Lacie is one of our very experienced product testers, and I was prompted to write this when her Mum told me that she and Lacie’s Dad are about to expand their furry family. Their new addition is called Bear and he’s 5 months old. He’d been abandoned and was being taken care of by the good folks at Sydney Animal Hospitals in Newport. Lacie’s Mum met Bear there and as they say in the classics, it was all meant to be. There was a bit more than 12 months between when we adopted Pussa and when we got Soph. In the intervening period Pussa had gotten pretty used to being the centre of the universe in our house and I reckon she probably though that life was pretty damn good. Then without warning one day, The Grey Cat turned up. It must have been like the world as she knew it had changed forever. I’m wondering how Lacey is going to feel when Bear arrives and she has to share her territory and the affections of her Mum and Dad with another? There’s a fair bit of advice out there about how to introduce a new cat to your old cat. Frankly, a lot of it seems to be well-intentioned but impractical, and so when we were getting Soph we employed a bit of common sense and a lot of hoping for the best.
How We Introduced A New Cat To An Old Cat
- Before Soph arrived we set up our spare bedroom so that we could keep her safely separated from Pussa. In that room we had all the necessary home comforts like water, a litter tray, scratching post, her new cat bed and some cat toys to play with;
- As soon as we brought Soph inside Pussa was onto it so we took Soph straight into “her” room along with the toy that her foster parents had given her. Everyone likes something familiar around when everything else is strange. Mr Pet Parent stayed with her while she investigated the new surrounds and tried not to feel bad for her as she displayed all the classic signs of a cat stressed at being in a new place. That reaction is to be expected of course, so Mr Pet Parent just let her go hide in a corner until she was ready to poke her head out again;
- For the first couple of days we fed Soph and Pussa on either side of the closed door so they could get used to the smell of each other, and associate it with something positive;
- After that we had our first go at letting them see each other because you can only put the inevitable off for so long. The only way we could do it was for each Pet Parent to hold a cat and walk slowly towards each other, stepping back if either cat was getting overly distressed;
- At night we had Pussa in our bedroom and let Soph out to explore the rest of her new home. Pussa camped the whole night right at the bedroom door because she was dying to get out and find out more about The Intruder. As a consequence she scratched at the door the entire night and no-one it seemed was enjoying the process.
We lasted two nights with this arrangement, and to be honest just couldn’t cope with more than that. We let both cats out together and as expected Pussa made a beeline straight for poor old Soph. It wasn’t too disastrous since Soph managed to find some higher, safer ground and eventually Pussa got interested in something else and left her alone. That’s pretty much how all the following years of their relationship have gone come to think of it. The other problem we had was getting Soph to eat when she first arrived. She was anything but excited about what was on offer and really ate very little of each meal for about the first week. We persevered and after a while she figured out that it was what’s in the dish or nothing. Interestingly Soph bonded with Mr Pet Parent straight away and seemed to feel more secure when she was near him. We put a tall cat scratcher next to Mr Pet Parent’s lounge chair and she would happily sit there and observe the world around her and more importantly keep an eye on Pussa! Again, another habit that has continued ever since.
There were definitely times when we first got Soph that we thought we had made a really big mistake. Pussa was downright horrible and Soph wasn’t eating, but with time everyone got used to each other and things settled. So we say to Lacie, don’t worry there will still be plenty of affection to go round. To Bear, learn to like the food and don’t be offended if some of the current residents seem a bit rude. It’ll pass and life will be better than you ever thought possible.