MEET HARRY AND FLASH
Flash was a Siberian kitten, about 1 and half years old, when her mummy came to me concerned that Flash may be lonely during the day, whilst she was at work, and I was asked whether Flash needed a companion in the form of another kitten. Seeing as Flash was very needy for human attention and lived in a small flat with no outside access, apart from a tiny balcony, I was a little concerned that Flash may not appreciate another kitten in her space. There are many cases where people rush to get a second cat thinking that it will be company for the resident cat and many times this backfires and the cat carer is left with two very unhappy cats which hate one another!
A cat carer must consider many things and not rush into getting another cat. The things to consider are:
1. Space. Will 2 or more cats have plenty of space to claim their own individual territories and space to get away from one another – especially high up places to call their own
2. Outside access. Do you have a garden where one cat can escape to should it want to be away from the others?
3. The personality of the resident cat. Is your cat very clingy to you or very territorial within the home? Is it a frightened or nervous cat?
4. Plan B: Do you have a back up plan should things not go as you planned? A back up plan could be a friend of member of family willing to take the new cat should the resident cat not bond well with the newcomer or a rescue centre that is willing to take the new cat back.
5. Time and Patience: Do you have the time and patience to do things in the correct way? There is a very delicate procedure with introducing a new cat to your resident cat. These steps must be taken to ensure a happy household and the wellbeing of both cats.
So.. getting back to Flash
After my clients moved to a much larger flat, which had a nice patio area, they came back to me asking again about getting another kitten and we all decided to give it a go. The back up plan was my clients mother who said she would take Harry if Flash did not respond well to the newcomer.
The steps advised and followed were:
SCENT IS VERY IMPORTANT AND IS THE FIRST STEP WITH ANY FELINE INTRODUCTION TO ANOTHER FELINE.
1. Keep both cats in a separate room for at least 2 days. Your cat will know a new cat is in the house by its scent but will not be able to confront it directly. Swap beds between the cats daily and rub the cats all over the face and flanks with the same cloth to swap scents. Scent is very important to cats and is the best way to start a bond.
2. after 2/3 days of separation place the kitten in a carrier, open the door and allow your cat to meet the new cat in her own time. Don’t open the carrier. Let them sniff and investigate through the bars for 5 mins or so. Both may show some aggression or fear but hopefully both will simply sniff each other at this stage.
3. let them keep meeting like this for a few mins at a time at least 6 times a day for a couple of days. Then begin by letting both cats interact outside of the carrier. Make sure you oversee the meeting and use caution. don’t shut the cats in one room when they meet as they both will need areas to run and retreat if they need too.
4. A little bit of hissing and wrestling is normal the first few weeks as both work out their place in the feline hierarchy of your home.
5. Give plenty of attention to both. Use separate food bowls and food stations. 2 litter trays. They will soon work out their territory between them.
And to my joy, and everyone involved, it worked.
Flash and Harry are now the best of friends, play and sleep together and all thanks to the patience of my clients who didn’t rush things, were slow and correct with the introduction, and had put everything in place to ensure a successful transition!
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