Introducing Cats to Other Pets
Introduce your new cat to other family pets slowly. Your current pet may view the newcomer as a threat and acceptance may take time.
The ability of pets to get along together in the same household depends on their individual personalities. As each animal assesses and establishes his place in relation to the other animal(s), there may be a few scuffles. As long as they are supervised and neither animal is in danger of injury, do not interrupt. Do not leave the animals together without supervision until you are certain of their compatibility.
Introducing A Cat To A Dog:
- Keep your dog confined or confine your new cat in his own room with a litter box, food and water until he feels secure in his new home.
- Introduce your pets indoors with your dog on his leash. Do not allow your dog to chase or corner the cat, even out of playfulness or curiosity. Do not tolerate any aggressive behavior on the part of your dog.
- Your cat may seek a safe retreat up high or in a room away from the dog. Give your cat time to gain confidence and to decide when to face his housemate(s).
- Supervise your pets closely and be patient. Don't leave pets together unsupervised until they've accepted each other. This may take several hours, several days, or even a few weeks.
- Never hold a cat in your arms when introducing him to a dog - you might get badly scratched.
- Many pets become companions. Others simply tolerate each other.
- Leave your cat for a few minutes in his carrier when he first arrives in his new home and allow each to sniff out the other cat.
- Temporarily confine your established cat to one room while your new cat familiarizes himself with his new surroundings. Your new cat will show he is settling in when he grooms himself and eats. At that time, he may be ready to meet his new housemates.
- Pick up your new cat and confine him to a quiet room, then allow your established cat to investigate the newcomer's carrier and territory.
- Bring your new cat back into the original area. Do not force the cats to meet and don't interfere unless a fight erupts - toss a blanket over one cat or squirt the cats with a light spray of water to stop a fight.
- Hissing and standoffs are to be expected as one cat enters another's territory or domain.
- Make sure each cat has his own litter box, food and water bowls.
Cats And Caged Pets:
Birds, rodents and fish are the natural prey of cats and may become stressed by the mere presence of a cat.
- Protect these animals from harassment by your cat. Keep them in a room that is off limits to your cat.
- Your cat may live harmoniously with other caged animals, especially rabbits. Introduce them as you introduce two cats - let the cat sniff the rabbits cage; hold the cat while the rabbit hops around: introduce them under strict supervision to see what happens. Proceed from there.
- NEVER leave your cat unsupervised with small animals until you are sure your cat will look but not touch. Remember, a cage placed up high or on a shelf may be accessible to an agile cat. Observe your new cat very closely to see how he behaves around smaller animals. Don't take any chances. It could mean life or death for your caged pet.
How To Encourage Natural Behavior:
Begin by cat proofing your home. By doing so, you will eliminate many problems.
It is natural for cats to scratch. They do this for exercise and to keep their muscles toned. However, furniture and carpets are not acceptable things for scratching activity, and they cannot be kept out of reach. To preserve your furniture, try to teach your cat to use a scratching post.
- Buy a scratching post that doesn't tip and is tall enough to accommodate a cat standing on his hind legs, at least ¾ of a meter (2 ½ feet) tall, or make it yourself. Cover a post with soft, highly textured material such as canvas or carpeting. Attach it firmly to the base or side of a wall. Choose a covering material that does not match other textures in the house because it will be confusing to your cat if the carpeted post is okay but the carpeted floor is off limits.
- Encourage your cat to use the post by taking him to it each time he's caught scratching something he's not supposed to. To further discourage scratching things that are off limits, say "NO!" very firmly when you catch him at it. Then take him to the scratching post, praise him and spend time playing. For extra incentive, tie a toy on a string to the post and sprinkle the post with catnip.
Clip your cat's claws regularly so that he's not so destructive. Have your veterinarian show you how to do this.
Jumping is natural for cats. Teach your cat not to jump on the kitchen table or counters by simply shouting "NO!" and spray him lightly with water. A loud clap also helps get your cat's attention and distract him from his actions. Act quickly, as corrections are only effective when the cat is in the process of doing the unwanted deed. Praise your cat when he responds.
Again, NEVER STRIKE YOUR CAT. Not only is it inhumane, it's unnecessary. It only makes your cat afraid of you. If a cat is cared for, treated with patience and praise, and his activities viewed with a sense of humor, you can prevent many frustrations.
Consult your veterinarian for advice in dealing with difficult behavior problems.
- Keep the litter box out of reach of children and other animals in the household.
- NEVER rub your pet's nose in a mess. It will have a negative effect on his behavior. Instead, say "NO!" firmly, then place the pet in the litter box. Praise him in there.
- Any accidents should be cleaned immediately and the area washed with a half and half solution of white vinegar and water.
- Scoop out feces and urine soaked litter daily, and change the entire box weekly. When empty, wash the litter box using water and a little vinegar or lemon juice to neutralize the odor. Do not use ammonia, as it will make the litter box smell worse. Use about 4 centimeters (1/2 an inch) of fresh litter. Add some baking soda to the litter to reduce the odor.
The most common reason a cat stops using his litter box is because the litter is dirty. Other factors might also cause the breakdown of housetraining.
Cats sometimes react to stress by urinating or defecating outside the litter box. Stress can be caused by a move, new furniture or carpet, a new person in the home, a new animal in the house or a new cat in the neighborhood.
- Perhaps your cat has not yet learned the location of the litter box. This is common with young kittens. Place the box on the same floor as the cat to begin with - not in the basement.
- Your cat may not like the brand of litter. You may need to experiment with different types and consistencies of litter.
- Your cat may be attracted to an area where another pet previously eliminated. A half and half solution of white vinegar and water will help neutralize the odor. Make the area unpleasant by putting down a plastic drop sheet. Put the food bowl at a previously soiled spot. This may also deter the new cat from using that spot again since cats do not like to eliminate where they eat.
- Male cats sometimes spray urine to mark their territories. Neutering will reduce the likelihood of spraying.
- Urinary tract problems may cause cats to urinate in places other than the litter box. You should discuss any sudden change in elimination habits such a straining to urinate or defecate, or increased frequency or discoloration of urine with your veterinarian as soon as possible.