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Introducing my cats to my girlfriend's cat...

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hello all, new member here. Hope this is in the right forum...

I'm moving to Cleveland to start medical school in a little over a month. My girlfriend will be moving a few months after me, and in about a year we plan to move in together. We'll live separately for about nine months but we'll be in the same city. Since we plan to move in together, I am wondering if it is best to slowly being acclimating my cats to her cat.

I have two male cats. One is about a year and a half, the other is right around a year old. I got the older one first from my local shelter when he was less than a year old, and he had serious behavioral problems. He was extremely aggressive towards people. Eventually I concluded that he was simply not getting enough attention or exercise from the limited (hour or so) play time I was able to give him each day. I got a kitten shortly thereafter and was pleasantly surprised to see that he was very nurturing toward the younger cat. Over the last year or so he has also become remarkably more friendly towards humans. The two cats like to play together and they play *very* rough, like two small dogs jumping on and wrestling with one another.

The younger cat is very affectionate towards humans but very distrustful of other cats. He likes his older brother, but when I take him to my parents' house (down in rural IL, where there are 5 other cats) he is very much on edge. The older cat, however, LOVES other cats, and always rolls over on his back to play with my parents' cats, few of whom are interested.

Okay, to recap: older cat dislikes humans, loves cats. Younger cat loves humans, dislikes cats.

Both of my cats have been around my girlfriend's cat on several occasions, and both were friendly toward her at the time. Her cat absolutely hates my cats. She hisses, runs, and hides every time she sees them. Also, my girlfriend's cat is declawed. Both of my cats have their claws and I refuse to have them declawed (although I have ordered some Soft Paws for them for when we move to the new house).

Does anyone have any tips on how to acclimate my girlfriend's cat towards my cats and vice versa? I know this post has been a little bit all over the place, and if anyone has any specific questions I'll do my best to answer them. I'm concerned that my girlfriend's cat will always hate my cats and that our living situation will be tense because of it.

post #2 of 6
I think it's much better to wait until you move into your 'final' place together. Putting them in the same place for short stretches ahead of time will only multiply (and compound) stress between the cats. They have very short memories in any case, are much more tied to 'place' than people, and juggling back and forth won't acclimate them to anything but stress. They will be who they are in the end regardless, and won't benefit from earlier meetings at all. It's the time that you do move in together that will be hard (99%) for a time, and will need strategy, and control, and there are ways to deal with it at the time. Don't forget most cats hate travelling to begin with, and having to end up in relatively strange territory at the end of that, then deal with new cats (they'll be 'new' for weeks when you do get together), then go home is just too much to ask of them.
post #3 of 6
Since you have a good bit of time before you actually live together, maybe you could begin now with then getting used to each other's scent. Take old towels or something and let the cats sleep on them for a few weeks, then swap yours for hers. by the time they all occupy the same home, the intros should go much more smoothly. I am by no means an expert, but you will get excellent advice from people here that are. welcome you and your kitty to TCS.
Oh, BTW, congrats on starting medical school. The world needs more good doctors.
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the above suggestions. I have thought about "trading" towels and bedding and things like that with her cat in order to get them used to each other's scent.

There will be times, I'm afraid, when we have to put them together for short times (a day or two or three) and I'm wondering how I should specifically approach that situation. Keep them entirely isolated on separate sides of the house? This is a possibility I suppose - my cats could go in the basement and hers could be on the second floor. What about keeping them on opposite sides of a door so that they knew of the other's presence? Would this only cause more stress as Larke mentioned?

What about something like a feliway diffuser? To be honest, I had never even heard of such a thing until I started browsing these forums. Do you think that something like that would help the cats become accustomed to each other? Perhaps if the next time they met were under a pheromone-softened haze, they would get along better?

I want short-term convenience, of course, but I am most interested in long-term success. All three of our cats are two years old or younger, and if we stay together I don't want our cats at each others' throats for the next fifteen plus years.

While we're on the topic of behavior, should I consider something like a feliway diffuser for my two cats when we move? If one of them has an accident outside the box, the younger one will continue to go there any time the box is not perfectly to his liking. In addition, I desperately want them to stop clawing my furniture, speakers, etc. I am going to give the Soft Paws a try when we move, but if I could re-program them not to scratch things in the new house that would really be best.

Things have been pretty smooth ever since I got the kitten, but with this move coming up I feel like a woefully inexperienced cat parent. Thanks again for your suggestions.
post #5 of 6
2 suggestions: read this article: i'd like you to meet... introducing cats
& PM GingersMom - she's had great success introducing her cats!
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by laureen227 View Post
2 suggestions: read this article: i'd like you to meet... introducing cats
& PM GingersMom - she's had great success introducing her cats!
Thanks, I read the article a couple times and I plan to give all of the steps a try. Now my only question is - which cat should I introduce to her first? The cat that loves other cats is also the one with a history of aggression and he will likely follow her around in an attempt to get her to like him. The younger one typically does not like other cats (but was very interested in her as a baby), so maybe it would be good to introduce the two of them since they'll both be a little nervous?

In the end, it will probably come down to trial and error.
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