Socialising Cats and Kittens
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Many cats who explore meet other animals (dogs, cats, even farm animals) on their travels.
To make it more comfortable and enjoyable for everyone involved, many of us dream that our cats have great interactions with other animals.
However, there is a perception that cats are aloof, solitary creatures. Perhaps this belief has developed because we keep comparing cats to dogs, when in fact they are different creatures who approach things differently. Cats are not likely to go looking for a new friend to play with their toy, while a dog may do this. Rather cats may prefer to spend time with animals they have bonded with.
It is common to see cat colonies, where cats work together to raise their kittens, look after each other and even share food. A cat social structure is territorial. They interact in a manner that includes a negotiation for territory. In fact cat colonies rarely accept newcomers and the introduction of a new member takes a while.
Reality is that, cats are social animals, but they are also territorial and may be suspicious of those they do not know.
With this in mind, we asked the Catexplorer Community about their experiences with socialising their cats.
Cats in Our Community
Many owners in our community have noticed that their cats take cues from how the other animal they are meeting reacts to them. If the other animal is calm, their cat will be calm while if the other animal is aggressive or overly excited, it is likely that their cat will act aggressively.
Some cats also appear to be very territorial of their owners. If their owner is paying attention to another cat, they feel jealous and take it out on the cat receiving the attention.
Some cats are not keen on making friends at all. The typical practice (and we agree with this) is that if your cat is not keen on socialising with a particular animal – do not push it. It should be done on your cat’s terms.
There also appears to be an interesting trend where cats in our community prefer to make friends from the opposite sex – that is, female cats prefer male friends while male cats prefer female friends.
Introducing Your Cat to Other Cats
When introducing cats, it may not be the best to just suddenly introduce them as they will find that very stressful. If you hurry it, they may become enemies. A slow introduction may result in lifelong friends.
As with anything related to training cats, many owners have discovered that their cat is more open to socialising with other cats if they interact with many cats as a kitten. In fact, it is believed that cats who are exposed to other cats, animals and people when they are 7 to 9 weeks old are more likely to be more social.
When cats meet for the first time, each of them may feel threatened. They may see the other cat as an intruder or that they are intruding on the other cat’s territory. No wonder, cats appear stressed when they meet each other!
How to Introduce Two Cats
When introducing 2 cats, we recommend that you go at the pace of the cat that is displaying the most amount of stress.
We love Pam Johnson-Bennett’s idea of introducing cats to each other with one sense at a time. That is you start off with the cats hearing each other, then smelling, then seeing and then finally touching each other. They may even taste each other, preferably with a lick rather than a bite!
She recommends that when introducing cats to each other, that they have a safe space. While out and about, this can be a backpack and at home this can be a room for each cat.
We also suggest that you make it a positive experience. The easiest way is with food and treats!
If you would like to try and introduce your cat to another cat, we suggest starting with a friendly cat. Perhaps, you could even ask your vet if your cat can meet their friendly resident cats?
What About Cat Meet Ups?
While we’re exploring with our cats, it is likely that they will meet another cat or animal.
If your cat has already exhibited signs that they are not comfortable with socialising with animals, it may be better to introduce them to the same animal slowly – perhaps using Johnson-Bennett’s method rather than forcing them to be friends with another animal quickly.
As owners, we would love for our cats to get along with all animals but we need to remember that it should be done on their terms, and each interaction should be positive.
Has your cat made friends with other cats or do they struggle with making friends? Tell us all about it!