While your kitty is having her transition time in a small space (read my previous post), there are a number of things you can do to prep your resident cat for his new roommate. You want to get him used to the new kitty’s scent before she’s full on living in his space. Here are a few ways to do it.
Swap Soft Items
Cats are extremely driven by scent, which is why if you take one to the vet and not the other, it might hiss upon your return. One cat doesn’t recognize the other cat’s scent.
If you follow my advice from Part II, your new kitty will have it’s own bed and blanket/towel. You want to let the new kitty rub her scent all over the soft items, then swap them with your resident cat’s stuff. You can do the same with small, soft toys. The idea is to start getting your resident at least open to the idea of the new kitty, and vice versa. Keep switching the items back and forth so the scents become all missed together.
Here a Pet, There a Pet, Everywhere a Pet Pet
Please be smart about it … but after about a week, if you see no signs of illness with your new cat, you can stop washing your hands when you move between the new cat and resident cat. It’s just another way to introduce the smell, which is no doubt on your clothing already anyway:-)
Start feeding your cats on opposite sides of the door. The idea here is positive reinforcement: food + other cat smell = good things. Your cat can smell another cat through the door.
I would even up the ante, and give your resident cat a treat instead of regular food. Maybe that’s Temptations, Fancy Feast, or tuna.
Stacked Baby Gates
I’ve heard of this technique, and I’ve tried it – it didn’t work for me, but I’ve heard it work for others. You can stack baby gates between door ways, allowing the cats to see each other, but not actually hang out. This should be a later step (do NOT do it right away), but it is a safe way to add sight to scent.
I have three gates that I stacked. The problem was, my cat, Lucy, would climb them and try to squeeze herself through the tiniest spots to get out haha. So if you think it will work, you can def try it. I’ve also heard of using a screen door in place of a regular door. Doesn’t seem like an easy thing to do, but worth a shot if you can figure it out.
In Part III, we’ll discuss the actual meeting and comingling.