Introducing a new animal

Volunteers of Vashon Island Pet Protectors are receiving ever-increasing requests to find homes for animals - predominately cats - that were once quite content in happy, loving homes, but that began to "misbehave," according to their former owners, once a new pet was introduced into the household. V.I.P.P. reports that they are currently trying to find a home for a cat that lived with the same family for 15 years. That is until it started spraying all over the house once a new kitten was brought home. Unfortunately, the family decided that it was the kitten that was going to stay rather than their loyal long-time companion. "It's hard to see life from a cat's point of view, but if you think about it, how would you feel if you lived in a society where there were no property rights? Anyone could move into your home at any time without your permission. I'd act up too if my idyllic and familiar life was about to come to a screeching halt," said Linda Wilmer, V.I.P.P. Humane education volunteer. "Don't worry though," Wilmer says "with a little kindness, understanding and patience it is entirely possible to successfully introduce a new animal into the household without starting a miniature civil war. You just have to know what steps to follow."


1. Keep the cats in separate rooms for a few days. Then exchange rooms so that they can reacquaint themselves with each other's scent. The door should be kept closed so that there is no interaction between the cats at this time.

2. After a few days of room rotation, let the cats see each other, but not have contact with each other. This can be accomplished by securely wedging or hooking the door so the cats can peek through the crack but can't fit through the opening. Feed the cats something especially delicious on opposite sides of the door. You can also tie two small toys together with a string & slide it under the door so that when one cat bats at the toy, the toy on the other side of the door moves. The goal is for each cat to associate good food & good times with the presence of the other cat.

3. Praise the cats when they are near each other. It never helps to scold the aggressor. If either cat becomes extremely hostile or frightened, close the door & try again later.

4. When the cats are relaxed with the sight of one another, then it is time to open the door. Let them be together for only a few minutes at first, gradually increasing the time each day. If necessary, if the cats begin to display signs of overly aggressive behavior, throw a thick towel over one of the cats so that you can safely take it to another room.

5. This process can take a few days or a few weeks depending on the personalities of the cats & the severity of their aggressive encounter.

If you are patient & systematic about the reintroduction process, you will be rewarded with cats that are purrfectly compatible.

Vashon Island Pet Protectors is an animal rescue and educational outreach organization consisting of Island volunteers. V.I.P.P. is not affiliated with any other organization and does not euthanize excess pets. Instead, V.I.P.P. members provide them with foster homes until a hero offers a permanent home. For more information about becoming a member, write, address or e-mail V.I.P.P. at If you would like to send a donation, please send your check or money order to: V.I.P.P., P.O. Box 245, Vashon, WA 98070.


EducationKelli Durkin