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Merging Cats – How to Introduce a New Kitten Or Cat to an Older Cat
The following technique can be used to introduce a new kitten or cat to your other cat. I have been in the pet rescue business most of my life and this technique has worked successfully every time. Over the years I have had to make a few modifications when introducing larger males or feral cats, but in most cases this will work exactly as described. It is assumed that your pet is spayed and the new pet is either spayed or less than six months old.
If you have a choice, you may want to follow a “for wives” recommendation and choose a fresh new cat that is the opposite sex of your pet. For example, if you have a neutered male choose a female kitten or a young female. If you have an older female, choose a young male kitten. Many people believe that these combinations are the best options to ensure a compatible match. There is some biological support for this argument, but I have fused many same-sex, same-age cats and it has always been successful.
1. Before you bring a new kitten or cat home, make sure it is free of contagious diseases – feline leukemia, distemper, rabies, worms and fleas. Most people avoid adopting a cat that has been exposed to Feline Aides, but there is a mixed jury on how Feline Aides is spread. You may want to read up on this topic and form your own opinion before considering merging an FIV-exposed cat with a healthy cat.
2. While the cats are still in separate locations, feed them both a large meal. For example, give both cats a meal that would be comparable to our Thanksgiving dinner. Options include their favorite canned, sardines, tuna or chicken. Give them at least an extra half portion. You may also want to give some natural herbal relaxant such as “Rescue Remedy”.
3. Place the new cat or kitten in a cat carrier about half an hour after the cats have finished eating. Ask a friend to bring the new cat or kitten into your home and place the suitcase in the middle of the living room floor – make sure there is somewhere the new cat can hide once it is released from the cage (eg a sofa, chair, etc.). If you can’t find a friend, to bring the carrier you can do it yourself, but you must ignore the new cat at all times.
4. Let your cats sniff and hiss at each other with your cat running loose in your home and the new cat safely inside the carrier. Since both cats are full and relaxed – it may take 20-30 minutes before the cats become aware of each other.
5. One hour after you bring the new cat in, open the carrier door, but ignore both cats. Let the new cat out as it feels ready, this can take up to 30 minutes. Cats may still hiss and scream at each other, but it’s usually pretty minimal. Most of the time the new cat will look for a safe place to hide, such as under a couch or chair. If the new cat runs up to you, ignore it.
6. For the next 3-4 days, you must ignore the new cat. Let your cats howl and hiss at each other as needed. This leaves your current pet and the new pet to determine their own pecking order. The only time you would want to intervene would be if the cats get into a nasty fight. If this happens, pour a large amount of cold water over both cats and start the process over. (I once had to fuse two older sick male cats. They had both been “Tom” cats for years. After this hour-long fusion technique, they fought horribly. I broke up the water fight, got a large dog crate, and two days I rotated which cat was in the cage and which cat was loose. At the end of two days, these cats were doing great.)
One last thought, you may want to start the introduction at a time when you can be home for a few days. For example, if you work Monday through Friday, you might want to merge the cats on Friday night so you can observe them over the weekend.
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