Dr Bruce Fogle DVM has a nice tip on how to introduce a resident cat to an incoming new cat, a situation which has the potential for being problematic. People should be aware of the potential problem. What this well-known veterinarian/author recommends is that you merge the body odour or scent of both or all the cats. This means that the two or more cats become familiar with each other through smell. We know that smell is an incredibly important part of the lives of domestic cats. They use it to identify objects and other creatures including their human companion.
Dr Fogle’s approach is reminiscent of what is called ‘scent exchange’. This occurs when cats who are friendly with each other rub up against each other. It also happens when your cat rubs their flank or cheek against your leg when you come home in a greeting. That is scent exchange. It is a friendl act. Scent from the human is merged with scent from the cat.
The importance of scent and the cat’s olfactory system is demonstrated when they even smell the person they been living with for donkey’s years for reassurance and identification. So how do you merge the scent of a new cat with a resident cat? He recommends various methods. You can stroke your new cat and then stroke your resident cat to transfer the scent from one cat to another. The scents, therefore, become merged.
He advises that you can accelerate the spread of “family scent” by wiping a soft cotton cloth around the cheeks and mouth of your new cat and then wiping the cloth on household furniture, other companion animals in the household and doorways et cetera.
The next thing you can do after the new cat has been around for a few days is to swap some of the new cat’s bedding with some bedding from the resident cat. And finally you can rub each of the cats with the other cats’ bedding so the scent is thoroughly merged.
This will help to reassure both the resident and incoming cat so that they are both familiarised with each other’s scent and the merged product.
This method focuses on the importance of the cat’s olfactory system.
Dr Fogle writes about ‘pariah cats’. He is referring to the rejection of a new cat coming into the household by the resident cat or cats who turn on the newcomer and treat him or her as a pariah. Cats under these circumstances tend to find themselves a secure location, normally high up. It depends how long that goes on for.
I can remember, many years ago, when I rescued a cat from the street in London. It meant that I was forced to introduce this new cat to a couple a resident cats that we had adopted and who were brother and sister. The cat that I rescued spent about 3 days on top of the dining room table clearly feeling insecure but eventually the resident cats mellowed and all three got along nicely. If a pariah cat can never overcome that hostile attitude from the resident cats then they will have to be rehomed, otherwise the matter might resolve itself with good fortune and with the help of the said tip.
Reference: Complete Cat Care by Dr Bruce Fogle.