Bringing in a new kitty as a friend for my newly-alone old kitty?

phish_gwJanuary 18, 2011

I had to put one my kitties to sleep last week. (Thanks again to all who responded to my posts about where and how to do this, your advice really helped). The whole family is heartbroken. His brother now seems sad and lonely and we are toying with the idea of getting him another kitty/kitties.

If this worked out, he could have a new kitty friend and would be less lonely. Also, I think this would help me in the future when I lose the brother.

If this didn't work out, he could feel more lonely and rejected and might feel like I only liked the cool new young kitty.

I'm going to experiment with other kitties first (like having a friend bring over their cat for a visit). And if I did do this, I would do everything I could to make this a positive transition for my older cat. I did have an overlap in the past between my former kitty and these 2 kitties, when he was old and they were kittens and it worked out OK. I can't say the old cat loved the young ones, but he didn't seem to mind them and they seemed to like and accept him.

That said, does anyone have advice on this? Have you brought in a new kitty when an older one dies and how did the remaining older one respond? Any advice on whether to do this and how to handle it? Any advice on the right timing for this? Thanks in advance for your help.

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I always think 2 are better than 1, but be prepared for the first few days of warfare.

Hissing, spitting, growling, glaring, laid-back ears, ugly-cat-face-making...

Once he gets accustomed to the newcomer, he'll probably enjoy the company & form a bond.

I wish all of you the best.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 12:05PM
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I have never had a problem integrating a new cat (especially a kitten) into the mix with an older cat. However, cats are pretty territorial and resisting of change. If you're going to do it, just do it. I wouldn't recommend bringing kitty 'guests' into the house to get your resident cat used to it and observe. It would be pretty normal for your own cat to not be receptive to the interloper and doesn't necessarily portend how a new resident cat would be accepted.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 1:00PM
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Consider fostering. That way you can find a cat that your other cat likes and you'll help save a cat(s) by giving it a temporary, or permanent, home. If it doesn't work out at all, you're at an advantage since you're already working with a shelter/rescue.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 3:42PM
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I'm so sorry about the loss of your kitty. I just saw that you had updated your other thread.

My old girl was very lost after her brother passed away. She has always been a very social cat- the kind who greets humans she does not know when they come in the door- so it was hard for her to be alone. Even so, we waited a few months before bringing a new cat in. It really depends on your situation, and the personalities involved, but for me I wanted that period of grieving and adjustment and think that kitty might have needed it to.

About 10 months after our boy cat passed away, my mother had some stray kittens who were looking for homes, so we decided to take one. We chose a boy because I've always heard the advice to get a companion animal of the opposite sex- and I'm not sure there's really any truth to that.

Anyhow, the transition was very easy. She was very accepting of him, which based on her personality was what we had expected and hoped. Even though she is old and frail, she did very well with a kitten. I do not think she would have done as well with an older cat.

I suspect that when our old girl passes on, we will get another cat. The timing is a personal thing, and I suspect I will probably wait less time with our young guy than I did with our old girl- it is just what would seem right. Follow your heart; you probably know your kitty pretty well and can probably guess how he will react to a newcomer.

Oh, and I would only get 1 kitty for now. If you were to get 2, they might not bond with the old one like he needs. If you only get 1, they will be forced to turn to each other for that feline companionship.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 3:56PM
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spedigrees z4VT

I've found that the only cats that seem to bond are those that are related by blood and grew up together, ie siblings or a mom and her kitten(s). I've added a new cat before and they learned to coexist but never became friends.

I agree that having friends bring in cats to visit will only upset your cat.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 4:00PM
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One of my cats died in mid-2009 leaving me with two cats. I recently got a third cat again. As expected my 16 year old cat adjusted quickly to the newcomer though he likes to play and roughhouse a bit more than the old guy is up for. My other cat does not like the new guy - also as expected - but she is slowly coming around. This is the 4th time I've introduced a new cat to resident cats - new cats are always about two years old. It has always worked out ranging from best buddies to tolerant of each other.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 4:05PM
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How old is old cat? I think the younger they are the more likely they are to accept a new one. PLease note: ACCEPT does not translate to WELCOME.

My first two cats were sibs, when Cleo died very suddenly I assumed Bonnie would be lonely so within a week I found a kitten--about 8 weeks old--to bring home. Un unh. Nope. Bonnie wasn't interested. She looked at m e with this hurt why did you bring that little black rat thing here look. Not once in the next 8 years do I recall her EVER exchanging a kind word or cuddle with any of the next three cats. She basically refused to acknowledge they existed.

When Ike was 2 I went out and found him a little friend, since he was driving Bonnie insane. He hissed a bit, smacked Sophie a couple of times and then proceeded to cuddle her like a mom. When she was 3, a stray showed up. Bonnie gives me a much put upon sigh and ignores it, Ike hissed for 2 days and started to cuddle it, and Sophie stayed in the den and pouted for 2 days until she figured out that it was the equivalent of a furry play toy.

Now I have another. Ike is now 10 and isn't much interested in being loving to a new one, although he didn't actively resent it. (in his defense he was having health problems) Sophie pouted for about a week, and Rudi hissed and cussed for 2 days.

If it helps, when I bring one in, I keep it isolated in a room for a day or so, so they can smell thru the door, and then let them see it thru a screen, and then start letting them meet and greet one at a time. Ive been very lucky==nobody decided to protest by marking territory, and they all get along reasonbly well. I dont think bringing cats to visit will work--your guy just might go off the deep end (happened to me one time when a stray shot in the door before I could stop it--war broke out). He's going to see each new cat as a new invader and get stressed over it. I only know of one cat that doesn't seem to care if you bring a new cat in to his territory. My dad's cat is only interested in visiting cats because he wants to try out their carriers. Good luck

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 12:30AM
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I completely agree with 'spedigrees' above! They will co-exist amiably, hopefully, but will probably not bond. Too bad but that is the way it is usually with cats.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 5:46PM
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I disagree. Each cat is different. My sister had only one male Birman. She got a female Birman as a companion for him. When she died, we found another female Birman cat. He took to her too. They clean each other, play and sleep together. She adopted a female stray rescue Himalayan cat. We since found both girls want to be that Alpha female cat. So the lesson is only one female at a time in our households.

I like Annz idea. On Dec. 3, we lose our female Birman. We now only have a male Birman. He still calls nightly for his mate. It breaks my heart. We borrowed my sister female Himalayan. He hated her and she went back to my sister. So we took him over to my sister's house twice now for a visit of her three cats. He so much wanted to be friends with my sister female Birman. He kept followed her around. But she would have nothing to do with him since she already have her mate. So we will be adding a female Birman cat in a few weeks.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 1:36AM
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I have done this twice now too, always had 2 cats and years ago our old Sam died so I brought in this cute little gray female kitten. Sam was kind of disinterested and gradually he liked her, of course I had her spayed and he was neutered. Now, I have the old gray kitty and a 5 yr.old spayed female and the old kitty is very accepting but the little 5 yr. old is a brat!! I brought her in as a kitten but she has not been nice to my old gray kitty, not vicious but tackles her at times and gray kitty will try to clean the young one but she never returns the favor! I think it is all personality; they are all different some get along and some don't but if they tolerate each other I guess that's ok. I can't imagine now, after the gray kitty dies, what kind of reaction to a new kitten my younger cat would have?
Good Luck!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 11:36AM
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spedigrees z4VT

I think that one of the reasons you had experience with unrelated cats bonding, nhardy, may have been the breeds involved. My mom used to breed Siamese cats when I was a kid, and they are much more social with one another than cats of other ancestries. For instance the males take an active interest and participate in parenting the kittens. Unheard of in other breeds! The birman and Himalayan kitties in your experience are probably more socially oriented than the typical domestic short-haired cats from my more recent experience. Siamese and related breeds are almost more like dogs than cats when it comes to territorial and social issues.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 5:55PM
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Our Siamese are very independent cats. We had two pairs of them. We never had an issue to introduce new cats into the pack until the female Birman that just pasted away. She was an only cat for 7 months. She was hateful to my lonely boy for 5 months. We went out of town for a week and then they were the best of friends. Our Siamese were not territorial with the newcomers. I wonder why our Siamese were more carefree and eazy going. There must be other breeds that are laid back. Since we never had dogs, I can not compare them to any of my cats.

Which kind of Siamese did your mother breed? Wedge or apple face. Which color points did she breed? Seal, Chocolate, Lilac, Blue, Tortie or Red. We had apple face Seal and Blue points. Siamese were wonderful fly catchers, unlike the Birmans that never want chase a single fly.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 3:14PM
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I'm going to experiment with other kitties first

BAD idea. It can take several weeks for all the hissing and spitting to die down, so all you would do is stress all the cats and learn nothing.

A 3-4 month old kitten that is well-socialized would have the best chance of getting on with the remaining cat. They are big enough to defend themselves, but young enough to have that "kitten personality" that makes it easy for them to bond with other cats.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 4:59PM
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Thanks for posting this, and all the advice given. I just brought my recently deceased mother's cat home (yesterday). My cat is an 11 yo medium/long hair, and my mother's cat is an 8 yo pale tabby (much larger). We were going to take her to the SPCA, but just couldn't do it (we had figured that she was somewhat feral, but she is very sweet). So far they refuse to be in the same room together and hiss/growl at each other. Right now the new cat won't have anything to do with me since I smell like my cat. I will give them time to adjust.
My rottie/lab mix passed away this summer and my cat has adjusted nicely to running the household. I sure hope the two cats don't take too much time to "tolerate" each other. My mother's cat was always shy around other people, so I'm sure it's a big step to be around me and my kids, never mind another cat.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 11:09PM
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My experience, (and I didn't read everyone else's), is the cats tend to work it out amongst themselves. I had 3 cats at one time, all rescues. The first was a male and he wanted to keep his alpha position. The other two were females (at about 2-3yrs in between).
I'll also add that I have two small dogs and they all get along just fine. All inside pets and very healthy.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 1:36PM
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spedigrees z4VT

---Which kind of Siamese did your mother breed? Wedge or apple face. Which color points did she breed? Seal, Chocolate, Lilac, Blue, Tortie or Red. We had apple face Seal and Blue points. Siamese were wonderful fly catchers, unlike the Birmans that never want chase a single fly.---

Hi nhardy, mom raised a few litters of seal points. I think they were more apple faced, as today's Siamese that I see have faces much more wedge shaped than our cats. Perhaps back then there was no distinction between types. This was long ago in the 1950s.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 2:36PM
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I so hate the wedge face siamese cats. Sorry if you have one but they look like they are in pain to me.

It has been 6 weeks since we brought a 2 year old female Birman into our house for our lonely boy. He has since stopped his nightly calling for his deceased mate. The new cat hissed, swatted at him, & grawled at him for a while. The turning point was last week. She started to do the Birman trill. She wanted to play with him. Then on Sunday, we had a major storm roll through. To calm her, he licked her up. On Monday, she walked up to him & licked him! They have been chase & playing all over the house. For us a cat was better than a baby kitten. So I would say my boy is lonely no more.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 3:54PM
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I agree - the wedge heads are not good to look at - IMHO. I love my round headed non-purebred siamese cat. He was so hard to come by that I kind of keep looking at the shelter cats online to see if any siamese show up. Still very rare but I did see one of those wedge heads - it just looks so unnatural and contorted - IMHO. I would not have picked him if I had seen him when I was looking.

phish - have you gotten a mate for your kitty yet?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 7:46PM
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We have four cats, none of them are siblings and all were integrated along the way as two older cats we had passed away a year apart. So - what did I do ? Brought the cat home in a carrier and let the others sniff the carrier and the cat (in the carrier). Then I isolated the "new" cat in a bathroom with his own amenities for a bit, and let the others sniff him under the door etc. Then I exchange their potties, food bowls, and other items for the smells to integrate, then I open up the doors between them all - usually in a bedroom space - and let them all mingle. If it got a little hissy, I usually separated them and then tried again. After that - I made sure everyone could access both litter boxes and food sources. They all play well together, sometimes curl up together, occasionally get a little bossy with each other - but that is expected. This process can take a week to 10 days ... you will know when your cats are ready to mingle unsupervised. It is worth it. I lost my kitty of 17years and my hubby lost his of about 14 years .... it was heart breaking, but each cat has their own personality and so much love to offer - and so do we - or we would not be cat owners :).

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 11:31PM
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