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Unread 07-19-2009   #1 (permalink)
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Default Thinking about adding a third cat... but want to do it right

Good evening,

I adopted my 2 girls Sadie and Clarice about 4 years ago from the local animal shelter. Lately I've been thinking about adding a third. Both Sadie and Clarice are neutered females; Sadie is 6 years old and Clarice is 5. They get along with one another fine. While not lovey-dovey with one another, they tolerate one another's presence, and occasionally they will groom one another. They don't sleep with one another though. There are occasional bouts of play-fighting but are few and far between. It's a rather sedate environment.

I'm considering adding a third cat, but don't want to "upset the apple cart" with respect to the feline dynamic in the household.

The folks at the shelter are recommending that I adopt an adult neutered male; they're afraid that the odds are a third female in the mix might create problems. They are recommending against a kitten.

There aren't many adult males at the shelter; the vast majority of adults are female.

My house is unfortunately not set up well for being able to compartmentalize the new addition. It's an open design. I have two cat carriers that I can use for introductions, but I'm not sure how best to approach this. Leave new cat in carrier and allow resident cats to approach? I'm thinking that might be too much for the new cat though, given the traumatic nature of carrier travel (my 2 freak out whenever they have to go into the carrier and into the car).

No family/children issues, as I live alone. It's just me and the cats.

Where do I start?

My gals:

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Unread 07-20-2009   #2 (permalink)
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Your gals are beautiful! Another member here has 2 girls and a boy, I think that is working out pretty well now. Of course, you may expect some hissing in the beginning, just hang in there!

I think you should give the new cat his own room in the beginning. I understand you might now have a room, so maybe you should set up a small fenced in area for him, with baby gates? Just make sure that the gate doesn't have too wide areas between them, so the cats don't get in or out.

I have a girl and I want a girl and a boy extra in the future. That will definitely be a challenge. But I know I want that and I will make it happen
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Unread 07-20-2009   #3 (permalink)
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awww one of your gals looks like my cat.. they are both very adorable.

Here is some really good read about how to introduce a new cat to an established cat:

Cats: MALE AND FEMALE CATS, introducing a new cat, female cats

hope it helps
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Unread 07-20-2009   #4 (permalink)
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Hi & welcome!

Your girls are beautiful, concats!

Go ahead. Maybe some "fireworks" at the beginning but in 2 weeks or so all will return to normal again...
Good luck,
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Unread 07-20-2009   #5 (permalink)
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Oh and is that cow milk in the cup? Cats shouldn't be drinking cow milk, it may upset their stomachs and also create gas. Water is the best for their kidneys
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Unread 07-20-2009   #6 (permalink)
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Welcome to you, Sadie and Clarice !! They are both adorable !!

My third cat is a male (Earl Blue) -- that doesn't help -- we still had to go through the 'fireworks' process ! Lady hated him in the first place, but Princess didn't seem to care at all !! So, I would say it will depend on the personality of each kitty. But don't worry ! As long as it's properly handled, the fireworks will turn into loving blasts ...
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Unread 07-20-2009   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KatrineA View Post
Oh and is that cow milk in the cup? Cats shouldn't be drinking cow milk, it may upset their stomachs and also create gas. Water is the best for their kidneys
Nope, just a white bowl. My kitties only get water (and the very occasional opportunity to lick the ice cream bowl clean).
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PolkSDA View Post
Nope, just a white bowl. My kitties only get water (and the very occasional opportunity to lick the ice cream bowl clean).
Haha, good I give my kitty some ice cream sometimes too.
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Unread 08-06-2009   #9 (permalink)
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UPDATE

[I should note that when I say "Humane Society", (Champaign County Humane Society On-Line) it is NOT affiliated with the national organization in any way; it's strictly a local shelter.]

I spent some time reconfiguring things at home. I have a small 8'x10' room that, with some modifications, I can actually use to isolate the new kitty. I took the interior door off and replaced it with an inexpensive vinyl screen door courtesy of Home Despot. This way kitties can see/sniff one another, and more realistically it makes it easier for me being able to see who may be crouching waiting to scoot in or out before I open the door.

After "auditioning" cats at the Humane Society for about 1.5 weeks, and deciding that would adopt another pair rather than just one, I adopted two kitties:

Tweetie (whose name shall most likely be changed), a 5-year-old male orange tabby, a little bundle of health problems; he's had a rough go of it. More on him later.

Lilly, a 2-year-old female, domestic longhair, solid black. Absolutely GORGEOUS cat. Looks like a longer, sleeker version of my Sadie above.

I had the two together in an isolation room at the Humane Society for about 15 minutes, and they seemed to tolerate one another ok. A little bit of hissing from Lilly, and just dopey I WUV U from Tweetie. No major conflagration though.

However, all was not what it appeared to be...

Upon getting them home, while Tweetie was relaxing and fitting in fine, Lilly revealed her true colors: she is a high-strung, hyperaggressive little beotch.

Over the next 3 days she proceeded to repeatedly and continuously beat the crap out of little Tweetie. And I don't mean playfighting. He might be snoozing on the other side of the room, and she would march up to him, growl loudly and start smacking him until he scurried away and hid. Then, about 15 minutes later, once he settled in at his new location, lather-rinse-repeat. She also wouldn't let him use either litter box in peace. She would stalk and harass him whenever he tried to go.

Over the 3 days I saw no signs of it lessening, and Tweetie was becoming more and more skittish, so I talked with the folks at the Humane Society, and back she went.

I don't think she's a bad cat, just a bad fit. I believe she would do best in a home where she is the sole cat; no competition.

So as of yesterday, Tweetie is back to being solo for a bit (my Vet says I should not allow the cats to meet or even trade areas until they have a chance to evaluate the new cat(s), and they cannot get me in until the 18th), although I have my eye on another big dumb guy at the Humane Society. Now that I've spent more time with multiple cats there, I'm clearly seeing the trend that neutered males do seem to be more laid back and not as concerned with pecking order. Easier to integrate.

Anyway, back to Tweetie. He is front declawed (my two ladies both have their claws intact). He came into the Humane Society in June with a bunch of health issues: (1) hookworm, (2) ear infection, (3) flea infestation, (4) bad teeth. Credit to the Humane Society though, as they have addressed each of the issues with treatment, and over the course of the last few weeks I've seen him get healthier and more active.

What drew me to him? While a bit mangy and unkempt looking, he is, for lack of a better term, a "puppy cat". You know how little puppies, when they get excited, start shaking and want to lick all over your face? That's Tweetie to a T. While not a lap cat per se (he will tolerate being picked up and held for brief periods), if you get down at his eye level, he's just a big drooling purr monster. He's an emotional drooler; whenever he's happy he drools. His purr is loud and to the point that he actually shakes. He will head-butt and then immediately start licking my face. He'll lie down and his paws will start kneading a mile a minute.

He gets so excited to see me that he'll jump around purring, licking, and nuzziling for about 2 minutes, run over to his food bowl and eat a few kibbles, run back for more attention, then back to the food again, almost in an ecstatic orgy of affection and food, back and forth, for 10-20 minutes.

My kitties of course, want NOTHING to do with him at the screen door. Serious hissing, growling, and spitting. It's one way though. He doesn't hiss or growl back. Also, I've noticed that over the course of the first few days, the reaction of my tortie appears to be lessening somewhat; she'll actually sniff a bit at the screen without hissing. Little princess Sadie, on the other hand, is a growling machine.

My plan is, once my vet gives Tweetie a clean bill of health, to start allowing them to trade areas alternatingly while still not being able to see one another face-to-face, thus them getting used to one another's smells. Then after another week or so, try the integration. If Sadie does remain nasty, there's plenty of room for the cats to find their own space (as opposed to the close confinement that Tweetie and Lilly were in).

As far as second cat, I spent some more time with the adult males at the Humane Society. Most of the cats there are either females or kittens; there's only a handful of adult males. One is a big orange and white male named Colin; I was originally considering him when I decided on Lilly. Mistake - I should have stuck with my first impression.

However there's a relatively new guy, a big (and I mean BIG) grey and white shorthair naimed Chubbs (appropriately named). 5 years old, front declawed. He has a very similar personality to Tweetie - he likes to nuzzle and lick a lot. He's almost 18 pounds, currently on a weight-restricted diet. He is overweight, but not a pudgeball. He's got a big frame, a long cat. He loves to lie on his back with all 4 paws in the air and have his tummy scratched and petted. VERY laid back.

I think he would be a good match.

One of the Humane Society vets is taking another look at him today; his health records don't indicate anything outside of the weight reduction diet, but I want to make sure.

Question: I free-feed, dry food only. My tortie, Clarice, could also use to shed a few pounds. Is there any harm in using a light food for all 4 cats? Also, after doing more research, I've decided to move away from grocery store food and get a more healthy/natural food (Taste of the Wild, Innova EVO, etc.). Of course I won't actually change anything before consulting my vet. Will switching to a more "natural" food in and of itself aid in weightloss, or should I be explicitly looking for a weight-loss formula?

Thanks.

P.S. Yes, I know that most people recommend wet food over dry, but my work schedule does not allow for this.
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Unread 08-08-2009   #10 (permalink)
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Thank you for the detailed update. And thank you very much for taking in him, despite his poor health record. You are a hero !!
In my opinion, Tweetie and the other male who is also a laid back kitty developed that skittish and timid personality because they were front declawed. It's like they know that lost their self-defense ability...
I hope everything will be fine with him and your plan, as the vet is also helping you evaluate every condition. Just keep us updated.
I think you are wise and careful enough in the introduction process. Things will get better, for sure, and soon they all will become best playmates... Oh of course, please share some pictures !
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