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Old 07-20-2009, 12:05 AM   #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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Old 07-20-2009, 12:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about adding a third cat... but want to do it right

I hate to have to say this, but if you don't have a room you can isolate the new cat in for the course of the introduction process, I would not recommend adopting another cat. You can't confine the new cat to a carrier for days at a time. I know some people will just toss the cats together and hope it works out. But I think that's pretty dicey and destined to upset your applecart.

Assuming you had a place to restrict him/her....I've done adoption counseling at my local shelter for years...I really wouldn't worry about the sex of the new cat as long as they're all spayed/neutered. I have 2 girls and a boy...the boy is the middle "child" and he regularly bullies both girls. The two girls get along great.

I also don't know why they're discouraging a kitten...to be honest, if you're set on a 3rd cat and don't have an isolation room, then a kitten would be your best bet. Intros of adults to kittens is much easier...young kittens have no manners, they don't understand social hierarchy, personal space etc. They're just rambunctious little balls of energy and they usually just charm the older cats, who will also typically develop some maternal instinct. Tolerance for little ones is much higher than adults.
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Old 07-20-2009, 12:52 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about adding a third cat... but want to do it right

Let me speak from experience. Leave well enough alone! And send Cleo back home to me! How did she get in your picture!???

I would be happy having two nicely co-existing cats.
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Old 07-20-2009, 08:01 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about adding a third cat... but want to do it right

I wouldn't add another one either. This winter I tried to introduce an adult female into my existing 7 cat house. We had the bedroom to separate her, etc. I was able to get several of my cats to welcome her, but my one queen bee would NOT accept her. I had to keep the new girl separated in her room for 3 months and if Miss Baby had the chance she would fly into the room and attack Christie.

I had never seen that kind of behavior in Miss Baby before, and was quite shocked. I had to rehome the new girl mainly for her safety.

I am sorry for being negative, but I thought you would want to hear my story.
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Old 08-06-2009, 10:06 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about adding a third cat... but want to do it right

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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Old 08-06-2009, 11:04 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about adding a third cat... but want to do it right

Wow, lots going on here...I'm just going to address the food question at the end.

Free feeding dry is not good for your kitty who needs to lose weight. High quality wet food doesn't have the high carbs of dry and is much better for your cat's health and weight.

Avoid weight-loss formulas -- they are often made of poor quality ingredients. One of my cats developed serious health problems that I believe were connected to his eating a low-carb formula High-quality cat food with meat (not by-products) as the first ingredient is your best bet. Avoid foods that contain corn.

I will also tell you that many vets lack knowledge about nutrition. Many of them receive minimal training on nutrition and it often comes from Hill's reps (makers of Science Diet). Not surprisingly, many of these same vets push Hill's foods in their clinics.

Now, I know you are concerned about the schedule part. I work full time and feed my cats both dry and wet. I need to keep dry in the mix mainly because I travel now and then and need that alternative. But I know there are folks here that work and feed wet, so hopefully one of them will jump in.
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Old 08-06-2009, 11:57 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about adding a third cat... but want to do it right

It doesn't sound as if Tweetie and Lily knew each other (other than the few minutes in the isolation room at the shelter) before you brought them home and put them in an 8 x 10 room together. If that's true, then no wonder poor Lily was freaked. Lily and Tweetie needed an introduction process between them before isolating them in a small room. I think your characterization of her personality is pretty unfair to her. She was just being a normal cat who was put into a very stressful situation.

I would also recommend putting the door back on the room. The screen door is a second phase to the introduction process. Initially they should be separated behind a closed door. Once they get used to smelling scents and maybe play footsie and having done scent swapping through out the house, then they should be able to see each other through a cracked door. That's the point where the screen door comes in handy.

I do not recommend getting a 4th cat until Tweetie is completely integrated into the house. If you bring another cat home and put him in the room with Tweetie, you could just as easily have the same problems you had with Lily.

Regarding food....weight control formula dry foods replaced protein with carbs (usually lots of fiber). Cats are obligate carnivores, their system is not designed to handle carbs (how many carbs are in a mouse?) and they really don't process them well requiring them to eat more to get the nutrition they need. Free feeding dry food, whether regular or weight control is a sure way to have a cat gain weight, some will self regulate but many won't.

The first thing that needs to happen is to switch to meal times with measured portions. The amount will depend on the caloric content of the food you choose and the activity level of your cats. A cat needs ~20-25 calories per pound depending on activity level to maintain their weight. To lose weight I would reduce that range by 5 calories, making is 15-20. So a moderately active cat that needs to lose weight should consume 17-18 calories per pound.

A switch to wet food is really the best way to get them to lose weight and be healthy. The dry food dehydrates them, a cat needs to drink 1.25 cups of water for every cup of dry food they eat...and they just don't have that kind of thirst drive. Being perpetually mildly dehydrated is rough on their entire system, but particularly their kidneys. Grain free wet foods contain significantly less carbs than dry (the dry needs to carbs to hold it together...most grain free dry substitute potato for grains as the glue to hold it together).

Not sure why your work schedule would prevent you from feeding wet food, unless you're working something like 24 hour shifts. And even then you could do a mix (wet when you're home, measured amount of dry when you have to be gone for long periods). I'm unemployed right now, but when working I would often be gone for 11-12 hours. My cats would get wet for breakfast (last thing before I left the house around 7:30am), wet for dinner (around 6:30-7pm) and a bedtime snack of dry (around 11pm).

Here are some good articles on nutrition and weight loss:

http://www.littlebigcat.com/index.php?a ... w&item=016

http://www.thepetcenter.com/imtop/catweight.html

http://www.littlebigcat.com/index.php?a ... cannedfood

Also add exercise with interactive play sessions...a laser pointer or Da Bird (a fishing pole toy that has feathers designed to really flap like a bird...cats go crazy for it) should really get your cats moving.
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Old 08-06-2009, 06:48 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about adding a third cat... but want to do it right

Quote:
Originally Posted by heavyharmonies
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?
My cat Jaxon has been on Evo food since he could eat. He use to eat the wet food and dry, I would mix them up. He now refuses to eat wet food...I don't know why, he just doesn't like it anymore. He is starting to get a little chubby, he is also just growing up to a be a big cat. He's not would I would call fat at this point, but just letting you know he does eat a high quality food and is still a bit on the chubby side. I do highly reccommend the Evo brand though. If you can get your cat to eat some wet food I would definately do that. If you open some in the morning for them it should be safe leaving it out until you get home from work to throw it away.
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Old 08-06-2009, 07:22 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarah_
but just letting you know he does eat a high quality food and is still a bit on the chubby side.
Not sure what kind of correlation you're trying to make here. If he's getting chubby, it's because he's getting too much of the high quality food...it's not the food itself. EVO dry is one of the highest calorie foods out there...you need to cut back the amount you're feeding. Most people are surprised to find out that a cat on EVO dry only needs 3/8 to 1/2 cup per day (of course that depends on the size of the cat and it's activity level, but that's about the average). And if the cat only needs 3/8, giving him 1/2 cup...an extra measly 1/8 cup that looks so small...is a 33% increase in calories and will pack on the weight.
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Old 08-06-2009, 07:29 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about adding a third cat... but want to do it right

Well I have actually started to not leave dry food out all day for him. He use to only eat until full it seems like lately he just eats for the heck of it. I am monitering his food intake though and have bought numerous cans of canned food to try and he won't touch them. At my moms house she has 3 cats and they eat wet food but dry is left out at all times and none of them overeat it. He's the first cat I've known to eat more than he should. I honestly didn't know until I noticed him gaining weight. I guess what I was trying to let the poster know is that Evo is a great food but if left out to munch on at all times and also no wet food it won't matter that it's a high quality her cat/cats could still gain weight.
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