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Getting a Second Cat: Health Concerns

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I am thinking about bringing home a second cat from the shelter where I volunteer, the same one I got Albus from. She's my favorite cat at the shelter and I think her personality would mesh very well with Albus's. She's been in the shelter basically her whole life, nearly 2 years. There's nothing wrong with her, but she's black (they tend to not get adopted as often because of people's silly superstitions) and a little shy. I would bring her home as a foster first, see how it goes and then decide if we want to adopt her.

Other than things not working behavior-wise (I'm really hardly worried about that), I am concerned about bringing illnesses into the house with her. Things like URI's, calici, and other stuff tend to go around at the shelter every few months and I'm just worried that she could look fine now but be a carrier for something...I don't know if germs on cats work that way or not.

Our shelter is next door to an animal hospital (the vet there is the one who started the shelter), and I know I can go over there and have her thoroughly checked before I bring her home.

This cat doesn't seem to be too susceptible to stuff that goes around the shelter, at least not more than any of the other cats. Should I be worried and is there anything they can even look for to know for sure if she's carrying anything?
post #2 of 24
Have her checked at the vets first then leave them separate for about a week.
Its so easy to get Uri's when you first get a new cat.
I had that happen.
post #3 of 24
Get a Feliway diffuser (or 2--1 for the confinement room and 1 for the rest of the house) and run it for a few days before you bring her home. Get a room ready for her to confine her for a week or so. Then, have her checked over thoroughly by the vet before bringing her home. If possible, see if you can take a towel, small rug, or blanket to the shelter to put in her cage or sleeping area. Bring that home with you when you bring her home. She'll have something familiar smelling that will help her transition. The Feliway will help cut down on the stress level in the home which triggers many URI.
post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
I guess if I had to, I could separate them for a week, but I live in a 1000 sq. ft., 2 bedroom condo. Albus's litterbox and food are in the second bedroom. That would be the only place I could really confine her, but I'd have to move his stuff out of there (and into the living room, I guess) which he wouldn't be happy about. He gets anxious when we close the door to the bedroom for a few minutes, and it's not like when we open it, he runs to the litter box because he needed to use it. I'm just worried that moving everything around could upset him more.

Of course if we do this, I was planning on keeping them separate for a couple of days, but does it have to be a whole week? Just seems kind of impractical.

The Feliway sounds like a good idea, though.
post #5 of 24
You really need to keep them separated for a week (or longer). This will also help you if one of them gets sick as there is an incubation period for most illnesses. Have you read the cat introduction information stickied at the top of the forum?
post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by lsanders View Post
I guess if I had to, I could separate them for a week, but I live in a 1000 sq. ft., 2 bedroom condo. Albus's litterbox and food are in the second bedroom. That would be the only place I could really confine her, but I'd have to move his stuff out of there (and into the living room, I guess) which he wouldn't be happy about. He gets anxious when we close the door to the bedroom for a few minutes, and it's not like when we open it, he runs to the litter box because he needed to use it. I'm just worried that moving everything around could upset him more.

Of course if we do this, I was planning on keeping them separate for a couple of days, but does it have to be a whole week? Just seems kind of impractical.

The Feliway sounds like a good idea, though.
Move his litter to the living room a few days before you bring her home so that he gets used to it being in a different place. As for separating them for a couple of days, it could actually be more like "weeks". We kept Bijou and Mika separated for a whole month but that was because Mika was so tiny compared to Bijou and we were concerned about leaving them together when we weren't there to supervise.
post #7 of 24
Congratulations on taking the little girl home... She deserves a forever home... Poor thing, been there for so long!
You will find different opinions here, as far as separating them. Health wise, she is most likely the carrier of herpes, but then it is estimated that 80% of the cats are, anyways... Feliway is going to help with that, by keeping the stress level lower.
I didn't do a formal introduction with mine. He was cleared by the vet before the day he came home (the week of), and was separated for a couple of hours. Most will not recommend this, but he was miserable locked up, and so was my resident cat, Lucky.
There was no fighting, no hissing, no biting, and a little over a month later, they are the best of friends; they LOVE each other.
You will need to lock her up for a little while, for her to be comfortable in the new house. You can put her in a crate on the living room, so you can see how both cats react with each other. All will boil down to that.
There are people with many cats, that have never done a formal introduction... It's a gamble, but in the end, what will count is how your cats react.
Just make sure to get her cleared by the vet before you let her lose in the house.
Good luck!
post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
Update!

Shortly after I last wrote in this thread, the kitty got adopted. I heard she seemed like nice lady who already had another cat, so she'd have someone to play with. I was just happy that someone got her out of there!

Well, last night, I got an email from another volunteer who handled the adoption and she said she got an email from the woman saying that it wasn't going as well as she'd hoped- the new cat wasn't getting along with the cat she had. It sounded like her old cat is sort of grumpy and was running and hiding whenever the new cat tried to play with her. In addition to this, she was moving and her new place only allowed one cat. So, she wants to return the new one.

Of course, anyone who's had multiple cats before knows that you need more than a few weeks for two cats to warm up to each other, but I immediately took this as a sign and said "as long as I can take her on a trial basis to make sure that my fiance isn't allergic to her, I'll do it."

So, as long as the shelter director approves it, I'll be adopting her, on a foster home basis at first, hopefully in the next couple of days.

My question is that since she's been in a private home with just one other cat who we're pretty sure is healthy, do I still need to keep her and Albus separated for a week when she gets here?
post #9 of 24
The separation is also the classic suggestion for a slow introduction between the two. My condo is a two-bedroom, 1000-footer - do you by chance have a second bathroom you could use for the intro room? IMO, I'd hate to disrupt the resident cat more than is going to happen anyway....the large crate for the new kitty seems to me to be a good idea if there's no other room you can use or partition off.

I'd also get the vet check first before bringing newbie home - just to make sure everyone's starting on a healthy footing.

And, for what it's worth, although I tried the slow introduction route, for mine it turned out better to just let them meet. The three days of into just ended up with my resident cat being mad at whatever was behind the bedroom door, and my new one being really anxious to come join the family. After three days I gave up and spent the day at home with the doors open....after some hissing, some chasing, one Halloween cat posturing by the old cat, and one mid-night yowling session (with very innocent faces looking at me when I got out of bed to see what was happening), it was ok...by the end of the week they were sitting together looking out the window. I was lucky, I know.

My other suggestion is to keep telling the resident cat that you're bringing a cat home for him as a friend, and always, always tell resident cat you love him so much, and give him playtime, treats and food first.
post #10 of 24
Seperation, IMO, is a must. Your apt may be small, but for a shy kitty, it's *much* easier to be confined to a small area than a big (scary) space. Even though she's been in a private home - it's possible she picked up something there (we had someone return a cat who had contracted ringworm from their indoor only kitty).

Seperate her for a few days, see how it's going, then decide if you can let her meet Albus or not.
post #11 of 24
Can you keep new kitty in a bathroom and shut the door? It's where we always keep any new arrivals. It may be a hassle to get in and out without her making a run for it, but it may be better than disrupting Albus's surroundings.
post #12 of 24
Keep her seperate and introduce them slowly.
post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 
I dunno- our bathroom doesn't have a window or even a fan (our building was built before that was code.) so I don't know if it's a good option- it gets stuffy if I'm in there more than a couple minutes with the door closed. We have a couple of baby gates- maybe I'll put her in there with the door open and put the baby gates, one on top of each other so she'll still be separate. Maybe she and Albus will get used to each other quicker if they can see each other, even if they can't get to each other.

One free vet visit from the vet next door comes with adopting a cat; not sure if it will apply in this situation. The adopter is going to retain ownership until we determine if my fiance is allergic, and if not, we'll transfer her over to me. I'll find out if I can have someone check her out.

We pick her up tomorrow night at 6:00! Yay! I've got to go buy some more toys for her. I bought a new laser pointer today on eBay, one that isn't one of those cheap ones they sell in pet stores.
post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by lsanders View Post
I dunno- our bathroom doesn't have a window or even a fan (our building was built before that was code.) so I don't know if it's a good option- it gets stuffy if I'm in there more than a couple minutes with the door closed. We have a couple of baby gates- maybe I'll put her in there with the door open and put the baby gates, one on top of each other so she'll still be separate. Maybe she and Albus will get used to each other quicker if they can see each other, even if they can't get to each other.

One free vet visit from the vet next door comes with adopting a cat; not sure if it will apply in this situation. The adopter is going to retain ownership until we determine if my fiance is allergic, and if not, we'll transfer her over to me. I'll find out if I can have someone check her out.

We pick her up tomorrow night at 6:00! Yay! I've got to go buy some more toys for her. I bought a new laser pointer today on eBay, one that isn't one of those cheap ones they sell in pet stores.
You might be able to bungee up a cheap box fan to a cabinet or something... I don't know the ins and outs of your bathroom (that would be creepy hehe) but if you can it should keep things comfortable in there. And might make it more pleasant when you yourself are in there for non-cat reasons! I'd be concerned that she'd be able to climb over the baby gates. I know my cats would climb over them in a heartbeat, and in her younger days I'm sure Alafair could jump it!
post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
I think we figured out a solution- she'll go in the bathroom, and we're going to borrow a third baby gate from a friend so that the doorway will be completely blocked, but with the door open so she'll still have ventilation and be able to interact with us and Albus for a few days. Luckily, we have a second bathroom, so we won't have any accidents.

I'm not picking her up until 6:00 and I'm not sure if anyone from the vet will still be there, or any of the vet techs who volunteer at the shelter. What sort of obvious stuff should I look for tonight? Runny eyes/nose, I'll check her ears for mites, are there any visible symptoms of ringworm? I won't have a stool sample or anything to check, at least not until after I get home. I can take her back to the shelter/vet tomorrow morning when someone's there to do a more thorough check.

Any suggestions on how I should introduce them? I've heard you should present the new cat's "hind quarters" to the existing cat, since it's a sign of submission (and there's apparently a lot of data for them back there!) Should I do that soon after I come in with, or should we get her settled in the bathroom and just let Albus discover her naturally, and when I take down the gates in a few days, then introduce them like that? From knowing them at the shelter, neither of them were particularly confrontational cats, but when she's coming into Albus' turf, it will probably be a different story.
post #16 of 24
Thread Starter 
We got her! I had everything all set up for her to stay in the bathroom for a few days. I got home with her, pulled her out of the carrier. I held her for a few moments, then she escaped from my arms (she was never fond of being held- loves to sit near you, but not big on the holding) and ran straight under the couch. *Sigh* She's still under there...in a catatonic [sorry, I couldn't resist] state. Hopefully, she'll come out soon.

post #17 of 24
What a beautiful girl!! Hope she comes out soon and everything goes well. I've always loved black cats. The cat that made the largest impression on my childhood was a black cat called Skipper I've had my share of black (and black and white) cats. Good luck!!!
post #18 of 24
Thread Starter 
Well, she came out! Albus was sitting in the living room with me and I decided to check under the couch again with the flashlight....no cat under there. I looked down the hallway and saw her poking her head out from the linen closet in our bedroom. A few minutes later, she saunters into the living room, and Albus was cool as a cucumber. They've sniffed nose-to-nose a few times and there hasn't been so much as a hiss or a swipe. It's like she's always been here.



Yes, he's a big cat and she's full-grown, but just a petite cat.

I'm still going to put her in the bathroom overnight so she doesn't get into something while we're asleep and also so I can establish what stuff- litter box, dishes, etc.- is hers, and then I can start transitioning the stuff to its permanant spot in the house.
post #19 of 24
Thread Starter 
I don't think getting her in the bathroom for the night is going to happen. I tried twice now, by getting her in the bathroom and closing the door, then setting up the gates on the outside and re-opening the door. It didn't work so well and she escaped. All her stuff is in there and she knows it, I don't want to stress her out, and she's getting along fine with Albus, so I'm giving up. I see no signs of illness.

The only little issue they're having is over food. Albus thinks that her bowl is his, too. There was a little hissing coming from the bathroom, and when I went to investigate, Albus ran out. Is this one of those things they're just going to have to work out over time? Albus still had plenty of food left in his own bowl, so I don't know if he's trying to let her know he's still in charge, or what.
post #20 of 24
She's a gorgeous little girl!! Sounds like things are going well. On the food issue, you might have to go to scheduled feedings instead of free feeding. That's what we ended up doing for the sake of both of our cats. Otherwise, they'd both be as big as a barn!

Let us know how they did overnight.
post #21 of 24
THat's great! They are both beautiful and look like they are going to make a nice pair of friends! Yea!
post #22 of 24
Thread Starter 
I free feed the dry food, but put out the wet food before I go to bed. This morning there's still some wet food in both bowls, but I have caught Albus eating out of hers in the bathroom. I just re-direct him to his in the office. I think it just has to sink in.

They survived the night...I think. I haven't actually seen her yet, but I know she's here- the windows are open and the screens are still there! I slept on the couch so I could keep an ear out for any problems. She did wake me up a couple times around 4am climbing on top of the TV. We keep some candles and knick-knacks up there, so I had to shoo her down.

Oh, she's emerged from under our bed. I think it's going to take her awhile for her to warm up to us- even though she seems to remember me from the shelter, she still runs when one of us approaches her. But, she's not cowering in fear somewhere, so I'm okay with that. The lady who adopted her said that when she brought her home, she hid in her bedroom for two weeks and refused to eat. I told her I'd email her some pictures, but I thought it might be a little rude to send them and be like, "look at how great she's getting along with my cat on the first night!" I'll wait a week or so!

Aww, she can in here and is letting me pet her a little. Well, that's good!
post #23 of 24
This is fascinating to read, I'm really enjoying learning about this cat introduction. My husband and I are thinking of bringing in a second cat and I appreciate all the information everyone has offered.

Keep us posted on the situation!
post #24 of 24
Oh, she's beautiful - and so is Albus!!! So glad things are going so well.

With mine, after the abortive three days in his own room introduction, I set them both up with their own water and food bowls in the kitchen, maybe five feet apart. Strangely enough, most of the time they stick to their own bowls. My big boy will sometimes go after my girl's food when he's particularly hungry, and she will finish off his wet food if he leaves any, but they're pretty polite. Now I've got a water fountain and they just take turns.

My girl is petite like yours, but my big boy has her coloring. Here's hoping the second night goes well, and best wishes for a very happy family for years to come.
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