Do you know this situation – quite an ordinary day, you went for some groceries, and suddenly you hear a kitten that meows softly and starts wrapping itself around your legs? You immediately decide that your family will become richer for another member but oops! you already have a cat in your home. All of sudden you are not sure that this is a good idea- should you bring a stray cat inside your home if you already have a pet cat.
As you already know your pet cat, you can also guess how she will react to a stray cat as a new member of the community. If you are not convinced of the possibility of a harmonious relationship, do not even think about adopting a stray cat. If you think that your house cat could get along with a new friend, take a stray cat to the vet first to test her for dangerous viral diseases – FIV, FeLV, and FIP ( caused by feline coronavirus). Make sure a stray cat stays separately from your house cat(s) at least at the beginning. Also, the arrival of a new cat can have traumatic consequences for your house cat so be prepared to arrange a proper introduction and to supervise their interaction for a longer period of time.
Can A Stray Cat Make My Indoor Cat Sick?
Of course, a stray cat poses a great risk in terms of health for your indoor cat. That is why you need to keep them separated, in different rooms, and to take a stray cat to the vet immediately.
A stray cat can easily transmit a wide range of diseases to your indoor cat. Some of them are bacterial infections like Salmonella, fungal diseases such as Ringworms, or parasitic infections – Toxoplasmosis or Roundworms. Not to mention very dangerous viral infections like FIV, FIP, and FeLV.
When you decide to bring a stray cat to your home, make sure your indoor cat is up-to-date on vaccination.
It’s important to tell the vet that you have adopted a stray cat as he will then look for a microchip. The stray cats usually had owners in the past and your new cat might be microchipped which will tell you more about the cat itself. You might have found a sweet kitten hungry for love but it doesn’t have to be that this kitty is abandoned. Maybe she is just escaped. If the cat is older than 8 weeks, it might happen that she has a microchip.
The vet will perform a detailed physical exam – the overall appearance of the cat– the quality of the hair, will examine ears and eyes, as well as the oral cavity. The vet will check the cat’s heart and lungs will perform the necessary cleaning from parasites and fleas. The vet will also determine the gender and the age of the cat. It’s also important to run some tests on dangerous feline viruses like FIV, FeLV, and FIP.
How To Know If My Indoor Cat is Upset With The Adopted Stray Cat?
Your Indoor cat can react to the new cat in many different ways. Some indoor cats might be excited and want to play with the new buddy while some others might be upset because of the intruder and feel territorial, wishing to fight.
When the cats are stressed, they might develop destructive/negative behavior like scratching the furniture or urinating outside the litter box.
Since you will keep your indoor cat separated from a new cat, that doesn’t mean that your indoor cat won’t become frustrated with the new situation. In some cases redirected aggression may occur. This means that your indoor cat is upset with the new cat but since she cannot address her aggression to her, she might start attacking/scratching you or other pets you might have.
What If A Stray Cat Is Aggressive With My Indoor Cat?
No matter who is aggressive, your cat or a stray cat, never respond to aggression with aggression. Because if you do, you will only make the problem bigger.
Since you don’t know the past of a stray cat you have recently adopted, that means you cannot be sure if this cat was mistreated by humans. If it was, it might become hostile and aggressive.
Another reason for a stray cat to be aggressive with your indoor cat is if both of them are unneutered males. It’s a pretty common thing to challenge each other for access to the territory.
Aggression between cats may occur due to size and level of activity. Smaller cats are intimidated by larger ones. The same stands for less active cats – they can be scared of more active felines.
Don’t forget that your stray cat might have a bad experience with other cats on the street so now she is showing aggression towards your indoor cat as well.
Bottom line – aggression in cats is always the way to show how do they feel. Aggressive cats are either frightened, poorly socialized ( have little to no contact with other cats in the past), mistreated in the past, stressed. But scolding and punishments won’t give any results. Plus, remember that you picked the mate for your indoor cat, maybe the two of them are just not the right match.
So what you can do if one cat ( for example stray cat ) is aggressive towards other don’t let them fight it out. Cats won’t solve their issues through the fight. You can use a water gun or clap of hands to interrupt the fight.
Make sure both cats have identical food/water bowls, beds, toys… to reduce competition. Provide a space for each cat. Not only space but the hiding spot, scratching point.
Don’t try to calm down the aggressive cat, just separate them and leave the aggressive cat alone. Give her space. Otherwise, she could address her aggression to you.
Reward wanted behavior. When the cats interact in a friendly manner, praise them generously.
Try pheromones. They might help in reducing stress and anxiety in cats.
You can always contact a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist to estimate the situation and tries to help you.
Be aware of the fact that some cats will never get along, no matter how hard you try. In that case, you should consider rehoming the stray cat.
How To Help A Stray Cat and An Indoor Cat Get Along Better?
First of all, both cats require their own space. As we mentioned before, they need to have identical food/water bowls, blankets, beds, scratching posts, litter boxes, etc.
Don’t force the cats to meet each other. They should meet, of course, but give them the chance to meet each other in the safe mode. What does it mean? It means that you should put some barrier between them which allow them to see, feel the scent, read the body language of each other but without direct contact. I read on some forums that a mesh screen for doors would be a good option for this purpose.
After a couple of days of meeting each other without direct contact, you can allow them to interact without a barrier but you need to be present all the time during interaction.
How Long Does It Take For A Cat to Get Used to a New Cat in the House?
Your indoor cat may never accept the stray cat you adopted. On the other hand, maybe they become best buddies in no time.
It depends on the cat’s background and past ( for a stray cat) and of course on the characters of both cats. Proper socialization can help and your friendly and calm attitude as well.
It may take 8-12 months to develop a good relationship between two cats. But again some cats will never get along, but those cats can learn to avoid each other and to live in peace.