Introducing a new cat into your family
Bagera and Tiggy
We have cats
We have always had cats and our current incumbent is Hugo who is a rather beautiful Ginger and white long haired cat. In October 2012 we lost our tabby cat Bagera (he is often seen in my hub photos) to a growth in his tummy, he was fourteen years old. Four weeks later his elder brother Tiggy ( he is also seen in my hubs- a beautiful ginger ) also passed away. Nothing could replace my boys but the house felt so empty just like the emptiness I felt inside.
At Easter in the following year my husband and I went to the cat’s home and met Hugo- he was a skinny little thing with all his body and hind legs shaved as his long hair had become matted. A week later Hugo was at home with us and life became happy and contented. Hugo bites a little bit but not too hard and we bought him a scratching post so that he could exercise his claws- a squirt of catnip on the scratching post and away he goes!
Listen to expert advice
My mum had not been well and as she lived a long distance we decided that it would be best that she comes and lives with us. Oh yes, that is mum and Bluebell. I have written about Bluebell before as she is polydactyl cat with at least seven toes on each foot. We had to have a lot of building work done to create an extra room in the loft and the upheaval was hard for all of us, but I kept Hugo on an even keel. He really did not believe that an extra room in had been added until he went up there himself; I thought he would be interested in the scaffold and building work but if he was he watched it from his bush in the garden.
I needed the advice of experts to make the trauma of Hugo meeting Bluebell much easier. The RSPCA produce a really good link which tells you to think carefully about introducing another cat to the family and if you do, to introduce them carefully to each other. The guide pointed out that cats “will only be friendly with cats they grew up with” and if they are not friendly then you “need to provide space”. Well we didn’t have any choice, Auntie Bluebell was moving in and that was that!
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How to bond with your new cat
When we first brought Hugo home we were advised to "bond" with him. Admittedly on my side that was easy as it was love at first sight. We decided to have a "bonding room". This should ideally be a small quiet room with little foot traffic. What it means is that the cat has time to adapt to what is going on around her in her new surroundings, We equipped the room with some food, a bed and a litter tray. The next day Hugo felt a bit happier and started to explore gradually room by room until he had been through the whole house. Cats like to have dark hidden areas to relax in when they are frightened so you can buy beds with hoods or special cat wigwams, but a cardboard box lined with a blanket will do nicely.
Further catty questions
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Artificial Feline Pheromone
The momentous day came when mum and Bluebell moved in. I had made loads of preparation for mum but had placed little thought on the cat! I bought a bottle of Feliway which is a solution of feline pheromone which mimics what cats produce when they rub their faces. This is supposed to give the cat a feeling of safety and well being. The worst thing I did was to tell Hugo his Nana was moving in and fail to mention that Auntie Bluebell was coming too.
On the day we were leaving home with Bluebell I walked into my mother’s immaculate garden and scooped her up from under a bush- we are going a drive I said as I stuffed her into her basket. I had liberally sprayed the basket with the Feliway and was hopeful of a quiet drive. Fastening her basket into the car we set off. This was the start of a six hour journey never ever to be repeated! She moaned and meowed all the way with me spraying the Feliway when we stopped. Stopping for coffee was easy as the coffee shop was outside and it was enjoyable sitting in the sunshine with Bluebell stuck in her box yelling. I tried a few little treats and she still yelled.
The next three hours were hell as only those who know the M25 will appreciate. Stopping on the M1 the weather had changed and it was cool and drizzly. Mum was very tired and so was I, Bluebell was still yelling. What do I do? leave her in the car and take mum to the toilets ? Let mum go on her own? Or just pick up the basket and go to the toilets with her and Mum- that ‘s what I did and yes I did get a few funny looks. We shared sandwiches and feliway but Bluebell didn’t want to share. On a serious note it did not upset mum’s asthma so at least that was good news.
I cannot describe the joy of reaching home. No more driving and no more yelling. We walked in the door and went into the lounge. Mum let Bluebell out so that she could walk around the lounge and get to know where she was. Unfortunately Hugo had heard my car and came running up the garden to see me- what he saw through the windows, was Auntie Bluebell! He went mad- in through the cat flap- when normally he won’t be seen dead using the tradesman entrance and banging on the living room door to be let in. He came in, looked at Bluebell and then looked at me- he was so happy- mum’s brought me a sister!
It was then, that Auntie Bluebell saw her nephew for the first time. I do have some sympathy with her- she had a long car trip- poor food- no facilities and a mad woman spraying “happy spray” all over her. She was, to quote a late Queen of England, “Not amused”.
Six Months Later
A this happened six months ago- so looking back on it how was it really? Well there were and still are some issues. Hugo adored and still adores Auntie Bluebell who really cannot spare the energy to acknowledge him. In the evening Bluebell sits on her mum's knees whilst Hugo is at mum's feet waiting for a little drop of kitty kindness.
The only trouble we get is at feeding time- Auntie Bluebell likes to eat at regular times and oh is there trouble if we are late or if Hugo gets in the way before her meal. She hisses at him and raises her paw- which knocks her off her feet! Hugo now hisses back, but does not hit her as if he did I don't think she would get up
My advice would be that if you are introducing a new cat into your family- stick at it- don't be put off by their petty quarrels but show them both that you love them. Make sure the house is warm and cosy and that their food is served regularly- they may not be friends for life but they should get along quite nicely.
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