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Introducing Cats

Introducing a new cat to your feline family can be a daunting task. By nature, cats are highly territorial and view a new cat as a turf invader. There are many factors behind the cats’ affinity for others of its species. And some cats simply decide they don’t like a specific cat. It’s very important you give them the best chance at building a familial long term relationship. Start by watching this webinar on the process.

These are products that will help you get through the introduction steps:
(click on each image to link to the products)

Good things! 

It’s important that only good things happen at the barrier door separating the cats. This means you should feed them on each side of the door; move the food bowls to about two feet either side of the door. You should also give lots of treats at the door. We recommend Vitakraft Lick ‘n Lap, available in Chicken and Salmon flavors. 

You’ll also want to prey play on either side of the door – we recommend either a feather/crunchy paper wand toy, or a long ribbon-like one. Your cats will have a preference to what they like best.

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Lick-n-lap Salmon package.jpg

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Door Buddy Strap

After a few days of good things happening on each side of the door, it’s time they get to see each other and get a full scent of their new roommate. It’s crucial you don’t rush this step. If there is hissing and other signs of stress at the door, then wait a few more days. THE best product to use to provide a gap in the door, not big enough for the cat to get out/in, and that won’t close on paws, is the Door Buddy Strap. I’ve done a full video review of this product here.

Watch Molly’s product review on this item here: https://youtu.be/qSDYnHTDhYI

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Harness Training

While good things are happening at the door, this is also the time to harness/leash train your cats. If you know one is the lunging aggressor, just train it, if you don’t know, or suspect all the cats might lunge once the new one is loose, then train them all.

 

This H harness is the easiest to get on your cat without a huge fight. There are many different colors/sizes in our store. If your cat is particularly calm and patient, the Come With Me Kitty Harness is the most secure system, but a little bit challenging to master getting it on.  

Click here to see how to put it on: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfH8KiEryns

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Velcro Harness

If your cat is calm on a harness, the velcro underbelly versions work well - it is what I mostly use for Pico. They are super easy to put on - no trying to get feet through holes, etc. and while not as secure as the Come with me Kitty harness, they stay put. Here are a few I like.

Leash for introductions

When you have harness and leash trained your aggressor cat, the in-person introductions begin. I like to use this long leash so the cat has room to move, but you can still keep them from lunging at the victim cat.

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Marker Training

While good things are happening at the door, and you are harness training, this is the time to start marker training your cat to “look” at you. A “marker” is a word, sound, or hand signal that you’ll use to tell your cat the exact moment they did something that earns them a reinforcer (reward, like a treat.) One of the first stages of an aggressive encounter between cats is staring. You’ll want to be able to control this by breaking the stare with a “look” request. Each time your cat looks you in the eyes, say “look!” and give them a treat. I highly recommend the Lick ‘n Lap for this because you can dispense a small amount each time and have multiple successions without the cat getting too full. You can watch a webinar on this process here.

Visual Barriers

As long as the gap introduction went well, your cat has mastered look on request, and is comfortable wearing the harness, you can move to the visual barrier stage. This simply means replacing the door with a see-through one. It can be anything the cats can’t get through and that you can cover if needed. There are examples shown in the webinar on Introducing Cats, and here are some to the right I also recommend.

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Baby Gate with Cat Door 

When you tell me you can't have an uncovered litter box because the dog is eating the cat poop, or your toddler keeps playing in the "sand" - I'm going to tell you go get one of these baby gates with a cat door! Comes in black too!

Dislike for the litter box is one of the leading causes of cats urinating outside the box. Cats tend to feel trapped in covered litter boxes. I've even seen incidents where one cat sits on top of the box and swats the cat going in and out!

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