This past summer, a stray cat showed up at my ILs' (Jack and Fern) house. A very pregnant stray cat. She promptly settled in (with a little encouragement and housewarming on Jack and Fern's part) to a cozy spot in a small, intimate entryway between interior and exterior doors. She had her kittens within a couple of days of arrival. Unfortunately, one kitten did not survive, but six did. Her she is with her kittens:
And here's a pile of fresh kittenhood:
You can't tell from the photos, but apparently Momcat is small, ~5 lbs. You can tell that she looks exhausted and, dare I say it, catatonic? The kittens have all been placed in homes and Momcat -- since named Stormy -- has been vetted, spayed, etc. Turns out Stormy is a very sweet, affectionate cat. Jack and Fern hope to keep her, but the resident cats, Misty and Willow, and Stormy have yet to reach An Understanding.
Some cats take to other cats (seemingly) effortlessly, but I'll guess that the majority of cats need adjustment time. We've been pretty lucky with our cats' introductions. How we've introduced new cats depends on their history. E.g., we adopted the late, great Nosey at 1.5 yo. He had been with a shelter (or the shelter's foster parent) for almost that entire time. Bco some health problems, he had an extensive medical history with lots of tests being performed. Bc we knew so much about his health status, we didn't feel it was as important to keep him separated from the resident cats for health reasons.
We weren't sure about interpersonal (you know what I mean) reasons, i.e., would he and the other cats get along? So we confined him the first night he was here. We let him out for a supervised meet-and-greet with the others the next day and things went so well that he was out ever since. He even began sleeping in his usual spot (between our pillows) that first night out.
Wrt all the other new cats that joined us after our first three ("The Originals": Archie [deceased], Dolly and Smudge [deceased]), there was always a confinement period. When Stashy and Clara (both deceased) joined us, they were confined for several months in the kitchen. Although we adopted them from the same shelter as The Originals, there was a four year gap in between adoptions. We asked for and covered certain tests before going ahead with the adoption of Stashy and Clara. Part of their confinement period was to allow time for illnesses to develop that might have been missed with those first tests, so they were retested a couple of months into their confinement. After about 6 months and successful testing, we began integrating them in with The Originals.
It helped that the kitchen doors look like French doors, i.e., they're almost all glass. They were able to see and smell each other the whole time. We did a lot of the usual suggestions, e.g., trade the different parties' bedding so that they get used to the smell of the other cats.
It also helped that Stashy was particularly affable and that Clara stuck to Stashy's side. The Originals were pretty easygoing, although there was never any question that Archie was alpha cat. We didn't realize how old Stashy was at first, but it turned out that he had neither the energy nor the inclination to stage a coup d'etat.
Even though some of the cats were confined for several months, the introductions that finally took place went fairly well. Edison is on Prozac, mainly for inappropriate urination, but also bc he was sometimes overly aggressive towards other cats. Right now he's Top Cat and in fine physical form; none of the other cats can physically match him at the moment and he could be a bit much for the others. He seems sensitive to changes in the feline social stratum, i.e., it seems stressful for him, so we're not keen on adding cats to the resident population. We don't want him to stress him further or need to up his meds.
I think Miles and Lizzie would be fine with other cats. Lizzie especially seems open to other cats. I think Pinchita would also be fine with others cats. She socialized with other strays in Aruba, but her contagious illness prevents her from being with our uninfected cats.
Dolly's 17 yo and I'm afraid she probably won't make it to 2012. I think it would definitely be stressful for her if we were to add another cat to the mix so that's another excellent reason for not increasing the feline population here.
So, for the time being, no new cats until (and if) Edison can handle it.
FYI, here are some links about introducing cats to each other:
- Introducing New Cats to Other Pets from the HSUS
- Introducing Your Cat to a New Cat from the ASPCA
- Introducing a New Cat from 4Paws Rescue Team