Cats, a social animal ? Cat integration
It is safe to say that cats do not need social contact. But we and other cats can be incorporated into and become part of their social group. Anything outside of this group will often be viewed as a threat.
With two cats in my family I know how close cats can become, given time. My original pair were taken from the same litter, so the bond was there from birth. This is always the best way to introduce cats to your home. As stated in the previous article, an additional cat can help to keep your existing cat stimulated and if one of the pairing are lost, as in my case, the need to introduce another cat may have to be considered. Lets face it, for cat lovers having one cat is rarely on option anyway!
Think about the stress bringing another cat into the house can have on both animals. This is where attention to your cats behavior pays dividends. Yes I know the obvious territorial problems are more than apparent. But look for more subtle changes in your cats behavior and try to address them with heaps of understanding and due care. Slow and sure is always best.
If possible, set aside a separate area or room for the newcomer that includes a litter tray, bed, food and water bowls, scratching post and toys. This will help to make the cat feel relaxed and safe. You should make frequent visits and spend time with newcomer and existing cats. Swapping Scent is an important part of cat integration. If both cats get use to smelling the other on you, it may ease the introduction when it comes. Remember you are an important part of the social network, if you seem relaxed about the situation so may the new and existing cat.
It could also a good idea to swap food bowls and bedding for the same reason but not litter trays, food or toys. Give it a day or two before introducing the new moggy to the rest of the family . You should also consider the character of your existing cat and try to introduce a cat that is not too dissimilar in temperament.
If a kitten is being introduced to an older cat the same rules apply. Often the introduction of a kitten to an older cat can give the cat a new lease of life.
Instinctive cat behavior is such that introductions rarely go absolutely smoothly or without some quarter being reluctantly given by one or both of the cats. But, with time and patience, the pecking order is sorted and a grudging acceptance established that can turn to a lasting and strong friendship.
Cats and dogs
Not always easy, but much depends on the age and experience of either animal. An older cat with experience of dogs will adjust more quickly than one that has not, as will a dog that has previously lived with a cat. Again slow and sure Is the rule here.
The best time to integrate cats with dogs is obviously when they are kittens and puppies then it will seen as a normal part of socialization.
A bit of common sense needs to be applied for older animals. If a dog is use to chasing cats, then better not introduce one to the family.
Introductions are not always smooth events, but a social order is quickly established. With the cat at the top of course! And when the bond is established normal cat behavior resumes and the pair can become great companions.
Cat and Kids
I have two children, both grown up now, and a grandson. I have never considered it too much of problem bringing an animal into the family. The problem arises with irresponsible pet owners/parents who view the animal addition as little more than a toy for their child to play with. Needless to say this is a recipe for disaster for both the child and the animal. There are many who would recommend that the child be at least 6 years old before bringing a cat into the home. Whilst I can see justification for this, I feel that, providing due care and attention are given , the introduction of a kitten for a younger child can bring great benefits for both.
The child/cat should introduced to one another very slowly and gently. Sit your child on the floor and allow the cat to come into the room. Any sudden moves could startle the cat. Allow your child to feed pussy some treats and stroke his/her coat very gently for a few minuets, then let the cat rest. Get into a routine of do this each day until a mutual respect and bond has been built . Be careful with very young children. A swipe from a playful cat/kitten could make the child fearful, this could last for some time. Include your child in the cleaning and feeding chores and set up times for play, showing your child how to do this safely, with care and importantly how to stop. Be very careful of other children. Although you may have taught your children the correct way to treat animals many parents do not. Do not be afraid to gently inform the child and parent that the cat is not a toy.
As I have already stated, child/cat bonding should not be a problem if done correctly . To encourage a positive and respectful attitude towards animals bring great benefits to a child and , I feel sure, helps them to grow into better adults.
Nasty neighbors (or nasty human behavior)
Cats have a license to roam. True. But what happens when your cat strays into a neighbors garden and scabs up some prized petunias or poos in a flower pot?
One thing we must understand as cat lovers is, that not everyone shares our enthusiasm. Now I know this mat come as a shock, but it is true none the less. So we must always be aware that our cats can sometimes offend, however unintentionally.
There are many out there who regard cats as little more than vermin.
My advise would be, try and understand that there are many, many reasons why some people will go to almost any extreme to stop your cat invading their space. Always try where possible to reach a compromise. Maybe offer to clean up any mess or repair any damage and try to be sympathetic to their concerns.
Of course there will always be those who will not want to talk and who threaten drastic action towards your cat. If you have the misfortune to come into contact with these type of unfortunate people, you have my sympathies. Try to keep your cool and remind them of the penalties that are there to be imposed upon those who are willfully cruel to animals.
It is always a good idea to have your cat neutered for a number of reasons, but it will also help to stop the straying too far.
Jenny Harper: http://www.catsbehaviour.blogspot.com