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How can I help my new and old cats get along?

2010-12_two-catsI am the proud owner of Shasta Marie, a 5 year old siamese himylayan mix whom I have had since she was weaned. I recently adopted Savannah Marie, a 1 year old choc. point siamese. How do I get these girls to know each other without stressing them out? So far Savannah has stayed in my bedroom and Shasta rules the roost. I have kept them seperated for the week I've had her because she is scared of everything.  

Thanks, Jacki

Hi Jacki,

As you already know, cats can be territorial and they don’t like change. These two character traits mean you should proceed slowly.

Some cats are more social than other cats. For example, Shasta might not initially want to share her territory (and her people) with other pets in the household. But a 1-year kitty coming into a new family might be glad to have a cat companion.

This means that Shasta and Savannah Marie need to be introduced very slowly. It sounds like there has already been that first face-to-face meeting. So you may want to back up a few steps and ‘start over’ so to speak.

Here are some guidelines to help make the introductions go smoothly. Be aware that the introduction process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, or even a few months in extreme cases. So, be patient.

To allow time for the newcomer to adjust to you and her new situation, keep her in a small room with her litter box, food, water, scratching post, toys and a bed for several days to a week.

  • Feed your resident pets and the newcomer on each side of the door to this room, so that they associate something enjoyable (eating!) with each other's smells. Don't put the food so close to the door that the animals are too upset by each other's presence to eat.
  • Gradually move the dishes closer to the door until your pets can eat calmly while standing directly on either side of the door.
  • Try to get your pets to interact with a toy. Tie a toy to each end of a string, then place it so there's a toy on either side of the door. Hopefully, they’ll start batting the toys around and maybe even batting paws.
  • Be sure to spend plenty of time with both your new kitty in her room, and with Shasta.

Another suggestion is to read Pamela Johnston Bennett’s book, Cat vs. Cat. Bennett is a fabulous cat expert, http://www.catbehaviorassociates.com/.

Best of luck!

Kristen_Buck-60x60

Written by:
Kristen Levine, Pet Lifestyle Expert

December 01, 2010

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