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Pet Q&A: Take it slow and easy with new cat in home

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 4D

What's the best way to introduce a new cat to my current cat?

– Via email

Having more than one cat is a popular option for many people, though not always for cats.

But living with more than one cat doesn't have to be contentious. The trick to domestic harmony for cohabiting felines is to introduce – or reintroduce – them slowly.

Since the worst territorial spats are between cats who aren't spayed or neutered, your chances for peaceful co-existence are many times greater if the cats are both altered before any introductions are planned.

Prepare a room for your new cat with food and water bowls, and a litter box and scratching post that needn't be shared. This room will be your new pet's home turf while the two cats get used to each other's presence.

Take your new cat to your veterinarian first, to be checked for parasites such as ear mites, and contagious diseases such as feline leukemia. When you're sure your new pet is healthy, the introductions can begin.

Bring the cat home in a carrier and set him in the room you've prepared. Let your resident cat discover the caged animal, and don't be discouraged by initial hisses. When the new cat is alone in the room, close the door and let him out of the carrier. If he doesn't want to leave the carrier at first, let him be. Just leave the carrier door open and the cat alone.

Maintain each cat separately for a week or so – with lots of love and play for both – and then on a day when you're around to observe, leave the door to the new cat's room open.

Above all: Don't force them together. Territory negotiations between cats can be drawn-out and delicate, and you must let them work it out on their own, ignoring the hisses and glares.

– Gina Spadafori

The buzz

Happier trips mean cleaner car rides

• Dogs get carsick for many reasons, including anxiety, full bellies and a lack of experience. But most puppies can outgrow carsickness if taken out regularly in the car. If you want your dog to enjoy car rides, then take him to dog parks and other fun destinations. Otherwise, if all trips seem to end at the veterinary hospital, he may never think car rides are fun. Talk to your veterinarian about medications that can help if your puppy doesn't outgrow carsickness. And make sure when your pet is on the road that he's safely secured in a crate or with a harness.

– Mikkel Becker and Dr. Marty Becker

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