An opinionated feline in Edmonton, Canada who lived with a retired cat behaviourist, Greyce provided behavioral advice to cats in need until her death in July 2014. Because her entries are useful even today, the blog remains posted.

Monday, December 31, 2012

And Now We Are 3: Getting Used to Another Cat

Dear Greyce,

When you last advised me, I was having a heck of a time adjusting to Gracie, the interloper, and I became seriously ill. (See previous entries, Newcomer Hampers Sick Cat's Recovery - April 4, 2011; then Re-integration After Disaster - May 6, 2011).

I'm happy to say that's all behind us now and having another feline in the house has become quite fine.

And then . . . .

IT HAPPENED AGAIN! There is yet another interloper seeing refuge. His name is Spike and he is a stray.

Herself is being more careful in this matter, especially since my health was so impacted the last time. And yet her heart goes to Spike who is used to being outdoors, very much wants shelter and for whom there is no room elsewhere.

He started out in a safe room in our home but disrupted everything by wanting to get out. He meowed and cried non-stop day and night and I found this really upsetting. Herself would play with him but it was never enough! So much for Plan A.

As a compromise, Herself gave him the use of a workshop attached to the garage. He has his own area there and it is heated, furnished with toys and the necessities of life. That was fine with me.

Now he goes outside but for a short while (he's a great hunter) and will either come back when called or when he is hungry. So I guess he knows he has a safe place to stay.

To start getting us used to the idea, Herself has brought a blanket he lies on inside the house for us to smell. We sniff it a lot and then walk away.

About two weeks ago, Spike took a walk outside and stared at us through the front door. Gracie reacted like a lovesick teenager, chirping and flirting. Me, not so much. Just looked.

I have seen Spike a few times through the front door when he is outside. I hissed once when we were almost nose-to-nose through the glass (guess it was a bit too close for my liking). Gracie still behaves like a brazen hussy.

Spike has made it known that he would like to come inside the house. Now when he goes outside, he plays for a short while and then comes to the front door to stare at us. He also looks in the back window (into the kitchen) and cries.

What should we do?

Hoping for an answer,

Dear Tommy,

I am so happy to hear that Gracie and you are now friends. You had a pretty scary time when she first came on the scene. And I'm purring with thrills that you are back to good health.

Also thank you for educating Herself enough that she is now more careful in introducing yet another cat into the household. She knows her priority is you (as it should be - you being the elder statesman). But obviously she cannot resist a feline in need.

As you well know, introductions take time. And they take considerable thought - especially in cases like yours where your health issues can be set off by stress.

You will determine the pace of the process. Your health is paramount.

You are already familiar with Spike's smell (from the blanket) and with his looks (from the window and door). So far so good.

Spike wants to come in and I think he should, but just for a short visit. And that visit should be conducted in a way that Gracie and you are NOT in the same room but are safely elsewhere in the house. And prefurrably, he should be introduced to a less important part of the house first (if at all possible) - that is, not one of your prime areas (like where you eat).

And when I say visit, I'm thinking 15 minutes or so at which time he should be taken back to his own quarters (that workshop) and given a small treat or play session (or both) as a reward.

Obviously you two will want to sniff the area he searched thoroughly. Again play sessions are in order to relieve any possible tension.

And any sign of unease from you, means that Herself (and Spike) should back off. They can work up to several, short sessions a day (same area of the house - no exploring just yet) and then we need to take the plan further (which I can outline later).

I realize I am being quite general about this - for a reason. I have some details of your home from your last consultation as follows: 3 floors. Basement (3 room, 2 with doors; also has a cat door - which I hope is blocked off so Spike cannot come in unannounced). Main level (kitchen, bathroom, mud room with litter box, dining and living room with french doors, and den when the purrsons hang out). Upper level (4 bedrooms all with doors and 2 bathrooms). But I will need more before I can fully outline more of the plan.
I'll be in touch by e-mail with my requirements.

Lest Herself think that this is the sum of my advice, tell her to read on. I absolutely insist that she refresh herself on three essential items: cat signalling, predatory play and distraction techniques. Since I've just refurred to them in my entry, Cat Fights in the Family (the entry before this) insist that she read it AND the two other blog entries to which it refurrs. She MUST refresh herself on these issues.

Keep up the good work!