Welcoming a new family member

Even with an issues dog in the house (Shayne) I have really taken for granted how simple it is to bring in new dogs. Go for a walk outside, walk in together, allow newbie dog to be crated in another room when not closely supervised, lots of opportunity for separate time/space, and living in the land of baby games makes is pretty easy. That cannot be said for the process we are working on to introduce a new feline friend.

Monty is a 2 year old orange/white polydactyl kitty with lots of extra toes. He’s a sweet cat (when he’s not crabby) and has been with me for a week (he’s partially to blame for the lackluster blogging last week). The process of acclimating a feline is CRAZY hard! Holy cow! In then end I know it’ll be worth the journey but it’s really no simple process like it is for the dogs.

For the first two days Monty was living behind a wall of baby gates covered by a sheet. I wanted him to hear/smell everyone in the house but not have to see them but 1 baby gate wouldn’t do. I had 2 baby gates stacked so our other cats wouldn’t just jump in. I figured the first night he’d be scared enough to just stay under the bed… much to my surprise he was out and about. Which was great…except Shayne and Rio hadn’t seen him so there was no way they were going to sleep. I tried to just keep them out of my room but they both whined and whined. This was the start of my week of sleeping on the couch while my new kitty lived in my room.

Over the course of the week the sheet came off the gates and the gates were moved (to give him more access to the house). We had specialized one on one interactions between Monty and Shayne, Rio, Bandit, and Jefferson (16 year old Panther kitty didn’t even realize there was another cat in the house until he’d been here for 5 days LOL!). These initial sessions with the dogs were nothing more than controlled classical conditioning… the dog came in the room and the kitty got cookies (and the dog got a cookie because the cat got one). Along with the work getting Monty and the other animals acclimated, I was working with Monty everyday to gain some confidence. The first few days he was reluctant to get off the floor or out from under the bed. So about 5 or 6 times each day I’d go in and use treats and catnip to help him explore higher parts of the room or try to engage him in play.

It’s been a lot of work man. A week into this thing and Monty is spending more and more of his time out from under the bed and in his kitty bed, on the cat tower, or on some other ‘height’ objects–now, pretty much the only time he’s under the bed is if he gets spooked by something. He has met and interacted with everyone in the house. All three cats have played (taking turns) with a toy and there has been a very limited number of hissing or “poofing” (piloerection) and no fighting. Monty now has access to 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room, and the steps to the basement cat room (he just found those tonight).

He’s still not really confident anywhere but in my room but he’s exploring a bit more each day and is certainly getting more comfortable here. Definitely can’t rush this acclimation thing cats. Although the idea is much of the same, they are DEFINITELY not dogs.

  1. He is Handsome! I wish him a speedy acclimation to the whole house and all the critters. Nothing beats a harmonious household. Welcome Monty!! (he looks very soft too)

  2. Cats are not dogs. That is one thing I am still drilling into my head. Truer words were never spoken.

    Monty is adorable and I am so glad things are working out. I am going to save this post about his acclimation for the time we finally bring home a second cat of our own. It will be great to have something to turn to!

  3. I’m doing the opposite. Trying to acclimate a dog into a household of cats (that have never been around dogs). Part of me just wants to let them go at it and work it out but I would never to do that to my cats. They trust me and I don’t want to damage that. Gracie’s been with us 6 months. (I can’t beleive it’s been that long!) She doing better which is going to make it easier. Trying to deal with a dog that has issues, while trying to counter-condition to cats was not possible. Now we’re at the stage where everyone knows everyone exists. They don’t run at the first site of each other. Gracie just wants to PLAY but she doesn’t control herself well around the cats. They run, making it fun. Oh well, I should make this a blog post of my own! Point is, I sympathize!!

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