What is a cat?
2nd Aug, 2018
I have been asked by Shropshire cat rescue to write an article about introducing a new rescue cat to an existing cat. I have decided to start by explaining what a cat is and what they need from a behavioural perspective. From here it should be easier to understand why an already resident cat might not automatically get on with a new cat - and vice versa.
In order to provide properly for more than one cat living under the same roof and facilitate the cats getting on - or at least to tolerate each other it helps to understand their basic needs.
Whilst cats are a social species, they hunt alone and as such they can survive alone. As a result, when relationships do break down cats are not motivated to repair them because they don’t need each other. Cats do not have appeasement ‘language’ so they are unable to resolve disputes.
Therefore it is best to try to avoid any confrontations or fights from the outset.
Cats can form ‘social groups’ with other cats but if you are introducing a new cat into the territory of an existing cat, then they won’t be of the same social group. Introduced properly, cats may go on form a social group with the existing cat/s but they may well not.
Cats that sleep together and groom each other are likely to be part of the same social group.
Each individual cat or each social group of cats need their own ‘core territory’ within which they live, sleep and eat. Their toilet area should be on the edge of this ‘core territory’ and beyond this exclusive ‘core territory’, individual cats or a social group of cats will choose to have further territory and this ‘hunting range’ may be time shared with other cats.
Within the domestic setting each cat or social group of cats need their own ‘core territory’ containing food, water, resting and hiding places and access to the outdoors or to a litter tray. Groups of cats living together need to feel that there are enough resources to go round.
An essential precursor to introducing an additional cat to an already resident cat will involve ensuring that each individual cat has what they need.
If your existing cat is already fearful or anxious then adding an additional cat is likely to make things worse!