INTRODUCING YOUR NEW CAT TO THE RESIDENT CATS
“Slowly” and “Patiently” are the Operative Words
Although sometimes cats will get along swimmingly in just a couple of hours, you should not be surprised to have a battle on your hands if you try to introduce your new cat too quickly. The time you spend on this all-important process will be saved exponentially by not having to break up conflicts every day.
The Steps to Take
Set up a comfortable “safe room” for New Cat. Put her food, water, litter box (not near the food), scratching post, toys, and bed or other sleeping mat there. Do not let the new cat meet the others for a few days, or even a week, depending on how they respond to hearing and smelling others in the house.
Scent is very important for cats. Let each of them smell the other indirectly, by rubbing a towel on one and letting the other smell it. They will soon accept the scent as a normal part of the house.
After a day or so, let the two cats sniff each other through a baby-gate or through a barely-opened door. Gauge the rate at which they seem to be acclimating to each other
Expect a great deal of “hissy-spitty” behavior from both cats. This is natural and normal; they are just starting to explore their “pecking order.”
Once or twice, switch roles. Put New Cat in the normal living quarters, and let your resident cat sniff out the new cat’s Safe Room.
When you think they’re ready, let them mingle under your supervision. Ignore hissing and growling, but you may have to intervene if a physical battle breaks out. Again, take this step slowly, depending on how quickly they get along. If they do seem to tolerate each other, even begrudgingly, praise both of them profusely.
Make their first activities together enjoyable ones so they will learn to associate pleasure with the presence of the other cat. Feeding (with their own separate dishes), playing, and petting. Keep up with the praise.
If things start going badly, separate them again, and then start where you left off. If one cat seems to consistently be the aggressor, give her some “time out,” then try again a little bit later.
The introduction can take from two hours to six months, so don’t be discouraged if your cats don’t seem to get along well at first. Often the case is that they will eventually be “best buddies.”
Factors to Consider
If you are thinking of getting a kitten to keep an older cat company, you might want to consider two kittens. They will be able to keep each other company while the older cat learns to love them. Remember that not all older cats want a youngster in their domain and may prefer an older more calm and less annoying companion.
If you already have more than one cat, use the “alpha cat” for preliminary introductions. Once he/she accepts the newcomer, the other resident cats will quickly fall in line.
Lots of snuggle-time and attention is indicated for all cats concerned during this period. Remember, the prime goal is to get them to associate pleasure with the presence of each other.
If possible, ask a friend to deliver the new cat to your home, in her cage. You can act nonchalant, as if it’s no big deal, then later let your resident cat(s) think it’s their idea to welcome the newcomer.
With patience and perseverance, you can turn what might appear at first as an “armed camp” into a haven of peace for your integrated feline family.
(Some parts quoted from cats.about.com)
INTRODUCING YOUR NEW CAT TO A RESIDENT DOG
Follow the basic steps in ‘Introducing Your New Cat to The Resident Cats’. If you have more than one dog, introduce only one dog at a time and always with direct supervision. When finally allowing both dogs to be present with the new cat, be aware of the dogs’ behavior to be certain that no pack hunting behavior begins, especially if your dogs have not previously been accustomed to living with cats.
Remember that many cats who like dogs and will ultimately be good buddies with a dog may exhibit defensive, or even aggressive behavior upon first meeting a new dog. Often this is to establish the position of the cat that it is not a pushover and cannot be chased or intimidated by the dog.
INTRODUCING YOUR CAT TO THE OUTSIDE
CCCR requires that most cats be provided ‘safe’ access to the outside. But when you first bring your new cat home, your should NOT let it outside for at least a few weeks and a month is better. When you do think that the cat has bonded to the family and recognizes the house as its home, then you can begin the introduction of the outside space.
Take the cat outside only with you at first. If it is a very skittish cat, you may want to begin your explorations with the cat on a harness and leash, even if only in your back yard. Show the cat around the area close to the house, then take the cat back inside, making sure it recognizes where the door is.
Installing a cat door is an excellent idea. Providing immediate access to getting inside the house is the greatest safety net that you can extend to your cat. So many cats in danger seek refuge at their home but with no way to quickly get inside, they can be injured or killed right outside the door. If you cannot put a door for the cat into the house, an alternative would be to provide some shelter with small cat-sized door where the cat can retreat, a box built on the porch or under the porch, or a shed. This won’t be safe from other cats but will allow a safe place from dogs.
For the first half dozen times that the cat goes out, you should accompany her. When she seems comfortable in the yard, you can let her have some time alone. But make sure to call her in, or go out and get her in an hour or two. Hopefully, you will eventually feel comfortable letting her stay out for longer periods and come in on her own.
CARING FOR YOUR CAT
For a healthy, happy life, your cat will need love and care. Each cat is an individual with different needs and desires, but they all will require water, food, and a place to go potty. Most cats, if not all, also require a sense of freedom and independence. Below are some suggestions of ways to help provide these needs for your beloved feline.
Fresh, clean water provided daily is a necessity. Some cats tend to drink more if the water is moving, as from a faucet or a water fountain. It is important that you make drinking water a pleasant experience especially if you feed your cat dry kibble. Since cats are carnivores and in their natural state get most of the liquid they need to survive by eating fresh moist meat, they tend to not readily drink water. It is difficult for a cat to regularly drink enough water to balance out a dry food diet. Urinary tract and kidney issues are perhaps the most common illnesses, and cause of death, in cats. A major factor in this is the dehydration caused by cats eating dry food and not drinking enough water to hydrate their bodies.
Cats are true carnivores. In their natural state they do NOT generally eat dry food. They eat fresh moist meat so that drinking water is not so needed for them to stay healthy. But in many homes, cats are fed most, if not all, their food dry. Since the cat will tend to not drink enough water to balance out the food, illnesses related to chronic dehydration such as urinary tract infections and kidney disease are produced.
The healthiest diet for your cat is one that is closest to their natural diet. Since most people cannot provide a menu of small game animals for their cat, the next best option is to give them a high-protein, grain-free diet with as much moisture and mineral content as possible. There are many grain-free catfoods available, in dry kibble as well as canned. Along with that your cat should be given some ‘natural roughage’ such as small RAW bones and grass to provide needed minerals and vitamins and also to help cleanse their digestive system.
Small RAW bones, such as those in raw chicken wings, are an excellent way for your cats to get much needed food that will help keep their teeth, gums and digestive systems healthy, as well as providing much needed nutrients. In nature, cats eat not only the bones but feathers, fur, feet, etc. of the prey they hunt. A cat’s whole digestive/elimination system has evolved around this diet. A complete switch to dry kibble and even canned food leaves that system lacking and in distress. And so cats end up with dental problems, digestion and elimination problems, and other health problems related to the toxic overload that occurs when their systems are not given a chance to be exercised and cleaned.
If your cats do not have an opportunity to hunt, and eat, some of their natural food, providing a diet that allows their bodies to function in a more natural way will help ward off disease and the high vet bills that go with it.
Raw chicken wings are a cheap, easy way to give you cat a bit of a ‘natural’ diet that can help keep their teeth and gums exercised, as well as adding vitamins and minerals. These must be fed RAW. Cooked bones become brittle and can puncture the mouth and esophagus. Organic is better of course. Sometimes it is necessary to pour a bit of boiling water over the outside of the wings to remove any possible bacterial contamination and the smell/taste of the wrapper. Contrary to some claims, dry catfood is not a good food for a cat’s teeth and gums.
Grass is a good source of fiber for your cat. If you’ve ever watched your cat outside, you have probably seen them chewing on fresh or dried grass or even small stems of shrubs. When eaten, that fiber passes almost undigested through the system and helps clean and detoxify the cat’s digestive tract. It also gives them something healthy to clean their teeth with. Especially with our long, snow-covered winters, providing a pot of growing oat or wheat grass can be a benefit for your cat. Small pots of growing wheat grass are sold in the produce section of many grocery stores. Or you can buy oat or grass seed at a pet store, or a seed supply store (make sure it is untreated seed) and grow it yourself. Oat is preferred by most cats but wheat is an easy alternative since it is more commonly available.
Foods such as raw and cooked fish, canned tuna, shrimp, sardines, beef, etc. can be excellent dietary additions for your cat. The more natural meat diet that can be provided in place of dry food, the better. Do be cautious about the overuse of canned tuna and other meats that contain an excess of salt. These are favored snacks but not suitable for everyday use.
In every pet store, there is always a selection of vitamins and treats that are claimed to be beneficial for your cat. We will mention only a few supplements here that we have found to be generally beneficial for a cat’s health.
Fish oil seems to be healthful for most cats, as it is for people. There are some cats however that have trouble digesting the oil; starting with just a tiny amount can help them get used to it gradually. Fish oil is an excellent replacement for the hair ball remedies that are sold. And while it is lubricating the system it is also providing nutrition such as omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil can help not only with your cat’s sluggish elimination but can improve the cat’s coat and skin and help reduce inflammation and pain for those who may be prone to arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. It is particularly useful for older cats and those who have been declawed or have past joint injuries, and possibly for cats with recurring urinary tract problems. Although pet stores sell bottles of fish oil, it is better to buy the kind for human use in capsules. The bottled fish oil is often old and rancid. The capsules can be easily punctured and squeezed onto wet catfood or even dry cat food. Some cats will lick it straight off a finger or plate.
Glucosamine is a supplement used to treat inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis. Especially helpful for older cats and those who are declawed or have other injuries, it is also recommended by some vets for cats who have recurring or chronic urinary tract issues since some urinary tract problems are caused by inflammation rather than bacteria. You can buy this as a packaged treat in pet stores. Or you can buy it in the vitamin section of the grocery or health food store; be sure to get the capsules rather than the tablets so you can open the capsule and pour the powder in the cat’s wetfood. Half of the powder in a large capsule each day should be helpful.
*THE ROOT OF HAPPINESS–A SENSE OF FREEDOM
CCCR requires that cats be provided some access to the outside (with a very few exceptions). We believe that cats enjoy, and need, to have time in the natural world to feel the sun and wind, to play in the grass, listen to the birds, as much as any human has that need. The popular modern American concept that cats should be kept indoors FOREVER seems to stem from Americans’ fear and overprotectiveness. Of course your cat may be safer from injury if imprisoned inside, just as it would be for your child to never leave the house. But we allow our children to go outside, our teenagers to drive on the highway, not because it’s SAFE, but because without having that freedom, there would be no quality of life.
And so it is with cats. They NEED to be allowed a place where they can feel free and independent. At least for a while. At least to some degree. And what better place than one with fresh air, birdsong, and the ground to walk on.
Cats are hunters. That is what they evolved to do. Just as their digestive systems have evolved to digest meat, every nerve and fiber in their bodies has evolved to hunt. Watch any kitten playing and what you’ll see are the moves and interests, the highly developed intelligence, of a hunter. When you let your cat outside to enjoy the natural world, it has a chance to experience some of the feelings of a hunter and maybe even actually do some hunting. This ‘natural’ activity relieves stress for a cat and brings joy. It allows them to recharge their spirit; maintain a healthy emotional and physical state, a sense of well-being.
Each cat will have a different degree of need for outside space and time. We try our best to match the outdoor needs of the cat to the opportunities for outside access at the adoptive home. A cat that really needs to roam the woods hunting and exploring should go to a home with more open space; whereas a cat that would be happy in a fenced yard could go to a home with a back yard in a subdivision. Regardless of where you are, providing as much ‘safe’ outside time and space for your cat will allow it to to be a happier and healthier family member.
So often we hear about the statistics that show that cats live longer if confined inside walls their whole lives. Those statistics are skewed by counting all the uncared for stray and feral cats in with the indoor-outdoor family cats, and comparing that life span average to that of indoor only cats. Even if it was true that indoor only cats live more years, these figures do not take into account the mental or physical condition of the cats locked inside–the boredom, the obesity, the increasing number of ‘civilized-society’ illnesses, the increasing amount of antidepressants prescribed to cats who never get to step outside. Even if true, is it better to live longer locked inside walls, or to enjoy the freedom of having some independence with a shorter lifespan? Our philosophy at CCCR is to err on the side of quality of life for the cats we rescue and adopt out, rather than quantity of years alive.
HELPFUL TIPS FOR COMMON HEALTH PROBLEMS IN CATS
Attached below is a simple, one-page sheet on introducing and basic care for your new furry feline.