6 tips for introducing cats.

One of those posts about our cats. 

On April 16th, we brought Artemis home from the animal shelter. She was scared, starving and depressed. They think she was beaten, she was definitely neglected and her eyes had that empty look the animals in the ASPCA commercials have. You know... the look. It's so sad.

We were a little nervous about bringing home someone new because of Apollo. We weren't sure how she was going to react after being the only pet for one whole year. But I did all the researching I could about introducing two cats and Google promised me it would be okay especially because they are both female, both young enough, and because Artemis was smaller in size compared to Apollo.

I read and reread all the advice and this is the process we took for inviting Artemis (Artie) into our home without Apollo feeling like she was being bumped to the curb.

1. Prepare the environment. Before we brought her home, we set up a space in our place that would be her "area" for as long as this whole process would take. Some websites said introducing cats takes a long time (like 5-6 weeks) others just said they sort of threw the cats together and made it work. We chose not to go that route, but maybe that would work for you. In our second bedroom, we set up a bed, her food and water and a litter box.

2. Upon arrival, stick to your normal routine. When I brought her home, I immediately brought the cage in that room, set it down, opened the cage door and left the room closing the door behind me. This part is really hard to do, by the way. But websites promised it was the way to do it claiming the new cat would feel more comfortable in the room alone. And the existing cat needs to feel like nothing has changed. So I left, washed my hands, and greeted Apollo like nothing ever happened. She was oblivious.

3. Visit quickly and quietly. I stayed out of the room for a whole hour and it was torturous. But I paid attention to Apollo, made dinner and waited for Sean to get home. Once he came home from work, we went in together, closing the door behind us. To our surprise -- Google was right and she was moving around on her own, although she stopped and hid right when we walked in the room. This sort of thing happened for a while. Each time we would go in we would see her run across the room and hide. For three days, we went on like this. Quietly sneaking away from Apollo to visit with Artie. We whispered in the room with her and tried to play with her and get her to eat (neither of which we were very successful with).

The first night, I broke the rules and asked Sean to sleep in that room with her (I'm sure that's why she favors him more!) so that she wouldn't be lonely. After climbing into bed, she crawled under the covers with him and stayed there the whole night. But as for the day time routine, we stuck to it and visited minimally.

4. Wait out the hissing. Meanwhile, Apollo started to catch on. I'm sure she could probably smell Artie, but she wasn't so sure what was happening. She started stalking the doorway, and sniffing, and making strange sounds that weren't necessarily hissing but they weren't the friendliest of sounds either.

Once Apollo calmed down around the doorway, five days after bringing Artie home, we opened the door. Google told me about steps in between but they weren't practical for us. So we opened the door to see what happened. And oddly enough -- nothing. Apollo never crossed the threshold and Artie didn't dare come out of the second bedroom. On the third day of this, Apollo walked in.

5. Let them explore and don't interfere. Apollo was curious about Artie. And tried to follow her around, sniffing her when she got a chance. At times, it got a little intense and it took everything in me not to scream and become dramatic. Sean assured me they were animals and it was all normal. But some sounds... were just awful. Slowly but surely they started getting closer in proximity to one another. Of course, Apollo continually keeping the higher ground to assert her dominance. Again... it was all normal and to be expected and it was all what Google told me.

6. Give it time. By day 10, I was nervous. Artie still hadn't left the second bedroom. She wasn't exploring, she was still scared and looking very skinny -- she was barely eating. On a whim, we cracked open a can of wet food and put it down... and that was the turning point. She ate like she hadn't eaten in her whole life (which maybe she hadn't). The shelter didn't tell us what they had been feeding her and we just bought her similar food to Apollo's. But once we figured out her food habits, she changed as a kitten. I read somewhere that once your basic needs are taken care of (food, water, shelter) you're more apt to be comfortable and confident. I'm pretty sure that's what happened. 

By day 14, she still hadn't left that one room. She had all she needed in there (necessities as well as comfort items and two huge windows) but I really wanted a lap cat -- someone to watch TV with. We tried everything... moving her food just outside the room so she had to leave to eat (it didn't work), we threw her toys outside the room so she would run and forget it was a different room (it didn't work), we tried to coax her out... everything. We even picked her up and brought her out of the room (PS.. not a good idea) but she just ran right back.

On day 18, completely on her own, she walked out of the room. All by herself. And she hasn't looked back.


1 comment:

  1. Aw! I'm so glad it's worked out for you guys. When we got our second cat, I had only had the first one for a few weeks (and both were quite young - under 6 months) so we just threw them together. No hissing, no fights, nothing. They even shared a little box instantly. But I know that is not common!


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