Updated: Sep 28, 2022
In the past year that Aries and I have been adventuring, we have met up with a couple of cool cats! For hikes and strolls, for coffee and birdwatching. We'd like to share a little bit more of what it's like to introduce cats, and a few tips of what works best for us!
Table of Contents:
Visiting a Furrfriend at Home
One of the first furrfriends we visited was Abby! Her humans adopted her from a local shelter in Ohio before they moved to Arizona. She is very chunky and sweet! When we moved to Phoenix, we decided to stop by and visit her and her humans. Aries had been living on the farm and was well-acquainted the several other cats on the farm (including Pippi Longstocking, who we will talk more about later!) Because he had had previous experience with other cats, I thought he would manage fairly well.
When we arrived, I opened the top of his backpack to give him the option of hopping out or staying in the backpack. Aries is very confident, so he hopped right out. He began sniffing around and jumped onto the couch. Abby was not so sure she liked him on her couch. She kept her distance at first, slowly approaching, and eventually let out a little hiss. They never got too close to one another but there was no aggression, so I counted it as a win!
Retrospect TIP: With the various methods of meeting furrfriends we've tried, we find that introducing your cats in a neutral space works best.
Meeting on a Hiking Trail
After spending some time in Phoenix, AZ and got accustomed to hiking we were posting regularly on our Instagram and had another cool adventure cat reach out and ask if we wanted to meet up for a hike. We were super excited about this, we had been wanting to do a joint adventure cat hike for some time!
We weren't exactly sure what to expect, but selected a meet-up spot and time and figured we would bring extra treats incase anything went wrong!
We met up with Milo and his human bright and early at one of our favorite trails. Pleasantries were exchanged while our cats stayed in their backpacks and we started down the trail. We usually try to get down the trail a ways before letting Aries hop out, so we decided to stick to our routine. Eventually, Aries started meowing that he wanted to walk on his own so, I set down the bag and he hopped out. We came to a little look out spot with a picnic table and decided to take a little break. This is when Milo and Aries really got to meet each other! Milo is quite a bit bigger than Aries and I was afraid Aries would be intimidated, but he seemed more curious about being at the park than the new cat around! We had a wonderful hike, and shared treats at the end!
Retrospect TIP: Hiking is a fun way to introduce cats, however, it is not the method that allows for the most engagement/interaction between the cats.
Meeting for coffee
Recently, we had the great opportunity to meet up with a new furrfriend for coffee! We've done many solo trips to the coffee shop, but hadn't had the pleasure of meeting up for coffee. We picked a coffee shop that both our cats had been to and set up a time! The morning of, our meetup furrfriend reached out and said they were having a little bit of a rough morning and suggested an apartment lounge area they had access too, and offered to pick up some coffee for us (they were truly so sweet!).
When we arrived, we did what we usually do. I set the backpack down and let Aries hop out at his own discretion (I believe letting him get out when he's ready to explore is important to our trust!) So, he hopped out, and our furrfriend Booker was already exploring the beautiful lounge area. We didn't push the two to meet but instead, let them discover each other on their own. Aries did a sweep of the room and he and Booker eventually became curious of each other and began touching noses and rubbing up on each other (yes, it's as cute as it sounds!) It was great to have a quiet space that the cats could explore. I hope to meet up with Booker and his human again, soon!
Retrospect TIP: While a coffee shop would allow for a lot of interaction, they are often busy with music playing and hustle and bustle. Picking an earlier time of day and making sure your cat is comfortable in this environment is important!
Meeting Strangers & Strays
There is the occasional moment when we meet strange cats or strays. These meetups are usually unpredictable and unprepared so I always tend to error on the side of caution. I keep Aries on a tight leash and approach with caution. I don't want to end up in a situation where Aries ends up in a cat fight, and hurts another cat or himself. There are a few signs that I look for before we approach a strange cat.
First thing I look for is the body language of the other cat: Have they flattened themselves to the ground? Is their hair raised and tail fluffed? Do they appear fearful, or have an arched back? These are all 🚩🚩🚩🚩 major red flags! If I see any of these signs, I don't allow Aries to get any closer.
If the cat seems calm and curious in Aries: I sit there and wait a little bit. I usually notice the two cats sniffing the air in the direction of each other. We proceed with caution but if Aries starts moving in the direction to meet the new cat, I don't stop him. With every step we take towards the new cat, I am very aware of how the other cat reacts (looking for any of those 🚩 mentioned above)
If we get to the point that we are within a cat-body distance from each other: I usually stop Aries and wait a little to see if the other cat wants to approach him. This really puts the other cat in control and will allow them to decide wether to meet Aries or not. We have met two cats around our apartment complex. One decided to approach us, the other did not. We want to make sure both cats are happy and feel safe and comfortable!
Retrospect TIP: Not all strange cats and strays are vaccinated, vetted, or friendly. If you meet a cat without their owner nearby, and who isn't harnessed, proceed with caution. We want to always encourage safety and security!
Reintroducing Old Furrfriends
The last type of cat meetup we've had is between two old furrfriends. While Aries lived on the farm in Texas, one of his furrfriends was Pippi Longstocking. This past summer, Aries spent some time at home in Texas, after having been gone for nearly a year. He struggled a bit at first because I set him up to stay in a part of the house where Pippi had all her things (colloquially named: the cat room) but because this was Pippi's living space, with her toys and cat tower, Aries did not feel comfortable here and I could see he was agitated. I shifted all his items to another part of the house and he quickly grew comfortable.
Aries and Pippi got along fairly well after that, although we intentionally introduced them in a neutral part of the house. Shortly after that, Aries began helping "train" Pippi as an adventure cat. We did several car drives together and park visits.
This past weekend, we traveled from Phoenix to Los Angelos to visit Pippi and her person. After 5 hours of driving, we arrived at the house. I had thought maybe we should reintroduce the cats in a neutral place (as mentioned earlier in this post, neutral space meet-ups seem to offer the best interactions) however, due to some logistical challenges, we weren't able to meet in a neutral space. I let Aries out in the apartment (showed him where the water/food/litter was) then allowed him and Pippi to see each other from a distance. This interaction seemed to go well, there was no negative signs (hissing, bristling) so, we let them be. I had brought a spare harness for Aries in which I sprayed some Feliway Cat Spray in his harness to help with any additional stress of being in a space that smelled like another cat. I'm not sure if this helped, but it didn't hamper anything.
As things developed, there was occasional hissing but no actual fights. I brought Aries favorite teaser toy and used it to play with both cats simultaneously, to encourage them to play with each other (only recommended if cats can be near/see each other without fighting). I used treats to encourage them to be near each other (while being happy!). The first night of our stay, we kept the cats in separate rooms, as things were slightly tense between them.
The following day, things were much better between the cats. About 30 hours from our arrival, they began playing together - from behind a door and around a corner! It was so cute! Important to stay vigilant for signs of stress during play. However, both cats seemed very happy so the second night, we left the door between the rooms open. As I fell asleep, the cats raced across my feet, up over the couch, into the other room, and back across my feet again!
Our final day together, we woke up late and had a causal breakfast. We had planned a short hike, however, the Phoenix heat followed us to LA and it was 88 F when we woke up. We had a short trip to the park, then visited the Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Thrift Store, and returned home. Aries and Pippi spent the afternoon inside, listening to the rain, and snuggling on the couch. It was a short trip but so fun to see how Aries reconnected with his purrpal!
Go out there and meet some furrfriends!
It's such a unique experience to get to adventure with a cat. It's so cool to get to introduce your cats and see them interact! We hope to hear about all your adventures out there!