Friday, August 24, 2012

How to keep peace between cats

There are many theories on how to best keep peace between cats. There are some very successful techniques used, and some not so successful. When it comes right down to it, it depends on the personality of the cats. One technique may be the perfect solution, or completely fail even when you do everything correct.

A common key factor is space. Even cats that don’t always get along very well get along better if they have the space to get away from each other. They can have their own territories and a common area to interact. Forcing cats to always be together is not going to make them get along. If anything it would cause event the best tempered cats to become stressed and fight for space or alone time.

The most recommended technique on how to keep peace between cats is to get them together, as kittens. This way they grow up together, the home and people are theirs and there is no invading of territory. There may be some dominance issues as they get older but for the most part cats raised together tend to get along. However, as always this will depend on the personalities of the cats. Just like people there are social and non-social cats. It is also recommended to have the cats neutered or spayed before they go into heat or spray. Often cats that are neutered or spayed as soon as possible have more social temperaments.

If you are introducing a new cat to your home and you already have a cat it becomes a bit more tricky. The new cat will be seen as an invader and there is usually a time period that the cats will not get along no matter what you do. There are some techniques that can help and will often reduce the stress on both cats. Just keep in mind that if you have a non-social cat it will be difficult to introduce a new cat, no matter how much you want the new cat.

Take it slow, don’t just throw them together. They need time to get used to each other before they even meet. If possible keep them in separate rooms for several days. This way they can hear each other and possibly smell each other. This lets them adjust to each other a bit before they actually meet.

You want to find a way to get them comfortable with each other’s smells and if possible get them to smell like each other. For both cats you want to find a blanket or other item that they sleep on. Use the blanket or item to introduce the other cats smell to each cat. This helps them become accustomed to each other’s smells and the smell will start to belong. Leave the blanket or item from cat A with cat B to sleep on or use it to rub cat B with it transferring the smell of cat A to cat B. Do the same to cat A with an item from cat B. This helps blend their smells so they smell familiar to each other. Introducing items that smell like the other cat is also a good way to judge it the cats are ready to meet. If either cat reacts poorly or attacks the item they are not ready to meet.

After a few days, and if you don’t see a negative reaction it is time to let them find each other. There are several techniques used for this. What is important is that they are not thrust together. One method is to put the new cat into a cat carrier and put it into the room and let the other cat find and investigate the new cat. This should always be done under close supervision just in case either cat reacts in a negative way. That is when you remove the new cat to its room and try again later.

Another method is to let the door of both rooms open and let the cats discover each other gradually. Again close supervision is required – and speed if they don’t react well. However if they hiss and act out a bit but don’t actually attack each other leave them be. They are trying to establish dominance. The new cat has to find its place in the home and the other cat needs to protect its territory, and decide to let the new cat stay. If they seem to be getting along, leave them alone, but separate again if you are going out or going to bed. Each day let them spend more time together and eventually you don’t need to always be around or separate them.

You will want to have separate food and bathroom areas at first. This way you don’t have them fighting over them. The less “territory” they have to fight over the better. Eventually you should be able to have both their litter box and food in the same areas, and in some cases just go to one litter box and one food dish, play that by ear.

Another theory is to let nature take its course. Let the cats work it out on their own. Once they establish dominance things should calm down. The way this works is you bring the new cat in and let them find each other. If a fight starts leave them alone, this is how they establish dominance. Personally I do not recommend this as it is stressful and traumatic to everyone involved, cats and people. Often it establishes a negative response and behavior in both cats. Also serious injuries can be the result of this method, for both cats and people. The goal is to have peace between them, not live in a war zone.

Once you do have peace between the cats the next step is to maintain it. Even the most temperamental cats can have their negative moments. To keep peace between cats you need to give them space and lots of places to get away from each other. This can be accomplished with a variety of ways. There are many products available at pet stores that can helpful. The scratching posts with cat houses or the layered cat houses are wonderful. However you don’t have to spend a lot of money to give your cats what they need. Sometimes it can be as simple as letting one cat sleep on top of the fridge and the other on the couch. Boxes are great. You can give them their own box, with bedding, or even create hideaways for them with boxes, or other items. Give them their own toys, and a verity of things to do so they are not board, and bugging each other just to have something to do. Always keep catnip around. It is a good way to distract and calm down the cats, and if you put catnip in two different areas consistently you can help establish mini territories that they can go to and get away from each other.

Most cats will develop a positive or somewhat peaceful co-existence. Some don’t and you will have to accept that and remove one cat from the home or provide them with their own territories so they don’t have to interact. No matter how much time and effort you put into keeping the peace between cats it is really up to them how they react and deal with each other. Though, a positive and low stress method of introducing cats, and giving them time to get used to each other, goes a long way in developing a peaceful co-existence between cats.

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