Introducing a new cat to a one cat household
Hi there. I'm a new pet owner and I'm used to dogs. I recently adopted a 6-12 month old tabby. My decision was based on the cats affection for me when we met. He started as a wonderful cat and we got along great. However, I admit I've made a number of mistakes. I learned of using a squirt bottle when he does something bad, such as get up in the counters or cling to my leg and bite. Problem is he began to associate me with punishment, and he started to become more stand off-ish. I've used the bottle on and off for about a month since I got him.
Gradually, and I think this is largely due to the fact that I'm normally a dog owner and used to negative reinforcement, he's become gradually more distant. He bites lightly and scratches even after a short period of petting. I thought this may have been due to me not being home all day due to a 9 hour a day job. I decided to get him a playmate. To say the least, his aggression toward me has skyrocketed. He hisses and growls at me. Suggestions?
on Oct 24th 2012
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A good portion of understanding cats is knowing that they do things that dogs don't, like climbing on things. When you use a spray bottle, if you actually spray him with water, it scares him and makes him defensive. It should be sprayed over his head with a sharp "no!" and not over-used or it loses effectiveness. By the way, dogs respond better to positive reinforcement as do cats. When you adopted #2, that cat should have been kept in a separate room with box, toys, food/water and not allowed access to #1 until they were playing "footise" under the door. Your vet can go into more detail about how to introduce a resident cat to a newcomer. I would advise loosening your rules a bit. Purchase a large cat condo or "tree" for his climbing habits. Play with him with a hands-off wand toy. Sequester #2 until #1 shows interest. If you adopted from a shelter or rescue, call them to find out the best plan for obtaining a peaceful household.
Izadore (Izzie) answered on 10/24/12. Helpful? / 0
I really feel like cats do best when they're set up for success. E.g., make the counters either uninteresting (don't leave yummy smelling stuff up there) or downright frightening (booby trap them so the cat doesn't associate you with whatever is scaring it off the counter). I have one cat who will jump right off the counter if I say "Off, please" and another cat who stares at me like I'm an idiot if I'm yelling "NO!!!! DOWN!!!" and pounding pots and pans at him, so your results may vary.
To get the cat to be nicer to you, here are a few things to try. Play with him a lot, but not with your hands. You don't want him to get used to biting you. Laser pointers, cat wands, throwing balls of paper, etc. Hand feed him treats when he's nice, and love him up. And try not to yell at him too much -- cats don't connect punishment to their actions, they connect it to the punisher. They have no interest in making humans happy like dogs do, they just want to enjoy life and avoid stress.
DJ Kitt3 answered on 10/29/12. Helpful? / 0