring her home, but how can you tell if your adult cat wants to live with a kitten? Even if your current cat does want to live with a new cat, how do you introduce them so that they don’t fight? Read on to find out how to know if your cat wants to live with another cat and how to make the transition go smoothly.
Feral cats generally live in related groups. When a new adult cat comes into the group, it is common for that cat to be rejected. So, if your cat is aggressive toward your kitten, he may simply be behaving normally. But cats are social creatures so they should in theory appreciate other cats, right? That is true, however, most pet cats have not been exposed to other cats. Either they haven’t seen another cat since adopted except through the window or they don’t know any other cats aside from the ones with which they live. To understand your cat better, put yourself in her paws prints. What if you didn’t know any person except your family members and one day a person who looked different, had lots of energy, and kept jumping out from behind corners to pounce on you moved in? Depending on your personality, you might hide under the bed or get aggressive too!!
1. LOOK AT YOUR CAT OBJECTIVELY.
What does your cat do when he sees another cat out of the window or through the screen? Does he puff up, howl and hiss? Does he look interested and move forward with his tail up? If your cat reacts with mild aggression to other cats through the window, you are likely to have a more difficult time introducing him to another cat than if he did not. He may not be suited to a multicat household at all. If he is just interested, but is not aggressive it might be easier.
2. INCREASE RESOURCES
Before you bring your new kitten home, purchase enough food bowls, water bowls, and resting spots to equal the number of cats that you will have including the kitten. You should have one more litterbox and three times the number toys as cats in your home. In other words, if you have 3 cats in your household, you need a minimum of 4 litterboxes and 9 toys. Make sure that valuable things like food, water, toys and litterboxes are spread out all over the house. Each cat needs a place to hide and a place to go high up in each shared space.
3. SEPARATE THE CATS
Prepare a room for the kitten before you go to pick her up. It should have a litterbox, toys, resting spots, food and water. Your kitten will probably be separated from your new cat for 1-7 days so make is comfortable.
4. EXCHANGE SCENT
Put a washcloth in each cat’s area. Swap the unwashed cloths daily. Let each cat investigate the other cat’s environment at least once daily. When each cat can investigate each other under the door without aggression, you can introduce them. You don’t have to rub the washcloth on the kitties. Do you want to have someone’s dirty clothes rubbed on you? Just put the washcloth in the other cat’s area and let them investigate it as they please.
5. TRY PHEROMONE ANALOGUES
Feliway Multicat is a pheromone analogue which comes in a diffuser form. This is different than the Feliway or Comfort Zone that you may be used to using. It is special formulated to help bring cats together. Plug one diffuser in for every 600 square feet of space.
6. BE PATIENT WITH INTRODUCTIONS
Introductions are best done in large spaces while the cats are engaged in a distracting activity such as playing with a large toy, hanging out on the screened porch or eating canned food. Don’t force introductions. Take it slowly and separate the cats for a bit each day for the first 2 weeks until you feel confident that they will get along. If you have tried all of the steps above and your cats are still not getting along, speak to your veterinarian. You can also find a board- certified veterinary behaviorist to help you at www.dacvb.org.