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The Cat You Haven’t Met Yet

With Millie still cowering under the hamper (though I have caught her moving around and exploring, when I leave the room and come back), I wanted to introduce everyone to the unsung hero of this whole ordeal. His name is Ed, and he is also a rescue. 10 years or so ago, Jillian found this tiny fellow in a bird sanctuary, and he has been in my custody for the last five years or so. Being a rescue, he definitely has some quirks. He can’t be picked up, for example, but when I am sitting on the couch or working at my desk, you have never seen such a great lap cat. He’s handsome, he’s got crazy personality, and he’s my buddy.

Now, here’s the thing. I think he senses something is going on with this whole “Millie” situation, even though I am keeping Millie in a separate room. The other morning, when Millie was on her crying jag, Ed was visibly upset, pawing at the door of the room Millie was in, and looking nervous.

So here’s the question. With Millie still virtually inconsolable, in spite of attention and care, I am wondering if the two should be introduced. In my head, what I hope would happen is that some kind of paternal instincts would kick in, and Ed would become Millie’s surrogate father, and they would spend the rest of their days snuggling in a sunbeam. However, with her so freaked out, I am concerned that his presence might not help the situation. The other problem is, that due to an overly anxious former mother, Ed has been declawed, a practice that I find despicable, immoral, and one that should probably be illegal just like it is in every other civilized country in the world. Declawing is the worst thing you could ever do to a cat, but unfortunately, this procedure was done before Ed came into my care. He doesn’t seem to mind, but he also seems to not know he doesn’t have claws, so I definitely don’t want the two cats to get into a scuffle.

Thoughts? Should I make introductions? Will this calm Millie down, or only serve to upset her more?

There Are 23 Responses So Far. »

  1. When I rescued my little Isis, I brought her into my house and let her eat right in front of my first cat, Zeus. He was a bit curious, and he had no idea who she was. However, I think this transition didn’t become a fiasco because of two points: 1) Zeus’ personality which is laid back, whatever the human says goes type and 2) my own assertive energy (Thank you, Caesar Milan from Dog Whisperer!) in showing these animals that I would only tolerate their getting along with one another.

    Did they get into spats? Yes. Was there hissing and clawing? Yes. However, I think that is all very natural, and I think it also gave Zeus time to explain to Isis in his own way that, “Hey, I was here first. I like you, but I have seniority.” It also gave Isis time to figure out the lay of the land and to follow Zeus around to learn where the litter was, where the food was, etc.

    I think as long as you are calm and assertive about the introduction, consistent about breaking up spats, and showing that you will only tolerate them being together lovingly, then it will work out better than you had anticipated. Best of luck to you two!

  2. Definitely introduce them. You may want to keep the first meetings short and supervised and see how they react to each other. There will be hissing and growling. Comfort both of them while this is going on and let them know that you love them both. It’ll take a while but they’ll probably end up being best of friends.

  3. I hope Ed doesn’t get hurt. I’m glad he’s finally getting some play on the blog. P.S. Do we get the portrait when we take custody of him? My GF is pro original artwork.

  4. One technique that works for a lot of folks in introducing cats is to keep them in separate rooms as you have done, but take two clean cotton towels (or T-shirts; just don’t use any synthetic fabrics as they won’t pick up kitty scents) and rub Zeus and Millie separately. Or let them roll around on the cotton towel or fabric for an hour or so. Then take Zeus’s towel into Millie’s room and let her sniff it, and give her towel to Zeus. That way they will learn to recognize each other’s scent before they are allowed in the same room together.

    I would agree with Ayla that you should supervise their first meetings.

    My former dean had a cat named Zeus who was a holy terror– known to tree dogs and terrorize letter carriers. I met Zeus one day when I had to take some documents over to the dean’s house as part of a part-time library job. Zeus came barreling through the front screen door and literally ran right into my solar plexus– knocked the wind out of me. Other than introducing himself rather aggressively, Zeus was friendly to me after that.

    Good luck!

  5. Millie will absolutely freak out. Big time. Ed too, probably. And yes, it’s very likely that having him around might finally bring out the good girl in her, even if not right away.

    The way I’d do it is have them meet somewhere indoors, enclosed (so she won’t disapear) but not too small (so that they can run and hide) and kind of hold one of them, or at least keep close enough to grab him or her if need arises.

    They will see each other and hiss mad. If you let Ed loose he will cautiously approach and try to smell her, she’ll freak out and scratch and run for dear life and the sounds will be absolutely dreadful. They wil probably keep their distance after the first argument, occasionally gazing at each other from their own individual safe spots. Try this once or twice a day and I think they’ll be buddies soon.

    Cats rock.

  6. Wow. New dilemma, huh? We at StrangeRanger have been trying a variant of this for two months now (check the blog for updates). It should be a bit easier for you guys as Millie is so young that Ed won’t feel too threatened. Who knows, parental feelings may surface. Expect some cat opera (beats Italian revenge-opera all to hell). Give Ed an open lane to run out of the room if he wants. Take heart in the fact that Mille, even with claws, isn’t going to be able to hurt Ed much, if at all. When cats come to serious grips weight counts for a lot. Have a spray bottle full of water handy, and zap ‘em in the face if they start to make unfriendly, violent contact.

    Definitely introduce them, but supervise it, and then split ‘em up for a while. With luck (which Millie seems to have in spades) they will adapt quickly and become buds.

  7. Hi! Just found your blog and the great story about Millie. Wrt introducing them: Yes, supervise. Have a cat carrier? Put Millie in it and bring it into the room where Ed is. Let them check each other out w/the safety of the carrier screen between them (still supervise them). The swapping towels with their scents on it is good, too. We’ve swapped bedding so they end up sleeping on and mixing their scents together well.

    Other random suggestions:
    - Food is love. Feed Millie a little; pet her a little; feed her a little; pet her a little;…
    - As you wondered in another post, the box may be more comforting to her than having the run of a large area.
    - As Millie begins to accept something, e.g., being petted, add something else, e.g.., scruffing her or clipping her nails. Push/add a little something each time. Again, food association with new experiences is good. Scruff her, give her a treat. This will help her get used to the kind of handling you’ll need to give her to do routine care in the future.
    - A friend recently mentioned an article outlining the steps to socializing feral kittens. I’ll see if I can find it for you.

    Most of all: Good luck!

  8. I haven’t commented before, but I’ve been following your story. These past few months I was involved in introducing a new rescued kitten to our one-year-old cat. It stressed me a bit, but is probably a good idea. I’m sure both cats are aware of each other and very very curious.

    Definitely the first visits need to be supervised. Having them meet with Millie in a carrier is an excellent idea. We also used a baby gate (which only worked until they figured out they could climb over it… but it got us through the first few meetings). This is a good idea as well since Millie is still healing, and this will insure (ensure?) her safety.

    Even before this you can get them used to each other by putting Millie in a different room (or carrier) and allowing Ed to investigate the room she’s been in. Or you can put Ed in the room she’s been in for a bit and let her roam around the rest of the apartment getting used to his smell as well.

    I would just say this: don’t try to restrain either of them in any way or force an interaction they don’t want to have. They will totally work it out themselves eventually, but all cats take a different amount of time. I had to learn to let our cats wrestle so they could work out their hierarchy… but again just becareful with Millie for awhile since she is still healing.

    Finally… this is a FANTASTIC website for all cat questions. Traci the moderator has helped me tremendously. Best of luck!

  9. Ed is a “grown up” and Millie is a “baby.” He will act accordingly. There will be a pecking order, but honestly I think that will come later. She’ll probably hiss at him and puff herself up, but if he’s interested in helping, he will be persistent.

    I say introduce them. It sounds like he’s not interested in hurting her at all.

  10. The pet carrier is the way I introduced my three to one another. I would bring the new one into the room in the carrier for a few minutes then back to the isolation room. I did this several times a day for a week then just turned them loose. There was some hissing and some head bopping, but they learned to tolerate eachother if not get along.

  11. Who did the cat painting by the way? It’s really nice.

  12. I would expect that it will be Millie who is scared of Ed, rather than the other way around. I definitely concur with the idea of introducing them with kitty in a carrier. Another thing you can do is “switch rooms.” Let Ed go into the room where Millie is staying without her and let him sniff to his heart’s content. Give her one of his favorite blankets to sleep with.

  13. Keep in mind that cats aren’t always aware of their size. (The 6 lb girl we have chases the 22 lb boy all over the apartment.) So, just because *you* know that Ed is bigger and stronger, Ed might not be 100% sure about it.

    Another thing to keep in mind is height. Try not to hold/carry one of the cats over the other. If Ed is minding his own business and suddenly he feels attacked by a flying kitten from the sky, it is NOT GOOD. If he sees the kitten coming, at more-or-less his eye level, it is better.

    Finally, like Annie said, food is love. Praise them and give them treats for *not* going mental. Ed gets the treat first, obviously.

    Good luck!

  14. Defiitely start introducing them. Ed may have been upset by crying because of paternal instinct, and Millie may be missing her mom so the introduction may be a good thing. Ed is a very handsome cat and I’m glad he’s getting blog time!

  15. Before introducing them, get the cats’ scents on separate towels. You can rub the cats with the towels, or let them sleep on them. Then give Millie’s towel to Ed and vice versa — all the time keeping the cats in separate rooms. Let them get used to each others’ scents for a few days, then put them in the same room, supervised. Don’t leave them alone. See how they do; separate them again when you have to leave the room. Do that for a week or so and see how it goes. If Ed is already hanging out at the door, he might be receptive. On the other hand, he’s a male, not a female — don’t know that he has paternal instincts that involve care-giving. And even tho he has no front claws, I assume he has back ones — those aren’t usually removed. He can use them to great advantage; he’s strong. And he has teeth. Millie is still tiny; her claws are no match for his strength. That said, they will eventually get used to each other and may even become friends. Good luck — this is a beautiful thing you’re doing.

  16. I went through a similar situation with my two cats. In fact, Ed (although a bit smaller) looks quite similar to Bandit.

    I ended up introducing the two of them, and the older one took care of the little one quite well. A few days later, and they were sleeping together in a ball, and every once in a while my older cat would groom the little one.

    Best of luck.

  17. a couple of monthes ago we got 2 more cats from a relative, in addition to the two that we already have. we kept the two new, young ones in one room as they had been together since kittenhood, and let the older ones sniff at the door and figure out what was going on. our oldest cat had already been through it so when we finally let them meet he was fine, and our second oldest got sort of depressed because he wasn’t getting the extreme amount of attention he had been getting but he got over it. the two young cats were a different story, they hissed, snarled, and yowled when ever the two old cats came over to get their scent. my advice would be to let them meet gradually and in supervised meetings.

  18. I’ve always read that you should definitely let them experience each other’s scent by switching the areas of the house they are in (let Ed in her room, let Millie out where Ed often hangs out). Having Millie in a carrier for the first close enounter is a good idea. You may be very surprised how well they might get along. Other than a few days (sometimes a little more than a week) of hissing, my cats have all gradually gotten use to each other (I have 5).

  19. There’s a book called Cat Vs. Cat that is entirely about multicat households. The author is well-respected and I recommend it myself. She says to introduce cats one sense at a time. Right now, you’ve got hearing since Ed hears Millie. Then smell (the towel suggestion). You can also try propping open the door about a paw width and see how each reacts. If they play, good. If one goes psycho, close the door.
    Bonnie is 9 and declawed; Victor is 1 and clawed. Bonnie is a holy terror, trying to kick Victor’s butt out of the house without ever touching him (ew!). Victor play-attacks Bonnie with no use of his claws. When she fusses, he shrugs it off. I couldn’t manage the 1 sense at a time intro with them, but knowing Bonnie, it wouldn’t have helped much.
    Results vary widely depending on the cats involved. Take it slowly. Don’t expect them to fall in love. Don’t let them hurt each other. And don’t believe all the advice you read on the web :-)

  20. I say you get a box, put Millie in the box and put her in the middle of the livingroom, let Victor smell the box for a while and then take the box away. Repeat, then follow the sugestion Lambj made. it sounds extremly resonable.

  21. I went through this with Abby, my Manx. She was difficult to introduce to our other existing cats. But she was 6 and not in the mood to change her ways. IT has been a year and she is still adapting. BUT, with a lot of patience and supervision things have been getting better and better. They may never be perfect, but I am OK with that. As long as there are NO knock down drag out fights between the cats, they are alright. Millie is a young one and I do feel also that kittens adapted easier. The only thing remember that Millie was a street cat and she is adapting to a great many new things all at the same time.

  22. Supervising introductions has worked for us. Our three older cats have been patient with the three kittens we recently rescued. There has been some hissing and growling and even a few swats, but all have been very hesitantly applied by the older cats.
    We confined the kittens to the office for the first week and now let them migrate between the office and our bedroom. A 17 year old docile cat also lives in the office, but she’s stone deaf and stays on the desk, so we thought the kittens wouldn’t bother her very much. I did keep them crated for a couple of nights at first just to be sure.
    I too hoped for some kind of gentle instinct to kick in and for her to tolerate some kitten affection. However, going on 3 weeks, the best we’ve seen is some curiosity without growling.
    Our 3 year old cat has been very sweet though. She started by sniffing at the office door and with succeeding supervised visits began to warily approach and rub noses. Now the most assertive kitten plays a bit with her.
    This kitten (we caught him 10 days before catching his littermates) also was gently introduced to our 1.5 year old yellow lab. The kitten LOVES the dog and the dog is super friendly licking and nudging the kitten. I supervise their visits closely though as the dog is close to 100 lbs.
    This playful, friendly, kittie is the one that was almost killed by a cinderblock. He had a re-check at the vet this a.m. and appears to be on the mend. He’s completely mobile, eating well, and no hernias are detectable right now. There are some potty issues that we’re monitoring, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed and saying our prayers.

  23. Give each cat a big chunk of
    cat nip and walla! the 60s revisited

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