Post # 1
I know there are probably a few threads out there about this, so I apologize for being repetitive.
Yesterday, someone posted a message on our online bulletin board at work about a cat that needs a home. It’s owners had left him behind when they moved, likely for financial reasons. He’s 5 years old, declawed (boo), neutered, likes being picked up, likes belly rubs, and gets along with dogs (cats are unknown). My husband and I are going to visit him tonight. We’re going to give him to my mom if everything works out, but she can’t get him until this weekend. The problem is, we already have a cat at home. The only thing that makes me nervous is the fact that I don’t know this new cat’s medical history, so I’m not sure if he’s FeLV negative or if he’s had his vaccinations. My cat is up-to-date on her vaccinations, but she hasn’t had the FeLV vaccination (for a number of reasons). The new cat looks very healthy, but I’m afraid of exposing my cat to unknown health concerns.
Our plan is to keep the new cat enclosed in our spare room for a few days so we can slowly introduce him to our cat. We’re also going to take him to the vet ASAP, but I’m not sure how long it will take for the bloodwork and tests to come back. I would love to let them play (under supervision of course) to see how they interact. My cat stays with my mom when we go out of town, so it’s important the cats at least tolerate each other. My question is, what do you think is the best way to go about introducing the new cat without putting my cat’s health at risk?
Post # 3
First, I think it is great you are giving this guy a home. I would keep them 100% separate until he has had an OK from the vet. He could have picked up a lot of stuff while he was on his own. Once the vet OKs it, your introduction plan sounds good. I hope everything works out OK!
Post # 4
@Georgia Bee: Thanks. This cat looks exactly like my sister’s cat, so maybe it was meant to be. The owners left the cat behind in their apartment, so thankfully they didn’t just set him free, especially since he’s been declawed. The left behind food and a litter box as well.
Post # 5
The FeLV/AIDS test results should be immediate (well, within 5 minutes) if they do a snap test. And DO NOT introduce cats before you have those results. Or get your cat’s FeLV vaccine immediately and then wait a couple days to make sure the vaccine is in it’s system before introducing them.
I worked at an animal shelter and we used snap tests, they are very accurate and give quick results. However, there is an FIV vaccine that will make the cat show POSITIVE for FIV even if they don’t actually have the disease, which since you don’t have the cat’s medical history you won’t be able to know the difference. This may also be the case with FIP, but I’m not 100% sure.
Post # 6
Georgia Bee hit the nail on the head…keep them separate until the vet gives the all-clear. If the vet says the new cat is healthy, start by taking some bedding from each cat, (a towel or a blanket they’ve laid on), and switch rooms. This, and the fact that they will probably sniff and “talk” through the door will help them get used to each other. I would wait maybe a day after you’ve switched bedding, then open the door and let them have supervised introductions.
I’ve heard the rubbing a tiny bit of butter on the head of each cat can encourage mutual grooming, but I’ve never tried it myself. lol
Post # 7
Agreed–don’t introduce the cats until you have your FIV results!
When we got our second cat, we kept her in the bathroom (the only room in our apartment with a door) with a blanker, food, water, and a litter box for the first day. Darling Husband or I were always with her so she wouldn’t be lonely. Our other cat, who is a neutered male (female cat is spayed), was very territorial at first. After day one, I took her into the living room with me and made damn sure she was within my sight at all times. I let her adjust to that room, let the first cat go near her and sniff a little, but kept him from getting too close if he had the Aggressive Face on (you’ll know it when you see it–the cat’s face wrinkles way up and it is terrifying). Make sure you’re paying attention to the first cat too, though–this is where my then-fiance, now-husband was super-helpful because Cat #1 has always been a daddy’s boy.
Day three was when I focused on really introducing the cats because they were beginning to show interest in each other. Our boycat freaked the hell out at first, but he got over it. It helps that she’s timid and submissive, so he was allowed to still be the alpha cat. They were wary of each other at first, but after the third day it was time to just let go and keep a close eye on them. For the first two days, however, our priority was keeping the new cat calm and letting her adjust to her surroundings.
Your plan sounds good, but be sure to really keep an eye on them at first. There will likely be some aggression as the original cat asserts his/her dominance over the newcomer, but I noticed that once I just let them roam freely around each other, they were good at deciding whether to play or give each other space. GL!
Post # 8
Thanks for all of your advice so far. I expect my cat to be a little territorial at first, so I won’t let either of them out of my sight if they’re together. My cat (spayed female) is also a total princess drama queen, and whenever she and my sister’s cat (neutered male) play, she makes this terrible noise like he’s killing her. Usually, my sister’s cat isn’t even touching her, but she likes that we run to save her from the irritating boy.
Post # 9
Like the PP’s we also kept our cat in a closed room until her health check came back fine (she had a UTI when we got her from the shelter). She and our male cat would sit on opposite sides of the door, listen to each with utmost curiosity, try to smell each other. Then we started cracking open the door just a little and let them see each other. After a few days they started playing footsie through the crack. First time they were fully exposed to each other, there was still some posturing and hissing. This is to be expected. We would increase the time they spend together everyday, and never left them alone unsupervised until we knew there would be no kitty violence. We put their food bowls next to each other as feeding together is supposed to increase their bonding. We kept two seperate litter boxes in both rooms, as they got most territorial about that. It took them over a year to fully accept each other, but these were also cats that had never lived with other animals before. The process will much for easier if they’re already social cats. Good luck and enjoy the new addition to your family!
Post # 10
Once you go to the vet you should be able to find some resources on introducing cats. When we introduced our 2nd cat the vet gave us this whole folder with pamphlets and flyers of suggestions.