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Mon Dec 22, 2014, 08:10 PM

Need a refresher course on introducing a new cat to the house

I just had a call - and I will be adopting a new kitty!

Lily is not really new to us. She was adopted by the family that takes care of the farm for us with the idea she'd be a barn cat. Lily is NOT barn cat material. She is sweet, fluffy and not a hunter at all. But she did OK at the barn for a couple of years, so long as she had food, a bed, a litter box in the tack room, and lots of cuddles.

A few months ago she was attacked by some dogs, not hurt seriously, mostly just slobbered on with a few nicks that bled enough to scare the family. They took her to the vet to be checked over and since then she's been living in their house. Meanwhile a feral kitten showed up and claimed the barn as territory. It's much more fitted to being a barn kitty and the biggest problem will be to catch it to get its vaccinations.

The living situation in the family's home is not ideal for a cat. They have two Labradors and a Blue Heeler. The Labs are cool with the cat once they understood she was part of the family, but the Blue Heeler has not adjusted and has gotten more and more agressive and attacks Lily any time she can.

So the family called tonight and asked if we could take Lily. We'd offered before, once when it was obvious Lily was not barn cat material and again when she was attacked. So I've just told them we can take her after Christmas. We'll be gone on Christmas Day so I thought it best to wait until then to bring her over.

The problem is my cat, Tashi. He and Lily had stand offs and fights back when Lily first moved into the barn. They reached some sort of accommodation - my cat stopped going to the barn and Lily would visit the exterior of our house but wouldn't come onto the porch. Tashi used to be really aggressive, but he's almost 14 years old and has mellowed.

Tashi has not had to share our house with another cat since our old cat Edmund was put to sleep in 2009. When Tashi was a 4 ounce kitten he terrorized 20 pound Edmund and the two cats never got along. Eventually they learned to tolerate each other - as in stay in the same room without one of them snarling or attacking - but they never were friends.

I need some advice in how to introduce Lily into our house without upsetting Tashi too much. It's been so long since I've put two cats together, I don't even remember what I did!

Pictures will posted once Lily gets here.

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Reply Need a refresher course on introducing a new cat to the house (Original post)
csziggy Dec 2014 OP
shenmue Dec 2014 #1
csziggy Dec 2014 #2
Curmudgeoness Dec 2014 #3
csziggy Dec 2014 #4
ginnyinWI Dec 2014 #6
ginnyinWI Dec 2014 #5
csziggy Dec 2014 #7
irisblue Dec 2014 #8
csziggy Dec 2014 #9
irisblue Dec 2014 #10
csziggy Dec 2014 #11

Response to csziggy (Original post)

Mon Dec 22, 2014, 08:39 PM

1. Yay for Lily!

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Response to shenmue (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 22, 2014, 08:46 PM

2. I'm looking forward to having her here

She is such a cuddly, fluffy kitty and ahs a sweet disposition.

What is hilarious is when the other family adopted her they were told she was a Maine coon cat. Lily is a long haired tabby with white markings, very much like pictures you see of Maine coons - but she weighs maybe ten pounds and has tiny little feet. Not Maine coon cat traits since they are known for being large with big feet.

I hope I can get Tashi to be nice to her - but he is very unpredictable. At least the two cats kind of know each other but they've never had to share space. The other part is the cat door - Tashi is used to it but Lily never offered to come in through it even if she found it. I think it will be safe to leave it alone. Even if Lily goes out through it, she knows the farm and the area around the house.

I really can't keep Tashi locked up - he gets revenge by attacking me if I won't let him go out (or feed him fast enough or give him fresh water if he thinks his is stale or let him have my chair when he thinks it's his turn...). But as I said, Tashi has mellowed a lot and is not as aggressive as he used to be.

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Response to csziggy (Original post)

Mon Dec 22, 2014, 09:20 PM

3. I just did this over the past week.

A cat showed up that needed a home and just could not be an outdoor cat, so I had to take it in. I started with putting the new cat in a spare room with a door and having the door closed. Both cats were interested in what was on the other side. The new cat was so upset whenever it was alone, that I gave up sooner than I should have. But the curiosity was at work and they were keeping an eye on each other. The first day, there was hissing but no fight. It is day six and they are sleeping in the same room all the time, but still keeping their distance.

I was lucky that it took such a short time for peace. It can sometimes take as long as a month.

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Response to Curmudgeoness (Reply #3)

Mon Dec 22, 2014, 10:23 PM

4. I think that is what I'm going to have to do

Put Lily in the bedroom with the attached bath until I see how the two cats get along. The main problem is I don't spend much time in that room so Lily will be alone much of the time. Tashi spends most of his time in the library with me while I'm on the computer or upstairs with my husband when he's home.

Lily did come in the house once before. She was at the front door and I let her in. She strolled in, checked out the food dish, looked around and strolled straight back out. Tashi just watched her - I think it was about the time they had reached an agreement about the barn territory. I hope it is a good indication that they can get along!

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Response to Curmudgeoness (Reply #3)

Mon Dec 22, 2014, 11:15 PM

6. that's good to hear!

I was following the story of your new cat on your other thread.

Hissing and even growling is just cat politics, and nothing to worry about. Once each one knows where they stand things should be fine. Fighting is the only time you really need to interfere.

Another thing I should have suggested to the OP but could help your two as well: take a towel and rub one cat with it, then rub the other one with it. Then back to the first one. It will get them used to each others scent.

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Response to csziggy (Original post)

Mon Dec 22, 2014, 11:10 PM

5. Good luck!

And yes we will be waiting for pictures!

If they will stay in the same room together, try feeding at the same time with dishes placed apart but within sight of each other, and also let them share playtime: if you have a feather on a string or something, direct their attention to it and not each other, and they will get the idea, perhaps, that they are alike and have nothing to fear from each other. I know that your old boy may not actually "play" anymore, but might follow it with his eyes and/or bat with front paws.

Keep them apart when you can't watch them until you are sure they are good together. I like the idea of a door open just a crack, and blocked, so they can spy on each other but not get at one another, except maybe to play pawsies.

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Response to ginnyinWI (Reply #5)

Mon Dec 22, 2014, 11:19 PM

7. Great suggestions! And thanks for the reminder about the toy

At the barn we have a lot of old lunge whips - we've used some in the past to make what we call "confuse a cat sticks." They are about 4-5 feet long, flexible and we tie strings to the end and a sock stuffed with another sock and some catnip on the end. Cats usually love to play with them and they are great to wear kittens out before bedtime.

Tashi would never play with our old confuse a cat stick - first time we brought it out, he jumped on the stuffed sock, traced the string up to the whip and down the whip to my hand. Then he ran over and attacked my hand! We retired the confuse a cat stick after that, but I can make a new one. I doubt Tashi will play with it any better than he did when he was young, LOL, but maybe he would enjoy watching Lily play with it.

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Response to csziggy (Original post)

Thu Dec 25, 2014, 02:11 PM

8. babygates with finer mesh, stacked one on top of other.

We did this when we blended 2 cat families a pain to disassemble for litter and food time, but they got clear looks at each other and the dogs. They adjusted just fine. There were still paqwslappies from time to time, and the worlds most placid dog did bark ONCE in 10 years at a brat cat, but it worked just fine.

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Response to irisblue (Reply #8)

Fri Dec 26, 2014, 12:13 AM

9. I'll see how they get along

The plan at this point is to bring Lily home, set her up in the master bedroom with her litter box and food in the attached bath. Let the two cats smell each other under the door.

If there are no fireworks I will put the two together to see how they react. If they are sensible, I'll just let them work the details out - if they fight, we'll have to back and and see what we can do.

We don't have any doorways we can leave babygates in - all have to be accessible. I think/hope that Lily and Tashi will remember each other and the accommodation they had previously about territory. But Lily will be moving into Tashi's house so that may not work.

The one time Lily came over to the house and I let her come in, she strolled through, checked out the kitchen and Tashi's dishes, tried one crunchy, then left. Tashi watched her do everything and did not react, just stared. I think that was when Lily had claimed her barn territory and wanted to show Tashi that she was boss.

When we do let them together, I think it will be in the bedroom. There are not the breakables in there and it really is the only room where we can safely limit their movement - the problem with an open plan house!

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Response to csziggy (Reply #9)

Fri Dec 26, 2014, 11:21 AM

10. squirt bottle helps too. Stops the posturing too

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Response to irisblue (Reply #10)

Fri Dec 26, 2014, 11:44 AM

11. Oh yes - I have to dig out the one I used when Tashi was little

To teach him to not climb on things and other stuff. By the time he got interested in computer cords all I had to do was pick up the squirt bottle and show it to him or pretend to spray him with the bottle empty. The creak of the spring got him to stop and leave things alone!

Thanks for the reminder!

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