Chris Kouwenhoven

Adding another cat

Planning to add a cat to your household? The introduction process is allimportant. First impressions can be lasting impressions for felines. In the wild, cats take great care to prevent chance encounters with other cats through scent-marking behaviors. By "reading" the marked areas, cats can tell who was there last and at what time he visited the spot. The territory can then be used by different cats at different times of the day--the feline version of time-sharing. In order to get your cat used to the idea of sharing the home turf with another feline, a gradual introduction is essential.
Time and patience are the keys to successfully introducing a new cat into the household. The new cat should have a room of his own for a few days. Exchange the new cat's bedding with that of the resident cat so that they can become acquainted with each other through the all-important sense of smell before they have the opportunity to see each other. Next rotate rooms. Let the new cat explore the rest of the house while the resident cat spends some time in the new cat's room. When they are relaxed about this step, crack the door of the new cat's room and let them see each other, but not be able to push the door open. Give the cats treats on both sides of the door. Two small toys joined with a several inches of string and slipped under the door will encourage parallel play. When the cats are calm in each other's presence, it is time to let the new cat out for a few minutes. The length of the visits can be increased gradually each day. This process may take a few days or a few months depending on the personalities of the cats.

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