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Blending cat families

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Crescita posted 4/10/2013 12:48 PM

I have two cats, SO has one. We are moving in together. I want it to go smoothly

My cats:

Princess, ~15 years old, 8lbs, declawed, former dominant, now subordinate.

Fiona, ~7 years old, 7 lbs, gentle with claws, current dominant.

His cat:

Salem, ~6 years old, 5 lbs, slightly feisty with claws, lifetime only cat (tolerates dogs with disdain)

My cats are super close to each other, but are small and have been bullied by roommate cats in the past, to the point they quit eating and using the litter box.

I plan to do the two litter box thing, keep them separate for a couple weeks to get used to the idea of each other, but I wondered if there are any other steps I should take to ensure a smooth transition.

We've both had our cats for years and have no intention of re-homing them.

Amazonia posted 4/10/2013 13:26 PM

I got sucked into watching a reality show about crazy cats one Saturday... something like Cat Whisperer or something like that. What he did was to put up a baby gate covered with a towel, and kept the cats separated. He would feed them near the gate so they could smell each other. Then eventually he removed the towel so they could see and smell each other. Then eventually he removed the gate.

nowiknow23 posted 4/10/2013 13:31 PM

Was that "My Cat From Hell?" It's a great show.

Amazonia posted 4/10/2013 13:34 PM

yeah that was it!

imagoodwitch posted 4/10/2013 16:09 PM

Love the show, love Jackson.

I concur with the baby gate thing.

Google "My Cat from Hell" for ideas.

Crescita posted 4/10/2013 20:08 PM

Will definitely try the baby gate. Thanks

woundedwidow posted 4/10/2013 20:14 PM

When you say you're keeping them separate for a couple of weeks, do you mean in separate rooms? If not, I'd recommend that, and then work up to the baby gate barrier (which is pretty much totally ineffective with young cats anyway, as they just jump right over it). In the meantime, I'd also put a baby blanket in with your cats and with your SO's cat, and then switch it so the other cat(s) can smell it to get used to the smell. Also, I'd really highly recommend three litter boxes, or even four. The rule of thumb is one box per cat, with one extra. That way there's no territorial scuffling over them. I've got 6 cats now: 3 of them are "original" to when I moved to this house and are 16-17 years old; the other 3 and 2 other cats were all introduced in the past 10 years. No problems.

Nature_Girl posted 4/10/2013 20:21 PM

Lots of alcohol. The kind you drink.

And ear plugs.

And kitty valium.

And bandaids.

And lots of cat pee cleaner. Lots of it.

And make sure your IC will be in town in case you need an emergency phone consult.

nowiknow23 posted 4/10/2013 20:34 PM

Sounds like NG is your go-to for cautionary tales on this subject.

Fireball72 posted 4/10/2013 20:59 PM

My house has an open floor plan, so there wasn't any way that I could put up a gate or close a door anywhere (even our bathroom doesn't have a door, if you can believe that - the house is only large enough for us two). So, when we brought our new kittens (brother-sister pair) home in December, there was literally nowhere for my 5 year old cat to go. Worse, she hated them on sight.

They sort of solved the problem themselves, though - the 5 year old stayed on the bottom two floors and the kittens stayed on the top floor until they were able to get downstairs by themselves. When they did "meet", finally, there was a lot of posturing and hissing, but not much more than that.

My kittens are now 5 months old (really???) and all three of them are at the "okay, we have to live together so we'll tolerate each other" stage. The 5 year old will occasionally swipe at the girl kitten (they really DON'T like one another, it's mutual), but she'll leave the boy kitten alone - probably because he's nearly as big as SHE is now!!

Sometimes the problem will end up working itself out. But if you CAN do a closed door/gate thing, I would - that's what I would have done if there had been an option.

Crescita posted 4/10/2013 22:06 PM

NG that's about how it went with the failed roommate cat intros.

I will have them in separate rooms. Mine will probably be in the bedroom (so they still get ample people time), and his will have the rest of the house. I might switch corridors for 15 minutes to an hour a day so they can get used to the lay of the home, and each others' scents.

Eep, so fearful of cat fights, and my oldest also has cat herpes that flairs up when she is stressed. That's always fun

Nature_Girl posted 4/10/2013 23:33 PM

Eep, so fearful of cat fights, and my oldest also has cat herpes that flairs up when she is stressed. That's always fun

Kitty valium does wonders for kitty stress. Also, I should have added to get extra vacuum cleaner bags, since stressed cats tend to shed like a nightmare. Unless, of course, you like the look of fuzzy pants and the sensation of fuzzy toothbrushes et al.

Crescita posted 4/26/2013 12:12 PM

Update

Moved my kitties in last night. They were little chicken shits and hid under the bed for 5 hours. Once the sun set they decided it was safe to explore and beg for attention. His cat is pissed. I've caught her sneaking up stairs to confirm they are still there but she wants nothing to do with anyone, cats or people, she won’t come near us. She loves wet food, but once it makes its way up stairs she’ll have no part of it.

I think this might be a good thing. Aggressive cats tend to be more curious. She just seems scared. It might take longer than a week, and I’ll probably have to move her food upstairs more gradually, but I think she’ll learn my kitties aren’t a threat.

toonces posted 4/26/2013 13:52 PM

In the "Cat from Hell" series, Jackson also had the cats eat at the sametime while separated by the gate. While the cats eat, they can see each other which helps with the introductions. The cats will be more interested in the food rather than the "new" cat.

StillGoing posted 4/26/2013 13:54 PM

Lock them in the fridge together for three minutes. Their survival experience will bring them closer together. It will also up the schedule of their plot to destroy you, though.

Lionne posted 4/26/2013 16:23 PM

It sounds like you have things under control.

I have used a cat pheromone spray when my cats went through a crazy, aggressive stage.

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