Fostering: Introducing a Foster Cat to a Resident Cat
So says Dr. Bonnie Beaver, professor at the veterinary school at Texas A&M University and past president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
“Resident cats are not always happy about new additions and there is the potential for disease transfer, she adds.
But if you do want to foster a cat, don’t foster a kitten if you have an older cat. “Old cats don’t want those pesky little beasts,” Beaver says. “Instead, get an older cat they can interact with.”
And if you do want to foster a kitten, get two so they can interact and leave the older cat alone, she says.
There are other things you can do to keep your resident puss happy while still fostering another feline:
Two cats should have separate water, food, and toys to prevent territorial issues, says Victoria Wells, senior manager of behavior and training at the ASPCA’s Adoption Center. Put them on opposite sides of the door so they can smell each other but are kept separate.
Read your cats’ body language to gauge when it’s right to introduce them, says Wells. If they seem relaxed when they’re apart, on different sides of a barrier or a door, they are likely ready.
If you do bring home a cat that’s younger than your resident pet, make sure you play sufficiently with the younger one and show enough attention to the older cat so she doesn’t feel neglected.
Pay slightly more attention to your existing animal “because you don’t want him to think things have changed in the home and that you’re favoring the new one,” Wells adds.
At times, let your foster cat wander around the house and confine the older cat (when he is sleeping perhaps), says Beaver, so the new cat spreads her odors around.
Try and bring a cat home that is used to other cats. “Sometimes you can’t have one that’s been co-housed in shelters, but the shelter might have a history from the owner who turned the cat in,” advises Wells.
The two cats don’t have to remain together constantly once you’ve introduced them. Let them get a break from one another. If there’s some tension between them put one in a room for a while.