How can I integrate four very different cats?
June 3, 2006 5:07 PM   Subscribe

How do you go about integrating two very different pairs of cats into one happy household?

I've seen some information on blending cats, but my situation has a slightly different twist.

At the end of the month I'll be moving in with my fiance. I own two cats and he owns two cats. I introduced my cats to one another without much trouble and helped him introduce his cats to one another, but our pairs have never met. We've already started trading the cats' belongings so they can get used to each others' smells, and have a room where my cats can be seperated from his.

Despite our preparation, I'm nervous about three things:

1. My cats are old - eight and ten. His cats are young (1 and 3) and very energetic.

2. He has two males. I have a male and a female. I've heard that it's tougher to integrate females than males, even with everyone being spayed and neutered.

3. My male is FIV positive, so I'd like there to be a minimum of aggression, since I don't want the FIV to spread to the other cats during a fight.

Does anyone have any stellar tips on integrating cats? Especially old/young cats, males/females, and FIV positive/negative?
posted by christinetheslp to Pets & Animals (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Cats and dogs are one anothers natural enemies, right? But in my household, my cats anddogs get along swimmingly, often sleeping next to one another, all cuddled up and stuff. How did I achieve this and how does it relate to your question?

The way I did it was by holding the cat in a position where it felt comfortable but where it couldn't get it's claws at the dog as the dog was held by someone else close by. It took some time, and after some hissing and anger, they started to feel comfortable around another.

Your fiance should hold one of his cats and you should hold one and sit near and close to one another. Make both cats feel comfortable and loved and important. Do this for 5 or 10 minutes every day for a few weeks. This way they'll get to know one another but no one can hurt anyone else and thus get infected with anything.

Good luck.
posted by Effigy2000 at 6:06 PM on June 3, 2006

I posted a related question a little while ago, and took some of the advice there. We introduced two younger cats (1.5 y.o. male and ~9 month old female) to my 8.5 year old male cat. The young ones moved into the old guy's abode. We introduced each cat individually, and kept the new kids behind closed doors when we weren't home for the first few weeks. They get along okay so far, but my cat has been a little territorial and basically acts like a grumpy old man when the young cats wrestle with each other. None of them have fought with claws out, but there has been a little bop on the nose here and there.

Oddly, the female has been the easiest to integrate - both of the males act protective of her. The boys seem to be just cautiously figuring out their pecking order.

Basically, just give each cat a space where they can be safe - a room they can go into or something like that - and lots of love. The older cats will probably just look down their noses at the younger cats when they get frisky. I swear if mine could say "darn young whippersnappers", he would.
posted by bedhead at 6:37 PM on June 3, 2006

I think it will be easier of each group of cats is fed separately and has its own cat box. They each like to have a place that smells like them.

I had a hell of a time, but my boys are fine now. Be patient. Allow snarling, but no real fighting.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:07 PM on June 3, 2006

BTW. Let the new cats get the smell of the house by isolating them for a few days. This is very important.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:08 PM on June 3, 2006

posted by oflinkey at 10:03 PM on June 3, 2006

I'd suggest ensuring that your cats have a separate and secure area of your new home to stay in for a couple of weeks to allow them to relax a little before introducing them to your fiances cat's. Especially as your male cat is FIV+, excessive stress is to be avoided.

Get your new home kitted out with some Feliway. It's also useful to mix up new cat and existing cat scents by petting new and old cats without washing your hands first.

Another way of mixing scents up is to allow your cats some restricted access to your fiances cat's territory when they are out of the rooms. Allow your cats to have a good mooch around, perhaps feed them there. Then remove your cats back to their safe area and let your fiances cat's back into the area. Doing this a few times should help them all get used to the scent of the intruders.

Whatever you do don't force any interaction, this is a sure way to pressure felines into a stress response, such as fighting. Have patience, cats can take a long while to sort out their heirarchy, keep it in your mind that it will take a long, long while to acheive and a harmonious co-existance will happen in a shorter time, if you are less anxious.

This page from has some good information about introducing cats

Try to be as relaxed as possible when you finally do introduce the cats to each other. Felines are very sensitive to stress shown by their human carers.

Every bit of advice I've ever heard regarding cats who are FIV+ stresses that they shouldn't be living with FIV negative cats. The virus is passed via body fluids shared from activities such as grooming and fighting. However, this .pdf from Cats Protection, a UK charity mentions that a vaccine for FIV is available in the US.

For some peace of mind regarding the FIV risk, speak to your vet about this vaccination for your other cat and your fiances cat's (assuming they aren't vaccinated already). A schedule of regular testing ought to be in place for the 3 FIV negative cats. Your vet may also have some advice about your FIV+ cat interacting with the FIV negative cats safely.

Stress is often a precipitor of feline illness, stress affects the immune system and for a FIV+ cat, this can have serious implications. Try to do all you can to ensure that stress is minimised, for the cats and yourself during the move.

Good luck :)
posted by Arqa at 6:17 AM on June 4, 2006

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