A Conversation for Training Your Pet

Infinity Plus 1 Cat

Post 1


Virtually all cat households will face the challenge of adding more cats to the mix.

A cat's first experience with new fur in the floor often comes when one cat's human servant becomes enamored of another cat's human. Suddenly and viciously, one of the humans will turn on its cat, stuff it into a smallish box punched with a few holes and, in a panicked state, abandon home.

A human columnist once wrote that "Cats are the only animal whose entire existence is utterly dependent upon humans." He wrote as if that was a problem for the cat, having completely confused the cat/human relationship.

Indeed, cats do just fine without human interaction, and many times better. Here on Florida's "Space Coast," we have prides of feral cats roaming tens of thousands of acres of wild, suburban, and urban land. Amazingly, the local humans in charge have initiated a program to spay and neuter, rather than kill, captured wild cats. Once 'fixed,' the cats are again released.

Why? Because a cat likes to occupy a certain amount of space. Remove a cat from its wild range, and another will take its place.

What works in the wild works at home, too. The move-in cat is invading the territory of another cat who was getting along just perfectly fine, thank you very much until its owner went all ga-ga over another human.

There are numerous consequences to introducing more cats into a home: spraying, scratching, random acts of pointless violence, howls, shrieks, loss of appetite, gorging, refusal to use the litter box, sleeping in the litter box, and toe biting. To name a few.

And that's just among the humans. The cats can be much worse.

We particular humans have learned that a reasonably-sized home (over 1,000 square feet), and shared by two human attendants, can accommodate four cats fairly well, especially a mix of three females to one male. (This ratio does not work out so well for people.) Adding a male, fixed or not, creates tension, even when the truly dominant cats (younger and/or larger) are the females. So the Beach Boys were onto something.

However, up to 11 cats have lived together chez CatCarouser, seven permanent cats plus four for whom Mrs. CatCarouser was acting as a recruiter.

Here's the preferred Guide method:

New cats are kept for three days in a separate room, with closed door (say an extra bathroom, bedroom, foyer, or laundry room). Provide litter, water, and a nest for rest. Naturally, the human attendant has already ensured the cat is bug and disease free. Don't say 'Ooops!'

For the first couple days, both current and new cats will be at the door, growling at its opposite number. By the third day, bored, the new cat will be anxious to explore beyond its little realm, and the current cat(s) will be back to more a normal routine.

It's time to let the cat out of the bag, but accompany it wherever it goes.

Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, do not heap praise on the current cats whilst ignoring the new. Cats are not stupid and they see plainly through this ugly charade.

Follow closely, but do not interfere or direct interaction. Above all, do not throw cats at one another. That is right out!

Instead, allow them to go nose to nose at their own pace. This will happen, perhaps even as a result of a chase around the house. Exciting! When the growling starts -- and it will -- in a low, stern voice, slowly say the current cat's name, e.g., "Bu-u-u-u-fff..."

Repeat as needed. Do not under any circumstances allow a fight to break out, especially between the two humans. You two goofballs need to be united on this, so sit up and behave, and this means scooping poop from the catbox(es) each time a cat goes 1s or 2s, and keeping fresh water and food available at all times. And being nice to each other.

Cats aren't the keenest sniffers, so keeping their property reasonable clean during the introduction goes a long way toward preventing disruptions. Afterward, too.

It may be necessary to place the new cat back in his/her room over the third night. Maybe not. We've experienced both. Some cats just have a knack for fitting in. Others don't.

The following day, assuming things went well on day three, there'll be no need to trail the new cat around, but be alert for those growls and repeat the stern warning. This time, however, issue the warning to whichever cat is looking for trouble. Sharing the blame is part of the process of sharing the home.

Please note that some cats never become friends. Calicos especially seem to maintain that independent streak. But cats who become friends are a joy.

So you see, my dear cat attendant, it is possible to add to the flock, even temporarily. Some day, if cats have indeed identified you as an apt attendant, you will be asked to make room for more.

Who says you can't teach a human new tricks?

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