Bringing a Second Cat Home!

Miss Sadie is off doing whatever dog's do and today I, the beautiful Miss Tiger, have decided to help My Mom (Sadie's Gram) write an article on getting a second cat. I, however, do not recommend doing that, but humans will do as humans do, regardless of advice from an intelligent cat. So pay heed to what my Mom says.

What is it about we humans that makes us think that everyone needs a companion?

Every once in awhile we start thinking that our lonesome cat needs a friend to be happy.

We forget that Miss or Mr. Kitty are solitary creatures to start with. They really don’t need a friend. They are very happy being the “top cat” and ruling the roost.

Remember that dogs have masters, cats have staff, so why share?

However, knowing all that, we still go out looking for a “friend”.

Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind.

The first one is “it’s not going to be easy.” Granted there are many households that have many cats (this thought amazes us) and they all get along famously.

We have 3 cats (2 males and 1 female) they tolerate each other (sometimes barely). The boys have developed a reasonable friendship that means they can be in the same room with each other and be calm. Miss Tiger, our girl kitty, can barely tolerate either of them. She prefers the garage to the house except in extreme weather. Smokey, our youngest of the 3 is the “alpha” cat and he controls the household.

What amazes us is the lack of vocal communication, we have studied their behavior toward each other and the communication seems to be done with looks and tail switches. However it is being done, all three understand the rules.

Remember, each cat has its own personality, just like a person, some are social, some are friendly, some are timid and shy, others are just plain nasty and some really are loners.

Try to analyze your cat’s personality before you bring a stranger home.

Really give this adventure a lot of thought, as you are the one that is going to have to referee this match. Granted it might be a piece of cake, but on the other hand it might be war.

In our household, we never went looking for a cat, cats always found us. For some reason they just appear either on our doorstep or someone has found a kitten that needs a home.

It is sort of like the saying “It’s raining cats and dogs,” only we get the cats. However, there was a time when it rained “dogs” on us, too.

So the acclimation of our resident cats to a new one has always been a long drawn out process, as we seem to get babies that need a lot of hand raising. This gives the others an opportunity to get used to the newcomer. We have had as many as six cats at one time and those stories could fill up many, many pages.

Now, getting back to your situation, before you bring that newcomer home, start preparations.

Decide what room the new kitty will live in for awhile. Choose a quiet room, put in a litter box, a few toys, and food and water dishes and of course, a bed of some sort. Make certain all the windows are closed and that there is nothing lying around that would harm the kitty.

Hopefully you have taken the kitty to the vet to make certain thatit does not have any infectious diseases and you have started the shots if they haven't been already given.

That done, it is time to bring kitty home. With the cat in the carrier, take he/she to the room you have chosen to be its home. Open the carrier door and if the poor thing is not totally frightened, gently lift the kitten/cat out of the carrier and hold it on your lap, while talking gently to it.

If that is not possible, just keep talking and let the cat make the first move. More than likely puss will run out and hide in the nearest safest spot.

That is fine, just keep talking softly, and don’t try to catch the kitty or in any way give it more reason to be frightened.

Remember that this poor thing has just had a big adventure and does not understand what is going on or where it is. If the cat is scared the best thing to do after you have talked softly for a while is leave it alone.

Let poor kitty get used to the new place.

Go into the room every so often and talk to the kitty, but if it is still hiding, let it be. Putting a few treats near its hiding place is a good idea.

If you are able to hold the kitty, take your time and show him/her the litter box and the food and water dishes and place him/her in its new bed.

Don’t be surprised if it runs away and hides. Be gentle and quiet. Try to remain calm during this whole process, the cat can sense if you are tense or upset. Keep your cool and all will be well.

In the meantime, remember cat #1, is wondering what is going on.

Trust me, your kitty will know that there is another critter in the house and will be anxious.

Your first duty is to the resident cat, give him/her a lot of attention and love. The extra time and attention you give your #1 cat will only help this situation.

We never said this would be easy, so now after a few days have passed, it is time to start associating #1 with #2.

Yes, they are aware that there is another cat in the house, but now we want them to smell each other (it’s not as gross as it sounds). Exchange beds or a piece of the bedding and if they haven’t already done so, let them smell each other from under the door.

When you feel that the new kitty is comfortable in his/her room, now may be the time to switch places.

You will need the help of a family member or a friend to do this, have someone hold the new kitty while you put the resident cat into the room.

Making certain the litter box is clean and that there is fresh food, toys and some treats in the room. Close the door and now the new kitty has the run of the house with no interference.

Show him/her where the litter box is and where the food and water dishes are.

It is best to allow the cats to exchange places often for a few days.

Be certain that #1 cat is getting a surplus of attention from you.

Remember, it is his/her home that is being invaded and you are the one who did this, so keep in mind #1 cat needs a lot of loving and playtime.

Now, we are ready for the next step, getting acquainted. Put the new kitty in the carrier with the door closed and bring it out to meet #1 kitty.

Let them smell, hiss and snarl for awhile, using your judgement and if they seem calm open the door of the carrier and let them decide what to do next.

Most often there will be a bit of hissing and snarling and as long as there does not seem to be any real aggression, let them be.

However, if while kitty #2 is in the carrier and there seems to be hostility in the air, do not let Kitty # 2 out or even open the door of the carrier.

Another good way to let them get acquainted is to open the door of kitty #2’s room, just a crack and let them smell each other and get to see what each other looks like.

Do not do this if you are not going to be around to supervise. As they check each other out, each cat has the opportunity to run and hide if they feel a need to.

“This getting to know you” time make take several days and you have to be patient. Keep in mind this was your idea and the cats have to get used to it.

In spite of all that you are doing to make this transition a good one, it might fail.

If by chance the two cats start to fight and we mean a real confrontation, first of all DO NOT try to separate them, either make a loud noise or get some water and spray them.

Until they are apart and have had a chance to calm down, do not touch them as you could get a bad scratch or a serious bite.

If this happens you may want to start the getting acquainted process all over again or you may decide that cat #1 is very happy being just that.

Once they have decided to tolerate each other, but you can sense that this is not going to be a love match it is a good idea is to keep their litter boxes and food dishes in separate places.

Remembering that litter and food do not go together, each belongs in separate areas.

By doing this you give each kitty a feeling of security and this may prevent future problems.

In many households the cats do not like sharing their litter boxes or their eating spaces. In our household each cat has their own special place to eat.

There are households where each cat has it’s own space and they live very happily with that arrangement.

The whole thing is dependent on how much patience you have, do you really want a houseful of cats and do you have the time, energy and patience to deal with all the things that are necessary to keep your household happy.

Remember that cats like people have moments of disagreement and even if they hiss and growl at each other once in awhile that doesn’t mean they hate each other.

It is important that you remain calm when the kitties are having a disagreement. Allow them to settle it on their own, however if a “real confrontation” occurs, do not get into the middle of it, as you might be the one to get hurt.

The quickest way to settle a problem is to throw a towel over them or spray them with water, this will distract them and they will settle down.

Do not try to pick either one up until you are certain they have calmed down.

We wish you well and truthfully a house full of cats ain’t really so bad. It keeps you on your toes.