Guest blogger Kirstie Greenaway from @princeharry_ladydarcy shares her experience of bringing home a new kitty. Plus, she offers a few tips on introducing a second cat into the household successfully.
I moved to Australia from the UK almost five years ago. I’d always grown up with cats, so I knew I wanted one. I started following cat rescue pages and eventually I came across Prince Harry at a Gold Coast cat rescue. I fell in love with him.
Fast forward about a year. It was always in the back of my mind that Prince Harry needed a friend. Now, I’d only ever been the owner of one cat at a time and I’d always thought they were lone rangers. However, Prince Harry showed me just how wrong I was. Although he is an independent laid-back chap, he also craves a lot of attention.
Playtime wasn’t always easy; this boy knew he was royalty and very little was good enough for him when it came to toys. You name the toy, I’ve tried it. I went to great lengths to buy him a remote-controlled Ferrari and even that didn’t cut the mustard! I remember, after many nights listening to him audition for the opera, I desperately reaching out to a cat psychologist. She offered some amazing tips and I saw a huge difference. But I still had this feeling he was missing out on something. So along came Lady Darcy; a teeny tiny, fuzzy kitten with a HUGE personality.
The Introduction Phase (Plus Tips)
Introducing a second cat into the household is not as easy as it sounds, I soon discovered! I remember bringing Lady Darcy home on day one and having to sneak her past Prince Harry. I set up a comfortable space for her in a room where they were separated. TIP: It pays to be stealthy!
Once your new cat is settled, it’s important to spend time with both cats regularly. I found this particularly hard, as I felt guilty if one cat got slightly more attention than the other. However, Lady Darcy sure made it known if I didn’t spend enough time with her. This little lady sure has a voice on her and is clearly only royalty by name.
Now, up until this point Prince Harry was always a free feeder. He loved grazing, just like his Mumma, but this was about to change. When introducing a second cat into the household, set feeding times are recommended. Also, begin feeding each cat at some distance to begin with. Eventually you can start moving them closer.
It was also recommended to me that I swap them into each other’s space. This is known as scent swapping, and again requires stealth. Nonetheless, I found this part of the experience the most fun. Suddenly Prince Harry was experiencing all these new smells and was looking around every small corner for this new little menace on legs.
Lady Darcy on the other hand went full throttle, she did not have time to be concerned with smells. She acted like a lion being released into the wild for the first time crossed with Bambi on legs. Just imagine that for a second.
Without a doubt, one thing you cannot do is rush or try to force a friendship between cats. And this is something you really don’t want to get wrong. After all, you only have one shot at it.
The Reality of Being a Cat Mum
This whole experience was like a comedy sketch, but it was also pretty stressful—which I hadn’t really planned for. Imagine stubbing your toe whilst carrying a hot cup of tea and hearing your favorite joke. Yup, that’s the kind of emotion I’m talking about.
I’m the sort of cat mum that puts a lot of pressure on herself. However, I wish I’d clued up on cat behaviors and what to expect. Because sometimes the behavior you see during this process is not what it seems. Thankfully, I was very lucky and met an amazing vet specialist via our cat Instagram account. She was an absolute blessing. I’m talking the kind of blessing that wears a cape and comes to your rescue.
When the time came to allow the cats to be together (under supervision, of course!), this amazing lady allowed me to bombard her with every little video containing all different types of behaviors. I was concerned that every interaction between Prince Harry and Lady Darcy showed that they weren’t getting along at all.
Hey, turns out what I was seeing in these videos was the total opposite. They were all good signs that everything was going exactly how it should be.
Fast forward four weeks and Prince Harry and Lady Darcy are the best of friends. Of course, they are typical siblings and annoy each other occasionally but they wash each other, play together and even sometime sleep together.
Kristie’s top tips if you cannot track down a cape wearing Vet specialist:
- Research cat behaviors
- Go with your gut
- Give equal attention to both cats
- Know the timeframe from hate to love will vary
- Learn how to be stealthy
- Don’t waste money on a remote-controlled Ferrari!
What experiences have you had when introducing a second cat into the household?