How to Socialize Cats with Other Cats
Friday, September 16, 2011
Socializing cats with other cats and dogs may take some work, but it is worth the effort. Who doesn’t think two or three cats sleeping in a cuddle puddle or a little kitten nestled in the arm of a dog is the cutest thing on earth?
It is very important to introduce a cat to another cat or dog slowly, always supervising all interactions until they’ve socialized—even if it takes a few days or weeks.
Socialize a kitten to an adult cat
In basic cat hierarchy, the kitten will be the subordinate and the adult the dominant cat. Mother Nature will do your work for you if you’re lucky.
- Separate them — For the first day or two, let the kitten roam free in a closed-off room. The adult cat will be aware of the movement, mewing and smell of the new arrival through the door.
- Sniffing and batting — Next, put the kitten in a cage or carrier in a public spot, such as the living room, and allow the two cats to sniff and approach each other cautiously. There might even be batting at the cage and a show of force.
- Huffing and puffing — Don’t be alarmed if the kitten hisses and puffs herself up. This is a natural defense to anything strange—and 10-pound Morris is surely the strangest thing she has ever seen!
- Give equal affection — Keep the cats separated via a cage or separate rooms until they accept each other, which might take time. After they are acclimated and you let them run free in the same room, show each of them equal amounts of affection. You don’t want Morris to feel jealous and develop a vendetta against the little one.
Socializing adult cats
Adult cats don’t like change or a break in routine. So when old Morris sees an uninvited new roommate roam the halls, use his litter box and sit on his human’s lap, he is going to cause trouble if he’s not introduced amicably to the new adult cat.
- New scent introduction — Introduce the smell of the new cat to your current cat so he won’t be so agitated upon their first meeting. Give Morris a blanket or toy the new cat has slept on or played with, or let him sniff around a room the new cat has walked around in.
- Separate playing at first — Play with one cat on your lap, then play with the other cat. They each will smell the other one on you and learn that the stranger is someone he can trust.
- Separate but close feeding — Feed each cat from a separate bowl, but put the bowls close together. The cats will associate each other’s presence with good food and happy times, and they will be less likely to fight when satiated and content. When they finish eating and grooming themselves, they might begin to groom each other and bond.
Socializing a cat with a dog
Socializing a cat with a dog is easier than socializing two cats. As pack animals, dogs like to live in groups and have company around them. Dogs acclimate easier to a kitten than to an adult cat.
- Introduce the new smell — Keep the cat in a cage or in a closed-off room, and let the dog sniff her before meeting in person.
- Protect the dog — Believe it or not, the typically larger dog is more in danger from the claws and quick lunging of the smaller cat than the cat is in danger of the dog.
- Supervise — Don’t leave the two unsupervised overnight or when you’re not home until they’ve socialized.
- Protect the cat — Some breeds of dog, such as a terrier, might instinctively attack a smaller animal, like a kitten, thinking she is prey.