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Introducing a Second Cat to a Household

As cats are inherently territorial, introducing a second cat to the household can be an awe-inspiring task. Here are are some tips and tricks to make life a little easier. A cats home really is his castle. One of the first things your cat will do when introduced to a new environment is mark his territory. She does this by leaving smells at the point of each object. When a new cat comes along the smell of another cat will send the message “Back off! You’re trespassing!”

The approach of another cat onto her territory will immediately cause heckles to rise, however sweet and harmless the cat newcomer maybe. So how can you introduce a cat to the household when there is already a dominant cat?

The accepted method is to do it by degrees. This is the method we used when we were introducing three month old Ellie, our blue Burmese girl to Louie, our red Somali boy. Lou was 7 months old and had been in the house for one month.

Both cats need to get used to the sight, smells and presence of the other. A safe way to do this is to create a small territory for the newcomer. This could be a spare room perhaps that you can stop the resident cat going into. Spray it with household smells and allow the newcomer to mark his territory. This gives him a place to retreat to if things get a little rough - a safe harbour.

The next step is to put the newcomer back into the cat box and take him down to another room where the resident cat is. Place the cat box down and leave the two cats in the room together. They will not be a threat to each other because they clearly can not get to each other. But it will allow them to get used to the sight, smells and presence of each other in a safe environment.

The next step is to place the box in different places in the room and then the house. After this stage swap where the two cats are. In other words place the resident cat into the box and let the newcomer roam free in the room. The more this is done and interchanged over a long time as possible, the more they will get used to each other without feeling the other is a threat. The last step is to open the box in a room where you can supervise what is happening and allow the newcomer to retreat to his own room if necessary. Often by this time , the cats will have accepted each other and tolerance may even turn to friendship! A good sign is when the cats are eating together. As all cat lovers know there will always be “spats”, but they can usually work things out themselves without any harm.

There is always a possibility that the resident cat is far too dominant and territorial to allow the newcomer in. This indeed may lead to quite aggressive behaviour. In which case the owner should seek professional help or consider not introducing a second cat at all.

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