How to introduce a new cat to your existing cat family. Kittens are historically easier to introduce to adult cats than adult-to-adult introductions. What makes that particular situation work so well? First, the kitten has “baby-ness” on its’ side. Most species are hard-wired to be tolerant of babies, allowing them to get away with behavior not tolerated from an older animal. Second, the kitten ‘baby’ hasn’t learned to strictly obey the adult cat’s “get away from me” hisses. The hisses have no affect because the ‘baby’ is oblivious to them. Third, because the kitten hasn’t learned to stop and leave the adult cat alone, they push, push, push and push some more until they finally wear down the adult cat, who says: “okay, I accept you, do whatever you want with me” and from *this*, grows a new relationship of togetherness.
After many years of working with feral cats, poorly socialized cats must be done in the same manner, A kitten forces itself on an older cat. You must be respectful, and not rush getting the cat past certain, critical, points (Like: beyond the point where the cat will be harmful/dangerous to handle) as you gain its’ trust, but to get it accustomed to handling…you’re going need to sort of “flood” it with handling experiences, often and regardless of the cat’s struggles.
This does not mean you completely ignore the cat’s wishes, but you do have to hold the cat for incrementally longer periods, accompanied with more frequent/numerous short handling sessions, even if the cat wiggles and struggles. This does NOT mean holding a cat who is terrified and feels it *must* get away at any/all costs. This just means the cat doesn’t sit quietly or stay of its’ own volition. It is gentle restraint (scruff hold or hand around the chest) to keep the cat near as the free hand rubs all over to get the cat accustomed to being touched.
Just like that kitten wearing down the older cat…if we keep handling and handling the un-socialized cat, it will eventually just “give up” and let you do whatever you want. And from that point, the largest barrier has come down and the socializing/handling progress will continue forward with a deep amount of trust because the cat has finally accepted it, so it then becomes an exercise in continuing to keep the cat familiar with handling and get it to become more and more relaxed about it and accept it as the new ‘normal’ in its’ life, or accept it into its’ private circle of among-the-things-it-allows.
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