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Hello, everyone! I'm hoping you guys can help me fine tune my introduction plan for five kitties. Sorry it's so lengthy. I wanted to give as many details as I could.

To briefly give you some information, I currently live with three kitties. I have a ten year old, Rogue, I've had from a kitten. I have two sisters, Smudge and Jellybean, that I hand raised.

We just bought a house from my significant other's sister. She didn't want to take her cats with her when she moved. So, we now also own Pandora, Smudge and Jellybean's litter mate that we also hand raised as a baby, and Roxy.

All of the cats except Roxy are spayed and all of the cats except Rogue are seven years old. The two groups of cats have not yet met. We are getting the house prepped for us to move in and while we do that, we have been taking this time to bond with Pandora and Roxy.

They were terrified at first. They would hiss, swat, and claw at us. They would hide and growl. It broke my heart, especially because I hand-raised Pandora. Over the past couple of weeks, they have really come around. Roxy even napped on me the other day after a serious cuddle session. Today, Pandora wouldn't leave my side. She just purred, and purred while begging for petting. I knew they were good cats underneath all that attitude. :2kitties

What we have done:

1. We established a home base room for Pandora and Roxy at the new house. We set it up with a cat tower by the window, a box for them to hide in/on/behind, and several toys. They have litter boxes and food/water bowls. Right now, the door is open and they can come and go freely.

2. We purchased a Comfort Zone Feliway Diffuser. At first, we had it in the room they spent the most time in. Now, that they are adapting to having their own awesome cat space, we have moved it into that room. I think this thing is basically a miracle that you plug into the wall. I didn't believe the reviews until I tried it myself. I think it is really helping these two cats through a bit of a scary transition.

3. We have already gotten them switched over to a better diet. They were eating gas station kibble. So, we gradually got them on better food.

4. We dosed them with Frontline. They had no signs of fleas, but I figured it couldn't hurt. Pandora did have some scabs on her rear, neck, and chin. A few days after the Frontline, they cleared up. I'm not sure if one had anything to do with the other, but it certainly made petting her easier when she didn't get aggravated by being touched.

5. We set an appointment to have Roxy spayed. I don't "do" intact cats. Pandora was spayed by us before we gave her to his sister. She never got around to getting Roxy spayed.

What we plan to do:

1. Buy another Feliway Diffuser. We want to put it in the bedroom that other three cats will be staying in.

2. Introduce the girls SLOWLY. I plan to keep the three girls in our bedroom with us. They pretty much do that now at our current residence so we think this will be most comfortable for them. They will be in that one room for a few days until they adjust to the move.

3. When they are ready, we will let the three cats out to explore while Pandora and Roxy get locked away in their cat room. We will do this until the three girls feel more comfortable in their new home and Pandora and Roxy get used to the idea of three new cats on the block.

4. We plan to do feedings on opposite sides of the door after awhile. The cats will be able to smell and hear each other, but they will not be able to see each other.

5. We will do feedings with a baby gate between them allowing sight.

6. Depending on how they react will will proceed from there to possible face to face intros.

7. Once the living room is painted, cat shelves are going up. Hopefully, this will give them some more height to explore and feel safe.

Questions:

Does Roxy HAVE to be fixed before this process starts? Her appointment is a few weeks away. I won't do face-to-face intros before she is fixed, but can they be in the same house when they arrive? Will that ruin my chances of getting them to live together?

What can I realistically expect? Is there hope that all five girls will at least tolerate each other?

How do I handle any potential fights? I've heard of throwing a pillow to distract them, but I don't know if I like that. I don't use water bottles. The three cats at my current house all respond to me saying, "Pssst!", but Pandora and Roxy weren't trained like mine were.

Any ideas or suggestions are greatly appreciated. I've read a million things on introducing cats and I really, really want these kitties to coexist peacefully. I've introduced kittens before, but adult cats is a new one for me.

Thanks for any help you can give me!
 

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It sounds like you've got the right idea :) I've added my thoughts below.

2. Introduce the girls SLOWLY. I plan to keep the three girls in our bedroom with us. They pretty much do that now at our current residence so we think this will be most comfortable for them. They will be in that one room for a few days until they adjust to the move.

3. When they are ready, we will let the three cats out to explore while Pandora and Roxy get locked away in their cat room. We will do this until the three girls feel more comfortable in their new home and Pandora and Roxy get used to the idea of three new cats on the block.
...If the two 'new to you' cats currently live in the home I'd give THEM the run of the house and put yours (the 'interlopers' in kitty terms) in a safe room.

LOTS of site swapping should happen though. Have the two girls out loose, then after a week swap them maybe daily with your three out of the safe room.

4. We plan to do feedings on opposite sides of the door after awhile. The cats will be able to smell and hear each other, but they will not be able to see each other.
I'd start feeding nearby ASAP. Not directly on either side of the door, but for the loose group maybe down the hallway? Treats too!

5. We will do feedings with a baby gate between them allowing sight.
...I have always marveled when Jackson does this on his show. I have no idea why these cats don't just jump the gate? There's no way i could keep any of my four on one side of a baby gate! lol. Jitzu is 9 this year and she'd be the first over to jump on a new kitty!

Does Roxy HAVE to be fixed before this process starts? Her appointment is a few weeks away. I won't do face-to-face intros before she is fixed, but can they be in the same house when they arrive? Will that ruin my chances of getting them to live together?
IMO? Nope. But it would raise the risk of her marking. Personally I'd give it a shot and see what level of stress you're seeing. If she's sitting at the safe room door yowling her head off all day...I'd go back a step until after the spay.

What can I realistically expect? Is there hope that all five girls will at least tolerate each other?
I'd say there's lots of hope! I've only ever done single intros, but my four get along fairly well (ok, Jitzu and Torri not so much, but Torri is sniffing Jitzu now...that only took 6 years....*sigh*).

As long as all the girls are fairly calm and relaxed cats I'd say there's a good chance for more than just tolerating each other, espeically since all the cats are used to having another feline buddy (or two) so they all know cat body language. Unlike a life long singleton who has no idea what a cat is.

How do I handle any potential fights? I've heard of throwing a pillow to distract them, but I don't know if I like that. I don't use water bottles. The three cats at my current house all respond to me saying, "Pssst!", but Pandora and Roxy weren't trained like mine were.
I'm not a fan of spray bottles either...but compared to abscesses and blood spray bottles win. I'd keep them handy for the first few intros since a spray bottle is almost guaranteed to break up a fight and you honestly can't safely do it with bare hands.

Good luck! You're on the right track for sure :) Slow and steady wins the race!

I would mention that once you're at the face to face stage I'd personally do two cats at a time until they all did well on an individual basis, then go up to larger groups. I think that would make things much more manageable in case of a problem and reduce the level of stress considerably. Plus you'll get an idea of who's going to be trouble, since it's not always obvious until you get to the actual face-sniffing moment.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for the advice! I'm much more optimistic now.

We are establishing two cat rooms. One for the three girls we have now in the new bedroom and one in the spare bedroom for the two new girls. I figure, this way it won't be a shock to the new girls when I put them in a room while the three explore the new house. For the most part, Pandora and Roxy will have freedom to roam all but the bedroom after the three girls arrive. It will be the three I have now that are confined early on (except for brief exploration periods as they adapt).

Roxy doesn't really act like an intact female. I mean, I'm sure she would love a boyfriend (nope!), but she doesn't mark or appear territorial in anyway. She came around faster than Pandora has. I'm sure new cats in her territory could trigger some marking, but I sure hope not! Either way, she will get fixed soon enough.

I guess I'll keep a spray bottle handy just in case. You're right. It's a better option than a nasty cat fight getting out of control.

Thanks again!
 

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I think you've basically got the right ideas. I hope everything goes really well. :) I'll also throw out there that I foster and have 5 permanent, adult cats. I bring in moms with many of my foster groups and with one notable exception (and man was she notable), they've ALL figured out how to get along. Right now fosters Minerva and Sanka are living inside with my five, and Minerva's four kittens. Occasionally a kitten will run over/into Persephone (my resident grump) and get hissed at, but really it's quite peaceful considering there's 11 cats in here, 4 of whom are babies and 6 of whom didn't live here 3-4 months ago. All things are possible. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That is really encouraging! I would love for things to be nice and peaceful. If they become good buddies, that would simply be a bonus.

I'm anxious to start the process!
 

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The big move is this weekend. That means that all five cats will be in the same house for the first time. I'm nervous, but optimistic. I think I'm mostly excited!

Pandora and Roxy have really come out of their shells over the past few weeks. They eagerly seek us out for attention when we visit and they will hang out with us for hours and just purr, purr, purr. I'm very happy with their progress. :mrgreen:
 

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I agree with the Feliway diffusers. I totally thought they were just a gimmick until I tried them. The spray is awesome too for carriers, cat beds, blankets, etc.

I'm not a fan of spray bottles either (they've never worked on my cats). I've always found loud noises to be a good deterent, and used a jar/can of pennies in the past (I have an old metal can piggie bank that I just put a handful of pennies in), and that seems to work quite well.

Just be calm and try not to stress about it. It sounds like you've covered everyting. Good luck! :)
 
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