Advice on whether I can introduce a kitten into my 2 cat home

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Shortbread
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Advice on whether I can introduce a kitten into my 2 cat home

Post by Shortbread » Wed Jan 18, 2017 4:19 pm

Hiya,

I have two cats, brother and sister that are 14yo. I took them from the rescue center as kittens, thinking I shouldn't separate the brother and sister and maybe they'll be friends for each other. Well that didn't happen. The sister was the cat that was friends with every person in the house except for her brother. She made it clear from the beginning that she doesn't like him. No fights, just cool and snobby disdain and an occasional raising of her paw to him in a comic threat if he comes too near. The sad thing is, he is lovely to her and has tried to cuddle up to her on more than one occasion and she's not having it. They're OK, they keep their distance now and that's that.

She is now looking very old and not well, so she keeps herself to my youngest son's room and never comes out anymore, except to eat, but then is straight back upstairs. She no longer wants cuddles or attention from the rest of the family, just wants to be left in peace, which we do. She's very arthritc, so on medication, and best left to rest. The problem is, she was the all round family cat, whereas my gentle male is very shy and nervous around my kids so sticks to me like glue, and while he lets them stroke him, it's only a tolerance for a minute or two, nothing more. So I feel we're missing a general house cat that can get along with everyone.

But, I'm very nervous to introduce a new kitten into a house with two established cats. We could make sure to keep the new kitten away from our old female as that's clearly what she wants. But I'm not sure how my male will react, as he is an out and out mummy's boy. I could make sure that the kids make more of a fuss over the new kitten and that I step back more when he's around to not make him jealous.

I don't want my old cats to be made sad, but at the same time would love to introduce a new kitten to the family brood, so could do with your advice here, and any anecdotes you have if you've been in this situation.

Thanks! :-)

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Lilith
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Re: Advice on whether I can introduce a kitten into my 2 cat home

Post by Lilith » Thu Jan 19, 2017 2:17 am

Hi there and welcome :)

This is a bit of a problem, as you have 2 cats who are elderly and set in their ways, and however well a new kitten settles in, the old cats are going to find it a great upheaval and stress. And so are you and your family. It's like adding on another child. Nothing will ever be the same again. it may be better, it may be worse.

I'm going to play devil's advocate here so please bear with me.

I can sympathise, as I have 2 elderly girls, and a younger cat who came to us 5 years ago as a problem child and promptly made herself a total pain in the posterior. At the time, fortunately, I had an even older tomcat (retired) who bore the brunt of young Molly's antics, but he was half golden Labrador, I swear. Totally placid. No other cat could have tolerated Molly. My girls didn't. He loved her.

My lovely Finn left us in 2013 and since then I've been plotting to add another boy to the household - but it's never happened. I've come to think that perhaps this is meant. I still long for a 'man of the house' though - catly wise lol.

So, with one very frail cat and one clingy cat, I feel you need to think long and hard about disrupting the balance here. Your children have all their lives in front of them - plenty of time, after the old cats go, to adopt new kittens. Though I know it's hard to wait.

On the other hand, it could work out fine, especially with the kids' assistance.

But I feel it's your first consideration to pay attention to how the older cats may respond; their needs have to come first.

Sorry - I realise I haven't really given you much advice here; just set out both sides of the question.

Hopefully more people will be along to give more advice. I can add one note of hope though - the younger of my pair of older girls has now taken to dominating the dreaded Molly. She even got on the bed with Moll the other day and gave Moll her tail to play with! The eldest girl has coped better, but still this has taken years. And a lot of stress. But poor Molly needed a home, otherwise I think she'd have ended up feral and pregnant ...

So. Sorry to be so inconclusive, but please keep in touch whatever you come to decide, and keep updating. All the very best. :)

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Re: Advice on whether I can introduce a kitten into my 2 cat home

Post by Janey » Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:38 am

Hi and welcome :) I agree with Lilith in that with two elderly cats, and their temperaments, it’s going to be a lot of upheaval and stress for them. It may work, but it may not, and that would be a risk you’re taking, is it worth it? I think you’re obviously thinking similarly, otherwise you wouldn’t be asking here and it’s good that you are concerned, as your cats are your family. My neighbour had a cat about the same age as yours and adopted two kittens and initially her cat wouldn’t even go indoors, he stayed in my feral hut for months, which was really sad to see, and in the end she had to keep him in and he was miserable for a long time. As Lilith says, your kids have lots of time ahead of them. But again, that’s just my opinion, I hope you make the right decision for your family. Best of luck!

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Ruth B
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Re: Advice on whether I can introduce a kitten into my 2 cat home

Post by Ruth B » Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:03 am

Twice I have made the mistake.

The first time I had two cats, mother and daughter pairing, Katie and Patch. Katie developed a terminal illness and I knew she only had months left. I decided to adopt a third young cat, Suzie, as a playmate for Patch, thinking it would give Katie a bit of peace in her twilight months. It was a disaster. Katie was used to being boss and Patch had never known different, Suzie was used to having to make her mark and not exactly fight for what she wanted but to make it known. Suzie and Katie began a dominance struggle. It never came to blows but they were both marking territory, spraying and inappropriate urination. The final straw came when Patch started to join in. I spent 3 months with all the cats stressed out of their minds and me and my husband dreading getting home after work because of what we might find. I became an emotional wreck, convinced I was failing my cats and feeling guilty that they weren't happy. In the end I handed Suzie back to the charity she came from and... Peace reigned. The change was immediate Katie and Patch settled back to their happy selves and Katie survived another 6 months before finally succumbing to the illness. I also heard that Suzie was kept in isolation for a week and didn't put a paw wrong so was then rehomed as on only cat. It took me years of reading to realise that I hadn't failed and didn't need to feel guilty about giving her back, it was the best thing all round.

More recently, 18 months ago we had to have our 16 year old Ragdoll pts, old age had just caught up with him. This left me with a 12 year old moggy, Tiggy. I decided to get 2 youngsters thinking they would play together and leave her in peace. It hasn't quite worked out that way. Saturn and Freyja were 6 months old when I got them, Saturn a young confident lad, Freyja an abused and extremely frightened young girl. Saturn is almost over confident, as he has got older he has turned in to a typical 'lad', the type of youth that enjoys antagonising old ladies, and Tiggy has born the brunt of this. She does have a mean right hook to try and put him in his place but he rarely seems to care. it isn't bad enough to make me think of returning him and when the Summer comes I have no doubt he will be spending a lot more time outside as he did last year, but I do realise that he might have been a mistake.

My suggestion to you would be instead of a kitten have you considered getting another older cat, one about 5 - 8 years old. Their temperament would have already developed and you could find one with a laid back attitude that you knew would be less likely to cause issues. One of the problems with kittens is that as they get older their temperaments can change, you don't want to end up with one like my Saturn that would try and bully the two resident cats.

It is a very hard decision to make and I will be the first to admit we don't always get it right, however I have also had times when it worked perfectly. After Katie finally died Patch was very upset, she had always been a bit neurotic about being alone, and we very quickly adopted Blue, the Ragdoll. You couldn't ask for a more docile cat, he was convinced that every one, cat or human, would be his friend, and often we would get in from work to find them curled up in a single ball on the bed. Sometimes it is just a matter of finding the right cat for the situation.

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Shortbread
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Re: Advice on whether I can introduce a kitten into my 2 cat home

Post by Shortbread » Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:10 am

Thanks for your replies ladies, it's very useful to hear.

It's funny, I grew up in a home that was practically the local cat refuge. My mum took in every waif and stray there was in the area. Some she kept as family pets, other she fed up, got vet treated and rehomed. So our house never had less than three cats (it was normal to have up to 5!), and at times up to nine if we took in a stray mother and kittens. I never remember it ever causing a problem to our normal pets.....who were all rescued street cats themselves. I guess they were more rough and tumble and used to change perhaps. We never had stressed out cats and inappropriate urination etc...but I get that this does happen with some.

I have been thinking about getting an older kitten (almost adult) or young adult instead for the reasons you mention, as I want to be sure I'm picking one that is very calm and easy going. Someone with a good character that hopefully will fit in with my existing two. My male cat is very sweet natured and I think might love to have a new friend. He's tried befriending his sister, its her that's unfriendly. Since she never makes an appearance any longer I don't "Think" she'll cause a problem (you never know till you try). Even though she clearly doesn't want anything to do with her brother, there's never been an argument or problems...it's just obvious disdain and aloofness.

I truly worried about my male cat before I brought my first son home from the hospital, as I had such a strong bond with my male cat I thought he'd be jealous and cause problems or be stressed out. Louis always sleeps curled up in my arms in our bed, so when we brought our son home, Louis was banned from the bedroom for months while my son slept next to me in his cot. Louis never ever showed any problems, and just accepted my son straight away. Again with my second son, he was banished from the bedroom and mummy cuddles all night long, and he was fine. Just took it in his stride and never showed stress signs. So although Louis' extremely well bonded with me, he's a very good natured boy and seems to accept changes and take them in his stride. Our female loved having babies/children in the house, she was extremely broody over them. Not sure she'd feel the same about a kitten or new cat though!? She obviously wanted to be a mummy and literally couldn't tear herself away from my boys when they were babies.

I guess I won't know unless I try. I think the problem is me....I'm extremely broody and want more felines in the house!!! :roll: Blame my upbringing in a feline rescue center :-P

If I do get a new cat then choosing them on character will be the biggest focus, as I want a cat that can fit in, not too dominant, or passive. As you say as well...an older cat will be less boisterous and annoying for older cats to bear.

I'll keep thinking on it, and keep you posted. x

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Lilith
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Re: Advice on whether I can introduce a kitten into my 2 cat home

Post by Lilith » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:29 pm

Wow. You've got plenty of experience then :D

I used to breed (Siamese) in a small way and when I moved to this house I got involved with a feral colony so I know what you mean about wall-to-wall cats, plus neighbours' cats dropping in for a free feed lol :o

Your Louis sounds a lot like my Finny - is he a ginger by any chance? It sounds ridiculous but I find ginger lads are the most laid-back cats ever. Ginger girls - not. Molly's an all-over ginger (caught the vet nurse having a sneaky peek under her tail when I took her in for spaying because they can't have believed she was a girl.) Emily, my avatar cat, is one of the ferals and so was Finn and Emmy's cousin, timid black tux Mouse, who has blossomed just lately and dealt with the dreadful Moll.

I think that you're most prepared to take on a newcomer, if anyone is, but for your frail girl, but if you and your sons can cushion her from the impact of a new cat ...

I really wish you well whatever you decide, and please keep in touch, I for one will be interested to learn how things turn out, all the very best :)

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Shortbread
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Re: Advice on whether I can introduce a kitten into my 2 cat home

Post by Shortbread » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:49 pm

Thanks very much Lilith! :-D

Louis is actually a Maine Coon cross, black with a chocolate undercoat. His sister being a british short hair. She's so typical of the British shorthair, very very lazy and very loving towards our kids. Louis is so much like a maine coon in his character, extremely loyal and dog like. I've never known a cat like him.

We laugh because Louis will escort us to bed every evening. He comes downstairs around 10pm and waits at my feet to take me to bed. Then as soon as we get up to go, he jumps up walks in front of me leading the way....he HAS to lead (I've tried outrunning him....it doesn't happen :-P ). We stop to check each boy and he patiently waits outside their bedroom for us, then chirrups happily when we finally make it to the bedroom. He waits then outside the bathroom while we get ready. He gets upset with me if I waver in our course! :lol:

I know what you mean about male gingers though, they were always my mums favourite, we always had at least one in the house. They're extremely placid and loving. I'm very tempted to get one for my next cat...even my hubby said get a male ginger...someone guaranteed to be placid! ;-)

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Re: Advice on whether I can introduce a kitten into my 2 cat home

Post by Crewella » Sun Feb 12, 2017 4:47 pm

I'm only just catching up on this, but I agree with the overall theory that an older cat would be a safer bet than a kitten. In fact, a fully adult cat of around 4/5 years, in my view, so they don't have the boundless energy the youngsters have and have gone through their 'teenage' years. I'm another one that takes in waifs and strays, and with careful management and instroductions it's 'doable'.

It's lovely that you've put so much thought and care into this decision, do let us know how it works out. :)

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