Pictured: Ismene and Jasper shortly after our nurse Joe adopted Ismene
Knowing your Cat
In their natural state, cats generally tend to spend time in solitude with the most common groupings in the wild being female family members who gather in colonies. With domestication today, a lot of families adopt multiple cats into the home which isn’t how they would choose to spend their time.
Although entirely possible, when thinking of adopting a new cat it is important to consider how your current feline friend would take this sudden change. Not all cats enjoy sharing space, for example, and some are easily stressed and scared.
Personality plays a big part. If you have a shy and timid cat, then adopting a bold and daring kitten may not be the best personality. Most animal adoption centers will tell you what sort of cat you will be adopting, and should be able to find a cat whose personality can complement your resident cat’s personality the best.
Some cats, however, do not like to share their space at all. It is equally important to recognise when bringing home a new cat could be truly upsetting and stressful to your current kitty!
I’m sure when I say that cats have favourite spots and rooms, most of you will immediately know where yours are. Some cats have certain window sills they snooze on, somebody’s bedroom, or a favourite armchair. There’s always going to be one or more rooms your current cat spends most of their time in, and this is because cats like to feel secure in their own space.
When taking home a new cat or kitten, make sure you choose a room not often frequented by your current cat. If they don’t pay much attention to the front room or living room, set up all your new cat’s toys, bowls and bedding there. It is important to not make your resident feel like he is losing out on any space. Set everything up, and let your new cat explore in peace; he or she will want to rub against furniture and jump around to get their scent in the room, and to have a look to see what their new territory looks like.
Just like with their space, cats like to have their own resources. This means everything from food bowls to litter trays. Our general rule would be to provide every cat with their own bowl for water, for food, and their own litter tray, plus one of each in case they would like variety. This means if you have two cats, you would have 3 food bowls, 3 water bowls, etc.
As mentioned, make sure your new cat is moved into a room that your resident cat doesn’t frequent very often, and won’t mind if they aren’t allowed in. Here, your new cat can explore their new surroundings, spread their scent, and settle in. A new place can be stressful for a new cat, and for them to feel at ease they need to establish it as their own. Therefore it’s important to give them plenty of time to settle in.
Once your new cat has really settled in and has began using certain pillows or blankets, now is the time to swap them with your resident! By swapping their blankets, both get used to the other’s scent without the shock of having to run into a strange new cat!
Physically introducing your cats should be done in a controlled setting, ideally from behind something they can’t touch each other through. For a new kitten in the home, consider putting the kitten in a queening crate with all the food bowls and litter trays he or she needs (and toys!). Allow your resident to see the new cat through this barrier or crate, and allow him or her to have a meal nearby so he knows that food will not have to be shared or fought over; there’s plenty to go around!
Once initial suspicion has been dealt with and the cats seem used to each other, you can begin letting them in the same room without a barrier blocking them. Never leave your cats alone together until you are absolutely certain they won’t get into a fight or harm each other!
If you have any concerns or questions about introducing new cats to each other, feel free to call Roisin or Joe in Just Cats on 01-8227270! We’re happy to help!