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.
Usually cats sit around at some distance from each other for a while before they get up to touch noses.
If your cats can see each each other but not actually make contact, that might be a way to introduce them.
Making sure the new guy has his own quarters is good for him, he can retreat there if and when he is stressed out down the road..
so maybe just visual access for a bit.
they will make enough sounds to let you know how the meetings are going.
It has never been the ideal that I would have hoped, but it is also never as bad as I feared. I would say that 4 days is long enough to keep them separated. What I do is leave the "safe haven" of the new cat's room as it is, but just leave the door open. The new cat can investigate the rest of the house in its own time, or your cat can check out the new cat in it's room. The new cat can still use the room as a safe place to retreat if necessary.
My current cats have been together since December, and they are still not friends. There is still a lot of hissing if they get close to each other, but there has never been more than noise. I have come to the conclusion that they will never be friends, but they are usually fine with just ignoring each other. Then again, both of my cats are rather dominant. Hopefully, your kitties do better, but it isn't too bad if they are never close.
That would be my next step. Block it so that they can see through but not get through the doorway. See how that goes.
Then you can try to open it and see what happens. Usually if there is a conflict, each party will respect territorial boundaries until things improve.
Even if something does go "wrong", all is not lost. They can forgive and forget. Every day is a new day for a cat. It just might take some more time.
When you can get them in the same room, playing with both at the same time is good, like with a wand toy. Each can be focused on the play and sneak a look at the other at the same time. Hard to be afraid of a playing cat.
Hissing and even growling is just cat politics as usual. Just ignore it. It will go away eventually. You will know you are "there" when they don't hiss or growl but just sniff each other.
If the older one is annoyed by the younger you may still get a hiss or growl that says, "back off and leave me alone!" even after several months or years. Not to worry as long as no fur is flying.
Take something that has been in Opie's room that contains his smell (a towel on his bed usually works well) and put it on Krishna's side of the house. Take something of Krishna's and put it in by Opie. After they've had a decent opportunity to smell the other's scent, you can actually swap them for a little bit. That way they'll have a chance to investigate where the other lives and get completely familiar with the other's scent. If that goes well (no hissing at the other scent and no peeing to mark territory), you can try slowly introducing them face-to-face. I would recommend a supervised introduction just in case something goes wrong.
Best of luck.
I think probably its been near 26 home cat to newly arrived cat introductions here at my home. All but 2 were successful. After I had the newly arrived cat worked up for any of the usual parasites and obvious infections we opened the closed isolation room. Had a homemade door frame with chicken wire placed within the existing door frame. Here the face to face introductions began. At first with my supervision with a water spray bottle in hand. Day or two later I could safely walk away and let the home cats satisfy their curiosity about the new kid in the iso room. The wire screen door frame would be kept in place anywhere from 5 days to 2-3 weeks. Odd thing is that when the wire frame was removed the home cats would mostly ignore the new kid and would be more intent on investigating in great detail the contents of the iso room. Meanwhile he new kid would be mostly free to explore far and wide their new home.
Photo of my homemade door frame here: <img src="">
Last edited Tue Jul 14, 2015, 02:21 AM - Edit history (1)
I have a 3-foot tall baby gate separating the den (open door) from the living room.
One problem is, both cats seem pretty shy, and seem fearful of the other one.
But the opportunity is there for them to meet face-to-face with the gate in-between.
More info on this same thread posted in another forum, here:
when she was snoozing on the bed and let the invader cat out to explore the rest of the place, rubbing his scent on things, exploring the other litter box so he knew where it was, checking out the furniture for sleeping suitability. When I'd hear the resident cat scratching at the door, the invader cat would be back in his own area. The resident cat would then start sniffing all the things he'd rubbed against. In that way, they'd start getting used to the idea that it was shared territory.
It still took me a broom, a blanket, and a glass of water at the first F2F introduction of the last two adults I had to introduce. After that, they de escalated, just hissing and swiping and generally being cats until I caught them sleeping together when I came home from work one day. Fakers.
Some adults bond pretty quickly. It took my last two some time but if those two can bond, any cats can. Both had been solitary cats in their first homes.
When she and my brother brought Maggie home Morgan was none to happy for a few days. I think they just took it slow and had Maggie in her own space for a few days before moving slowly to introduce them to each other. They were never actively hostile towards each other, most times that I saw they preferred to do their own thing and give the other cat her space. But I believe when Morgan died Maggie was just as affected as the rest of us were, even though she probably wouldn't admit that if she could talk.
About five months after Morgan died my sister and brother in law brought Marvel home. Marvel was a 12 week old boy kitten at the time - Maggie was 13 years old then. They again had Marvel in his own space before introducing them to each other. Marvel was thrilled to have a big sister cat. Maggie was not so thrilled though. Marvel wanted to play all the time and didn't get it that sometimes older cats just like to lay around, and sometimes would get a little rough with her. He would chase her around He eventually cooled it and he isn't so rough with her now. A lot of times it's Maggie now who starts the play sessions. Marvel loves his big sister. Maggie gets a bit put off by the young cat exuberance sometimes but loves having a second cat around again.
Similar story: he wanted to play all the time and she wasn't so sure, and for the first few months she mostly avoided him, except for a few rounds of pawsies. Now, after six months they regularly chase and play and even do a little actual tumbling together. Needless to say, good exercise for the older one, and the younger one really enjoys the companionship. They are not sleeping on top of each other yet, but that's maybe the next step, once the weather cools down.
Maggie's the one that usually starts it too.
And they're often pretty close to each other when it comes to taking naps.
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.
And that hurts.
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 our 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 ...?
I will try to be patient, but if things don't get better ... ?
Last edited Sun Sep 6, 2015, 01:35 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.
Maybe that gave him an exaggerated sense of power, or something.
It made me feel 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: