Before you bring another cat home, read this!
Hi, I'm KJ and I'm on a mission to help cats and cat owners learn from my mistakes.
If you go no further, please read this: Never bring a new cat home and just let him or her out with your current cats. NEVER. Thank you. And it's okay if you didn't know that. I'm just glad that now you do.
Now, why is this on my mind right now?
Earlier this week, I felt like an absolute failure. A kitten was returned to a shelter. A kitten that maybe I could have helped. It wasn't my kitten and it wasn't my choice but when I hear things like this my heart hurts.
So here I am, hoping that if even just one cat gets saved, that cute little kitten (who will definitely get the right home) will have popped up in my life for a reason.
If you have a cat and you want another cat, COOL! GREAT! FANTASTIC! I can not WAIT to see the pictures! BUT, I will ask you to WAIT and get it right when you bring that new baby home.
When we choose to share our home with cats, we are choosing to accept that they are cats. They do cat things. They have cat logic. They have cat DNA. They are not us. They don't think like us. They don't have thoughts of revenge or desires to destroy your home because they don't like you or even thoughts of disliking and terrorizing your other cats. They are not us.
They do this: WHOA. New place? New smells? New everything? What is happening and am I safe? And until I know what's happening and if I'm safe, I'm going to have to act like I'm not. I am, after all, prey, and I have no idea if there's something in my new environment that wants to eat me.
Now, if you're fortunate enough have a cat who's been fostered in a great environment, only been around humans who were trustworthy and kind, you may not have as big of a reaction.
But if you already have a cat, you owe it to BOTH the new and current cat to prepare for the chance that both of them will be VERY afraid. You are their human. They trust you to make them safe.
Below is a video of tips and tricks to set you off on the right track. It's cute and fun and full of my little Johnny Storm who I happen to think is the cutest kitten in the world so I highly recommend it. However, if you don't want to watch a video, see below for the MUST DO list if you are introducing another cat.
KJ's 5 "Must Love Cats. Must Do This." Guide to Introducing Your New Cat
#1 Bring the new cat home with a separate small room already prepared with food, litter and water. DO NOT let your other cat(s) SEE the new cat. DO NOT. Please. Please. Please. DO NOT.
#2 Have items that smell like YOUR cat in the room and use towels or blankets to pet the new kitty and let your current resident cats get to know their scent. Pet them with the same gloves, towels, blankets, etc. Mix their scents. That tells every cat in the house that we're all the same and we all belong.
#3 Move new kitty after a few days to a different room to explore while letting your other cat go into new kitty room to explore as well.
#4 Feed them on each side of the door. Let them eat NEAR each other but not see each other. This reinforces they are safe. They can smell each other but not see each other and it creates positive interactions.
#5 When they seem less hissy and more comfortable with each other's scents, THEN grab a baby gate, open the door and let them see each other. Supervise ALL interactions and keep them short at first. A couple of minutes of the door being open and them eating a snack together is great. Then close the door and repeat that later.
Is it fun to introduce cats slowly? No. Can you just tell your cats that you like them both, they are going to live together now and you want them to get along? No.
Cats need to know they are safe. Cats need our help to do that when we invite them into our homes. Sometimes it's taken me a few days to onboard a new cat. Sometimes it's taken months. That's a reality that must be accepted before bringing a new cat into your home.
Think like a cat. Accept that the cat is a cat. And watch the video above to see that YES, it is possible for your cats to get along if you create the environment for them to succeed.
If you need more assistance, reach out to me. I want to help. I want you to keep your cats in your home and for all of you to be happy.
And I want every cat who gets adopted in that moment of pure "I Choose You" bliss to stay in the home with the human who had that moment AND have many more moments like that for a lifetime together.
Warm wishes and whisker love,
KJ can be seen sharing positive stories about cats regularly on Pet Pals TV! She has spent her entire life "raising cats" from her beginnings on a farm to over 10 years working in a cat clinic. She now works to improve feline lives by supporting shelters, rescues and providing guidance to cat lovers experiencing behavior issues or in need of help speaking their cat's language. Want to make the story of your cat a positive one? Contact KJ here for a Kitty Konsultation.