For years, Hailey had been an only cat. Then came Sam. Sometimes you pick your cat. More often, your new cat picks you. That was before we moved into our current home, and the former owner moved down the street. They owned two cats. One of them was Sam.
Cats are Territorial
While I didn’t necessarily dislike the idea of having another cat, both my husband and I agreed that Hailey wouldn’t accept a newcomer. While my neighbors could move and get used to a new house, cats are usually attached to locations. It’s not that they can’t move; it’s just that moving is stressful, and it’s very common for cats to hang around their old territories.
Because they’re territorial, cats tend to not like newcomers to their territories. This is why Hailey got horribly upset whenever she saw Sam or his buddy around our place. Even though she could not go outside, she quickly decided she was queen of everything inside and everything she could see outside. We’d hear growling and spitting from both sides.
Cats are Together, Alone
This doesn’t mean that cats can’t get along together. On the contrary. Cats in feral cat colonies, although more or less independent, tend to hang out with each other. They don’t want closeness, but they do recognize that they’re safer if they’re in a little kitty pack doing their independent things in proximity. I suspect that deep down in their furry little brains, they like it, too, but would never admit it.
Sam and his buddy were pals of a sort, until that first winter when Sam’s buddy got sick and ended up getting put down. Sam’s owners got another cat that Sam didn’t care for. So, Sam kept coming back to my place.
Inheriting a Cat
My neighbors were battling uphill when it came to getting Sam to stay at their home and accept the new cat. First, both cats were indoor/outdoor kitties, which makes it easy for them to leave. Second, Sam was used to my house, so it really didn’t matter if there was a couple of different humans in it. Third, I’m an animal magnet, which means Sam soon became smitten with me, no matter how often I called his owner to get him. Soon, he was convincing me he loved me. He’d bring me dead mice and sit under my window and stare up at it all night. I could see him whenever I got up during moonlit nights, waiting for me to bring him inside.
Eventually, everyone, including my neighbors, agreed that I was Sam’s human. I began to plan his introduction into our household, but I knew it wouldn’t be easy.
Introducing Two Adult Cats
Luckily, I had two rooms where both cats could remain separated. Hailey stayed in my office, and Sam in the spare bedroom. At night when the dogs were in bed, Hailey was allowed to roam free, which usually entailed her making certain there were no mice in the house and then going to bed with us. Sam remained in his room for weeks so Hailey could smell him and get used to him. Eventually, he, too, was allowed out. I used copious amounts of Feliway in both rooms and throughout the house.
Hailey was affronted. How dare we allow this interloper into our house? She took it upon herself to whap him and run away. Usually, there was much growling and hissing. Sam usually hightailed it and found a safe place.
Playtraining Two Cats
At this stage, I would’ve playtrained both cats. What’s involved is having two toys on poles and playing with both of them, one toy in each hand. Only, Sam didn’t know how to play with cat toys, and Hailey was annoyed at him. He still doesn’t know how to play with toys. But, we realized we had a breakthrough when Hailey saw something she thought was a threat, and Sam hopped up right beside her on the windowsill. They both growled at the perceived menace, their tails lashing furiously. It was then I knew they had become a group, rather than two cats ready to whap each other and run off.
One day while watching them whap each other and run off, I realized it was now a game to them. It took several months for acceptance, but it happened. So much so that when Hailey died at the ripe old age of 20, Sam looked forlorn. He would call for her at night.
A New Friend?
Several months later, I came home with Freyja, my young calico. Like Hailey, she was very put off seeing Sam. Sam, seeing a new buddy, wanted to make friends with her. It’s been three months, and things are progressing. They’re still in separate rooms during the daytime, but at night, they’re free to roam. At the beginning, Freyja would run away at high speed; today, they can sit within a few feet of each other, and soon Freyja will join Sam in my office. Yes, it can take that long, but if you’re patient, you can introduce adult cats with success.