When can my kitties be friends?
June 5, 2008 2:28 PM   Subscribe

When can I introduce my kittens to my cat?

We currently have a cat who's about a year & a half old, who obviously has all her shots & is in good health. Though it's a long story, we recently came into possession of a couple of very young kittens (one vet estimated 4-5 weeks, one estimated about 8 weeks) who have not yet had their shots for anything, though they did test negative for FIV and FeLV. The vet who did that test & estimated them at 4-5 weeks said they were too young to get the full set of vaccines, so we have a followup appointment with him in two weeks. Since we got them, they've been confined to a downstairs bathroom & kept separate from my other cat, but given that that cat is already vaccinated, is there any risk in starting the process of introducing them (which I know may take a while, given that cats are cats & will likely have attitude problems)? I hate to keep them in this bathroom for another two weeks, but I also don't want to get anybody sick.
posted by zempf to Pets & Animals (8 answers total)
Is your adult cat an indoor cat? If so, I'd go ahead and introduce them, since it's unlikely your adult cat is carrying anything that the kittens can catch.

Also, having just watched my adult cat stalk, kill, and contentedly eat a cockroach the size of my thumb, I'm not sure that there's anything that can kill them.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:41 PM on June 5, 2008

If your mature cat has had all her shots, why would she get sick or pass anything to the kittens? Letting them meet will probably be a wonderful experience for all of them, once they get over the initial apprehension. Wondering why you didn't ask the vet if it was okay to introduce them, when you were talking to the vet.
posted by Listener at 2:42 PM on June 5, 2008

Response by poster: The vet who didn't want to give them shots also recommended against introducing them, but he didn't really explain why (he's not really a people person). I assume it's to protect them from anything my cat may have, but like I said, she's up-to-date on her shots.
posted by zempf at 2:51 PM on June 5, 2008

Maybe the vet was afraid of the kittens passing something on to your adult cat that can't be prevented by a vaccine. Something like FIP, maybe.
posted by amarynth at 2:57 PM on June 5, 2008

Response by poster: The FIP thing is a thought, but if it can't be vaccinated against, then waiting a couple of weeks for their shots shouldn't make much difference. Also, I believe it CAN be vaccinated against, though I've heard that the worth of that vaccine is somewhat debatable.
posted by zempf at 4:30 PM on June 5, 2008

Best answer: IANAV or a mind reader, but If your adult cat is a vaccinated indoor cat, the vet most likely recommended against introducing the kittens to protect the health of your adult cat, rather than the other way around. Besides scary acronyms like FIP and FeLV, newly rescued kittens can also carry coccidia and giardia, earmites, upper respiratory infections, etc.

A week or two of quarantine will give any such problems time to develop, and give your adult cat time to get used to the intruders. After that, I'd go ahead and let the kittens and your adult cat work things out for themselves.

During the quarantine period, look for signs like head-shaking, sneezing, runny noses and eyes, excessive diarrhea, vomiting and lethargy. If you don't see any of those after two weeks, it's safe to assume that the kittens are relatively healthy and don't pose a risk (other than severe annoyance) to your adult cat.

This is a pretty basic question, one that virtually all conscientious people in your situation would have, and one which a good vet should answer clearly and to your satisfaction if he's asked. It might be time to find another vet.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 5:18 PM on June 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

"The vet who didn't want to give them shots also recommended against introducing them, but he didn't really explain why (he's not really a people person)."

I'm not sure on the introducing thing - we're working on an introduction here as well, and it's an adventure. However, you might want to reconsider your choice of vet. Communication with your vet is as important as communication with your regular doc - you need to feel comfortable asking questions, and the doc/vet should take time to address your concerns and help you understand what they are recommending and why.
posted by CrazyGabby at 7:33 PM on June 5, 2008

When I was growing up (this was about 20 years ago, I'm 33 now) we just tossed the kittens in a large box with a blanket, let the mother feed them, and no problems (except for fleas), they all turned-out fine, and were either kept or given to pet stores. There's a precious little snowflake(s) thing going on for pets these days. I blame 'The Price Is Right'. PETA might have something to do with it as well, but since they use sexy models in their ads, I forgive them.

/get off my balcony
posted by hungrysquirrels at 8:14 PM on June 5, 2008

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