In the comments of my last column someone asked about getting cats adjusted to new people so I have asked Dr. Becky Weller of Mahomet for her advice from the veterinary perspective.
“A few thoughts come to mind when considering how best to integrate a new person into a household that already has a leader: THE CAT
It is important to allow the kitty to initiate the new friendship. Be sure to let the cat decide how much interaction is desired with the new person. If the cat is very friendly there may be no issues because Kitty may see the new person as just one more lap to lay in and one more feeder/groomer/poop scooper.
While the relationship should not be rushed by the new roommate, Mom or Dad (the owner) should continue to lavish love and attention on Kitty. If Kitty feels slighted and left out you may see issues such as inappropriate urination/defecation and aggression.
It is important that you seek veterinary help if you suspect behavior problems due to the stress of a new person in the house. These issues are easier to deal with early on than if you wait several months.”
My advice is to give it time, it took almost six months before my Siamese warmed up to Husband. Husband credits the cat treats and showing the cat that he loved me. Now they will sleep on him if I am too restless and will sometimes hang out on his lap. He is also the only one who can hold Dove without her making possessed chipmunk noises and biting. I think it depends on the cat and how socialized they were as a kitten. Of course, cleaning the litter will make both your significant other and the cat more inclined to like you.
I made the trip out to Mahomet to “vet” Dr. Weller’s credentials in person. It was a lovely visit except for a rather large problem. To be more accurate: more then a dozen small, fuzzy, shrill problems, er, kittens who all need homes. When I walked into that room and saw them in their three cages I knew one would be joining the herd at home; my willpower just isn’t that good. I brought Husband and Moose in to meet the kittens. I didn’t warn him till we were almost to the room, and I told him to remember: we had been talking about missing kittens and to brace himself against the almost lethal cuteness.
When we got up to the cages one of the kittens quite literally grabbed my attention by attaching themselves to my arm with teeth and claws. Every time we tried to pet someone else he pounced on them and shoved them away. Husband and I took him out of the cage to get a better look and he showed no sign of fright at Moose or being handled by strangers. Since Husband and I like cats with a lot of personality we decided on taking him home.
I am bracing myself for the excitement of having a six week old kitten joining the family. The older cats are not going to be amused, so I expect a lot of hissing for the first week or so, then they should be fine. Moose at the moment is scared of the kitten, so I am having visions of this tiny ball of fuzz terrifying a 45 pound dog. I will be doing careful introductions to make things go as smooth as possible, I will share for those who don’t know.
Start by rubbing all of the cats down with a dryer sheet so they all smell alike, then for the first few days confine the interloper in one room so they have a chance to sniff at one another under the door. Once the hissing settles down then you can let the newcomer out. Of course, since the kitten is so young, I am still going to confine him at night to avoid the worst of kitten destruction.
If anyone else is interested in adding a kitten to their family you need to call 217-586-2537 and schedule an appointment. There is a $25 re-homing fee which will be deducted from the spay/neuter fee if you have the surgery done there. The kitten have all tested negative for FLV and come with their first shots.