By Janet McAfee
Thinking about adopting a new cat? You and Fluffy might feel a bit isolated these days, and could benefit from having another feline for a boost of companionship. Sadly, homeless cats abound and there are lots to choose from in shelters and rescues. You save the life of a beautiful cat, and in turn it brings new life and joy to your home. However, you might be uncertain about Fluffy’s reaction as she hasn’t been with other cats during her time in your home.
Careful planning avoids the horrible hissing and fighting that might occur when some cats meet for the first time. A great introduction method, explained in detail in the book The New Natural Cat by Anitra Frazier, allows you to adopt a second cat without worry. What could be more fun than 2 cats engaged in joyful play, happily pouncing and chasing, twirling like circus acrobats?
Many owners think their “Fluffy” would be jealous or miserable if they adopted another cat. To the contrary, cats that live with another cat friend live longer, healthier and happier lives. If you have an elderly cat, a mature and calm companion works better than an active kitten. If you have an energetic cat, one that is equally playful or a kitten would be a good match. The steps below may take several hours to complete but are well worth the investment.
- Have someone outside the household arrive with the newcomer cat in a carrying case. Have torn strips of newspaper in the bottom of the case.
- Everyone must act completely oblivious to the new cat. The visitor sits in the living room with the cat inside the carrying case on his lap for about 20 minutes.
- Next the visitor moves the carrying case to the floor next to his feet. If your cat comes over and sniffs the case and walks away, ignore him, continue chatting and proceed to step 5. If your cat stays away from the case, include step 4.
- The visitor takes a few of the newspaper strips from the carrier, makes a trip to another room dropping a trail of the strips behind them. This gives your cat a chance to become familiar with the new cat’s scent.
- The visitor continues to sit and talk. When your cat sits calmly in the room without staring continually at the carrying case, proceed to the next step.
- Take your cat into the kitchen for a snack, closing the door. The visitor in the living room now opens the carrying case and lets the new cat out. Your cat won’t feel like its family put the newcomer in its territory, and this gives the new one some time to explore.
- When your cat finishes his snack and returns to the living room, the family stays behind in the kitchen.
- When the cat returns to the living room, the visitor joins the family in the kitchen. Everyone acts oblivious to the cats who are now roaming free.
- Do not offer encouragement or interest in the cats. If you must check, have one person enter the living room but without paying obvious attention to the cats. At this stage, hissing is normal. If loud growling occurs, you may need to separate them, and this may mean one of the earlier steps was not carried out properly.
- When the cats cease pacing around and sit in the same room together, the humans leave the house for about a 30 minute walk.
- When you return home, greet your own cat while continuing to ignore the newcomer. If there is nothing worse than hissing going on, the visitor can leave.
- The final stage of the introduction occurs at the cats’ own pace over the next few days. Continue to ignore the new cat until your first cat accepts him. Encourage activities for the 2 cats to do together, such as putting a couple of cardboard boxes together in a room for them to play on.
The reward for all this work comes from the strong bond of communication and affection that develops between the two cats. Eventually that bond extends to their human companions. Watch the drama unfold, be proud of your success, and enjoy having two little furballs greet you when you arrive home!
Kittyland in Desert Hot Springs is a great place to begin your search. Pretty Good Cat has lots of cats waiting in foster homes for “furever homes”. The Palm Springs Animal Shelter and our county shelter, The Coachella Valley Animal Campus, are also good sources. A list of local animal shelters and rescue organizations is attached to help you in your search for a new cat or dog!
Below is a partial list of shelters and rescues in the Inland Empire with animals for adoption. They are currently closed for walk-ins, and you must call for an appointment. You can view most of their animals online before calling. Thank you for rescuing!
COACHELLA VALLEY ANIMAL CAMPUS – The county shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. You can view the animals at all four Riverside county shelters at www.rcdas.org, and get the ID number of the animal you want to adopt. Email them the animal’s ID number at firstname.lastname@example.org, or schedule a virtual adoption appointment at www.rcdas.org, 72050 Pet Land Place, Thousand Palms, (760) 343-3644. (Public)
PALM SPRINGS ANIMAL SHELTER – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. They schedule appointments Wednesday through Monday. View their animals online at www.psanimalsshelter.org, 4575 E. Mesquite Ave, Palm Springs, (760) 416-5718. (Public)
ANIMAL SAMARITANS – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. View their animals at www.animalsamaritans.org. Email email@example.com to foster. Located at 72307 Ramon Rd, Thousand Palms, (760) 601-3918. (Private)
CALIFORNIA PAWS RESCUE – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. Located at 73650 Dinah Shore, Palm Desert. View their animals at www.californiapawsrescue.com, (760) 656-8833. (Private)
HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE COACHELLA VALLEY – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt a dog or cat. This shelter has lots of big dogs in addition to small dogs and cats. View some of their animals at www.orphanpet.com. Located at 17825 N. Indian Canyon, Palm Springs, (760) 329-0203. (Private)
KITTYLAND – The shelter is closed so call for an appointment to adopt a cat. Located at 67600 18th Avenue, Desert Hot Springs, www.kittylandrescue.org, (760) 251-2700. (Private)
FOREVER MEOW – Foster based rescue for cats located in Rancho Mirage. Contact them at www.ForeverMeow.org, (760) 335-6767. (Private)
PRETTY GOOD CAT – Foster based rescue for cats located in La Quinta. Contact them at www.prettygoodcat.com, (760) 660-3414 (Private)
LOVING ALL ANIMALS – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. Located at 83496 Avenue 51, Coachella, www.lovingallanimals.org, (760) 834-7000. (Private)
MORONGO BASIN HUMANE SOCIETY – Located at 4646 Sun View Rd, Joshua Tree, www.mbhumanesociety.com, call between 11am-4pm for updates (760) 366-3786 (Private)
CITY OF SAN BERNARDINO ANIMAL SHELTER – Shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. Hours for adoption 10am – 4pm Tuesday thru Sat. Google “City of San Bernardino Animal Shelter” for website to view animals and get the ID number of the animal you want to meet. Located at 333 Chandler Place, San Bernardino, (909) 384-1304 or (909) 384-7272. (Public)
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY ANIMAL SHELTER AT DEVORE – Shelter closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. Call (909) 386-9280 daily. View animals at www.sbcounty.gov/acc and get the ID number of animal you want to meet. Located at 19777 Shelter Way, San Bernardino (Public).
DREAM TEAM ANGELS RESCUE – Foster based rescue located in Grand Terrace/San Bernardino area. Contact them through website www.DreamTeamangelsrescue.com, (360) 688-8884. (Private)