Helping Cats Get Along
(C) Copyright 2009 by Angels4Animals.com
Introducing new cats to eachother - and getting them truly comfortable with one another - can sometimes present its challenges.
The good news is that there are numerous things that can be done to smooth out any rough edges and ensure that everyone ends up happy and contented. It may not happen instantly, but when it does it will be SO worth it.
With so many cats in need of homes, and tragically high numbers of cats being euthanized every day simply because they have no home of their own, its a terrible shame not to add another cat to your family simply for fear of personality clashes when, in fact, its actually not that difficult to achieve peace and contentment among cats with the right guidance.
This article explains several very well tested and highly proven techniques which will enable you to have your cat and adopt another one (or two, or three...) too!
Time and patience are sometimes required when introducing unfamiliar cats to eachother. If the introduction process is handled correctly, the cats will almost always eventually get along or at least tolerate eachother (and sometimes they may even become great buddies!).
* You must always start very slow when introducing cats to eachother, especially if these are cats that are not accustomed to living with other cats.
* Begin by keeping the cats in seperate parts of the house for several days - do not let them come in contact with eachother.
* You want to get each cat used to the scent of the other cat before allowing them to meet. For several days before trying to introduce them, you should "exchange scents". Do this by gently rubbing a towel or small blanket on the fur of one cat, and then take the towel to the other cat, allow her to smell it, and leave it with her. Do this in the reverse with the other cat as well. Repeat this process for a few days.
* Slowly allow the cats to have more gradual exposure to eachother - as long as they are not expressing signs of displeasure. After keeping the in seperate parts of the house for several days and exchanging scents, you can allow them to spend time on opposite sides of a closed door inside the home. They will be able to smell eachother under the door, and may even try playing "foots" under the door if the door sits high enough off the floor. If there is hissing or growling when they are on opposite sides of the door, do not move forward with an introduction. You must give them time to get comfortable with knowing that there is another cat behind the door. Even if the cats seem comfortable when seperated by the door, allow at least a few days for them to be separated in this manner.
* Finally it will be time to let them have some contact with one another. This must be done under close supervision. A little hissing and growling is normal. They are working things out. If there is any swiping or "boxing", stay close by and be ready to intervene if it becomes aggressive. A swipe or two may be normal, but if it goes further than that and they start to scrap, more time is needed and they will need to be separated again by a door under which they can smell and hear each other and gradually get used to the other's presence.
* A little trick that is often effective when letting the two cats meet for the first time is to get some vanilla extract (sold in the baking department of any grocery store) and carefully put a little dab on your finger, then dab it onto the nose of each cat. (Be very carefully not to get it in the nose, and be very careful not to get it anywhere near the eyes!!!!). Next, put a dab on the tip of the tail of each cat, and another dab near the base of the tail of each cat (near the butt). THEN allow the cats to meet under supervision. In many cases this allows an introduction to go much more smoothly because now the cats both smell the same. Part of what cats find disturbing about meeting other cats is the unfamiliar scent, so by taking this approach, you are removing that particular issue and it makes the process easier for everyone involved. Be sure to use a wash cloth to wipe away the vanilla after the introduction because it can be sticky and messy in the cats fur (which makes them uncomfortbale as cats like to be very clean). If you need to seperate them again because the introduction wasnt a success, repeat the process with the vanilla the next time you do the re-introduction ( a few days later).
* There is a product called Feliway which comes in a spray or a plug-in diffuser. Many vets sell it (inquire with them) and some large pet supply stores may have it. You can also do an internet search on that name and find it on the internet. This product emits scents which are very calming and soothing to cats. It helps relax them in stressful situations. It can be very helpful when doing cat introductions. If possible, spray the product (or plug in the diffuser) before you do the introduction to ensure it goes well. In a worst case scenario, if you've tried an introduction and are having problems, get your hands on this product and then try again - it often makes a huge difference. A similar product is sold in a spray bottle - it is called Quiet Moments and many pet supply stores sell it. Spray it in the room when the cats meet and come in contact, and use regalarly for the first while as they are getting accustomed to eachother. It may not be as effective as Feliway, but it does help and is often readily available in local stores.
* There are also a couple of other homeopathic products which are very helpful in reducing stress and anxiety levels during new cat introductions, and when trying to get cats comfortable in eachother's presence. Go to http://www.spiritessence.com/ and click on "products" - consider the following remedies: "Safe Space for Cats", "grouch remedy", "peacekeeper" remedy. You simply put a couple of drops into the cat's wet food, or the water bowl if they drink regularly OR you can gently rub it into their fur (behind they ears, around their neck, under the chin). These have a very calming effect on cats who are unfeeling unsettled due to the presence of another cat. Use several times a day for best effect. After a couple of weeks (sometimes even in days) you should see a noticable difference. I have used these in shelter environments, and also when introducing bew cats to older cats who have never been exposed to other cats, and it REALLY does work if you use as directed. Over time you will see a difference, and often it can be THE thing that really makes or breaks the success you have with new cat introductions. Also, do an internet search on BACH Floral Essences. These too are homeopathic remedies that work wonders in enabling cats to tolerate eachother and get along if used several times a day as directed until improvement is seen (usually within a couple weeks). You need to pick the right remedy for the temperment of the cat or cats. For instance, "holly" is a good choice if there is jealousy and resentment between the cats. Read about the uses for the various Bach Flower Essences and pick the one or ones that best suit the situation with your cats. A good source for purchasing Bach Flower Essences is http://www.VitaCost.com. I can tell you for a fact that I have used these homeopathic remedies with MANY cats that were uncomfortable or downright aggressive with other cats and they WORK if used regularily and as directed, and also when combined with the gradual approach to contact as descirbed above.
* The bottom line is that with patience and perserverance, and the guidance provided above, it really IS possible for cats to get along even if it isnt looking promising at the start. Dont give up. Your cats need your committment to them to help them work it out. Never just toss them in a room together and force them to work it out on their own. Take a leadership role, with understanding and compassion, and guide them through it. You can do this! You're the human!
Whatever you do, don't give up. Make your committment to all of the cats involved. Far too many cats are given away or given up because their owners werent willing to make the effort needed to help the cats work it out. Any time a cat who has a home is given up or given away it is a tragic situation because there is such a huge problem with a lack of enough homes for cats. This is why so many are euthanized, or end up suffering on the streets. Even if you find a home for a cat you decide to give up, it takes away a potential home from another cat - because there are only so many homes to go around. And sadly, many cats who are rehomed by their owners ultimately end up on the streets because they've run away in hopes of finding their former family, or they are abandoned by the new owner because they were never truly wanted in the first place.
So rather than just give up and give a cat away if your cats aren't getting along, stick it out and work with them. It is such a rewarding experience when you do this and they ultimately end up getting along. You'll know you've done good!
Remember! Go slow and have patience. Some hissing and growling is VERY normal and is not cause for alarm - it is a natural process they need to go throw and they'll get past it with a little time. Give all the kitties involved lots of love and attention so they know they need not feel threatened by the other cat in terms of their place in the home and in your life. If things look like they're getting out of hand (meaning more than a few swats or a little boxing), seperate them for a few more days (or however many are needed) and start the process over again.
In a future article we'll discuss what to do if you already have cats who aren't fond of one another.
Thank you for caring for your Cats!!
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