Some years ago I had a friend who was going off to graduate school and couldn’t take her cat with her. I agreed to take Mellow into my home even though I already had one cat (Trisket). I brought Mellow home and immediately let her out of her carrying case with Trisket sitting near by. Big mistake! Trisket who had already been living with me for some time was none too pleased at Mellow’s arrival and made sure we knew about it. Mellow spent at least a week cowering in a closet, coming out only to use the litter box (I put her food in the closet). Eventually things worked out, although Trisket & Mellow never became great friends.
One of the services Hands of Time offers is pet care. Usually we visit cats in their home, but occasionally that’s not possible and instead of boarding a cat in a kennel the owner will ask me to take it into my home. Since I no longer have pets of my own, this is a nice way for me to enjoy cat ownership on a limited basis. Even though I am bringing a client’s cat into a pet free environment I am cautious about how I do it.
Whether you are introducing a cat into a home with other pets, or with none at all there are some things to keep in mind. When bringing home a new cat designate one room in your house for the cat. The room should be large enough to house both the litter box and the cat’s food bowls without being right next to each other, a sleeping pad/bed, scratching post and toys. Keep the cat in that room for a day or two (if you have no other pets), or until the cat feels comfortable enough to venture out into the rest of the house. Once you give the cat free reign of your home and it is acclimated you can move the litter box and food bowls to other rooms. When doing that make sure to show the cat where they have been relocated so there won’t be any undesirable accidents.
When you Have Other Pets in your Home
If you have other pets in the house you will want to keep the door to the room closed initially. The Humane Society recommends that you “Feed your resident pets and the newcomer on each side of the door to this room, so that they associate something enjoyable (eating!) with each other’s smells. Don’t put the food so close to the door that the animals are too upset by each other’s presence to eat. Gradually move the dishes closer to the door until your pets can eat calmly while standing directly on either side of the door.”
The next step is to let the cats become acclimated to each others scent. You can do this by letting them sniff each others toys, bedding, or a towel that you’ve rubbed on each of them. They will also sniff each others scent on you. Once the new cat is comfortable in this room you will want your pets to switch places, giving the new cat the opportunity to see the rest of your home, and the other pets the opportunity to see what’s been going on behind the closed door. Do this once or twice for a couple of days.
Okay, Take a Deep Breath – It’s Time for Everyone to Finally Meet
Now with the new cat back in its room and the other pets in the rest of the house, its time for a careful supervised “meeting”. With your pets on their respective sides of the door, open it a couple of inches slowly. Your pets will be naturally curious and try to peer around the door and sniff the air. Do this once or twice a day for a few minutes. Use a door stopper so that and over excited or curious pet can’t open the door even further.
Once your pets are able to do this in a relaxed manner they are ready to meet face to face. It may be tempting to just open the door so that every one can see each other, but bringing your existing pets face to face with a new pet should be done with more care. Put the new pet in a carrying case and then let your existing pets walk up to the case so they can sniff each other through the case door. You may need to repeat this exercise several times over the course of a few days. When this can be done without any excitement on the part of any of your pets, they are ready to be room mates.
Free to Roam the Plains
Now you can let your new pet roam the house along with the rest of your pets. You’ll want to be present when this is done especially the first time, and you will want to do this for a limited amount of time initially. On each succeeding day you can increase the amount of time you let everyone roam around and play together until you’re sure your existing pets accept your new cat.