Even the most ornery cats can learn to like another kitty if they’re introduced the right way.
Alley Cat Rescue’s Program Manager Niki Cochran knows for sure, because it’s easy for anyone to love her cat Lucy, whose tongue permanently hangs out on the left side from a dog attack before Cochran adopted her.
Meg, Cochran’s sometimes crabby older cat, found a way to appreciate Lucy because Cochran introduced them the right way. That means giving the newer cat a small space to adjust and a door in between the two to sniff one another through the crack. It takes patience to introduce cats, and with a little bit of time they will grow to accept one another rather than become lifelong enemies.
“[Cats] may act crabby at first, but as long as they’re not charging or attacking -- that’s OK,” Cochran said.
The first way to introduce a new cat like Lucy to an older cat, like Meg, would be to place the newer cat into a small room, such as a bathroom or a guest room. It is important to keep them isolated from one another for a couple of days to a week, said ACR’s Director of Operations Denise Hilton.
To acclimate the cats to one another, you can switch each of their cat beds so they grow used to one another’s scents, Hilton said. You can also place the cat food on both sides of the door so the cats eat near one another, Cochran added.
After some time has passed, it’s safe to switch the door out for a doggy gate so the cats can see each other face to face, and you can gauge how they react. Hilton added it might be good to get a few gates, as “obviously cats can jump a lot higher than dogs.”
Once you feel enough time has passed to introduce the cats, make sure to never do so without supervision. They should not be left unsupervised when you’re not home, Hilton said.
“All cats are different. Some might get along immediately, some it might take quite some time,” Hilton said.
In addition to supervised introductions, cats may start to get along if you use interactive toys such as cat dancers that not only help with the cat’s prey drive, but also keeps cats focused on the object rather than one another.
If all of these steps are followed, even grumpy cats such as Meg may start to get along with newcomers like Lucy.
“Every once in awhile they do this weird play thing that involves hissing -- but it’s playing,” Cochran said.
Though not all cats become best friends, or take up to a month to get along, avoiding aggression is key. Because if you do not take these steps, there’s the chance that the cats may never get along, and even attack one another.
Introducing cats to dogs is a whole other situation, however, and you can read about that in our next blog.
Volunteers as young as 11-years-old helped Alley Cat Rescue locate and Trap-Neuter-Return 42 cats in Roanoke last week.
Olivia, 11-years-old, was one of more than 20 people in Roanoke who Alley Cat Rescue trained to TNR cats in partnership with the Mountain View Humane animal hospital and Barn Cat Buddies, a sanctuary for feral or skittish cats, to help manage colonies there. TNR is the most effective and humane way to treat feral cats and manage their colonies, according to Alley Cat Rescue’s Guide to Managing Community Cats.
“We had two volunteers come with us trapping ... they had never done it before,” said Niki Cochran, program manager at Alley Cat Rescue. She added ACR staff taught them TNR techniques, and that “they’re going to be part of the feral cat community for the rest of their lives.”
The workshop’s goal was to teach community cat advocates in Roanoke how to conduct TNR sustainably, said Alley Cat Rescue’s director Denise Hilton.
Several residents at the trailer park, located in a heavily wooded area, were eager to hear the community cats would be returned control rodent and snake populations, Hilton added.
On the workshop’s first day, Hilton presented on how to humanely capture community cats with traps lined with newspaper and baited with wet food -- “the smellier, the better,” Hilton said.
Alley Cat Rescue taught the community cat advocates trapping techniques they wouldn’t have learned otherwise, such as how to establish a feeding schedule to better lure the kitties into traps when they’re most hungry, Hilton said. Roasted or fried chicken -- such as KFC -- also work to entice community cats, she added.
“[The volunteers were] so excited … that we were able to give them more knowledge to help them along,” Hilton said. “They don’t work for an organization, they’re individuals -- they are out of the kindness of their hearts concerned for the cats in their neighborhood.”
On the second day, our staff ventured out with community cat advocates, including 11-year-old Olivia and the two volunteers who never trapped before, to humanely capture kitties who lived around a trailer park. On the third day, Mountain View Humane spayed and neutered those cats.
Cochran said the workshop was successful because Mountain View Humane was similarly motivated how a shelter would be to promote TNR.
“The head vet [at Mountain View] was definitely instrumental in making sure they had these more progressive policies [concerning TNR],” Cochran said.
To make TNR sustainable in Roanoke, Alley Cat Rescue gave Barn Buddies a grant to conduct 200 free spays and neuters, and gave Mountain View Humane a grant to conduct 100 free spays and neuters. These grants are in addition to the 42 TNR's completed with Alley Cat Rescue. Our rescue also plans to give another grant to Mountain View Humane for spays and neuters.
This workshop was part of Alley Cat Rescue's new Alliance for Cat Protection program. The program helps build a network of support for shelters throughout the United States.
Alley Cat Rescue provides these Alliance shelters with comprehensive training in humane programs for community cats, including public workshops and staff training that save animals' lives. Our dedicated team visits these communities to educate and provide hands-on support with TNR, just as they did in Roanoke.
You can help ACR provide more shelters with help by donating to ACR and earmark your donation ----ACR----Training and Education.
Alley Cat Rescue is leading in the way in promoting humane and compassionate care for ALL cats.