I’ll never forget the woman who made me feel better about my over-the-top behavior with my pet. “Are you kidding?” she had responded. “I got my pet a pet! What’s crazier than that?”
Jokes aside, introducing a second dog or cat into your home can be a wonderful thing to do, though one should strategize for optimal results.
Jealousy can be a common reaction on the part of the incumbent. Take Sully, happily enjoying his adoptive family, who was none too pleased about the introduction of the more recent rescue, Chia, a Chihuahua mix. Note the progression from mid-April, backsides touching, heads apart (Exhibit A) to early May when they shared a crate side-by-side (Exhibit B):
The “case study” I am going to share with you concerning cats is even more amusing. Penny, who has made a guest appearance on this blog before, made the new-kid-on-the-block, Tank, earn his place in her home. At first, she ignored him, and swatted at him with her paws. The “war” escalated when Penny discovered and then seized upon an opportunity too good to pass up. You see, a dresser drawer had just been opened, and Tank scooted in. Standing on two paws, Penny craned her head in to investigate. She then sat back down on the floor, placed her two paws on the *outside* of the drawer, and pushed it closed with all her might! According to Karen, who was thankfully on hand to observe and step in,* this was a premeditated act on Penny’s part. “She absolutely was saying to the little guy, ‘This has gone on long enough, Mister!’”
Fast forward, and the two cats play together happily. Penny has even taken it upon herself to groom Tank. They’ve also been spotted napping arm in arm, or paw in paw as it were.
Some tips for acclimating two pets to one another:
1) If you have the luxury of some time before you bring a new pet into your home, take an article with one animal’s scent on it and introduce it to the other before the two pets meet.
2) Introduce the pets in a neutral space vs. in your home (which is one pet’s “turf”).
3) Feed your pets on either side of a closed door at first, so that they have positive associations with one another.
4) “Pay a bit more attention to the pet who was in the home. You don’t want things to be too different from the way they were,” says Victoria Wells, Senior Manager of Behavior and Training, ASPCA.
5) Let them establish who is the alpha and who is not. Animals are far smarter than we in this regard and will figure it out!
Find more tips about introducing a second cat to your home (Via ASPCA)
Find more tips about introducing a second dog to your home (Via ASPCA)
If you’re considering bringing a second pet into your home, now’s a great time as June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month!
* Initially, you should separate pets when you are not home, making sure that they interact nicely with each other before you leave them unsupervised. It’s also a good idea to dog-proof or cat-proof your house before you leave it, so that they’re less likely to get into any trouble.