Listen to the audio version of this article
Whether it’s a new boyfriend, girlfriend or a new spouse, life in that rose-covered cottage can quickly turn into Nightmare on Elm Street if the cat appears to hate the love of your life. Beginning a new relationship is stressful enough without the cat coming into the room to hiss or growl. There are some people who will simply throw their hands up in the air and rehome the cat in order to please the new loved one. Then there are others who seriously consider ditching the new boyfriend or girlfriend based on the cat’s negative feedback. There’s a much better option than either one of the two mentioned above. Here are a few tips to get you started on the road toward having your cat see the good side of Mr. or Ms. Right:
Your Cat Isn’t Jealous
This may come as a shock to you but your cat isn’t reacting this way because she’s upset at the fact that you’re spending more time with someone else. It’s actually confusion and fear that have her being less than hospitable to your spouse. Your cat is a territorial creature of habit and it can be very unsettling and stressful for her to suddenly have someone unfamiliar spending time in the house. In the case of a new boyfriend or girlfriend, people often make the mistake of trying too hard to get kitty to like the new person. The cat parent almost forces the two together. The cat parent may pick up the cat and physically place her in the new person’s arms. The cat hasn’t had any time to do a scent investigation or figure out if this person is friend or foe. Add to that, the fact that this person is probably spending time in more areas of the house that the cat considers more of her personal territory. For example, if the cat is used to sleeping in bed with you and then suddenly she’s banished from the bedroom, it can be very unsettling and confusing.
In the case of a new spouse or if the new boyfriend or girlfriend moves in, that becomes an overwhelming invasion into the cat’s territory. All of a sudden there’s furniture, clothes and other belongings that have an unfamiliar scent being hauled into the house. If you’re moving to your new spouse’s house or moving into a new house together, it can be even more overwhelming because now your cat has also lost all of her familiar territory.
Changing Your Cat’s Mind About Your Spouse
First of all, you can’t rush this process. Cats need to feel as if they have a choice. The more you try to force the cat on your spouse, the more the cat will back away. You have to go at the cat’s pace. What matters to kitty is that the new person in the home isn’t a threat so if you rush the process, it’ll just intensify your cat’s anxiety.
Let’s start with scent. You can help your cat begin to feel more comfortable if your spouse carries some of kitty’s scent. Take a clean sock and gently rub around your cat’s mouth to collect some of her facial pheromones. Cats have scent glands on their body and the ones around the mouth contain the pheromones (scent chemicals) that are the “friendly” ones. Cats facially rub on objects when they feel comfortable in the environment. Take that sock and rub some of your spouse’s personal belongings such as shoes, briefcases, purses, etc. Get more socks and repeat the process (not all at one time – don’t wear your cat’s cheeks out). You can also rub the pheromone-baited sock on the corners of furniture pieces belonging to your spouse.
You can also have your spouse wear pheromone-baited socks around the house.
The Way to a Cat’s Heart is Through Her Stomach
Have your spouse be the one who prepares the cat’s food and serves it. Your cat may not feel comfortable eating with your spouse in the room but the scent of your spouse on the food bowl will be a start toward her associating good things with the presence of this new person.