the kitties are completely separated at first. You want to designate
three zones: a sanctuary for each
cat and a neutral zone. The neutral
zone is shared space but at different times. Never put one cat’s
smells on the other, but rather
rub a cloth on one cat’s cheek and
place the cloth in the other cat’s
space, putting a sample of each
other’s smells in the other’s room.
Do that twice each day with a
clean cloth each time.
Designate the doorway to the
4My cat scratches my hands and feet,
newer kitty’s room as a feeding
area, so that both cats associate
that area with good things. Feed
the cats at the same time 3 feet
from the closed door and gradu-
ally move the food bowls closer
to the door about 1 to 2 inches
each day. If the cats won’t eat or
if they’re growling, you’re moving
too fast. Finally, introduce them
by moving the food dishes as
far away from the open door as
possible with you standing in the
and it hurts!
Aggression toward people is a
learned behavior, Johnson said.
Again, we set the cats up for
failure by allowing kittens to
play with our hands and feet,
but it’s not fun for us anymore
with an adult cat. You want to
redirect those play behaviors
toward toys. Johnson said she
sees cat-to-people aggression
more in single-cat homes. “I
recommend adopting a pair so
they have another cat to spar
with,” she said. “If you get two,
they’re much more socially normal. When they’re play
deprived, anything that moves is
5My cat claws up my furniture.
“Never declaw,” Krieger said.
Cats need to scratch to exercise
their paws and to mark their
territory. They also scratch when
they’re feeling conflicted, she
said. Instead, provide your cats
with something they will like to
scratch more than your furniture:
a good scratching post. In addition, block the furniture with
sticky sheets or double-sided
tape and place the scratching
post right in front of the furniture they’re scratching. Reward
your cats when they scratch the
If your cat is not using the litter box, ask yourself these questions:
Is the litter box large enough? “Litter boxes need to be huge — about one and a half times the length of your cat,” Johnson said. You want the pan to be large enough for the cat to turn around in.
Is the litter box
in a location where
your cat feels safe?
placing uncovered litter
boxes in places where the cats have a view of their
surroundings and won’t get ambushed in case they need to escape. Johnson recommended using clear storage containers that the cat can see through. Pottying is “one of their most vulnerable moments, so they need to feel safe and secure,” Johnson said. Do you have enough litter boxes? The rule is one per cat, plus one extra. Both Johnson and Krieger said the boxes need to be placed in different locations, not all in one room. Krieger added to place a litter box on every level in a multi-story home. Is the litter box clean? If your cat’s lit- ter box reeks, imagine how your cat, with a far superior sense of smell, must feel. Scoop the box at least once each day, and change the litter and clean the box once a week. Be careful with what you clean it with. Cats are repelled by citrus scents and might not appreciate the strong smell of bleach. Krieger recommended either using just hot water or adding a mild dish- washing soap — nothing harsher and no chemicals.