By Megan Schneider
If you’re thinking about adding a feline to give your current kitty some companionship, or you’ve just always thought of yourself as a two (or more) kitty household, summer is a great time to find that perfect new addition. Shelters and rescues throughout the valley usually have more cats and kittens than they can handle in the warmer months. Here are just a few reminders to help ensure introductions go smoothly.
- Go SLOWLY! Some established cats will warm up quickly to having a new playmate around, but most (especially older cats) need a little time to get used to that extra furry family member.
- Make sure each cat has a separate living, eating and elimination space. Ideally in separate rooms with a solid door to begin with.
- Letting each cat sniff you and/or bedding from the other kitty will give them each a chance to understand there is another cat around and maybe spark some curiosity.
- As long as there are no red flags – either one of the cats hissing at the door when the other cat walks by, or aggressively swatting under the door – you can try putting up a baby gate or other barrier to keep them physically separated but able to see and smell each other at the same time.
- Give the kitties special attention, or food/treats by the baby gate to encourage them to come and hang out near each other. This also gives each cat positive associations with each other – when the other cat shows up, mom brings out the good stuff!
- If the cats seem to be getting along, interested in each other without any obvious fear or stress, you can try removing the baby gate. Only do this under supervision, and ensure each cat has an easy way to escape the situation if they are feeling nervous or unsure
- Once the kitties voluntarily interact with each other – cuddle together to sleep, groom each other, and/or play together they are off and running toward a new feline friendship!