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Thread: Introducing another pet

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    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Introducing another pet

    So...we are likely getting another pet.

    Maybe (by defaut) sooner than later.

    Maybe like, right now... (we are last minute cat sitting)

    (its a long story, but its not for sure, because of my allergies and whether or not they can get along)

    Right now Smittens is sort of following Buddy around, curious like. Periodically Buddy turns to hiss at Smitten if he gets too close, but mostly he's trying to explore. They haven't gone after each other at all (and that would likely be bad, since Smitten has his kitty paw covers on and Buddy is older and bigger). There were a few swipes when they got too close, but no real fighting. Right now we seem to be at kitty pax.

    So, how do we help them get along? If they aren't getting along, at what point is it a "lost cause"? I'm okay with not keeping Buddy--the backup plan is that his owner's dad will take him (cat triggered the kid's eczema)...but at what point do we know if this is or is not going to work?

    We always had dogs--and it was always a puppy with a relatively well adjusted and well socialized older dog, so it was never difficult.
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
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    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

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    Supporter Hawkfeathers's Avatar
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    Re: Introducing another pet

    They make a cat pheromone spray that helps a lot. My neighbor's vet gave her that when she introduced a new cat. I'd see how they are in a few days - you never know, they might be best pals all on their own.

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    Live and learn anunitu's Avatar
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    Re: Introducing another pet

    It was an interesting thing..we,my ex and I and the kids of course had a Cat named Tiger..Nice female Tabby,and grey...I got a puppy(mini dachshund) and the cat mothered the puppy right away,and they slept together curled up with each other..Now time passed and the dog became ill,and it died...and the cat went into morning for almost 2 months,seldom eating until she came back to normal. Dog was almost 6 when she died. Cat was about 8 when the dog died. To say they bonded would be an understatement..
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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Introducing another pet

    Based on much past experience with adding new cats, I'll say that, if they haven't gotten into all out fur flinging fight fest already (read: immediately upon meeting), they will settle down and adjust.

    We generally will put the new cat in a room alone for a few days, then move that cat out into the house and put the other cat in that room for a day - in my imagination, they get used to the new place and the new cat smell that way (I don't know if this is what actually happens or not). Then we let them mix.

    We have had a couple cases where the new cat and old cat couldn't tolerate each other, but they generally let us know IMMEDIATELY. You have to expect a bit of hissing and paw-punching, but if they aren't tearing each other up, they'll negotiate a truce.
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    306 Maria de Luna's Avatar
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    Re: Introducing another pet

    The new cat needs to get used to new surroundings, people, and another little cat. He has many things to overwhelm him, and pushing isn't going to make it better, (doesn't sound like you're doing that, but just don't be tempted to make it go faster.) He needs space and time, he needs a space to feel safe, and importantly, alone. He is nervous right now he may end up liking the little kitten very much after he calms down a bit and has some time to adjust.
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    Opinionated Rae'ya's Avatar
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    Re: Introducing another pet

    Firstly, this...

    Quote Originally Posted by B. de Corbin View Post
    Based on much past experience with adding new cats, I'll say that, if they haven't gotten into all out fur flinging fight fest already (read: immediately upon meeting), they will settle down and adjust.
    Then this (it's called Feliway and it's amazing)...

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawkfeathers View Post
    They make a cat pheromone spray that helps a lot. My neighbor's vet gave her that when she introduced a new cat. I'd see how they are in a few days - you never know, they might be best pals all on their own.
    Will help greatly with this...

    Quote Originally Posted by Maria de Luna View Post
    The new cat needs to get used to new surroundings, people, and another little cat. He has many things to overwhelm him, and pushing isn't going to make it better, (doesn't sound like you're doing that, but just don't be tempted to make it go faster.) He needs space and time, he needs a space to feel safe, and importantly, alone. He is nervous right now he may end up liking the little kitten very much after he calms down a bit and has some time to adjust.

    Quote Originally Posted by thalassa View Post
    Right now Smittens is sort of following Buddy around, curious like. Periodically Buddy turns to hiss at Smitten if he gets too close, but mostly he's trying to explore. They haven't gone after each other at all (and that would likely be bad, since Smitten has his kitty paw covers on and Buddy is older and bigger). There were a few swipes when they got too close, but no real fighting. Right now we seem to be at kitty pax.
    This is a good sign, for a few reasons:

    1) Buddy is exploring. If he was freaking out he'd be hiding under the bed refusing to come out, or dashing from one place to the next like he's trying to get away. If he seems kind of casual, he's exploring and is not overly stressed. If he starts face-marking, he's starting to settle in for the long haul.

    2) Hissing and swatting is 100% completely normal. A bit of back arching and tail bristling is also normal, but indicates that they aren't accepting each other so well. Other things to watch for are if one of them is 'innocently' sitting near the other one apparently not doing anything, but the other cat is acting a bit nervous. That is NOT 'innocently sitting minding his own business'. That's bullying on the part of the cat who seems 'innocent' and fear on the part of the cat that's acting nervous. Often this happens near litter trays and feed bowls, or if the nervous cat is under the bed and the bullying cat is sitting in the doorway.

    3) Smittens is still young, so the whole process will probably be a bit easier than introducing to adult cats. Partially because he is in a socialization stage that encourages interaction and networking, and partially because adult cats will cut younger cats a bit of extra slack when it comes to social interactions.

    Quote Originally Posted by thalassa View Post
    So, how do we help them get along?
    - Feliway, preferably the diffusers rather than the spray. Plug one into the rooms that they spend the most time in, which may mean more than one if it's not an open plan area. They are pricey, and Buddy is already there, so if things are going well don't stress too much about this. They work best if you set them going a few days before the new cat arrives, but if you can afford it they are really, really helpful in most cases of anxiety and stress.

    - Make sure they have separate spaces where they can get away from each other... don't force them to stay in the same room as each other. What Corbin said about one cat in a room then switch can help, because they get used to each others' smells and it reduces the impact of the first meeting... but it sounds like you're past that stage anyway so you probably don't need to worry about this step.

    - Give Buddy space... don't force him to interact with anyone, don't try to comfort him if he's hiding, make sure he can get to food, water and litter easily without having to cross the whole house... all that sort of thing. Buddy has two stressors right now... a new house and family AND a new cat.

    - You MUST MUST MUST have more than one litter tray. With two cats, you should have three, in at least two places. You must give them the opportunity to toilet away from each other, and reduce the chances of one of them being ambushed while toileting or trying to get to the tray.

    - Also, more than one water bowl, preferably in two different places, for the reasons above.

    - Obviously, more than one food bowl. Don't stress too much about which one belongs to which cat... it's good to get them in the habit of going to a particular bowl, but they don't actually have any sense of ownership over them... you just want them to be able to reach the resources independently of each other and without worrying about the other one ambushing them or restricting their access.

    - Make sure there are enough climbing opportunities and enough high value resting places. You can get away with one scratching tree if there are enough high value resting places in the house, because they will normally either learn to share, or learn to time-share. Sometimes one cat will resort to scratching furniture if their access to the scratching post is affected by the other cat, so keep that in mind.

    - The attention that you give them will not really make that much of a difference. Just keep on with your normal routine, ensure that Smittens gets the same attention he did before, and offer Buddy attention on his terms rather than actively trying to make friends. If he's already social with you that's great, but if he's not then just be a presence rather than someone trying to pick him up and cuddle him and reach under the bed to him. Let him come to you. Cats don't normally display jealousy over each other, but can display some 'ownership' issues over high-value resources like your lap, the spot next to you on the couch, or your bed (which is about warmth and surveying position rather than you personally). Every now and then there's a cat who decides that you personally are a high value resource, but we are actually very rarely that important to them and they're quite happy to share us.

    - Cats are very subtle in their bullying and intimidation of each other... humans generally miss all the signs and think they are perfectly happy with each other or think that one cat is perfect and the other is naughty, when the reality is that one cat is being bullied by the other. Overt fights are an extreme sign and while normal in the first few weeks should be very rare after that. If they are fighting even semi-regularly, they are not cohabiting well. Ambushing or 'guarding' (aka 'minding his own business in the doorway / next to the litter tray / in the kitchen) is a common bullying tactic that humans often don't recognise. Urininating in places other than the litter tray and over-grooming are common signs of stress to watch for.

    - I'm sure you're already on top of this, but remember that Buddy is a totally different cat with totally different personality and preferences. You'll have to work out his preferences for litter tray placement, sleeping arrangements, vertical space vs horizontal space and all of that. I know you've got a good set up for Smittens, but check whether you need to add anything different for Buddy, because he may have different needs.

    Quote Originally Posted by thalassa View Post
    If they aren't getting along, at what point is it a "lost cause"? I'm okay with not keeping Buddy--the backup plan is that his owner's dad will take him (cat triggered the kid's eczema)...but at what point do we know if this is or is not going to work?
    It depends on the cats, but usually give it at least 2 weeks. Some severe stress and anxiety in the first 2 weeks doesn't mean that it will never work... it could still settle down.

    Just keep in minds that cats learn to cohabit but don't necessarily like each other. They aren't social animals in the same way as dogs and cats, but they can cohabit in relative peace if they're given enough resource options and space to get away from each other.

  7. #7
    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: Introducing another pet

    I think Smitten is really stressed out right now...his sleeping pattern is way off--normally he curls up in his "kennel" (his carrier without the front door) or in the bowl part of his tree and even the vacuum or the kids being loud and obnoxious doesn't phase him...but now, he's on the couch back (normally where he plays when we are home) and still looks alert even though he's "sleeping". Buddy has (overnight, while we were sleeping) pretty much taken over Smitten's tree, his favorite window sill, and his food and water dish in the kitchen, leaving Smitten to take refuge in the laundry room, where Buddy's food and water and litter box are. Smitten isn't curious anymore, he's jumpy and wary. Buddy however, seems pretty relaxed (plus he has those giant Puss-in-boots eyes...he really is a great cat, but they just aren't getting along at this point)--though maybe not so relaxed either...he's on my kitchen table (normally a no-no) also "sleeping" while alert--his head is up, his ears perked and his hair is all puffy (though he is sort of a long hair puffy fur cat normally, so its hard to tell) (he could be doing that fake sleep thing that cats do though too)...problem is that I don't know him as well, so its hard to say.

    We actually have a diffuser...not the Feliway one, there was a sale for the Sentry one (which has good reviews when people can get the diffuser to work properly), and I figured it was cheaper to try that and then upgrade later. We got it because Smitten seemed to have some loneliness issues during the day (one of the reasons we are considering another pet). It seemed to help. :/ We also have two litter boxes--one in the laundry room, and Smitten's giant mondo litterbox in the bathroom (he has one of those super large, super deep litter boxes, because he likes tons of litter to play in...and we scoop it every morning and afternoon--that one is chickadee's job)...unfortunately, I really don't have anywhere to put a third one. As it is, I'm going to have to reorganize my laundry room!

    The deciding factor is going to be my allergies...and right now I'm about to claw out my itchy red eyes and die. If my meds don't kick in and fix this, it will be a moot point...because right now, I'm not about to give a giant 4 year old cat that barely knows us a bath (part of the reason we agreed to cat-sit was that I've been able to pet and play with Buddy without having problems...but petting him and having him in my 2 bedroom apartment are two different things). If need be, we have a friend who will take Buddy temporarily in the interim, but she'd rather not deal with litter box cleaning and the shedding--Buddy sheds, Smitten does not (or seems not to because of the regular baths and furminator brushing)...
    Last edited by thalassa; 21 Feb 2015 at 04:44.
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

    Pagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible

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    Opinionated Rae'ya's Avatar
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    Re: Introducing another pet

    Quote Originally Posted by thalassa View Post
    I think Smitten is really stressed out right now...his sleeping pattern is way off--normally he curls up in his "kennel" (his carrier without the front door) or in the bowl part of his tree and even the vacuum or the kids being loud and obnoxious doesn't phase him...but now, he's on the couch back (normally where he plays when we are home) and still looks alert even though he's "sleeping". Buddy has (overnight, while we were sleeping) pretty much taken over Smitten's tree, his favorite window sill, and his food and water dish in the kitchen, leaving Smitten to take refuge in the laundry room, where Buddy's food and water and litter box are. Smitten isn't curious anymore, he's jumpy and wary. Buddy however, seems pretty relaxed (plus he has those giant Puss-in-boots eyes...he really is a great cat, but they just aren't getting along at this point)--though maybe not so relaxed either...he's on my kitchen table (normally a no-no) also "sleeping" while alert--his head is up, his ears perked and his hair is all puffy (though he is sort of a long hair puffy fur cat normally, so its hard to tell) (he could be doing that fake sleep thing that cats do though too)...problem is that I don't know him as well, so its hard to say.

    We actually have a diffuser...not the Feliway one, there was a sale for the Sentry one (which has good reviews when people can get the diffuser to work properly), and I figured it was cheaper to try that and then upgrade later. We got it because Smitten seemed to have some loneliness issues during the day (one of the reasons we are considering another pet). It seemed to help. :/ We also have two litter boxes--one in the laundry room, and Smitten's giant mondo litterbox in the bathroom (he has one of those super large, super deep litter boxes, because he likes tons of litter to play in...and we scoop it every morning and afternoon--that one is chickadee's job)...unfortunately, I really don't have anywhere to put a third one. As it is, I'm going to have to reorganize my laundry room!

    The deciding factor is going to be my allergies...and right now I'm about to claw out my itchy red eyes and die. If my meds don't kick in and fix this, it will be a moot point...because right now, I'm not about to give a giant 4 year old cat that barely knows us a bath (part of the reason we agreed to cat-sit was that I've been able to pet and play with Buddy without having problems...but petting him and having him in my 2 bedroom apartment are two different things). If need be, we have a friend who will take Buddy temporarily in the interim, but she'd rather not deal with litter box cleaning and the shedding--Buddy sheds, Smitten does not (or seems not to because of the regular baths and furminator brushing)...
    Sounds like they are both stressed, but that is 100% expected at this point. No stress at all at this point would be... weird. If there is no urinating in inappropriate places, fights, aggressiveness or hiding all day, it's not 'extreme' stress and is likely to settle over some time. Having said that, sometimes it doesn't, and there are a LOT of cats who live in multipet households who are in a constant state of low-grade stress because they'd really rather live on their own.

    We don't have the Sentry diffuser so I have no personal or professional knowledge of it. A quick search online found that's it's not a facial pheromone like Feliway but is similar to the dog DAP, which mimics the pheromone that mum puts out while breast feeding. Their website is not terribly helpful but there's lots of good reviews from laypeople. Here's the Aussie Feliway website link for you, which has some useful articles and tips aimed at pet owners about cat stress.

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