What Is The Best Way To Safely Introduce A Cat Into The Household
In order to ensure that there are no injuries and that all introductions are positive, a desensitization and counterconditioning program is the best way to ease or re-introduce a cat into a household .
“This arrangement provides a separate territory within the home for each cat… ”
Training should occur when the cats can be occupied in a highly “rewarding” activity such as feeding, play, or treats. Provided both cats are far enough apart to minimize the possibility of aggression, and the reward is sufficiently appealing, the cats will focus on the rewards rather than each other. In addition, if the rewards are saved exclusively for these introduction times, the cats will quickly learn to expect “good things to happen” in the presence of each other . In addition to ensuring that the cats are at a safe enough distance to minimize fear, both cats can be confined to an open wire mesh cage or a body harness and leash.
Another way to integrate cats is with play therapy. Some cats are more interested in play, toys or catnip than they are in food. One of the best toys is a wand or fishing rod handle with a stimulating play toy such as a catnip mouse or feathers on the end for chasing and pouncing. Begin by having both cats play at a distance from each other. Or, keep one cat in a crate with food while the other is out with play therapy. Over time, put the toys between the cats and let them play with the toys together.
Give Cats Their Own Space
Cats like to have their own space and can be quite territorial. Having to share a small space, food bowls, and litter boxes is a common reason for aggression. While you probably can’t expand your home, you can add space for the cats by providing additional perches, kitty condos, or even investing in an outdoor cat enclosure that allows cats to safely spend time outdoors.
Also, place food and water bowls and litter boxes for each pet, so the cats won’t have to share.
Feline Behavior Problems: Aggression
Aggression, defined as hostile or violent behavior intended to dominate or intimidate another individual, is a fairly common behavioral problem in cats.
Its causes in cats can be complex, both in terms of triggers and targets, making it challenging to find strategies to eliminate aggressive feline behavior.
The consequences of aggressive behavior in cats can be significant, ranging from injuries to other cats and people to the surrender of aggressive cats to shelters. A recent study reported that 27 percent of cats relinquished to shelters for behavioral reasons were surrendered for aggression. Given these high stakes, it is important that cat owners understand the cause of their pets aggressive behavior in order to develop a plan to successfully intervene.
Regardless of their cause, recognizing the signs that a cat is fearful or aggressive can help prevent injury to pets and people. These cues can be separated into two categories: those observed in the face and head and those expressed by body posture.
Signs of aggression include dilated pupils, ears flattened backward on the head, tail held erect with hairs raised, and an arched back. Signs of fear include dilated pupils, ears flattened and held outward, whiskers flattened or pressed downward onto the face, tail closely wrapped or tucked under the body, and head held upward while lying prone .
Types of Aggression
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Aggression Between Family Cats And Feline Social Behavior
Its impossible to estimate how well any particular pair or group of cats will ultimately tolerate each other. Some cats are unusually territorial, may never adjust to sharing their house, and may do best in a one-cat family.
However, many aggressive problems between cats can be successfully resolved. To do this, you may need help, both from your veterinarian and from an animal behavior specialist who is knowledgeable in cat behavior. Cats with aggression problems may never be best friends, but can often learn to mutually tolerate each other with a minimum of conflict. Working with aggression problems between family cats will take time and commitment from you. Dont give up without consulting the appropriate experts.
Litter Box: Provide Enough Litter Boxes Or Litter Trays
Another important component with helping a new cat to get established and to prevent bullying behavior is to have enough litter boxes. When a cat uses the bathroom, he or she is at its most vulnerable. If the cat feels threatened, he may forgo the litter box and find a “safer” place to do bathroom business.
- One Litter Box per Cat Plus One: I have a cat who likes to take advantage of other cats using the litter box to pick a fight. To help alleviate this problem, I have added more litter boxes in other parts of the house.
- Create a Safe Environment: If you have a cat that is bullying other cats in the litter box and the litter box is covered, consider taking the top off, at least for a while. This allows the dominated cat to feel like he or she can see around and fend off an attack.
- Keep Them Clean: Make sure the litter boxes are cleaned at least daily to encourage use and prevent misuse.
The rule of thumb is one litter box per cat, plus one extra.
Jackson Galaxy, cat whisperer
To prevent conflicts in multi-cat households, provide enough of the essentials.
Nickispeaki, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wiki Commons Ocdp, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wiki Commons Chang Duong Cong H
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How To Reintroduce Sparring Cats
How do you get two fighting cats to live in harmony with each other? Its a slow, gradual process, sometimes taking several weeks before the cats agree to a ceasefire, so be patient.
- To start with, house the cats separately, closed off from each other, each with their own food, water, bed and litter box. If one cat must live in a smaller, more confined area, be sure and provide plenty of enrichment and playtime.
- Since cats form positive associations over food, try placing their food dishes on either side of the door that separates the two. Allow cats to sniff each other under the closed door.
- After a few days in their separate areas, move the cats to each others space for one minute apiece. Then, swap them back. Make sure they dont physically encounter each other during the swaps. During and after these sessions, theyll likely be focused on the scent left behind by the other cat.
- Once cats become acclimated to the above, its time to help them get used to being in the same room with each other.
- Contain the cats in harnesses and carriers, placing them on opposite sides of the room.
- Feed them a meal. If theyre too agitated or too anxious to eat, try increasing the distance.
- As they become increasingly calm with the presence of the other cat, place them nearer to each other in the following session.
What If Neither Cat Seems To Get Comfortable With The Other Cat
Introductions must proceed slowly. The cats need to be far enough apart that they are relaxed and will take food or a treat while in the presence of the other cat. If the cats will not eat then they are too anxious and probably too close together, and the introductions are not accomplishing the goal of learning to associate the other cat with pleasant things. If the cats will not eat in each other’s presence, try moving the dishes further apart. If one or both of the cats still will not eat, separate the cats, do not give any food, and repeat introductions with food in a couple of hours. If the cats eat at that time, repeat using the same distance at the next feeding. If things go well, you can move the dishes a little closer together at the next session.
If introductions where the cats can see one another are not successful, you will have to start with a much milder level of the stimulus. You might begin by keeping the cats in their own rooms and feeding on opposite sides of the door. A glass or screen door would allow you to add the stimulus of sight while you feed the cats on opposite sides of the door. While they are usually aware of the other cat, the fear or anxiety might be diminished and the cat will eat. If you don’t have a glass or screen door on the room, the next step would be to prop the door open a few inches so that the cats can see each other while they eat.
“…you cannot rush things.”
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How To Introduce Feral Kittens To Other House Cats
Whether fostering, pet-sitting or bringing a new cat into your home, take steps to ensure a successful introduction. Reducing or eliminating aggression between the cats from the very beginning can set the tone for a good bond between the cats later and avoid long-term negative effects in your cat household.
My Cat Is Being Beaten Up By Another Cat In The Area What Should I Do
Some territorial aggression exceeds what is considered by most to be acceptable. These cat bullies are often described as despotic as they appear to actively seek out territory defended by others to claim it as their own. They will enter houses, located over a wide area, attack the resident cats and spray mark vertical surfaces with urine before departing. The victims rarely fight back as a despot will choose them wisely and often pick relentlessly on the old, infirm or timid cats in the neighbourhood. In the UK some pedigree cats, such as the Burmese and more recently the Bengal, represent a surprisingly large percentage of the reported perpetrators. Entire tom cats are also likely to behave in a similar way as will any domestic non-pedigree that is particularly territorial.
This can be extremely distressing, particularly as attacks occur within the cats own home, and there is always the temptation to demand that steps be taken by the owner of the bully, as that person is solely responsible for preventing future attacks. It is entirely appropriate that these measures are put in place, but the unpopular truth is that the victims owner must also take reasonable steps to protect his or her property. The victim cat is clearly unable to deter intruders or defend its own territory so the owner has to intervene in this case.
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Always Work With Your Veterinarian
A medical workup is essential for all aggressive cats. Some cats behave aggressively because of a medical condition or complication. In addition to acute painful conditions, cats with orthopedic problems, thyroid abnormality, adrenal dysfunction, cognitive dysfunction, neurological disorders and sensory deficits can show increased irritability and aggression. Geriatric cats can suffer from confusion and insecurity, which could prompt aggressive behavior. Certain medications can alter mood and affect your cats susceptibility to aggression. Even diet has been implicated as a potential contributing factor. If a medical problem is detected, its crucial to work closely with your veterinarian to give your cat the best chance at improving.
How Can I Prevent Fighting With A New Cat In My Household
Introducing a new cat into your home is both a wonderful moment and a potential source of anxiety for many owners, if you already have a cat. Theres a chance your cat will see this lovely new ball of fluff as a threat to their territory and resources. Cats are often brought to us because they havent got along with cats at home.
First impressions count, so take your time when introducing new cats. If you do it slowly and pay attention to your cats behaviour, youll give them a good chance of living together peacefully. Heres a few things you should do to make the transition as smooth as possible.
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Scenario Five: Bullying And Fighting In Multi
As always, multi-cat and multi-pet households make for an interesting dynamic. That’s why it’s important to socialize your pets and consider new family members that seem capable of handling the current dynamic. When looking to adopt from an animal shelter, consider littermates, bonded pairs, or cats that are housed with other cats, rather than cats that would do better in a single-pet household.
How To Help Cats Get Along
Treatment for aggression or fighting between cats varies depending on the type of aggressive behavior but may include desensitization, counterconditioning techniques, or drug therapy.
Management methods for cat aggression include:
- Spay or neuter your cats. Fighting is common between intact males, and intact females are likely to have litters, leading to maternal aggression.
- Provide additional perches and hiding spots, such as boxes and cat trees. This allows your cat to escape and/or hide when they feel threatened or afraid.
- Have plenty of catsâ supplies. Having multiple food and water bowls, litter boxes, perches, and toys can prevent fighting over resources.
- Reinforce incompatible behaviors â any behaviors that cannot occur at the same time as the problem behavior. Praise them and toss healthy cat treats to reward your cats.
- Try using pheromones. There are products that mimic a natural cat odor, which may be effective in decreasing aggression.
- Keep cats separated, especially at mealtimes. Separation may need to last only a few days, but if the aggression is persistent and severe, it may take several weeks before you can gradually reintroduce the cats.
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How To Stop Cat
I encourage you to watch the Simon’s Cat video , as many of the problems that occur when a new cat is introduced into the home are depicted. Some of the behaviors you are observing as abnormal may actually be quite normal.
Say a new kitten is being introduced to the home. Immediately, the established cat begins hissing. He feels that he is now in competition with this new cat for:
- The litter box
What Is Aggression In Cats
Aggression in cats refers to hostile or violent behavior towards humans or other animals in the home. This could be in the form of roughhousing, scratching, biting, hissing, spraying, or aggressive body language.
Cat aggression is different than normal playing. Cats are natural predators, meaning that their play sessions can look aggressive to an untrained cat parent. You see your cats tackling each other, throwing paws, and biting each others necks. But its the severity and intent of the cats behavior that takes it over the edge into aggression. Its important to know this boundary so you can protect yourself and the other animals that your cat might attack.
Some common signs of cat aggression include:
- Aggressive body language
- Whiskers pointing straight out
Now, lets look at what can cause cat aggression so you can work to minimize it in your household.
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Heres What To Look For If You Think Your Cats Are Fighting:
- flailing paws If your cats are standing on their haunches rapidly swiping at each other with their front paws, its likely to be an aggressive interaction
- aggressive body language or sounds Flattened ears, a tense body posture, swishing tail, and sounds such as growling, hissing or screeching
In the event of a cat fight, you should try to separate your cats to avoid injury. Dont be aggressive or heavy-handed when interrupting a fight and try to avoid physically separating them with your hands as in the heat of the moment, you might get hurt.
Try distracting them with a toy or by making a loud noise, this will get their attention and pause the fight. Give your cats time to cool off before you stroke them or pick them up.
What To Do If Youre Attacked:
- DO NOT HIT THE CAT. This will only enrage the cat more. Make a loud noise or throw something as a distraction.
- Leave the area of which the attack is taking place. If you cannot leave, let the cat leave. Feeling trapped only raises the stress levels.
- Isolate the cat in another room so they can have a time out to relax. If you cannot get the cat to another room, try herding them there using a towel as a barrier between you and the cat. If that doesnt work, you can throw the towel over the cat to scoop them up and relocate them to another room. Please keep in mind that picking up an already angry cat is just going to make them more upset, so only do this if absolutely necessary.
- As a last resort, you may need to restrain the cat by scruffing it in order to stop the attack and move the cat to an isolated location. Please keep in mind that it is never good to hold an adult cat solely by its’ scruff. Do your best to support the body weight with your free arm. Cat skin loses elasticity as they age, so scruffing a cat improperly can seriously injure them.
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