Any cat you adopt will be thankful for his new home, but your resident kitty will probably seem far less enthusiastic about the matter. Finding out about the little guy you want to adopt and preparing for the first meeting between the two cats makes everyone's lives a little easier.
Temperament and Shots
While most cats are painted as nonchalant fur balls who care about little, each cat has his own personality and temperament. Make sure the cat you choose will fit in well with your family and pets. Some cats hate other felines, while some are scared of dogs. Always ask the shelter staff about the cat you're interested in. They can probably tell you more about his personality than he'll let on, and they should inform you that he's received all of his shots. Shots are mandatory; you can't take the little guy home to your other cat unless you know he's healthy.
Although there are always exceptions, older cats generally enjoy lying around and resting rather than bolting around corners and playing with toys for hours. If you bring a young cat into a household with an older one, or vice versa, they might not interact as well as you'd like. That's not to say they'd hate one another, but they'd probably hang around each other less than cats of similar ages. You also have to consider your lifestyle. Younger cats can be a lot of work, particularly if they're still in the kitten stage. They're full of energy and constantly on the go, whenever they're not sleeping.
Your new cat is going to look for safe haven when you bring him home, and he'll probably find that safety in the arms of you or your spouse. If you're in a stretch of long work days, you might want to wait to adopt until you have more time on your hands. All cats need some attention, especially newly adopted ones, and you'll need to keep watch on how both cats interact for the first few weeks to make sure no problems arise.
Separate Litter Boxes and Other Items
While two cats sometimes don't have a problem with using the same litter box, others will protest the lack of a separate box by relieving themselves on your floor, couch and even bed. While you can eventually keep both boxes in the same area, placing them in different rooms for the first few weeks cuts down on altercations between the two felines. You'll also need separate food bowls, water bowls and beds.
Introducing the Two
Introducing your newly adopted kitty to the resident one needs to be a slow process. Designate a specific room for the new cat and keep him in there with his litter box, food and water for about two days. Your other cat will smell him and probably camp outside the door for a while. The University of California School of Veterinary Medicine suggests feeding treats to your other cat after handling the newly adopted cat, to associate his scent with something good. Switching out the cats' beds with each other's also helps the introduction process. After about two days, place the new kitty in another room, and then after another two days, gradually introduce him physically to your other cat. Keeping the new cat in his crate during the meet and greet prevents a clash of paws and claws. If they begin fighting, separate them immediately, but don't yell or discipline them.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Questions to Ask Yourself Before Adopting
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Top 10 Things To Do Before You Bring Your New Cat Home
- University of California School of Veterinary Medicine: Introducing Your New Cat to Your Other Household Cats
- two cats on chair image by MasterAdrian from Fotolia.com