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Today’s post is definitely for my cat loving friends. I wanted to write an update about our little furry kids and even ask for some advice concerning an issue. So here it goes and it’s a long one:
Maya has been such a fun cat to have around. Since she is so young (it was actually just her estimated 1st birthday), she’s been playing with the kids and doing things that make us laugh. She’s not the snuggler I had craved though. She doesn’t want to be held, sit or sleep with me but… she wants to follow me wherever I go and is never sitting far away from me. I have hope that she’ll still learn to appreciate snuggling with humans. As of now when I pet her, she only wants to wrestle my hand.
I got some questions about how the introduction to the other cats has been going. So I wanted to start off at the beginning for those of you who are new around here. For my old time readers you can just skip the italic part of this post:
It all started with our first cat Heidi (who just passed away ac couple of weeks ago) and how we’ve learned to introduce other cats to the household. It is such a tricky process and most of the time doesn’t go smoothly. For the first time with Heidi and Lilly (the calico) it went totally smoothly though. My husband brought Lilly home when she was a teeny tiny baby and Heidi made it her job to take care of her immediately. This is really not how things usually go down though. Cats don’t necessarily just want to take care of a baby. Heidi however did just that and even went as far as to pretend nurse her. It was the cutest thing to watch.
When we moved into our house, my husband again brought another cat home. One year old Lucy, the white cat. Things didn’t go as smoothly as they did with Lilly, even though we kept them separated for a short amount of time. Lucy wanted to be the boss and took over everything, even Heidi as her best friend. Lilly was kind of the third wheel after that which was a little sad but they all still got along well and even snuggled together once in a while.
Then I made the impulse decision of adopting 8 year Harry, the Maine Coon, during a PetSmart shopping trip. He really threw off the balance in our all female household and things got ugly here and there with Lucy and him. All 6 pounds of her still wanted to remain head of the household even if it meant beating up a much larger male Maine Coon cat now and then. She was relentless in stalking him and making surprise attacks. We had kept him separate for awhile as well and at night he slept in a guest bedroom. On top of it he was also a territorial male and with all his health issues started to pee occasionally on things, especially when other male humans visited. He was eventually put on Prozac and when his health was ok, it worked well.
Then after Harry passed away we introduced Monkey to the mix because I decided to befriend a stray porch cat. She was kept separate in the bathroom at night during cold winter mights and put outside again during the day. But eventually she started liking the rest of the house too and she naturally fit in with the girls. I don’t think they ever fought. It was an easy gradual introduction and we had 4 happy female ladies at 3, 16, 17 and 20 years old.
Why am I rambling like this about the past? Well this recent introduction has been anything but smooth but I just wanted to make sure everyone understood that I’m not new to introducing cats to a cat-household. Having a 1 year, an 18 year and 19 year old cat now is a huge age gap and the fact that Maya is so nosey and all over the place doesn’t sit well with my old ladies.
We kept Maya upstairs for almost 4 weeks even though she got out several times since she was so excited to explore. I installed a screen door at the top of the stairs which is closed at night or when I go somewhere too so they can’t hurt each other.
She’s also been on the fence about the other cats and not too friendly. The reason we kept her separated for so long is not only because cats need a slow introduction but because something is still going on with her health and we needed to rule out a few things first. She had a bad cold, badly inflamed gums, her breath is kicking and also has really yucky mothball smelly poop which I will get to in a little.
So we tested her for feline AIDS and feline leukemia again which thankfully was negative. Had her still tested for parasites again which was negative, put her on an age appropriate diet, gave her vitamins and antibiotics for whatever cold or else she was fighting.
After all this time she can breath better but her gums are still inflamed, her stool still stinks and the vet thinks there is still something going on with her. Could be a virus yet which of course isn’t good for the other cats either. He was thinking of the calicivirus, thankfully my other cats are vaccinated against that which makes me feel better.
But we have started letting her out of the bedroom which has been really upsetting Lucy. All she does is sitting on the couch or by the fireplace as a shivering puddle of anxiety with an annoyed face just like you can see in the below photos:
As soon as “the baby” (how I call her) comes close she spits, growls and hisses. She’s afraid to walk anywhere because the little one wants to chase her which makes me feel awful.
Lilly on the other hand has been doing better and better with Maya every day. They are able to play with the laser together and only have the occasional hiss and swat. Lilly just has the coolest “I just don’t care anymore” attitude towards her now.
The laser has been my number one tip in their introduction. It’s helped divert their attention from possible aggression to play.
I’ve mentioned Feliway on my blog already and wrote a post about it HERE which helped before but in this case doesn’t appear to have helped with her. If Lucy doesn’t get better we might try Prozac with her too.
Besides asking the vet, I’ve googled high and low and about her mothball smelling stool and it appears to be true thing that nobody has a concrete answer for. Smelly stool can be the cause of numerous things including poor diet (which she had her entire short life), parasites, bowl inflammation, virus… So there is definitely something still going on with her health. SO MY BIG QUESTION IS: does anyone have experience with this and things I could still try?
We are still going to try antibiotics and a dewormer even though her test showed no signs of parasites. I feel so bad for her and want her to finally have good health.
Since she grew up in one room with about 25 other cats she’s been a pleasure to watch as she discovers all the new to her things in our house. New toys, rooms, kids, the bed, snow falling outside the window, the cat tree, our catio and food. She eats like a pig and I wonder if she was always hungry as a tiny baby. She wants to run and finish every bowl no matter how much she ate before.
I’ve been putting her inside the catio here and there and she was terrified of it for a pretty long time. The wind and all the outdoor sounds scared her. But she has finally gotten over that fear and really enjoys it now with the spring weather. Bugs are once again no longer safe in our house. She’s picked up the hunt again where our old ladies have left off.
I know she looks like she’s in jail but she really does love it. The problem is me standing on the other side of the enclosure and she wants to be where I am.
You are a champ if you’ve made it all the way to the end especially if you aren’t a fan of cats. LOL the cat haters probably unfollowed me already anyways, so I don’t have to worry about that.
I don’t have to tell you guys that this has been a very time consuming process for me. All I’ve been doing is trying to help her get better and fit in and it’s been hard. I’ve been so mad at my husband for bringing home such a young cat when all I asked him to do is “NOT” bring home a cat that was younger than three years old. It’s easy for him to just get what he wants and then go to work and let me deal with the rest. I’ve cursed him many times during the past couple of weeks.
And of course I’ve gotten really attached to her already. I mean despite all her issues, isn’t she cute? And guess what? I’ve been thinking about adding some more tunnels to the cage for her. I had also been considering getting health insurance for her but it’s probably not going to happen with all the issues she’s had already. The pre-existing list would be too long.
My tips for introducing a cat to a cat-household:
– make sure the cat is healthy even if the shelter or breeder tells you that it is
– adopt cats similar in age (I wish my husband would have listened to this one)
– take things slowly and keep the cats separate for a week to several weeks
– do room swaps to let their scents mix and get them used to each others scent
– let them interact separated by a crate or screen door
– feed them next to each other with a closed door or screen door between them and later without door
– have one more litterbox than amount of cats you have (or even more)
– have several feeding stations
– at first sign of aggression separate them again without yelling
– at sign of aggression divert their attention with a toy
– use Feliway and catnip
– if everything else fails, talk to your doctor about Prosac or other drugs for a short amount of time
If you want to pin the below photo to Pinterest, then click HERE for the generated image. I’m still having issues with Pinterest. Sorry about that.
And sometimes no matter how hard you try, it just won’t work. Cats are solitary hunters, they don’t live and hunt in packs like dogs. They are territorial and often don’t like sharing their territory with a competitor. So always make sure that a shelter or rescue group can tell you something about the cat’s personality before adopting and trying to introduce a new cat to your existing cats.
I always wonder how stressful it is for a lot of cats to live in a confined space (like our Maya at the rescue group) with a large amount of cats. It goes against their nature
Do you have any experience to add to this that could help?