Adopting a second pet

I have a cat and I would like to get another animal

How to introduce new dog, a cat or an exotic animal (parrot, rabbit, rat, etc.) to your household?

Pet lovers like you and us often have a hankering for more than one companion. Pet lovers like you and us often have a hankering for more than one companion. A survey by Association des Médecins Vétérinaire du Québec (in small animal practices) showed that 19 % of the households have a cat or a dog, and that a family has an average of 1,2 to 1,7 pets.*

To put the odds of a good cohabitation in your favour when you introduce a new pet in your home, the team of Passionimo prepared a list of questions and answers.

HOW SHOULD I INTRODUCE A NEW PET IN MY HOME?

First, take the time to really think about it. Here are a few things to consider: How much time can I invest? What is the space available? What is my budget?

Even if your child claims to absolutely want a dog or a gold fish and to be prepared to take care of the pet day and night; in reality, that commitment might last a few weeks at most. Instead of telling children that their pet will have to go back to the shelter if they don’t take care of it, keep in mind from the get-go that the pet will often wind up being your responsibility…Remember that pets are not toys: they are sensible creatures who will form a bond with their family, often in a very short time!

Get information on the breed you’re interested in to make sure it fits with your lifestyle.

I WANT A SECOND CAT. HOW CAN I MAKE SURE THAT MY CURRENT CAT WILL BE ABLE TO COEXIST WITH THE NEW ONE?

A cozy nest

The first thing to do is to find a very comfortable room where you can lock in the newcomer, making sure not to use your current cat’s favourite spot! Put some food, water, a new litter box, toys, etc. Everything he may need. Everything he may need.

Indirect interactions

Indirect actions are preferred to introduce the newcomer to your current cat by placing interesting objects on each side of the door. It can be treats, food, toys, etc. It can be treats, food, toys, etc. The goal is to encourage exploring the area using positive stimuli. Using a toy that has 2 large extremities with a smaller area in the middle that can be jammed under the door will be a great opportunity for the cats to play together.

After a few days, it could be smart to switch the items used by the cats, like blankets, to help them become familiar with the other cat’s smell.

Supervised contact

After a few days, it could be smart to switch the items used by the cats, like blankets, to help them become familiar with the other cat’s smell. It is a good timing to have treats in hand. Start with a short and monitored interaction. Put the newcomer back into his room before things get too tensed. Put the newcomer back into his room before things get too tensed. Don’t force contact between them: let the cats get to know each other at their own pace. With time, increase the length and the number of interactions.

To ensure a harmonious cohabitation, make sure that there is no competition over resources: provide 2 food dispensers and 2 or 3 water bowls. An easy rule to follow for litter boxes: one box more than the number of cats in the house. Also keep in mind that two litter boxes next to one another or even in the same room cancel each other out.

ARE THERE SPECIFIC ADVICES TO INTRODUCE A DOG IN THE HOUSE WITH MY CAT?

The general idea is the same as when we introduce a new cat: make sure that resources are easily accessible and that the actual cat can maintain his habits and access his favourite spots without being interrupted by the newcomer. According to the house, and the pets’ personalities’ interactions can have various scenarios.

First make sure that your current cat has a calm, safe and unreachable space to rest away from the dog.

For better chances of making sure that the first impression is a success, we have to make sure that the dog will not pursue the cat. This can be achieved in various ways. You can place your current cat in his favourite room with everything he needs when the newcomer explores the house for first time. Then we can proceed like we described to introduce the new cat with the exception that it is the current cat that will be in a closed room, not the newcomer. Using a baby fence is especially interesting to keep the dog out of the cat’s room. Keeping the dog leashed or crated during the supervised interactions can also help prevent rough movements toward the cat.

Beware, cats and dogs may not feel like siblings, even if they live in the same household. Some dogs feel the urge to prey and all it would require would be a squeak or a sudden move from the cat for a lethal chase. Some dogs can be love bugs with cats indoors but chase them around as soon as they step outside. So supervision is essential.

Is there a risk that my new furry friend will transit diseases to my current pet?

Yes, and sadly, this happens frequently, including transmitting fleas and intestinal worms and contracting respiratory diseases.

Here are 2 rules to follow:

  1. Make sure that your current pet is properly vaccinated.
  2. Before taking a new pet home, bring it to your veterinarian, especially if it’s an outdoor pet or if it’s coming from a shelter, a pet store or if you don’t know he history.

Here’s a typical scenario: a 7-year-old indoor female cat who never put one paw outside is suddenly sharing her space with a non-neutered outdoor cat riddled with fleas and mites. Your home runs the risk of being contaminated in mere hours, which is far from ideal for both pets… Yet another good reason to begin introductions by isolating the new cat!

Additionally, some diseases can remain dormant for several days before showing signs or symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to protect the pets you already own.

DO I NEED TO TAKE SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS IF I HAVE CHILDREN?

Yes, keep a watchful eye on the situation! Pets, just like humans, have different levels of patience. Introducing a new pet in a home environment is a stressful experience for everyone involved. Caution should be exercised.

Going in with the false notion that a pet will never bite is akin to thinking that a mom will never yell or lose patience…It’s essential for pets to have a corner or spot where they can seek refuge to be left in peace. Be mindful that the new pet will not know this safe space! It is also up to you to set boundaries and to make sure that rules are clear when it comes to kids.

WHAT SHOULD I DO TO INTRODUCE AN EXOTIC PET IN A HOME WITH A CAT?

We often see those touching stories of cats and rats or birds sharing a beautiful friendship on Facebook. This can happen in real life, but there are also sad tales of predation. Don’t forget that cats are highly instinctive and skilled hunters. Therefore, physical distancing and supervision are key!

Remember that we only have one change to make a good impression! Each house being different, check with your veterinary team before adding a new member to your family. This way you can work on a plan that is specific to your reality. Introducing a new animal in your household is a good example when prevention is better than a cure! A little planning can go a long way and save you a lot of trouble.

Have more questions?

Please do not hesitate to contact the Passionimo veterinary clinic near you.