Downing Street is used to political battles, but yesterday a more 'Paw-litical' one was taking place between Larry and Palmerston, the Downing Street cats.
Larry is no. 10's resident chief mouser and has been living, happily, at the Westminster residence for more than 6 years. Although, his reign of top cat has recently been threatened by the Foreign Office adopted Palmerston, another cat from Battersea Dogs and Cats home.
Cat behaviour can be extremely complex and some cats do not cope well with change in their environment, and like Larry, many cats are happier living without other cats, however, this cannot always be the case unfortunately.
So I thought I'd provide the Downing Street residents and anyone else in the same situation some top tips for introducing cats to one another.
Before you introduce your new cat
You can integrate a new cat into your home by ensuring that the new pet smells of "home" before being introduced to the resident cat, as scent is an important communication method for them. Gather scents from the new cat's head by gently stroking with a soft cloth and dabbing this around your home and furniture to mix and spread the scents. You may also wish to swap the bedding of your animals to enable them to smell each other prior to meeting.
Create a calm environment
When you initially introduce a new cat to your pet make sure the house is as calm as it can be. Avoid introducing cats when there are a lot of people around or when there is loud music playing.
Introduce new animals gradually
It is important to introduce animals to your cat gradually, make sure that the cats have some time on their own away from each other. Problems can arise if initial meetings are allowed to deteriorate into a fight or chase. The best way to avoid this is to use a kittening pen or cat carrier for initial introductions.
If cats just don't like each other
Cats who aren't friendly to one another, don't like to share, or even start fights like Larry and Palmerston, must be kept apart. If your cats just don't get along, make sure to provide space to avoid each other at all times and accessibility to everything they need without having to pass one another.
Remember that most cats will only be friendly with cats they grew up with and may not accept new cats into the home, especially new adult cats.
The Downing Street brawlers are soon to be joined by another male cat from Battersea - the Treasury recently adopted domestic shorthair Gladstone as their Chief Mouser. He has yet to be let out on the street, but there has been speculation as to whether he will join the cat wars. Hopefully Theresa May will look at these top tips before introducing the new tabby to the street!