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Need Help Introducing 6 Cats...

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone. I am new to this forum and am hoping to get some much needed help here. Yesterday I found out that my close friend passed away. I received a call from an officer that said she left a note saying to call me to take care of her 6 cats. I am in TN, she was in FL, so my husband has to drive down to Palm Beach animal control and pick them up. The main problem is, I currently have 9 cats and 2 dogs of my own, all rescued. I have no idea how to introduce 6 adult cats to my current pets. I only have experience introducing one kitten at a time. Two of the cats we will be getting are offspring/siblings of 4 of my current cats - I have each of their moms and 2 siblings. Which leads me to one of my questions, will these cats know they are siblings/offspring of my current cats? It has been 5 years since they have been separated but was hoping they would recognize their scent and maybe get along better??.... Also, does anyone have any suggestions on how to make the introduction to my current pets go more smoothly? I am so worried that I will not be able to make this work. I was even going to see if I could find homes for 4 of the cats and just keep 2 but I don't have the heart to break them up because they have been through so much the past few weeks. From what I have heard my friend was deceased for about 3 weeks and the cats were without food and water when found, another concern of mine, could they have turned wild from being closed up in a house with a body? Forgive me, I know it's gory but it's life and I need to know what to expect. I would never have thought in a million years that this would happen, so any help that could be offered will be so greatly appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
post #2 of 32
Omigosh you are amazing! So many people would have just left them at the shelter. Anyhow, if at all possible, start out keeping them separated behind doors for a short time anyhow - they'll pick up the scents of the others anyway but also of you, the room(s), etc. and your cats will have a chance to be heard but not seen. If you have females, I'd be most careful intro'ing any new females, as those will likely be your worst problem (your females' territory being invaded and all that). Young males will probably make a big macho fuss at first, but will probably be the easiest to 'blend'. Do get hold of some Feliway (pheromone) diffusers to plug in - they will probably help some. In fact, putting drops of pure vanilla extract on ALL the cats tail-bases (where they meet their backs) and shoulder blade 'valleys' so they all smell alike will help too. Have a ton of boxes out (at least til you sort out who's staying and not). Try to find safe hide-aways for smaller or more timid ones if possible (if only under bed ones). Give them a couple of days at least before any intros, if necessary even weeks, maybe also allowing the new ones to roam common areas for a while if you can keep yours behind doors for a time. And go to work on finding new homes - I know you're leery about separating them now, but really the quicker it's all done (and the fewer cats to deal with at home) the easier on everyone it will be - the new ones have been dislocated anyhow, so the sooner they're in their 'forever' homes the better.
post #3 of 32
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for your help, I would never have thought of all the suggestions you gave to me. I have pheromone spray but not the diffusers, I will look for them online as soon as I'm done typing this since there isn't a pet store close by I have pure vanilla here so I'll be sure to do that as well. I am really hoping that I can keep all the cats and not have to try to find new homes, but have a bad feeling that this won't be possible. I have a nice sized basement area that is basically finished off and I was hoping to keep them in there for the time being, eventually introducing everyone. There will be 3 females that I have to introduce to my current 4 females, so now I am a little worried. My other concern is my dogs but I am hoping since they are around 9 cats now a few more won't phase them, however, my friends cats have never been around dogs so that may cause a mess. Gosh I hope I can do this, I have such an awful feeling inside for some reason. I was going to have my husband drop 4 off at a no kill shelter in FL but they aren't accepting cats and will return them to animal control if they can't find a foster. I know my friend left me as a contact to care for the cats because she did not want them separated, making this much harder on me, this is so terrible. I thank you so much for your help, it really means a lot to me.
post #4 of 32
Oh, *hugs* *hugs* *hugs*

What you are doing is truly amazing and entirely wonderful, particularly at what must be a hard time for you, as well as the kitties.

It will likely be a bit difficult introducing all the cats together, but one glimmer of hope that I can give you is this: we always had many kitties when I was growing up, and because there were a lot running around, they adjusted much more smoothly to new introductions. Especially in this case, I would think, because you're essentially introducing two large-ish groups of cats, things may go a bit better, since everyone is already somewhat used to sharing their space.

There'll certainly be some tussling and such as they figure out where everyone is going to fit into a new pecking order. But I remain optimistic that things may not be so difficult.

I'd also recommend trying Rescue Remedy, or a similar product, which is a liquid that you add to their water, that helps everyone be a little calmer. It's worked pretty well with our cats, so far.
post #5 of 32
I am so sorry that you lost your good friend and to you for taking on her cats!

There are a few articles on the site that provide general tips for introducing a new cat to your household. You might find some tips in there that will help you thru the adjustment:

But you do have a very unique situation. I would put the respective "prides" in totally separate areas of your house. The cats you are moving are going to be pretty edgy for a while as they just lost their human and were moved to a totally different environment. If you can get her vacuum cleaner, bring it with you and vacuum their new location. You would be surprised at how much scent transfers from a used vacuum.

After a while (and I would give it weeks, not days), start swapping out articles from the different cat areas to the other pride. You will want the cats to get used to each others scents before you introduce them.

Bring the dogs into the new cats area and make sure that those cats have plenty of tall things to climb on to get away. If your dogs live with 9 cats now, chances are they won't care about the new cats, but the new cats might freak a bit at the dogs. This is probably your least worry.

I have a theory that if some of the cats are genetically related to yours, that there is an outside chance that they will sense that. All of my cats came from feral cats that lived in my area, and I can always tell those that are genetically related. They simply tolerate each other much better. I've not tried to separate them and reintroduce years later, so you never know if this will be a factor.

Get plenty of litter boxes and you may need to invest in gallons of odor neutralizer for a while until they adjust.

My heart goes out to you through this. I have a similar agreement with a cross country friend who adopted 2 cats from my colony (littermates to some of mine). She has 4 and I have 11 and we always wonder how we would adjust if something happened to either one of us and we took the others cats. We do know this: If either one of us couldn't integrate the others cats into our household, that we would do our best to place them into homes where they were well taken care of. I would think that your friend would feel the same way.

post #6 of 32
I'm so sorry about the loss of your friend. I can't help but I'll be thinking of you, and I know you will be getting great advice here. Hang in there.
post #7 of 32
You are an angel, and your friend chose her kitties' caretaker well.

You've already gotten some outstanding advice -- I can only reiterate that Feliway diffusers are excellent. (And they can be had much more cheaply online than at stores; we use valleyvet.com.)

I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend, but so glad her cats have you to turn to. You may have to rehome them eventually, but at least for now, your loving care will be such welcome reassurance to them. I can't even imagine what they've been through, poor darlins.

Please keep us updated, okay? You've got friends here for sure.
post #8 of 32
Thread Starter 
Oh wow, thank you everyone, your helpfulness means so much more to me then I can express in words. It's nice to know that there are people out there that care. I am going to follow through with all the advice, hoping that I will not have to rehome any of them. I have been on an emotional roller coaster over this whole thing, wondering if my current pets will start to resent me for brining more in, if her cats will be ok around my dogs, if I can handle 15 (oh my gosh) cats, will my husband have a safe drive to and back from FL. To add to it, I don't have time to even grieve over my friend now. Wondering why she did this to herself and knowing how desperate she must have been to do this because her cats were her world, she guarded them with her life, she had no family. Guess it just goes to show you how depression can really change a person. Then, guilt over not knowing my friend was that sad, I knew she was sad but not that sad. This is so terrible. Last I spoke to her was a month and a half ago, she was desperate to move out of Florida and helpless, not being able to sell her home, not having money to stay there anymore and being absolutely petrified over the arrival of hurricane season. I called her back 20 minutes after we initially got off the phone and told her that she can stay with me, bring up the cats and we'll make it work, she said she may have to do that and thanked me, that was the last I heard from her. I called her 2 weeks ago to wish her 2 cats (the ones that she adopted from me as kittens) happy birthday, she didn't pick up the phone or call me back which was unusual but I thought maybe she took a trip to France as she has done in the past. Next thing I know I get a call from an officer on Sunday saying that she was dead and left my name and number on an info packet next to her bed where she was found. So sad. I am sorry to vent here about all this, I hope that it's ok. I will be checking back daily to keep you updated and probably will be asking for more help. I browsed through yesterday and saw that there are many people here who have 10+ cats so it helps me, if other people can do it then so can I! Thank you, thank you, thank you again for everything!
post #9 of 32
Hey hon, what part of TN are you from? If it gets to be too much, i might be able to help you set something up if you're considering rehoming a few of your friends kitties I know it's tough to think about- but please let me know if i can help you at all! Also, have they been spayed/neutered or vaccinated yet? If not i may be able to get you into a low cost clinic if you're anywhere near Memphis or Bartlett, TN. Let me know, i'd be more than happy to try and help you if i can!
post #10 of 32
OMG I am so sorry about your friend What a terrible thing to happen, and I bet the kitties were probably so scared Bless you for taking them in, You got some very good advice from everyone, best of luck with the introductions
post #11 of 32
Thread Starter 
Oh thank you so much for your offer of help! I am in Greeneville, which is in the north east part of TN. You set my mind at so much ease by offering to help rehome them. I am going to try like heck not too but I know I have to do what's best for everyone involved also. I am new to TN and have no friends that I can ask to take a cat or two. All of the cats are spayed/neutered except one female but animal care and control is operating on her today. My friend never got her spayed because she is a tiny kitty and was fearful of her not being able to handle the surgery. Which is another thing for me to worry about today, I hope she will make it through without any problems. Animal control is also giving them all rabies vaccines. I'm sure they all had their vaccines already but since I have no recollection of my friends vets name I was unable to get the records. And since I'm in TN I have no way of getting into her home to find any info. I feel so helpless being so far away. I will for sure let you know if I need your assistance, you are a wonderful person! Thank you again!

Bella - thank you so much for your words of encouragement. I didn't see your post until after I typed this one back to StarryEyedTiGeR.
post #12 of 32
No problem I guess i'm on the opposite side of the state from you, but if you still need help i'll try to see what i can set up for you. I'm glad to hear they're all altared and have recieved their vaccines- that's wonderful of AC to do that.

Now as far as rehoming them goes, at the moment, i know the shelter where i work is full to the brim so we wouldn't be able to take any in- but there are other shelter/no kills in my area that potentially may be able to help you rehome if need be. I can't make any gurantees as kitten season is fast approaching and it may be difficult to find someone with open space- but hoping for the best, we might be able to find something! Also, are any of the cats you are taking in purebreeds? If so we may be able to find a breed specific rescue for some of them if possible. Also, before you put these kitties around your other ones- have they been tested for feline leukemia/aids yet?

Let me know if you need any help and i'll see what i can do to try and help you out!
post #13 of 32
At my maximum house size, I had 17 cats and 5 dogs. Although a challenge, it can be managed.

I moved 11 cats and 5 dogs from Houston to Kansas City. Probably a comparable drive to what you are facing. While I did move the cats in stages, my last trip had 3 cats and 5 dogs in one van. If you want some information on transporting long distance, I can dig up some posts on the topic if you are interested. I'm not sure if you are getting transportation advice from the Humane Society in Florida, as it sounds like they are helping you out right now. Many Humane Societies do transportation all the time and may have the best advice for you. It will not hurt to ask them for their input.

More coming your way.
post #14 of 32
Thread Starter 
It means a lot to me that you will try to help if new homes are needed. I will definitely keep you up to date on this situation. I am getting more and more nervous as the time goes on but in my heart I know it will all work out as it should. Also, none of the cats are purebreeds and I am pretty certain my friend had them all tested for leukemia and aids. I bought some more litter boxes, 3 Feliway diffusers, plenty of toys, scratching pads and food today. Since I will be unable to get any of their belongings from their old home I bought toys that I know they used to have in hopes of them being at least a bit familiar to the cats. I just can't imagine what they have gone through the past few weeks, breaks my heart. Thank you so so much for your help!

So glad to hear that you managed well with 17 cats and 5 dogs, it gives me so much hope to hear that! My hubby has no other option then to drive straight through with the cats, we did the same when we moved our 9 cats from FL and didn't have any problems. I am more concerned about my friends cats being able to handle the trip however, they have been through so much and are probably going to be extra stressed out. So far I plan on having my hubby put rescue remedy in their water, spraying the interior of the car with pheremone spray and using 2 big crates - 3 cats in each. We have a Dodge Grand Caravan that we purchased specifically to move our pets in so we have plenty of room, what a good investment that turned out to be lol. I would appreciate any other advice that you can give about transporting them. You mentioned that some humane societies transport animals so now I am wondering if there is a chance that the one these cats are at would bring the kitties to me if I reimbursed them. Maybe that's a long shot since I'm so far away but I guess it won't hurt to ask. I did call a couple transport companies but didn't feel comfortable with them. They wanted about $4000 which is more then I can handle and they would be moved by air and that doesn't sit well with me either. I would love to hear any more ideas from you, thank you so much for your help!!
post #15 of 32
I think at this point all you can do (apart from the things you're already putting in place) is for you to relax - it's catching and if you're frazzled the cats will be too. Just get them all inside to their designated places and take it easy - they'll survive just fine if you don't fuss them too much and just take it day by day. Good luck!
post #16 of 32
Thread Starter 
Thanks a lot Larke, I am going to try to calm down and relax today, after I speak with AC and make sure everything is in order. Maybe start to set up the kitties room to take my mind off things. Thank you again everyone for all of your kindness. I will keep everyone up to date!
post #17 of 32
I´m not the person indicate to say what can you do.....I just have only 2 cats.....
BUT you loyalable action for those kittys is dign to mention in every part of the world!
God bless you for your golden heart!....
post #18 of 32
Wow - You are an incredible person for doing this! If there is any way I can help - sending you something (feliway, food etc) please let me know. I agree with what's been said that cats are pretty resilient and if you separate the prides and take it slow slow slow and treat them like you have TWO cat families now......Everything will only go as Fate planned it -
post #19 of 32
Oh, darling, so many hugs for you and your darlings!

My family, while I was growing up, generally had between 15 and 25 cats (we lived in an old farmhouse - tons of space - and my mom wanted more kids but she and my dad compromised on having more cats! lol) and they all got along really well. It's definitely possible to have a well adjusted, but large, cat household.

Best of luck to you, and as so many others have said, you are truly an angel for taking this on. It is clear that your friend made the right decision placing her trust in you.
post #20 of 32
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone, just a quick update. My hubby is leaving tomorrow (Fri) am to go down to FL to get the kitties. He will be picking them up at 10 am on Saturday and then hit the road for a straight drive back home. I am so nervous about him driving this far by himself. If anyone can give us some good luck vibes I would really appreciate it! Thanks again to all who have helped me through this difficult time!
post #21 of 32
I was so touched to read what you wrote. I wish there were a lot more people like you and your husband in the world!

I think it is a big thing to start taking care of so many animals at the same house, and you may find it difficult to introdue all of them together. What I suggest you is to do the introduction slowly, and don't let them all hang around free at the same areas.

* Place your cats and dogs in a saparate room and the new tenants in a different room. At first, they need to get used to the smell of one another, so switch their food bowls and even toys.

* Then, place your pets in the room where the new tenants stay and the new tenants in your pet's room. That will help them adjust each other's smell.

* Then, when you and your husband are at home, place all cats together, but not all at once, so a fight won't start, and see how they react to one anothe. Don't leave them all in the same room until you are sure they can get along and don't hurt one another.

I wish you good luck with everything, and I don't think I will ever forget your story. I will be very happy if you will keep us all updated through this forum, and if you have any more questions, we are here for you!
post #22 of 32
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for your advice and the link you provided me , I truly appreciate it. It's going to be a long hard road but I'm trying to stay positive! My hubby is half way to FL now and I just got off the phone with Animal Control and everything is good to go. All the cats have been examined, had rabies shots and been chipped, one of the cats had to be spayed. The animal control officer I spoke to was so wonderful, she told me how "awesome" it was that we were doing this and all of the staff are so grateful for us not giving up, I really needed to hear that because I have been so worried this a.m. Your post added to my positivity, so thank you!!! I have a separate area for the new arrivals but have to do some "rigging" to get it kitty/doggy proof from my current pets so hopefully I will get it to the point where they won't be able to interact until I think they are ready to do so....one at a time. I am putting them in a semi finished off basement, it's the most safe area of my house for them but there is no door to the area so I have a bit of work to do to barricade it off lol. I still am in a fog from all this, I just can't believe this happened and wish I could have done more for my friend. It gives both myself and my hubby some peace knowing that she chose us to take care of the most important things in her life. Thank you again and I will update asap!!
post #23 of 32
Sorry, missed the updates for this thread the last few days. Humane Societies can arrange transportation but it is a very, very difficult thing for them to do. There is a ton of coordination that has to be arrange by volunteers, most of them strangers to each other. It is best that your husband is picking them up and it sounds like you know the ropes having moved your 9 cats previously. A van is the way to go.

If you don't have a door to the basement and need a solution fast, look at either screen doors (the kind with the wooden frame) or bifold doors. If the opening to your basement is already a normal doorway size, then it will be easier for you. Don't get a screen door if the height of the opening is taller than the door or the cats will simply climb over it. If that's the case, get a bifold door. They mount on pivot hinges on the top and bottom. Nail a 2x4 across the opening to serve as the top header of the door then put the hinge into the 2x4. I hope this makes sense to you - we did that in an urgent situation one time. Your other options is to stack baby gates, but that becomes a real pain to go in and out.
post #24 of 32
Originally Posted by Momofmany View Post
If you don't have a door to the basement and need a solution fast, look at either screen doors (the kind with the wooden frame) or bifold doors. If the opening to your basement is already a normal doorway size, then it will be easier for you. Don't get a screen door if the height of the opening is taller than the door or the cats will simply climb over it. If that's the case, get a bifold door. They mount on pivot hinges on the top and bottom. Nail a 2x4 across the opening to serve as the top header of the door then put the hinge into the 2x4. I hope this makes sense to you - we did that in an urgent situation one time. Your other options is to stack baby gates, but that becomes a real pain to go in and out.
i'd do bifold if it were me. my ferals have completed destroyed the screening in my screen door. i've got some supposedly 'pet-proof' replacement screening, but i haven't gotten around to installing it yet.
post #25 of 32
Thread Starter 
Wow, I am so grateful for all of the responses I have received! I managed to get a bifold door for the opening to the basement. The other problem is there is another opening that my cats can use to jump down to the stairs. Kinda hard to explain but the stairwell isn't enclosed at the top either, there is a ledge which resembles a restaurant bar that my cats can jump on and then jump down to the stairs. I am trying to block that off by putting boxes on top. But on a good note, my hubby arrived in West Palm Beach safely and will be picking up the kitties tomorrow by 10 am. I spoke with an officer at animal control again today and when she heard our story she told me that she would make sure he can get the cats before they open in the morning, wonderful news. The microchipping/rabies vacs/exams of all and spaying of the one cat were all completed yesterday so everything is in place, phew! I still am extremely nervous over this, I hope my cats don't end up resenting me. Everyone is saying "it's just 6 cats" but to me it's a big deal, especially when I have my own that I love more then anything and would hate for something bad to happen. I know this happened for a reason so it has to all work out for the best. I got somewhat of a "sign" from my deceased friend the other night and that is also helping me out, hope that doesn't sound looney lol. Thanks again and I will keep post again soon to update everyone!
post #26 of 32
(((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((( ))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))
For those kittys!...
post #27 of 32
Hey stacy_s,
I am so glad to hear you are positive about everything and, of course,that my post helped you.
I can't wait to hear updates about the adjustment of the new cats...
post #28 of 32
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone, another quick update. My hubby is on his way home from FL, should arrive here with the cats at about 1 am. He left later then he wanted to because he was still tired from the long drive yesterday. Last I talked to him, the cats were sleeping and on occasion one or two will meow. He said they all look very good, not underweight or anything. I got the new cat room all blocked off as best as I could and even tested it with my cats and they could not get through. I will be sure to never leave them unattended nearby just in case. The room is full of toys, food, scratching posts, beds, and a feliway diffuser is plugged in so they should be so much more comfy then they have been the past few weeks. I know it's a bit too soon but I have started to consider rehoming 4 of them, just getting myself mentally prepared for that. Hopefully it will all work out. Thanks again everyone! I'll update again later or tomorrow.
post #29 of 32
Stacy - you're amazing, but I just wanted to mention that it might also be smart to be prepared for possible agitation among the new ones just because they're in a new place and not 'just' relating to each other, but to the smells in their new room (along with smells of your cats there). It's also a good idea, of course, to be sure there are lots of soft places for all to nap, etc. in there (like you haven't done enough :-).
post #30 of 32
Forgot to mention 1 thing about bifold doors. Cats are smart and will learn to reach their paws under it and pull to open them (or push from the other direction). You may need to find a way to put a latch on it that you can get to from both directions to secure it, or at least put it on the side where you enter/exit to secure the basement.

I have a bifold on my closet with a latch. The other day we forgot to lock it and found Koko asleep on top of the clothes. Where there's a will and a smart cat, there's a way.
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