Category: “Kitty Tips & Tricks”

HELP! My Cat Stopped Using the Litter Box

HELP! My Cat Stopped Using the Litter Box

Your cat stopped using the litter box — Now What???32675706_1.jpg

Help! My cat stopped using the litter box! Cats are fastidious creatures so it comes as a surprise to people that little Pickles is indulging in urinating or defecating outside the litter box. This undesirable behavior is difficult for people to deal with, particularly if she is using the flower pots, bed or the sofa as her toilet.

Yet, this is a common problem with indoor cats, particularly in multiple cat households. In fact, it is so common that we have coined a name for this behavior: Multiple Indoor Situational Stress Elimination Dysfunction or M.I.S.S.E.D. As the name denotes, this behavior is due to environmental stress and frequently occurs in homes with multiple indoor cats. However, it can also occur in homes with a single cat.

First things first, we can not emphasize this enough, before you make any decision about giving this cat up PLEASE have her/him checked out by your veterinarian. When a cat suddenly breaks the cat box habit there is often a medical cause. Although we have encouraged cat owners to follow through with a visit to their vet, many choose not to. Instead, they prefer to think that kitty is “angry” at them or “getting even” with them. Many of them give up on the behavior and instead bring the cat to a shelter (where it’s often euthanized) or they make the cat stay outside, decreasing their lifespan and adding more stress to the cat’s life.

Please be assured that your cat is NOT angry at you — cats do not have the ability to think in these abstract terms. They are creatures of the moment, they are reactive, they do not harbor resentments or hold grudges. It may APPEAR as if they do—but in reality what they are reacting to is YOUR emotions. OR they are reacting to their OWN momentary emotion.

Some physical illnesses may mimic behavior problems. One is Feline Urologic Syndrome (FUS). Both male and female cats are affected by this but male cats are particularly prone to urethral obstruction (due to their narrower urethra) than females. FUS occurs when crystals and small stones form in the bladder. These will nick and cut the linings of the urethra and bladder creating inflammation and pain. As these structures travel from the bladder through the urethra they can be caught in the male’s narrow urethra, creating an obstruction. This is a serious medical condition that requires immediate medical attention because obstruction can lead to kidney failure and death.

Cats with FUS will often indulge in continual licking or grooming of the area around the urethral opening. Due to pain and a constant full-bladder feeling, inappropriate elimination can occur. Some cats resort to urinating in the bathtub, the sink, the bed, or on the sofa. Some cats will vocalize their pain when straining to urinate. Others will simply “shut down” preferring instead to hide and avoid human contact.

Feline hyperthyroidism (an increase in thyroid gland hormone) can also appear as a behavioral problem. This condition causes increased thirst and appetite along with anxiety-like behavior. The cat may lose weight despite excessive eating. Increased thirst increases urine output and when accompanied by anxiety it can cause inappropriate elimination in felines. (This condition can also imitate gastrointestinal disease since the cat may experience vomiting and diarrhea.)

On the opposite side of the spectrum is hypothyroidism (a decrease in thyroid gland hormone). Hypothyroidism increases thirst and appetite. Again, this is accompanied with more urine output. However, instead of losing weight the cat gains weight and those extra ounces (or pounds) will often cause litter box problems. Furthermore, this condition leads to a lethargic cat who appears depressed. Hypothyroidism is often seen in older cats, so if your senior feline is experiencing these symptoms get her over to the vet for some tests. Both hypo and hyperthyroidism are treatable.

In sum, physical problems can be misinterpreted by humans as “behavior” issues. So, if your sweet little Pickles suddenly turns sour consider it a blessing in disguise, she might be telling you something.

VetExamOn the other hand, if Pickles received a clean bill of health from the veterinarian yet still persists in using furnishings, flower pots, or floors as a cat box the following check list might unearth the problem. Please keep in mind that these questions are not listed in order of importance.

1. Have you recently changed cat litter products?

A change in litter can create cat box aversion. Why? Because your cat is comfortable with the old brand and this new stuff smells and feels different. If you plan on switching cat litter do it a little at time: Place a small amount of the new brand in a clean cat box then top it off with a thick layer of the familiar litter. As Pickles uses the box the two brands will get mixed. Just keep adding more of the new litter and topping it off with less and less of the familiar brand. Pickles will adjust within 7 days, if not sooner.

2. Have you recently moved the cat box?

Cats simply will not tolerate switching cat box locations unless it is done gradually. Why? Well, think of it this way: if someone suddenly locked the bathroom door on you and didn’t tell you where the new bathroom was, what would you do? “Ah!” you say, “But a cat should be able to smell his way to the new location.” Not necessarily. Sure, cats have a keen sense of smell but they also have a stubborn sense of habit. If you need to change the location of the box, do so gradually. Move the box a few feet daily until it ends up in its new spot. Pickles will be much happier for it and so will you!

3. Have you recently changed the type of litter box you are using?

Cats prefer the open box variety to a covered box. A lidded box might be a great gimmick for you, to a cat it looks suspicious. Their nature is to avoid being enclosed. Observe the bathroom habits of the outdoor feline, they go where and when they feel like it. They do not look for a place that provides them “privacy” and enclosed areas are avoided. The idea that cats need privacy is strictly a man-made one. Try removing the cover and see if that helps. Also, is the litter box the correct size for your kitty?

4. How many litter boxes have you provided for your cat/s?

The rule of thumb is to provide each cat one box of its own plus one. Why? Well, strangely enough cats sometimes prefer one box location to another depending on the type of elimination required. For example, some cats prefer to use one specific box for their bowel movements. This might appear strange but if you think about it some people are the same with their toilet habits! This one-box-plus-one rule is particularly applicable when the home is multi-storied. In which case you might consider placing a box on each level.

5. Does the cat have access to the litter box at all times?

Placing a cat box in the bathroom or closet might be ideal for you. But if a person is using the bathroom the door might be closed, blocking the cat from its box. A closet door might also be inadvertently shut. And, if this box happens to be the only box in the house a cat with the “have-to-go-now” urge will have a real problem.

6. Have you recently acquired a new cat?

MISSED syndrome is common in multiple indoor cat households. Cats will eventually adjust to a new housemate. But it takes time. Sharing the litter box with another feline is stressful, much the same as if you suddenly had to share your bathroom with another person. It takes some adjusting to. For one, the box could be occupied when Pickles wants to go. For another, there’s a new smell in there. Keep in mind that urinating and defecating is also a cat’s method to “mark” their territory. Added stress in multiple cat households can be avoided by simply providing multiple boxes in various locations around the home.

cat-in-a-box7. Have you recently placed a new mat in front of the litter box?

In our efforts to alleviate dust tracking we purchase “litter mats.” However, some of these mats are not cat friendly. When seeking a litter trap keep the cat’s comfort in mind. Surfaces with large grates can cause a cat to feel insecure. Other mats appear to resemble outdoor carpeting, with brittle plastic “fibers” that can poke into a cat’s paw pads. Still others may have the annoying habit of slipping on hardwood floors, a feature not appreciated by the feline. Litter mats need to be soft, pliable, and secure feeling. A grated mat is fine, as long as the grates are small enough for the cat not to notice. A “carpet” type of mat is also fine as long as it doesn’t poke into the cat’s paws.

8. Have you recently moved?

This question opens up a myriad of problems since cats by far prefer to keep things unchanged. Yet, in today’s frenetic world change will occur despite the cat’ s wishes. You can help Pickles acclimate to her new space by placing her in a small room with her box and food and plenty of hiding places. When she becomes comfortable with this new space let her out to explore her new surroundings, a little at a time.

One word of caution, do not try to “comfort” Pickles when she acts nervous and afraid. Instead, adopt a calm demeanor and whenever she is doing something positive, such as eating or looking out the window, take that opportunity to pet her. Your own attitude about the move will greatly affect the cat so make certain that you feel happy about it and try to convey that to her in your outward expressions.

9. Have you recently placed an “air freshener” near the litter box?

A nice smelling home is something that people strive for, not cats. Their noses are very sensitive and foreign odors can create confusion. The MISSED syndrome will often show up if an owner places a plug-in air freshener or some other perfumed device near the cat box. So avoid this practice.

10. Have you recently added a litter pan liner to your cat box?

Simply put, cats do not like smooth, slick surfaces. While kitty box liners are fine for humans they are nor appreciated by the feline. Why? It changes the feel and texture of the litter since the plastic bag is often pulled up, dislodged or wrinkled by the cat’s digging. The result is an unpleasant experience that can result in cat box aversion.

11. Have you recently added “litter freshener” to the cat litter?

Covering up stinky cat box odors is a common practice among cat owners. However, if you have never done this before the new smell in the box could create cat box aversion. Even if you have used these products before your cat may suddenly decide she doesn’t like it. Instead of adding perfumed products or even baking soda to the box try scooping more often or adding additional boxes.

12. How often do you scoop the box?

We live busy lives and scooping might not be our priority. But it needs to be. The outdoor cat has a wide bathroom selection, the indoor cat does not. She is stuck with what you provide. To reduce odors and encourage proper elimination it is suggested that the cat box be scooped a minimum of two times a day. (It is of course better if it is scooped more often.) Some cat owners do not scoop at all, instead they dump the whole mess out once a week, scrub out the box, refill it with clean litter and call it done. This is not conducive to good feline toilet habits.

Why? Well, let’s contrast a fully-loaded cat box to our own toilet habits. Let’s face it, when you go out to a restaurant or a ballgame you want access to a clean toilet. What happens when you open up the stall door and see a toilet that hasn’t been flushed all day? More than likely you will seek a clean stall. And so it is with the cat, only she doesn’t have another stall to choose from. So pick up the scoop and start scooping! You’ll have a cleaner, more sanitary house (remember kitty gets on the bed, the sofa, and the surfaces of your home) and both of you will be happy.

13. Have you recently changed your routine?

If your routine has altered this could affect your cat’s emotional state. Often when cats become anxious they express themselves in inappropriate ways such as yowling or resorting to urinating in other areas of the house. This is NOT a “get even” action, so please do not put that human emotion on your cat. Instead it is an outward expression of an inward turmoil. Consider it this way, your indoor cat is trapped in its environment, it can’t get in the car to “get away from it all,” nor can it take a vacation or have a group therapy session.

Instead its reactions are purely primordial: an increase in adrenal causes all bodily functions to speed up, including the bladder and the bowels. (This also applies to humans.) Consider the fact that the cat is not only pumping extra adrenaline into its system but it also has an instinctual urge to react to this physiological change by marking out a defined territorial barrier. Why? Because this is an animal’s method of preventing other animals from encroaching into its area. In this case, the cat’s actions are a defense mechanism. The best way to handle this is by using feline pheromone products, such as a Feliway plug in diffuser, that will produce a relaxed state of mind.

14. Have you recently added a new member to the household?

This falls under the heading of changing your routine so please see number 12 and also number 13 for the possible solution. If a new baby is added to the home follow the instructions for out of town visitors (Number 15) until the baby’s scent is established in the home, that will only take a few weeks. The same applies to any other new household members.

15. Have you had visitors from out of town?

This also falls under the heading of changing your routine with a few unexpected twists. Visitors bring with them excitement, strange smells, and different voices. They also bring into the home a new energy level. That is, the normally quiet atmosphere may become chaotic. The opposite may also occur. A chaotic household may become quiet because the family is out more often. Either way, the cat could react negatively.

One common reaction to visitors is the cat’s penchant for urinating in your visitor’s suitcase. It is an annoying occurrence, frequently followed by ruined clothes and voluminous apologies from embarrassed hosts. Is the cat defiantly stating his resentment of the visitor? The answer is, no! The cat is only reacting to the visitor’s powerful new scent. Cats do not understand the human’s approach to scent. We try to erase ours by bathing, using deodorant, and washing our clothes.

On the other hand, cats love their scent and faced with an overpowering scent they will add what they consider to be “good smells” onto the bad stuff — much the same way that you use an air freshener to erase foul odors. This situation can be prevented: simply ask guests to keep their door closed, their suitcase closed, and to please not leave their clothes in areas the cat has access to. And explain why. Better to be safe than sorry!


If your cat has MISSED:

1. Clean it up: Clean up the area as quickly as possible. Use a specifically designed enzyme pet product that will eliminate the odor, you don’t want PIckles to think the carpet is her new litter box. In addition to a thorough clean up, spray the area with a feline specific pheromone product such as Feliway twice a day.

2. Block it: Utilize a large plastic bag and secure it over the area to prevent her from returning to it. In the case of a sofa or a bed you can use a shower-curtain liner or purchase a tarp at your local hardware store. Make certain that you secure it in place so the cat can’t move it with her paws. You can also use boxes or any other structures that will block the cat’s access to the area. Or prevent access completely by closing the door.

3. Prevent it: To calm a nervous or anxious cat (due to a move or a new cat or new routine) utilize a plug-in pheromone product or spray. These pheromones send messages of happiness and contentment to the cat’s brain. Purchase Bach Rescue Remedy and place a drop of the essence on the skin of the inner part of each earflap four times a day. In addition, you can also mix a few drops of essence into the cat’s drinking water.comfort-zone-with-feliway-diffuser-48-ml-10

4. Stay calm: Don’t overreact or become frustrated or resort to yelling. This will only create more anxiety in the cat. Instead, try to remain calm and adopt as regular a routine as possible.

5. Give the cat plenty out outlets to get rid of extra energy or frustration: Providing little Pickles with a set schedule for physical activity (such as playing with cat fisher toys or strings) will give her an outlet for pent up energy and stress. It’s much like our way of taking a brisk walk when we feel frustrated or indulging in a good workout to relieve stress. Afterward, Pickles’ energy will be spent and she can relax and enjoy a good meal and a nap.

cat pole


Bringing Home a New Kitten

Bringing Home a New Kitten
Bringing home new kitten Bringing Home a New Kitten!

You’ve taken to the plunge to adopt a kitten! Congratulations! Now is the time to bond, enjoy and establish a relationship that will grow and remain strong as long as she lives. But, first things first! Remember bringing your kitten into a new environment could be frightening for her. She’s going to be away from all the familiar smells and sounds of her former home. She’s not going to know you yet. Best to take things slow and easy the first few days. Let her acclimate. However, before you bring her home prepare in advance.

Getting Ready for Kitten

Vaccinate: Make certain that all your current pets are up to date on their vaccines

Purchase: A sturdy carrier, food and water dishes, litter box, litter (no clumping clay litter please! Kittens might eat it and cause intestinal blockage), scratching posts and bedding and toys! Interactive toys that stimulate the mind are such fun. Environmental enrichment is very important at all stages of your kitten’s development. cat-tunnel

Prepare a safe space: Set up a quiet room for her, away from all the hubbub of the home. It can be overwhelming for a little kitten to be plopped down into a large, unfamiliar home. You can use a spare bedroom or bathroom. This will give her a sense of security and prevent undue stress. Include a “safe” place to hide, perhaps an upside down cardboard box with a hole cut out so she can go in there and hide.

Kitten proof your home: Cover electrical cords, remove breakable items from around the home, remove strings, rubber bands and thread (kittens can eat those and cause intestinal blockage).

Kitten.jpgRemove any harmful plants: If you are uncertain if a certain plant is poisonous please look this list up at the ASPCA POISON CONTROL CENTER. For example, the Sago Palm is lethal to both cats and dogs.

Beware of potential accidents!

    1. Keep your dryer, washer and toilet lid closed. Kittens love crawling into them and exploring.
    2. Be certain that you place window blind cords up high to avoid kitten accidentally getting strangled on the cord.
    3. Remind family to be observant when opening and closing doors, cupboards, refrigerators and freezers or moving a chair. Kittens are inherently curious and will want to explore these areas. The result could be injury or death.
    4. Not all cat toys are safe! Be mindful of toys with small parts that can be eaten or create a chock hazard.
First Day Home!

While in transport, keep kitten in carrier at all times! When you get home place her (still in the carrier) into her room, open the door and allow her on her own to come out and explore. Do not force her out of the carrier. Once she comes out allow her to approach you. Don’t move towards her. Always be gentle when handling her and speak to her in a calm, soothing voice. For now, leave the carrier in the room with her, leaving the carrier door propped open. The carrier will become her temporary hiding space.

Texas Animal Guardians Adoption Event

Introducing Kitten to Your Home!

Please allow kitten several days to settle into her new room. Once you see that she is comfortable you can begin to allow her to explore one room in the home at a time. If you have an open floor plan or multiple floor levels then utilize baby gates to keep kitten away from harmful areas of the home. If possible, close off all other doors leading to bedrooms or other areas of the home. Have some familiar toys for her to play with as well as treats. Always keep the kitten’s “safe” room accessible so she can run in there to hide if she becomes frightened

Never Allow Kitten to Roam Unsupervised!

Even after kitten has adjusted well to her new home it isn’t a good idea to leave her unattended while you are at work, running errands or otherwise occupied. To be safe please place her into her “safe” room until you are able to observe her activity. Once kitten reaches 6 months of age, she will be well on her way to handling the challenges of your home and her (by now) familiar environment.

Bring Kitten to Your Vet for an Exam! 

It’s important for your new kitten to receive a health check up from your local veterinarian. This is crucial on many levels, she needs her kitten vaccines to stay healthy. She also needs other medical treatments such as deworming, possible nutritional supplements and it introduces the vet to your kitten. This comes in handy if an accident were to occur. Having an established relationship with your vet is important to your kitten’s future health!

Last but not least! Remember to keep kitten in her safe room when you are not able to supervise her directly.

Congratulations! And please! Spay! Neuter! and Microchip your pets!

Kittens in a basket




Introducing Your New Cat to Your Dog

Introducing Your New Cat to Your Dog

Introducing Your New Cat to Your Dog

You added a new kitty to your family! Congratulations! Now comes the challenge of introducing your new cat to your dog. There are many factors to consider before making the new cat to current dog introduction: Is you resident dog a young pup? Is your resident dog already cat friendly? Does your resident dog have a high prey drive? Is your new kitty “dog friendly”? Is your new kitty a small kitten? Is your new kitty nervous, high-strung or generally afraid? Keep these questions in mind as you continue to read.

Remember: Relationships take time to develop. Never force introductions! Your resident Fido might LOVE new kitty but new kitty could HATE Fido. And vice versa. Your job is to be their mentor, to supervise their interactions, to help them forge a positive relationship. This means all their encounters must be associated with POSITIVE experiences. Positive experiences include: 

  • Food/treats
  • Play
  • Attention/Praise

 Be patient and calm: Throughout this phase speak calmly, be generous with praise. Reinforce positive behavior with treats. Provide resident Fido special attention. You don’t want him getting jealous of new kitty. New kitty can receive special cuddles in private. Avoid scolding, speaking in a nervous voice — even if the first meeting did not go well. 

Texas Animal Guardians New Cat/Dog introductions

Baby kitten needs to be kept safe at all times!


1. Never introduce a tiny kitten to a full grown dog or even a puppy without holding the kitten: Little kitten bones can be easily broken and internal injuries can result from a quick swat of a dog paw or worse death can result if dog grabs kitten by neck and shakes it.

2. Never leave the new kitty and dog unsupervised: A dog can kill a cat very quickly. Even if you think your dog LOVES cats, be very cautious about leaving them alone together. ALWAYS give your new Kitty an escape route, something high to jump up on or a small cat door that he/she can run into (and dog can’t) to hide in safe area.

A Primer on New Cat and Dog Introductions

First!: Give new kitty a “safe” space of her own. A small room is preferable, perhaps a half bath or even a seldom-used closet. Place kitty’s box, food, a scratching post, a comfy bed and blanket in her room. Give new kitty a chance to “decompress” in this setting for a few days before making introductions.

Second!: Give new kitty a chance to explore the home (with Fido out of the way). Start with one room first and gradually expand this to other areas of the home. Give her a scratching post in one of the primary rooms of your home (living room, family room, etc.). The scratching post will help trim her claws while releasing pheromones from her paw pads. These pheromone scents will provide her tranquility.

Third!: Give Fido a blanket to sleep on and in a few days swap out the blankets between the two. That is, give Fido new kitty’s blanket and give new kitty Fido’s blanket. The idea behind this is to co-mingle their scents. Scents that are familiar are far less threatening. Continue swapping the unwashed blankets back and forth over this crucial introductory phase. 

Fourth!: Purchase these items to help the meeting go smoother between the two: calming collars or sprays. A specifically designed gate with an opening for cat to go through (to prevent Fido from following new kitty into her “safe” area).

Fifth!: Set up a supervised meeting between Fido and new kitty.

Let Kitty approach Fido on her own.

1. Select an area of the home where both new kitty and Fido are familiar.

2. Place a leash on Fido.

3. Do not use a leash or harness on the kitty — or anything else (such as a crate or carrier) that will cause the new kitty to feel trapped.

4. Have another member of the family or a friend hold Fido’s leash.

5. Bring Fido in first, then new kitty. (Place them far enough apart so they will feel comfortable.)

6. Allow them to set the pace about approaching each other. (Give Fido plenty of treats and praise for good behavior. If Fido knows basic obedience place him in a sit or down position.)

7. Let new kitty approach Fido if she wants to but don’t force her.

8. Keep this meeting short! After a few minutes put Fido away.

9. Let new kitty continue sniffing the area where Fido has been. Put new kitty away.

10. Bring Fido back into the room and allow him to sniff the area where new kitty has been.

11. Repeat this several times a day for a week (perhaps longer) or until the new kitty approaches Fido on her own.

12. Once they have touched noses, sniffed each other without incidence you can begin increasing their time together. Repeat these short visits until both Fido and new Kitty are comfortable with each other. Continue to keep a leash on Fido while they are in the same room together until you are certain they are comfortable with each others company. Always keep them separated when no one is home to supervise their interactions. 


A few suggestions: Separate an area for new kitty for her litter box and food. Fido will often indulge in eating kitty’s food and the litter box is a huge temptation for Fido. Place kitty’s food up on a high counter. Place litter box in a room with a propped open door (or better yet purchase a specifically designed gate that gives her access but keeps Fido out).


Gate with separate “cat” door keeps Fido out of kitty’s safe room.

Calming Collars Dogs

Calming collars can help introductions.

Calmming Collars Cats

New cat introductions

New cat introductions

How to Introduce your new Cat to your other Cats

You got a new kitty. Congratulations! The challenge of having the newcomer accepted by the resident feline might be a bit daunting. But take heart! Harmony can be established by following a few simple guidelines. Introducing a new cat to your other cat will take time and patience. Most important is patience on your part. The last thing you want to do is start them off on the wrong paw. As with humans, first impressions really do make a difference.

A few points to remember:

Cats are territorial creatures. Therefore, the fewer cats you have the greater the chance of rivalry. Multiple cat households may be more accepting of the Newbie since they already share their territory with others. Most spayed/neutered adult cats will accept young kittens more readily than adults. However, even a young kitten can cause stress to an adult cat. So never leave the youngster unsupervised with the resident cat.

Keep in mind: As with humans a new relationship needs time to develop. Don’t be tempted to force introductions! Your resident cat could take an immediate liking to Newbie but it’s best to avoid risks. Start Muffin and Newbie on the right path by helping them forge a positive relationship. This means that you want all their encounters to be associated with a pleasant experience. Pleasant experiences are anything that include food, play, and attention from you.

Be patient and calm: Throughout the new cat introduction phase speak calmly. Be certain to praise them both when they are tolerating each other. You can also reinforce praise with treats. During this phase provide Muffin with special attention. You don’t want him getting jealous of Newbie. Newbie can receive cuddles in private.

NOTE: DO NOT introduce an intact male to a neutered male: Wait until he is neutered, then allow one week (to let the testosterone levels drop off) before making introductions. Kittens under the age of 12 weeks will be fine but they will need to be neutered around puberty (between 4 to 6 months) to avoid future conflict.

hr-andrea-baroni-cat-copy1-300x60 A Primer on New Cat Introductions


Cats have a keen sense of smell. It is fourteen times greater than a human. They have 200 million scent receptors compared to a human’s 5 million. Their world consists of scents. They are highly aware of which scents are familiar and which ones are not. You might have witnessed this when you’ve brought a resident cat back from the veterinarian’s office. The cat has picked up strange scents at the vet, suddenly your other cats will hiss at their friend because they don’t “recognize” him.

Therefore the first step is to “dilute” Newbie’s scent as much as possible. Naturally, there is no way to completely mask the scent of the new cat, but there are ways of making it less threatening. The following steps might appear ridiculous from our human point of view, but cats smell first and see later!

1_orgFirst! Purchase cover up or masking pheromone products such as Comfort Zone with Feliway in both the spray and plug in versions.

Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the natural facial pheromones a cat produces. When Muffin rubs his face against you, he is actually leaving a “positive” pheromone marker on your clothing or skin. This type of pheromone is known as an “appeasing” pheromone and it can help promote a calmer cat. Plug in the Feliway in the rooms most often occupied by your resident cat. Have one for the room that Newbie will initially be confined to.

Squirt a small amount of the spray Feliway into the  palm of your hand. Then rub the “marked” palm through Newbie’s coat. Repeat this step with each resident cat as many times a day as possible. Don’t wash your hands until you have applied this small amount of Feliway on each cat in your home. Do not spray the Feliway directly on your cat and use only a small amount in the palm of your hand.

 2_orgSecond! Swap scents: Rotate bedding between Newbie and the resident cat.

Some experts suggest that each cat be shampooed with the same shampoo. The idea is the new cat will effectively smell similar to the other cats. However, this method only adds stress to an already stressful situation. Yet, the idea is sound since it attempts to mask individual scents. There are other, less stressful ways, to do this. An effective method is to rotate the bedding between the Newbie cat and the resident cat. It’s less stressful than a bath, but it is based on the same principal. Another method is to take a garment that you have slept in and rub this over each cat, repeating the process throughout the day. The rational behind this is to blend their scents with yours. This makes Newbie’s scent less threatening since it is mixed with familiar smells.

 3_org Third! Purchase scratching posts!

The cardboard variety will do nicely. Cats have scent glands in their front paws so each time they scratch an item they are “marking” it. Place a scratching post with your resident cat and another one with Newbie. Sprinkle some catnip on the scratching posts to add interest. Then rotate the posts between the kitties daily. They will enjoy their new catnip scented posts while sharing their scents.




New cat introductions can go smoother if you give the new cat a space of his own.

Step One: Isolate — Give Newbie a room of his own!

Before making any introductions place Newbie in a room by himself with a litter box, water, food, a scratching post, and comfortable bedding. Place his food dishes close to the door but not right up against it. You will be feeding your resident cat and the newcomer near the opposite side of the closed door. This gets them accustomed to being near each other, without actually seeing each other. It establishes pleasant associations (eating) with each others scents.

Each day you can move their dishes closer to the door until they are eating calmly on their respective side of the closed door. During this phase feed them their favorite food and offer them treats in this area.

Step Two: Play — Let the good times roll!

Play with them each day in their respective areas (on the opposite side of the closed door). Again, it’s all about establishing positive associations. Play is crucial to cats. They are predatory animals and using their energy in this manner reduces stress. Every cat is different, some like the “cat fisher” toys, others love stuffed mice, balls, crinkly paper, feathers, the laser beam or a long ribbon. Regardless, find the toys that turns your cats on and use it consistently each day. Playing in this manner will help you cement a bond with the Newbie and the resident cat will enjoy his time with you too. In time, you will use this playtime to invite the resident cat and Newbie to enjoy a little positive playtime interaction.

Step Three: Explore — Let’s take it to the next level! 

Keep your other cat confined while you let Newbie wander throughout the home. This promotes more scent exchange and it allows Newbie to explore his new territory. He will familiarize himself with the resident cat without a face-to-face meeting.

Prop open the door that’s dividing their feeding area and Newbie’s living area. Only prop it a tiny amount, not enough for them to get their head through. Keep the door propped open slightly, gradually opening it a little wider. To prevent physical contacts between the cats place a baby gate in the door frame. Prop open the door securely, keeping it slightly ajar. The idea is to let them see each other but not interact.

Continue this until the cats are comfortable seeing each other. If at any time they begin displaying negative behavior (such as hissing) close the door slowly so that they will not feel threatened by each others presence. If they are getting along increase their interactions by removing any barrier between them. Increase positive associations between them by inviting them into playtime together. During this crucial phase be more fastidious about cat box cleanliness. Give them each plenty of individual attention.

Step Four: Avoid negative behavior!

After the barrier is removed, they can interact with each other for feeding and play. During this phase of the new cat introduction be present whenever they are together. If the cats begin showing fear or aggression towards each other, put a stop to it immediately before it escalates. It’s perfectly normal for them to display a little bit of this but you don’t want it to become an all-out fight. That type of behavior will only ruin any chances of them becoming friends. If aggressive behavior erupts gently place a towel or small blanket on one of them, wrapping them in it, and remove them from the room. If this occurs, you will need to begin the introduction process from the beginning. However, it is rare for actual aggression to occur if a slow, gradually introduction has been made.

The Results? Pawsitively wonderful!

As your Muffin and Newbie continue getting to know each other give them praise, indulge them in playtime (offering catnip as an incentive), and keep their nails trimmed to avoid injury. Avoid litter box problems by keeping the boxes clean (with their preferred type of litter) and wiping up accidents with an enzyme cleaner. Before you know it, they will end up at least tolerating each other but sometimes they end up being best friends!

The outcome of a slow gradual new cat introduction can be a lasting friendship.

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