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Integrating new cats into an existing cat domicile
May 9, 2006 2:56 AM   Subscribe

CatFilter: I have a one-eyed (somewhat overly affectionate) male cat and a new roommate moving in. New roomie has two cats, one adult male and one 8 month old female. I know all the standard ways to introduce them, but the circumstances have me a little worried.

My cat has been an only cat for three years. I adopted him right after he had the surgery to remove his eye - apparently a coyote bit him in the face and he somehow survived, and someone brought him to the shelter, where they surgically removed the eye. He's fine with depth perception, can jump onto high things, and is perfectly happy chasing the holy beejeezus out of his tail. He also is very happy to accept any sort of petting from pretty much any human. He has met a neighbor's cat several times and was not aggressive, just curious and sniffy.

I'm worried because a) I haven't lived with him in a multi-cat household, so I don't know how he'll react; b) I'm introducing two cats here, one of whom is also an alpha male in his existing household; c) he's very needy and affectionate with humans (he yowls if I leave the room and he can't figure out where I went, for example), so I am concerned that he will be upset if attention is being paid to other cats and not to him.

Any tips on bringing multiple new cats into an existing cat household? It's a loft space, so there's lots of open space for kitties to explore but not a lot of places where they can hide from each other. I just want to make sure all the kitties are happy!
posted by bedhead to Pets & Animals (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
A visit to this page from Messybeast.com contains some very useful information on introducing new cats to old cats.

Also, kit your home out with some Feliway diffusers, this will help all the cats involved feel more secure. Try and create some spaces where all cats once acclimatised to each other can keep as 'theirs', safe, private and often up high.

Make sure that you and your new room mate are on the same page regarding how you plan to introduce the cats to each other too. This will avoid alot of stress for all concerned. Feeding, litter trays, cats on/not on beds etc all need to be discussed. I can't stress enough how much it helps to have everyone following the same plan for integrating cats together. Animals pick up on our human displays of stress, often more acutely than humans do, so calmness and normality are what to aim for.

If all the cats are neutered then this will help the situation. There's nothing like a few feline sex pheromones floating around to disrupt a multicat household.

Give your own cat as much attention as you usually do, try not to give too much more as this might lead to an increase in his needyness, by telling him that 'there is something to worry about'. It's not unusual for a traumatised animal to become hyper-attached to its carer.

The key to success here is patience and time. If you all approach this as if you and the cats have all the time in the world to acheive harmonious living, then there's a big chance it will take less time than you thought it would.

Good luck :)
posted by Arqa at 3:49 AM on May 9, 2006


2nd on the Feliway diffusers. It should help make everyone more mellow. Also, there needs to be at least two if not three litter boxes (sorry, I know everyone hates them) so that all of the children can avoid ambush whilst doing their business. If you're using a hooded box now, you may want to shift to one without a hood, or a top-entry box such as the CleverCat (available at any PetsMart) -- inside the hooded box, cats can't necessarily tell if they are being stalked by their housemates, but with an open or top-entry box, they are more likely to be able to see the would-be surprise coming.

Yes, this is a favorite game, the litterbox ambush. Ours do it to one another and they've been together all their lives.

Finally, and this may make you feel better, if your cat is needy, having a buddy might make him less so. Our male cat is very nearly sealed to my leg from when I get home at night to when I take a shower in the morning, but having his sister around keeps his neuroticism from becoming too debilitating. It may be that your cat will LOVE having buddies as soon as the pecking order is sorted out.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:09 AM on May 9, 2006


I third the Feliway, as I have integrated two kitties, at different times, into a multicat household.

Second on the multiple litter boxes. It should be number of cats +1, but I maxed out at 4 boxes for my brood.

If you don't already know about it, you can do the old group-scent switcheroo. Take old tshirts or towels and sleep with them one or two nights. Then put them where the kitties seem to like to sleep. Rotate the towels until you, roomate and all kitties have slept on each at least once. This is a really primitive way to create a scent that you all share. Combined with Feliway, this should work well.
posted by oflinkey at 8:05 AM on May 9, 2006


Thanks everyone! I will look into the Feliway and will check out the CleverCat. My cat currently uses a covered box, and the others use an open box, so it's entirely possible that the open-box kitties will feel like ambushing the closed-box kitty.

We're going to introduce the new cats one at a time, gradually, and have them each come over a couple of times before the move. (New roomie lives downstairs from me now, so that part's not too painful.) My cat has interacted with other cats before and he seems fine with them, but I want to make sure he's not too upset by two new cats invading his territory. Thanks for the tips!
posted by bedhead at 12:47 PM on May 9, 2006


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