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Introducing cats: what you should first know
It is known that kittens and big cats can have different characters and personalities, and behave differently according to each circumstance.
It is our job to try to grasp our cat’s emotions and to understand what he needs, what wrong attitudes he might have, and how to try to correct it.
When we adopt a small kitten, but even if it as adult cat as well, he or she will become very attached to the house and the environment above all and if there are no other cats but him present, he will consider himself as the head of the house: he is the master, and any other kittens come in only if he decides so.
What do we do if we want to adopt another one?
Simple, they are also looking for friends. After they start to know one another and get used to having another cat around they will accept the situation.
Sometimes they will quarrel, but then they will will make peace, exactly as it happens to us, it also happens to dogs and is a natural instinct of the animal world.
The important thing is to know some good methods on how to introduce cats, and how to do it in a short amount of time so that this friendship will develop as quickly as possible. Your cat may be very attached to the territory and may therefore not immediately accept an unfamiliar cat in it’s environment.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to reduce any stress and make the introduction of the second cat more pleasant.
Cats are considered loners: This is wrong.
lonely cats are those “strays” who have to fight every day to get food, while the “house cat” will in most cases be happy to find a friendship that keeps him from boredom.
Cats are territorial animals and do not particularly like any newcomer invading their territory…
So when you bring a new cat into the picture, you should do it carefully and follow this step-by-step guide.
Why It Is Important To Know How To Introduce Pets
It is very important to get to know our cat friends, and also our dogs.
We can get them socialized in no time, what really matters to them is the love for the owner and the house they live in.
But they also look for friendships and companionship to play with among many other reasons as well.
They are actually much more like us than we think.
Knowing our pets well enough and how to introduce them, we can make sure that they get familiar faster and without too many “fights”.
Sometimes dogs and cats are so social and have such a great desire for a “friend” that they become to inseparable friends in just a few days.
It does greatly depend though, as each animal is unique and they aren’t all going to be as friendly as we would like…
It can be a very useful skill to know their body language, and you should make it a habit to observe them in different situations to better understand everything, and to know what to do and how to react properly when introducing them.
Also read: how to clean a cats ears safely.
Introducing a Kitten to a Cat
You should begin by letting them know each other by smell, before allowing an actual face-to-face meeting.
There is not too much of a difference adopting a male or a female as the second cat, and it does not necessarily have to be of the opposite sex to the resident cat that you already have.
It would be easier to have a puppy be accepted though, rather than another adult cat.
You should definitely try to introduce the new arrival during a time when you can stay at home for a few days in order to face any possible complications and things like that.
You don’t want to be stuck at work when your pets are having a war at your home without you present, to break it up.
Prepare a Separate Room for the new Cat
You should begin by preparing a special room for the new family member where it can stay by itself away from your other cat.
This room will need to have everything the new cat requires such as a sleeping area, bowls of food and water and a good litter box.
I recommend choosing a “neutral” room for this task, but that means that the room for the new cat is not already in the territory of the current cat.
Usually, your bathroom is going to be a neutral room and is perfect for this task.
Make sure you do not exclude your old cat, and remember that he too is still going to need your care and affection, even if you might be excited with the new one and wanting to spend all your time with it now.
It is easy to get carried away from the excitement of getting a new cat, but do not forget your old loyal one that still looks to you for love and care, and might become jealous and resentful if he sees you only paying attention to a “new invading” cat.
Initially, you should be careful not to let the two meet, and especially not without your supervision and guidance.
But, the key is to make your “old” cat understand that there is a new arrival in the house, and the house cat will understand by itself that there is a new animal in the house, but he will not be able to deal with it directly.
If things happen too fast and if they get introduced too suddenly, then conflict may arise and even a cat fight.
Using Smell to Introduce Cats
The smell is very important to these animals, and through the sense of smell is the best way to let them know each other from a safe distance and get used to each other in a gentle way.
You can exchange blankets, kennels, or pillows where they have slept on daily, and rub the same cloth on the face of the two cats several times a day and caress them with it, especially in the muzzle where there are glands that emit pheromones.
During mealtimes, let them eat near the door that divides them.
They will begin to associate the others presence with something pleasant and get much more used to each other being around the house with them.
Do Not Upset Your Previous Cat
You should try to be very careful not to upset the old habits or your “first cat”.
Respect the time for his meal, the playtime, cuddles, everything must stay exactly the same as before so as not to make him feel less important or even excluded.
Rather give him even more attention and cuddles than usual, so he won’t feel like the new cat is threatening his way of life or stealing you away from them.
After 2-4 days or even a week of total separation, you can then carefully put the new cat in a carrier, then open the door to the room, and let your first cat come to meet the new arrival in a safe environment.
Just let them sniff and inspect each other through the bars for about 5 minutes, they can show some fear or territorial aggression while doing this.
Have them continue their meeting like this for a few more minutes, and do this at least six times every day for a few days.
I know, it may seem like a lot, but each time can be just a few minutes of them seeing each other and it will be worth it in the end.
After some time, waiting for them to be quite comfortable and curious, let the two cats then physically meet in person.
This must take place in a neutral room in the house, the hall, the corridor, or the terrace for example.
The reason for this is that they are territorial animals, and the cat that owns a specific territory may feel threatened as he feels like some areas are more intimate and personal.
Also read: How to give a cat a pill, in simple steps.
Do Not Lock 2 Cats in a Room While Introducing Them
You should never lock the cats together in a room when they meet, but instead give both of them the chance to retire to another part of the house if they wish to do so.
Do not panic if they will turn aggressive towards one another, growl, hiss, or stand sideways in a hostile fashion. If you see them doing this then they are basically putting on a show to tell who is “boss”.
Always be present at the first meeting but don’t scold them if they fight or blow each other as it would be counterproductive to add a scolding or a fright to the meeting.
If you yell or scold them, then they might end up associating the mutual presence with the scolding and end up hating each other even more.
Be calm and in control, but strict and resolute to separating them only if the arguments becomes aggressive.
It is a good idea to wear protective gloves for a first meeting, just in case.
In general, brawls always take place with retracted nails and bites are never dangerous, but if this does happen, a sprinkle of water from the sprayer, or a loud noise will suffice.
Then they will postpone the meeting to another time, which is good.
When we are not at home, we should avoid leaving them free on their own, but we always lock the newcomer in his room.
You will understand this for yourself when they will begin to relax in the presence of each other and there will be no more risks in letting them both circulate freely around the house.
Make sure that you give lot of equal attention and care to both, so they don’t have to compete for your love and affection.
Use separate feeding bowls as well, so they don’t have to compete for food, and they will soon solve the “territory” problem among themselves.
After some time you may discover the two tenderly embraced in their sleep or even licking each other lovingly.
Cat’s lick each other as a show of trust and affection, and you can read more about that here if you want to.
How to Introduce Dogs to Cats
Dogs normally show an outgoing attitude towards newcomers, especially if it is a young puppy.
Dogs could also be much bigger in size than the cat in comparison, which is something we will have to pay close attention to when introducing them.
What must be done is to carefully monitor every approach and immediately reward the dog if he manages to maintain a state of calm composure at the sight of the cat. Use a soft sweet voice tone and a tasty treat to reward them for good behavior.
If you see that either party is becoming too agitated or nervous, try to distract them, move them away, and try the approach after they have calmed down again and reached a state of relative tranquility once more.
It is very important that on first contact both share rewarding experiences, which also can act as a distraction.
In the beginning when you are just starting out, it will be appropriate to keep the cat and dog on opposite sides of a room.
This step must be repeated several times until there is a reasonable certainty that any potential dangerous outbursts of aggression will be under control enough, so that they won’t threaten the socialization.
Then Bring the Animals Closer Together, Slowly
On the next step, you can bring the animals a little closer together.
If the cat shows any signs of fear or nervousness, increase the distance between the two, and proceed more slowly until it looks more confident and secure.
Eventually, they will be able to get close enough to smell each other and get more comfortable without feeling this fear.
Don’t scold or punish the dog all the time when the cat is around, even if he is being mischievous and doing some pranks.
If the cat is free to move around in the house and the dog tends to run after it, make sure that the cat always has free access to an elevated or a high place to take refuge in.
Or some quiet place to hide in.
When you are not at home and nobody is around to supervise the situation, keep the two animals separate until you can be perfectly sure of the cat being in no danger. Especially if the dog is much bigger and the cat is very small or fragile.
If you have ever had both animals, you should be well aware of the fact that dogs often really like to eat cat food, because it is tasty and rich in proteins and fats.
If the dog makes it a habit to finish the cats food in addition to his own, then it is necessary to arrange the food bowls and supplies separately where the dog cannot reach it.
It is a good idea to keep it separate from the very beginning.
Also read: Do cats know their names?
How About Introducing a Cat to a Bird?
It is highly unlikely that these two will become best friends, your bird and your cat that is…
The cat’s hunting instinct is innate, even in the domesticated house cat that has never had to get food on it’s own or go hunting.
In nature, wild cats feed mainly on small birds and rodents. Ornamental birds such as budgies, cockatiels, canaries, and small parrots fall into just this type of pray.
However, it is not impossible to keep cats and birds together at home, as long as you are concerned about the safety of all your animals and take some precautions.
Animals react instinctively and for their survival, and this is especially true for predators such as felines. Despite more than a thousand year coexistence with humans, cats are still predators down to the bone and the little fluttering bird is their perfect pray.
Even in the most peaceful of cats, the hunting instinct can exceptionally take over.
If you want to keep the cat and the bird in the same house, the safety of both animals must be given priority. And since the bird is normally physically inferior to the cat, even a single paw can become fatal to the bird.
Therefore, the cat must never have direct contact with your birds, much less if they are not supervised. It is just not a good idea at all.
Even if your bird is in a cage, a cat’s sneaky paw can very easily pass between the bars of the cage and injure the little thing.
It is also necessary to take into account a possible overturning of the cage, which could also hurt the bird severely.
If you want to keep more than one ornamental bird indoors, you will need a big outdoor aviary, which ensures that these mortal enemies, cats and birds rarely cross paths.
If you don’t have a large enough garden or are not planning to house a whole flock of birds right away, you can also buy a large indoor cage, which can easily house one or more beautiful birds.
You must keep the birds in the house and make sure that the cat and the birds are always kept at a safe distance and separated.
When these two different species cross paths, it ends up tragically in most cases for one certain animal.
The ideal would be for the cat to never stay in the same room where the birdcage is located and to only be around it under close supervision.
The cage and the aviary must be closed well and offer enough space for the birds to dodge the cat’s paw that it can push into the cage, even out of curiosity.
Birds should be treated with the highest respect and not be used to awaken the cat’s hunting instinct or to stimulate it to play more.
It is also necessary to pay enough attention to your feline friend so that it does not suffer from jealousy or feel left out.
If the cat is lurking in front of the birdcage or even about to jump on it, saying “NO!” helps clarify the matter.
Pet birds are part of the family and the cat must be clear of that as well.
Did you enjoy reading our article on how to introduce cats, and learning how to introduce cats to dogs? Let us know in the comments below!