Seeking "cat-whisperer" advice ---- RE: New Cat in the house, compatibility with my older cat, etc
Since my beloved elderly Ragdoll male died last December, my other cat (and longtime companion of the Ragdoll,
although not related), has been alone.
She and the Ragdoll were together for probably 7 or 8 years, and got along well.
She (Krishna) is a non-dominant-personality Bombay cat, around 10 years old or so.
Since her companion's death, she seemed lonely, but has adapted somewhat, and is closer and more affectionate to us than she was before (the Ragdoll was always the more outgoing one).
Anyway, I miss having two cats, and after a time, I desired to find a reasonably compatible companion for Krishna, especially
when we are out of the house for a few hours.
I know it is impossible to "replace" the Ragdoll, and his wonderful personality, but I felt that if I could get a mellow,
un-dominant-seeming male, they might get along OK, even if not necessarily as well as with the Ragdoll.
Last monday, after checking this cat out over a couple earlier visits to Good Friends adoption center,
I brought home a 6-year old male, black and white domestic shorthair, named Opie.
He is affectionate, seems pretty mellow and non-aggressive, and had no problem being around other cats,
as I saw at the adoption center. His apparent mellowness won us over.
He's been here for 4 full days now, holed-up in the den, with full supplies (his own separate water bar, food bowls,
scratch post, litter box, window to look out of, jazz radio station on softly in background, plush pet bed, soft lighting, comfortable furniture to lie on, etc. I even have a Feliway (commercial product) "cat-relaxing" pheremone dispenser on in the walkway
right outside the door of the den where Opie is.
According to advice and readings I have done, I have isolated him from the other cat for now.
They have yet to meet face-to-face, although they have caught a couple quick glimpses of each other through the open door.
They both know the other exists, I am certain.
Here is where I'm stuck.
How do I handle the 1st face-to-face meeting?
When is the right time? Are there more steps to follow first?
What if it doesn't go well?
Would a male and female kitty ever fight physically?
I fully expect some hissing and warning-sounds at first, especially from Krishna,
as she would feel invaded in her own home, I would imagine.
No problem with that. But could anything more serious happen?
My hope is that Opie will be wary and respectful of Krishna, and give her space (they have the most of the house to roam in),
while she gets used to Opie, and sees, after a time, that he is not a threat.
But to be honest, I have no idea what will really happen, and I'm kind of scared about "the moment of truth".
I want everything to go well so much.
I would be heartbroken if it didn't work out and I had to bring Opie back (although Good Friends is a no-kill shelter).
I apologize for going on so long, but there's the whole situation.
What do I do now?
Thanks in advance for any response.
I'd say, let him out. Let them mingle. There might be some territory issues for awhile but I doubt there will be serious fighting. Also, I would get a dangly object and play with both of them at the same time. They'll get so distracted with the playing they won't even notice they've gotten near each other.
I'm sure at first they'll probably establish their own territory but I'm guessing eventually they'll tolerate each other if not become friends.
moving their food dishes closer and closer together, until they are eating next to each other.
When they do meet, make certain that each can get away from the other.
I never have the luxury you're taking in introducing cats. Every cat I own has been dumped here so they all just meet without me (typical farm life).
Make sure they have plenty of space to get out of each other's way.
Switch their places for at least a half-day, so your older cat can sniff around in the den, getting used to the new cat's scent on things, and vice versa. And so the new cat can put his scent on things in the rest of the house.
Rub a cloth over the new cat and then rub that on your older cat, and vice versa, so they end up smelling like each other. Or rub a cloth over the new cat, and put it in a spot where your older cat likes to sleep, and vice versa.
Best of all... can you stick some paper, yarn, or a toy under the den's door? Wiggle it around to get each cat interested in playing with it. Then they'll start sticking their paws under the door and end up playing with each other. That always did the trick for cat introductions in my house!
I know there's some sites on the web that go into detail about this process but what Ino says is a pretty good summary for this stage, I think.
I have an older female with a younger male and I didn't get the introduction process perfect. The older female seems to have really wanted to be an only cat, but I had the male strongly pushed on me and he is SOOOOO adorable I couldn't refuse. There have been some spats but overall it seems Her Highness has accepted Mr. Wants-to-Play's right to exist in Her Kingdom. They do okay now with only the occasional "get the eff away from me" when he insists on trying to play with her when she just wants to hang and be mellow. At other times they can even seem a bit affectionate with each other, to the point I think that if something happened to him, she would actually miss him a little.
Bottom line you are taking the right approach to be careful, and even if you don't do every step perfectly, they will probably do okay.
it's time to let them sort it out.
yes, they may fight, but they're going to have to work out the pecking order at some point. just keep in mind that it will take time for them to adjust.
Go to the left side, click on "Home and Family", then click on "Pets" and post.
Hope this helps.
spayed or neutered, the chance of fighting is less likely. There will still be some territory issues they have to work out and you generally should let that happen. Other posters suggestions are all good, esp let them get used to the others' scent by rubbing a towels or some such over each and let the other cat sniff it. I've kept a new cat cooped up in the bathroom for up to a week. (I live in an apt.) The others figured out they were in there anyway...
and explore the surroundings before you try the meet and greet. It will be a bit overwhelming for her to be exposed to the new environment and a new buddy all at the same time. Once she seems to have adapted to the new space then introduce her to Krishna. I also like the idea of the cloth with the scent of each of them.
My black/white cat died, and Charlotte, the calico, was looking a little lonely.
I brought Raven, the black female home, and the two of them did the "My territory/hiss hiss" thing for a couple days, but they get along pretty well now.
Raven still does like picking fights with Charlotte though.
I just had to tell you I love the name "Opie". (I used to watch the Andy Griffith show).
I will be home all day tomorrow (sunday), so I'm going to make that the likely day for the 1st meeting.
I'm hoping the fact that Opie is a male and Krishna is female, will help reduce the chance of any actual
physical fighting. But who knows.
But, as you can see, I am near the end of what I can control in this situation.
I have done everything in my power to smooth the pathway (in my silly human ways).
Time (soon) to let Nature takes its course.
Before an actual face to face meeting, put a baby gate in the door so they can see and sniff each other. It helps.
I never bought one before, so I have no idea.
Sounds like a great idea though.
Where can I buy 1 of those?
but the new cat in the living room, with all his food and a litter box. Old cat will come in and freak for a minute, then will figure out the new one can't get at her. Then the old cat will watch the new cat, new cat will watch the old cat. In 3 days, open the door.
I've done it several times, and it always works.
Also, trim their nails blunt before leaving them alone together so if they do fight - they won't do so much damage. Do whatever you can to make both feel secure and take the time to play with them both (before feeding is ideal) to get out a lot of excess energy and reduce stress every day.
A friend of mine said rubbing a bit of butter or tuna oil on ones back will get the other to lick them, lol!
Try looking into "My Cat From Hell" for some tips to acclimate them to share the enviornment.
That way, they can have visual contact while still having a physical barrier between them.
I'll go 2-3 days with that arrangement, and see how it goes.
Opie was let out in the main area of the house today (Krishna was outside, with the curtain drawn,
so she couldn't see inside).
Opie timidly went out and looked around ,seemingly fearful of running into the other cat he can
surely smell all over the house.
I could guess at this pont that Opie will be the scared one while Krishna will be upset/angry.
Can't be certain ofcourse, but that's the way it looks like it could turn out.
Man, cats can have as much drama in their lives as people, that's for sure.
(ofcourse, much of the drama is probably mine).
Here are some related pictures, for anyone who might be interested ...
For anyone still not bored yet, here's my elegy to the wonderful Mukluk ...
As much as with some special people I have known, I consider myself lucky
to have known these sentient beings we call, "animals".
I have so many wonderful pets who call me theirs now. I feel like Auntie Mame.
Loved your blog.
I have other blogs too (a more rational "conspiracy-type" site, and a site on the threat of Dominionism).
set of whiskers,and such an adorable face. Please let us know how it goes.
i've had cats, kids and baby gates and the gates were no obstacle to a cat.
Mine simply launched right over them.
Just be prepared...
Both cats seem comfortable with the barrier for now.
I'm hoping they will take time to confront each other through it, and get more familiar,
while still feeling "safe".
Siglinda's Advice for Settling your New Goathouse Cat into your Home
Siglinda has adopted out hundreds of cats and kittens from the Refuge as well as taking care of many different cats and kittens in her home. She is an expert at introducing a new cat into a strange environment and her method has worked for hundreds of cats. She strongly urges you to try this approach when adopting a new cat. It reduces the stress on you, your family, and the cat. Cats that are not properly introduced can have behavioral problems so please take the time to give your cat the best start it can have.
Get a medium sized dog crate (we can often loan you one).
Set it up in an area in your home where the family and other pets congregate.
Cover the crate on 3 sides and on top with a blanket or towels.
Put in a litter pan with our litter (given to you when you leave with your new cat).
Put in food and water bowls (food similar to what the cat is eating at the Refuge will be given to you when you leave with your new cat).
Put in comfortable bedding. Add in something with your scent on it (worn t-shirt or used towel).
Upon coming home with your new cat, put them into the crate. This lets the cat acclimate to the scents, sounds and routines of your house in a protected and safe environment. Meanwhile, because some the bedding contains your scent, it lets the other animals in your home smell your scent on the new cat.
Feed them twice a day and give them fresh water every day. We strongly recommend giving glucosamine and Vitamin C to your cat to avoid painful urinary infections and blockages, especially for male cats. We do this for all the cats at the refuge.
After a week or so, open the cage door and let the cat come out at his/her own speed.
Remember patience, patience, patience is the key to bringing a new cat into your home. It can sometimes take several weeks for a new cat to adjust.
This approach lets your current pets get to know the new resident as well as let the new cat know the smells and sounds of your home. It's better than isolating them in a room for a week and then let them out for the first time with the other pets who could then have territorial issues.
The den is Opie's refuge so far.
Krishna knows he's in here, and walks by frequently.
Visual contact and scents are able to be freely exchanged (not much so far), but the gate adds
a sense of safety, perhaps, for both cats.
Since neither is a dominant personality (they both seem a little spooked by the other, which is OK with me, for now).
The Feliway is blasting full-out right nearby the den door. Hope it helps.
But I really hope time and exposure will be the key.
They both are the kind of low-key cats who like to lie around/hang out contentedly near people.
There's lots of opportunity and locations for a couple of mellow cats to do that around my house.
I'm hoping it will all come together after a time.
I'll keep everybody posted.
And thanks to you and everyone else for the great advice!
Even with the baby gate firmly in place, neither cat seems eager to face the other.
Opie's been here a week now, but maybe they'll need another few days or longer to work it out,
since the gate's been in place only for 1 day.
Meanwhile Opie mostly (not always) sleeps out of sight on the carpet under the futon couch in the den, and
goes up on the futon when someone is in the room.
Krishna just walks quickly by the den door/baby gate, but otherwise seems OK, and not "spooked".
She did run away when she got her 1st really good look at Opie yesterday, and Opie seems to look nervously out the
doorway to see if Krishna is there.
I feel pretty patient, since both kitties are so sweet.
I got time.
I just hope they are decent to each other, when they do finally get up the courage to go up to the gate
and meet face-to-face,
I've got three boy kitties and there is always lot of aggressive jostling to be Alpha Cat.
And you've done an amazing job for the prep.
The first meetings should be relatively quick - just a few minutes at a time so that they will gradually become accustomed to one another in each other's "space". Supervise, of course, and pay a lot of attention to the first cat so that she knows she is still loved and cherished.
Best of luck...and more than anything THANK YOU for adopting from a shelter!
I kept the gate up in the den doorway for weeks, fed the 2 cats simultaneously a few times, shared their scents, and the cats seemed to be able to handle closer and closer proximities to each other, so
now the gate is open (gate has been moved to the hall door to the bedroom where the original "home" cat, Krishna sleeps with us on the bed, while restricting the new cat, Opie, to the living room/den/kitchen/dining room area.).
When they 1st met face-to-face without a gate between them (a couple days ago), Krishna ran away,
but was later approached by Opie as she sat in a sheltered corner of the room, where he licked her forehead).
Things looked promising at that point, I thought. He really seemed to like her.
But now it seems, Opie's more dominant (or younger, curious and more playful?) male personality seems to be emerging.
She (Krishna) likes her space, and he is invading it, constantly ----Standing between her
and her food-dish (he's got his own in the den), making her back-off and walk away instead of eating,
and always wanting to be near her when she wants SPACE.
He is always wanting to be around her (probably playfully, it would seem), but he is making her
uncomfortable in her own house, as Krishna can't seem to go anywhere without Opie following,
or crowding her. I am willing to see this go on for a while, but will it ever change?
If not, I will be having 2nd-thoughts about keeping Mr. Opie.
As long as I am there to make sure she can move-around freely without Opie crowding-in, and keep him out of the bedroom/hall area, and letting only HER go outdoors, then she has places she can flee to where she can have peace.
I am not letting Opie outdoors or in the hall/bedrooms yet (places where Krishna goes freely).
These are turning into her refuges, sadly. She mainly just runs from him now.
She hisses at him when he gets too close, but he doesn't back off much.
But he seems excited and "buzzed" to be free to roam a great deal of the house at this point.
The problem is he is not leaving Krishna alone, and she doesn't seem able to "make her space" with him, at least yet.
When she is outside, he lounges relaxedly on the couch, but usually follows her when she comes in.
I am at the end of what I can do, I believe.
I'm willing to give it more time, but it hurts me to see the sweet, aging Krishna made
afraid and intimidated in her own home.
I'm starting to think about the possibility of taking Opie back to Good Friends Adoption Center,
and it makes me feel like a stupid, miserable failure.
Why can't we all just get along?
And this whole affair has made my sense of loss from last december's devastating (for me) passing
of my wonderful boy, the gentleman Ragdoll cat Mukluk, even harder to live with.
I am so sorry to everyone this is not a more uplifting post, but the story isn't over yet,
so maybe there is yet some small hope ...?
#1 - if this doesn't work out you are not a "failure". It sounds like you have gone through all the recommended steps. Sometimes it doesn't work. A rescue I worked with in the past and still follow, typically does something they call a trial adoption, particular when the adoptee is going to a house with other cats or dogs. They have learned from experience that these situations can't always be made to work.
That said, #2 - (you might be already doing this), just make sure you are helping Krishna's confidence by giving her as much affection and attention as you can. Be sure when they are in the same room together that you give both some attention so she knows he's "okay" in your book, but when he pesters her give her a chance to stick up for herself, then step in. This is how I handle my "older female - younger male" situation. She gets stressed sometimes but she has learned to stick up for herself and just smack him when he gets to be too much. Also, she has her bed on top of a chest of drawers in the bedroom, in the far corner from the door, so she has the tactical advantage. She has a few high spots she goes to where he can't really bug her.
Things seem to be improving (as I hold my breath).
The more Opie just stands nearby and ignores Krishna, the better they get along.
I'm pretty sure he just wants to play, to rub, smooch, etc.
But she wants her space, and little-by-little, he seems to be starting to get the concept that he needs to give it to her.
In time, they may or may not be affectionate with each other. Who knows.
But peaceful coexistence is the goal, and we seem to be inching closer to that, with still a ways to go.
Having a safely enclosed backyard with patio area helps (they are never outside alone at night).
When Opie is outside, he is fascinated and distracted by the smells, the plants, birds, bugs, etc, and he ignores Krishna, which is fine by her. She seems quite relaxed when he ignores her, while being just a few feet away.
That is a good sign, I think.
Opie is still not allowed into the hall/bedroom area (I use the baby-gate as barrier), but sleeps in the living room area, or den, whichever he wants. Krishna sleeps on our bed, and we want to keep that fully-established before any more changes.
I talk to him a lot, constantly explaining things in plain English.
Sounds nuts, but it seems to be working.
- who had been the "man of the house" for 8 years - quickly learned that he was no longer in charge. He could've easily fought back, being younger, larger and stronger, but I guess he just didn't have it in him. Poor Bob (R.I.P.)...
Eddie (short for Edna) actually wound up outliving him by several months - surprising, since she was 16 with a hyperactive thyroid, and he was only 11.
Last edited Sun Sep 6, 2015, 01:36 AM - Edit history (1)
I am so sad to say this, but it was necessary to take the cat I adopted from Best Friends
after 7 weeks of trying to make it work with my much-older and ultra-meek female Krishna.
Although both cats are sweet and affectionate, the age-energy--temperament difference
was not surmountable between them.
I get along great with both cats, but the 2 by themselves were not a comfortable pair, mainly due to Opie's irrepressable energy
and impish playfulness, but also due to a bit of increasing dominance on Opie's part, simply because Krishna
is so incredibly gentle, and became increasingly un-assertive and even fearful around Opie, perhaps giving him an
exaggerated sense of power, or something.
In any case, I became very defensive of Krishna.
But whatever, it's not the "fault" of either cat---Just not a good combo, as, I am told, sometimes happens.
But I have tried so hard, and it has turned out to be an emotional roller-coaster for me,
since I have developed so much feeling for Opie.
I asked around my friends, but no one was up for an adoption right now.
I made a good friend, and now we have to part forever. Unavoidable.
And yes, my heart is broken.
Can you help?
At this time, he is still there in Best Friends Adoption Center
in Mission Hills, California.
If you or anyone you know lives in the Los Angeles area and might want to adopt Opie,
He's a great cat--I can totally vouch for that.
Plus, I have well over $100 worth of stuff I bought for Opie (pet water bar, food dishes, various toys, scratch post,
pet bed, etc) that are either as yet unused, or semi-new condition, and I would take them myself
right over to wherever Opie might call his new home----Got that? Free delivery!
At the very least, send out your good-vibes to a sweet, wayward kitty soul named Opie.
He deserves a happy ending.
Here's the complete story on my Blog: