In collaboration with Cat Educator, Intersand®’s cat experts would like to offer a few tips and tricks for new “parents” of cats, cat lovers and anyone who’s considering a feline addition to the family.
You plan on adopting a new feline companion and you already have one or more cats? Different strategies can be put in place to maximize the chances that harmony reigns.
First, you should know that the cat is basically a more solitary animal, but still able to live in a group if the number of resources is sufficient to meet the needs of each member. So, depending on the character and life experiences, there are good chances that the arrival of a congener in the environment significantly disrupts the routine and generates a lot of stress to the cat established first. This is why the encounter between unknown cats must be smooth and fun in order to increase the chances of a good relationship or, at least, that they tolerate each other.
What would you say if you were imposed on a roommate that you have never met, showing up one evening without ever leaving and using your personal effects immediately? Unpleasant, isn’t it? It’s the same with adding a new member to the feline species family. Their character will definitely be different and some cats can become very close and enjoy the company of the other. On the other hand, some cats will never sleep side by side, will never play together, but it’s important at least that they tolerate each other because they share the same environment.
To achieve this, you have to gradually introduce the cats by isolating the newcomer in a room with his personal belongings. Over time, the cat will become more comfortable in his room and the resident cat can smell him under the door. When both cats are comfortable and show no sign of being stressed by the presence of the other cat, it will be possible to make brief presentations using the door as a barrier to avoid contact or nose-to-nose. Always remember that these sessions should be enjoyable for each individual without exceeding their tolerance thresholds. Everyone should stay at a reasonable distance from each other and it is suggested to offer everyone a tasty feast. Thus, over the days or weeks, it will be possible to gradually bring the bowls closer and possibly open the door and let them smell each other. By proceeding this way, cats are much less stressed and can deduce by association that the other cat represents something pleasant, because its presence announces something appealing (food).
Cats can live together if the number of resources is sufficient to meet each one’s needs. For the cat, a resource is something he uses or brings him pleasure. For example, laying on Ms.’s legs on the chair, Mr. petting him on the bathroom counter in the morning, litters, food, the shelf near the window giving a breathtaking view of the birds in the tree etc. All resources that individuals are sharing the same environment must split between each other and agree on who uses what and when. The deduction is simple, the more cats there are in a house, the more resources must be multiplied. There will be fewer conflict situations between cats wishing to appropriate the same resource.
Cat trees, high shelves, access to windows and litter boxes (ideally one more than the number of cats) should all be distributed in different rooms and in abundance in homes where several cats live. Thus, rather than arguing over a resource, they will be able to choose an alternative.
It’s not just at the time of the introduction that cats have to spend good time with each other, we can also remind them regularly that the other is nice!
To achieve this, make sure that the cats spend pleasant moments in the presence of each other. For example, meals can be served side by side in interactive bowls and game sessions with fishing rod-style poles can be offered simultaneously so that everyone spends their energy.
In short, there is no sure-fire method for cats to get along well, because several factors are to be considered such as character, life experiences, environment offered, introduction, etc. Fortunately, it is possible for pet parents to promote a healthy cohabitation. In some cases, it may be necessary to have personalized advice from a feline behaviourist or veterinarian.