Advice On Bringing In A New Cat?

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Old 12-13-2013, 08:46 AM
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Advice on bringing in a new cat?

Hey guys. I need some advice. I want to give some background so you understand where my cat is coming from.

DH and I each had two cats when we moved in together. One of my cats was a Maine Coon. He was more than twice the size of the other three and they were terrified of him. DH's more playful cat hated my Maine Coon and would antagonize him until my Maine Coon turned on everyone in the house except me. He ended up living with my parents, I couldn't just lock him in a room by himself. The other three cats were okay although my cat didn't love the others, they were respectful of each other. My cat died about 8 months ago at 17 years old

About 18 months ago we moved in with DH's parents. They also had two cats. My cat stayed as a loner. DH's cats were okay with with DH's parents' two cats. One of our cats, Cashmere, didn't particularly like one of DH's parents' cats but she tolerated them. She is a scaredy cat and spends most of her time under our bed. In the last year, DH's other cat passed away from a seizure (he was the absolute best cat ever). One of DH's parents' cats passed away from cancer in her jaw. The two remaining cats tolerated each other. We firmly believe they were both sad to lose their companions but didn't bond to be companions with one another.

So we moved almost 3 months ago. In the last year we have gone from 5 cats to 1. Unfortunately our cat Cashmere has developed an inoperable tumor in her digestive track. We are able to keep her comfortable by feeding her in small increments. She is otherwise happy and her normal scaredy cat self, not in any pain at this point. However, her life span is unknown, she is 11 years old. The doctor says it could be a month, it could be years.

Since losing my cat and DH's, I have been really, really wanting another cat, preferably a young one. I am a cat person and having one cat who only hangs out with us in bed at night makes me really sad. DH has finally said he would like one too and my son has been begging for "Another Mister." We called DH's awesome cat Mister.

I have contacted 3 rescue organizations. The first two were enthusiastic. In fact we went to see some cats at the first one. DH and I fell in love with a set of 1 year old sisters. They adored us, we adored them. We played and cuddled with them for about 45 minutes. However, when we left, DH said he really feels we don't have the room for 2 cats. We don't have a spot for another litter box and we live in a 3 level townhouse that is about 1600 sq. feet including the finished basement. He is very against bringing in two cats. These two are bonded, separating them is not an option to me or the organization.

I just spoke with someone from the 3rd organization. She seemed nice and well informed. I didn't like what she had to say but that doesn't make her wrong. I am looking for people's opinions on her take. She said that the two most stressful things for a cat are bringing in new cats and infants. She said if our cat isn't in the best shape that bringing in another cat, whether it be kitten or older, calmer cat, would not be good for her. She said it is our cat's space and this would stress her out even if she lives under our bed.

I understand what she is saying. I am also looking at the big picture. Our cat has recently been exposed to new cats at DH's parents' house and did fine, she was tolerant. She actually really liked DH's parents' cat who ended up dying a few months after we moved in. She likes to be on her own the whole day. She doesn't seem to mind other cats although she is such a scaredy cat that if a human moves near her when she is eating she will run away, other cats no problem. I actually think bringing in the sisters might be the best option because they have each other and may leave our older cat alone but that really isn't an option either.

If we decide to go ahead and bring another cat in it will definitely only happen if we can do a trial period.

Any advice, experiences, thoughts based on the whole picture? Thank you!!
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  #2  
Old 12-13-2013, 09:29 AM

RE: Advice on bringing in a new cat?

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Blending new cats into your home can be a challenge. I am an owner of a cat herd at this point. I have nine in my 4 bedroom w/basement home. I never intended to have this many cats. After my cat Boogie was tragically hit by a car and had to be put down, we decided to adopt one more. The shelters we went too were very encouraging of adopting multiple cats, as they were so overcrowded. We initially adopted Baby and Tigger (we already had Tiger who is 18 now - we have had her since a kitten), and Libby (who DD adopted when she volunteered at the shelter). Both were fully grown. I wanted a kitten (who doesn't?), but we ended up rescuing Baby and Tigger who were probably 7 or 8 months old. Baby was extremely shy (she looks like a Russian Blue but is just a domestic gray house cat). Tigger was a bit aggressive (tabby cat). For whatever reason, we ended up at another shelter and adopted Ginger (calico) and Luna (black and white). They were kittens...I guess we just didn't get the kitten bug out of our systems? And none of the cats had bonded with me like Boogie had ;-(

I have learned that the cats are all so unique. They love us all, but my husband is like the cat whisperer with them. Most of the cats worship him!

Anyhow, Tigger used to run after and attack Luna especially, as she was so timid (and still is to some extent). It eventually resolved itself. The cats have to establish dominance it seems. Almost like a pack. Eventually, they all learned their place and are happy together. They all play with one another (except Tiger who is old and they respectfully leave her alone).

After we moved, once again we ended up adopting a cat. I must have been crazy! I went looking for a kitten (still missing my relationship with Boogie...he was the best cat!). The shelter had a beautiful cat who looks like a purebred something? She is creamy tan and gray and her previous owner had de-clawed her sadly. I think we were truly just looking that day, but the staff felt if no one adopted her soon, she would be put down. So we adopted her and named her, but nicknamed her Boo-boo, which is what we call her now. I forget her original name now!

She is a unique cat. However, the "herd" refused to allow her access. She has had to stay in our master bedroom and bathroom area for almost two years. Don't get me wrong, she can come out...she is just afraid to because the other cats attack her. Ginger, Baby and Tigger have all had all out attacks on her. Somehow, she always comes out the victor though. Once she bit Baby on the backside so bad, she got an infection and I had to take her to the vet for an antibiotic injection. I refuse to give her back to a shelter though. I know she would die there.

I have read that it can take two years for a new cat to be accepted, and I think it is true. Last winter we found first one kitten, and then a few weeks later another kitten living in our back yard. We adopted them, as I didn't have the heart to put feral kittens in a shelter. Polly is extremely anxious of other people, but loves my husband and I. The first months we had her she kept running a fever. We had to treat her for weeks with multiple antibiotics until the vet finally realized the fever only came about as a reaction to her anxiety. The weeks of forcing her to swallow horrible antibiotics took their toll. Now she distrusts my daughters who helped administer them! Coco was the other kitten. She is the most loving, friendly cat ever!! I put them together with Boo-boo to gradually get used to the others. Boo-boo bonded with them, and protects them like a mother. The three play together, and the kittens have given Boo-boo more confidence!

Lately, we have started to bring Boo-boo downstairs to sit in the lounge. She loves it. She is gradually getting more and more relaxed. We have tried it with the kittens, but they just run back upstairs. If I leave my bedroom door open, Coco and Polly venture out a small amount. Coco is getting brave enough to chase the others out now if they try to come in and she doesn't like it.

So I know this is a long story. I just want you to realize new cats in the home can take YEARS to become accepted by the current cat or cats! Kittens are easier IMO.

Good luck, and I hope you adopt a shelter kitten or two. It can be a success story though.
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Old 12-13-2013, 09:07 PM

RE: Advice on bringing in a new cat?

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I was in a hurry to get out the door. Fixed my spelling/autocorrect errors above....

I just wanted to mention that even feral cats can become good pets. Polly has learned to fetch a ball. It is her favorite game to play every morning and night!

Also, when adopting a new cat or kitten, make sure your cats have their own safe harbor, as it were. We have a large cat tower. It is an ideal place for the cats to take turns sleeping on, or getting higher up to avoid stress. Boo-boo has a shorter tower in our room, but she loves her safe perch. She can tower above the other cats when they try to come into our room, and chase them out if she feels the need. We also have beds in various spots so they can nap in peace.

It is also good for some cats for diversion activities. Tigger, who can be a bit higher energy which can lead to aggression, needs such activities. Every day my husband takes her outside. She has a wire cage to sit in to watch the birds. We want to build an outdoor cat house sort of with wire and 2x4's. I cannot have another cat struck by a car dying in pain again. It may sound strange, but she likes it. Occasionally she runs out, but always lets DH catch her. We let her roam in the garage for short periods to catch bugs and keep mice out, and in the basement too. She also loves going for rides in the car. It really relaxes her!
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Old 12-14-2013, 05:49 AM

RE: Advice on bringing in a new cat?

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I probably have no business replying but when has that stopped me...

I have dogs and am a dog person. My only real exposure to cat care taking has been in a zoological setting...lions, leopards, cougars and bobcats. My answers are more theoretical and from a position of a current rescue volunteer. So get a big grain of salt to go with what I say.

Animals tend to internalize stress, pain and sickness. It is an evolutionary trait that they needed to survive. So if your cat is further stressed you may not be able to perceive it until you are seeing signs of further health decline, which may or may not be reversible by the time you really notice it. That said you likely have a better idea if a well matched companion would be help to your pet, more so than a rescue volunteer that doesn't know your pet. In rescue we often have to make decisions based on the odds. I would say in general she is probably correct about what bringing in a second cat in a single cat household might do to a sick cat. But you know your cat so she could be 100% incorrect for your situation. That's really a call that you and your husband are best suited to make.

Be aware that many rescues will not allow animals to be adopted with a trial mentality. Ours won't. Of course if an adoption doesn't work out you are under contract to bring the animal back to our organization, you aren't 'stuck' with the animal. I understand both sides of this argument. When dogs get bounced around from home to home in adoption trials they can feel very unsettled and begin to develop extra neurosis on top of what ever issues they have come to us with. Or we can see lots of hard work that has been done by the foster family undone by spending a couple of weeks with a new family. Then if the dog comes back to you you are stuck rehabbing the same dog again. It is a pretty frustrating experience from a volunteers perspective. And good volunteers are very hard to come by, no need to stress them and the animals more than necessary. There have been a couple of very unique situations when I have personally felt comfortable enough with a family that I've allowed them to take a foster for an overnight or a weekend just to test out how having a particular dog would fit into the families lives. It isn't exactly sanctioned by the organization I work with but they organization trusted me to make a decision based on the individuals involved (dogs and humans). But these were very, very rare instances and the dog was only staying for a night or two with the understanding that if an adoption were to happen it would happen at a later date. These have been exceptional situations where I have felt like the adopting family is a great fit but understood that they needed a little nudge to verify that they could handle it. Both were first time dog owners that had really done their research. I don't know if you have discussed doing a 'trial' adoption with the organizations you have contacted but I wanted you to be aware of the possibility that you local organizations may jot be on board with that and why.

I hope I have given you a perspective that helps you feel more settled in whichever decision you make. I constantly question if keeping Junior and Calla was the best decision for everyone in our pack. It seems like now, six years in, that Junior and Cerveza can almost enjoy each other for short bursts of time. And that doesn't even happen often. But for the most part everyone seems happy enough and the two bratty boys just ignore each others existence.
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Old 12-14-2013, 08:31 AM

RE: Advice on bringing in a new cat?

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This is always such a tough decision! I have had both cats and dogs, and right now we are down to one dog ... but like you, I have wanted to get a new animal family member too. It was the same when I had a cat ... but each time I decided against a new animal. Both our dogs and cats were elderly and had health issues. After their siblings had died and left them as the sole survivors, our bond grew and I decided not to "upset their applecart" by bringing in what they may have perceived as other threats. I wanted the last months or years of their lives to be as simple and comfortable as possible. Do your best to imagine what your cat wants, and you will make the right decision.
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Old 12-17-2013, 09:22 AM

RE: Advice on bringing in a new cat?

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Thanks for the input everyone! We decided to go ahead and try bringing a new cat in. We spoke with several rescues and then ended up taking a ride out to our local Humane Society on Saturday. DH bonded with a sweet, 4 month old kitten named Ninja.

The great news, our cat has no problem with the newcomer. One hiss from each and they are fine. The bad news: the kitten is in bad shape. He seemed fine but nervous when we got home, calmer than expected actually. He then wouldn't eat (we bought the shelter food) and threw up late at night. Tons of vomit and green bile. We assumed nerves. The next day he was extremely lethargic. We called the shelter. They said nerves, take him to the vet Monday if we were concerned. He ate about three bites of food (we went out and got different food) but drank a lot. He was lethargic all day.

DH took him yesterday morning. The vet gave him fluids, vitamins, and an antibiotic in case he has an upper respiratory infection. He doesn't see signs of one but they are very common in shelter animals and there is clearly something wrong. The vet is concerned, he said Ninja is not 100%, this is not normal, and he doesn't know why. We are to try to give him anything he will possibly eat. He did have a bit of baby food last night. He has gone from 4.1 lbs. according to shelter records to 2.8 lbs on the vet's scale. The vet wants to hear back from us if he doesn't perk up in a few days Ninja threw up in the office and again at home. That could be from the fluids and shots though.

On the plus side he actually climbed in my lap yesterday. He hasn't played with any toys or been at all spunky. This was the most action he has demonstrated.

I had a total crying breakdown yesterday and told DH I am afraid of him not wanting more cats since he had previously said he couldn't handle another loss. He said if god forbid we lost Ninja they better give us another cat. That was somewhat of a relief to my overall emotional being. After the vet expressing concern yesterday I called the Humane Society who told us to keep the vet receipt and should the worst happen they will replace him. They just need the receipt to see there were problems right away and we did take him to the vet right away.

DH said Ninja was so-so this morning. He wouldn't eat . My heart is so sad. He is such a sweet little thing. We all just love him. DS is so gentle and caring with him. I just want him to be healthy and happy but it isn't looking good with him barely eating.
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Old 12-17-2013, 09:26 AM

RE: Advice on bringing in a new cat?

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Ninja kitten will be in my thoughts.


Her ny chihuahua friends all wish a speedy recovery.
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Old 12-17-2013, 11:01 AM

RE: Advice on bringing in a new cat?

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Cats are so unique in temperament. Perhaps your new kitten is adjusting to the sudden change in his environment.

Our Polly has such anxiety with new situations that she spiked high temps every time we took her to the vet. Our vet was convinced she might have had a condition that is terminal in cats. I can't recall the name now. Oddly enough, all her blood counts and urinalysis came back fine. We started tracking her temps at home too (fun times!). We kept switching antibiotics trying to fix the fever, but finally after a month or more with no success, we were sent to a specialist. That vet was able to determine that Polly's fever went away after half an hour or so of sitting in the office, as her anxiety dissipated. So it was deemed stress related. She is 100% fine now. If their had been any bacteria in her system, all the antibiotics we gave her killed 'em all!

We did end up having to worm the kittens (and all the cats as a precaution) as Polly and Coco being feral were infested with internal worms. One day Coco threw up and it was a gross pile of worms. They had been "de-wormed" on their first vet visit with a topical treatment (something I didn't know they could even do for worms), but I asked for something by mouth, as clearly that treatment had failed. The pill worked and no more worms! Worms can be one reason why kittens lose weight.

There are many things that could be wrong with your kitten, but some of it is hopefully just from a change in the environment and will improve over time. The weight loss concerns me. Make sure you monitor use of the litter box to see how much he is urinating, to watch for signs of dehydration.

Did they do blood work who you took him to the vet? I imagine they did. If the white count is elevated it may be infection related. Our vet drew urine out of Polly's bladder with a fine needle to check for infection there too. Yes, vet visits are expensive, but it was worth it to me to make sure our kitten was healthy. I kept the kittens in our bathroom at first to make sure they had a quiet area, and didn't become overwhelmed. This was also for the health of our other cats, as I didn't want them to get an infection if the kittens had something contagious. Make sure your kitten has a quiet, safe spot to go to until he feels comfortable.

Gradually, I brought our kittens out to get used to the other cats. They only like being with Boo-Boo at the moment, and with each other. They would eat when we first got them, but they were finicky. Make sure you provide wet food, as this can help provide water in their diet. My kittens didn't want to touch the water bowl at first. Polly cracks me up, because the only way she can drink from the water bowl is to scratch the floor with her paw as she drinks. I guess it is like the kneading they do with their paws when they nurse!

Keep us posted on little Ninja!
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  #9  
Old 01-12-2014, 10:15 PM

RE: Advice on bringing in a new cat?

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I have 4 cats-3 females and a very spunky soon-to-be tom cat.
We made a homemade litter box cover. We got a big box from the dollar store. I cut a rectangle on one side, placed the litter box down into the box and closed the flaps. My only complaint is I have to pick the litter box up and out of the box to dump it. BUT the box cuts back on the odor of the open litter box. The odor stays trapped in the box. I sprinkle baking soda in with the litter to cut back on odors too.

I also highly recommend a scratching post or pad. My cats used to love to tear up my furniture, but i bought them a $3 scratching pad at Dollar General. It has catnip in it and my cats love it. Worth the $3 dollars. It would be easy to make too.
Brainstorm: Use a box lid as your base and cut strips of cardboard boxes to fit inside the lid. Glue the strips into the bottom of the lid so you can see the corrugated edge of the box strips all the way across the lid and then sprinkle in some dried catnip into the crevices after the glue dries.
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Old 01-13-2014, 09:34 AM

RE: Advice on bringing in a new cat?

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Wow, I replied with an update around New Years. I don't know where it went!

I'll try to keep it short. We ended up hospitalizing Ninja at our vet. We LOVE our vet's office. After lots of blood work and meds (he had been on antibiotics but his white cells were high so stronger antibiotics as well as fluids, steroids, and vitamins), he was released to us stronger but showing neurological issues and still having to be force fed. Over the next three days he grew stronger and stronger and the neurological issues disappeared! He started to walk around and eat!!! He is now a completely normal, playful, cuddly kitten!!! Our Jewish Christmas miracle!!

We have one more follow up to schedule. In the initial blood work he had severely reduced kidney function. It could have been the assault taking place in his body but there could also be kidney damage. Once the kidneys are tested and found to be great he will be 100% perfect, awesome, amazing kitty!!!

Some cuteness for your Monday!
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  #11  
Old 01-13-2014, 09:36 AM

RE: Advice on bringing in a new cat?

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I have to say, typing the last post made me so happy it brought tears to my eyes! We are so lucky our baby is doing so well!
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Old 01-13-2014, 11:14 AM

RE: Advice on bringing in a new cat?

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Kitty and humans look very happy.
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Old 03-08-2014, 09:08 PM

RE: Advice on bringing in a new cat?

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I am sitting on my couch and looked down to see the cats snuggling against my leg. It reminded me that I started this thread because I was concerned about bringing a kitten home to our older cat. It is working out so well!!! While the kitten can annoy our older cat, 99% of the time it is very clear she loves having another cat in the house again.

The kitten is a crazy little dude! He's a curtain climbing-water playing-bread stealing bundle of energy. And then he wants to sleep on my neck all night to re-energize, . I love his personality!!
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  #14  
Old 03-09-2014, 03:58 AM

RE: Advice on bringing in a new cat?

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Thanks for the update!
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Old 03-09-2014, 01:33 PM

RE: Advice on bringing in a new cat?

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Ha! I just looked at your pics of your new kitten. Thought they reminded me of my cat Tigger. Here she is:



Glad you got the health issues straightened out. Poor sick kitty needed a good home! Reminds me of the struggles we went through when we found out Polly, who is a healthy, happy cat now.
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