Author Topic: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.  (Read 6996 times)

Dicey

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I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« on: July 24, 2014, 10:19:13 PM »
I realize this is a bit (okay, way) off topic but I'm hoping that the general mustache community will have some experience they'd be willing to share.
A dear friend passed away this week. He had rescued a female kitty who had the sweetest personality. Whenever I visited, I always told him I'd love to have her, but he assured me she was taken care of and that there was a waiting list. (He had been sick for a while and knew she would outlive him.) Well, the line of folks has vaporized and I am the lucky new owner.

I am thrilled, but here's where the need for advice comes in. I have two small dogs by marriage, both of whom have lived with cats amicably before. We believe the kitty was familiar with dogs from her previous life. (She always came running when my friend whistled, which he assured me was proof she had  lived with dogs.) I am to bring her home on Saturday, which is not much time for acclimation. Any advice on how to introduce them successfully would be gratefully appreciated.

BlueHouse

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2014, 10:35:07 PM »
Close doors between old and new family members until they get used to each other's scents 3 days to two weeks.  Then start having supervised visitations in new kitty's room. When that works, let kitty wander the rest of the house. If she doesn't pee on the dogs bed, you're good to go.

bogart

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2014, 11:15:02 PM »
My experience with dogs and cats is that as long as the latter are healthy adults who haven't been declawed, it takes very, very little time (and very little unpleasantness) for the animals to work out the rules for a peaceful co-existence.

(Once, many, many years ago as a recent college graduate I loaded the new cat I was adopting into my hatchback Datsun 210, which was already loaded with my stuff and my dog, based on this theory.  The theory worked quite fine in that case, but the fact that the cat told the dog the rules and the dog understood the rules perfectly and was 100% committed to obeying them, and the rule the cat specified was that the dog was to sit in the driver's seat -- my seat -- and not move under any circumstances made our collective travel impossible.  Thus did the cat-giver-uppers and I agree to split the cost of a cat carrier.  But the cat and the dog got along fine, forever, as did the new dog I subsequently introduced into our home.)

Obviously if the cat has been declawed or is frail, you may need to be more involved.  As a kindness to the cat in your situation, I'd likely give the cat a chance to inspect the entire home while the dogs were out of it, and agree that some private "cat space" might be useful.  And assuming the cat will be indoors, you may want to consider where to place the litterbox where the cat can access it but the dogs cannot.

I'm sorry about the loss of your friend.

ZiziPB

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2014, 07:36:34 AM »
Quote
Close doors between old and new family members until they get used to each other's scents 3 days to two weeks.  Then start having supervised visitations in new kitty's room. When that works, let kitty wander the rest of the house. 


+1

Prepare a room where the kitty can be "isolated" for a few days.  She will need her litter box, a comfortable place to sleep, food and water in that room.  Let the dogs and the cat sniff each other through the closed door.  Once they are comfortable and don't exhibit signs of agitation (both the dogs and the cat - this may take a few days or a couple of weeks as the other poster said), allow short supervised time together until you are sure that they get along.  Then let the kitty wander the house.  In the meantime, let the kitty explore the house while the dogs are out so that she can get used to her new home.

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2014, 08:01:41 AM »
General cat advice:

Invest in a cat-tree so that after the initial acclimatization, the cat can still get away from the dogs if she wants to.

Use the same brands of food / litter that she's used to.  By preference, bring her old litterbox with her.  Familiar things will make her more comfortable and ease the process for everyone.  After she's settled in, you can switch her to something else if you like.

Find out who her vet is.  Get her records if you plan to change vets.

Frankies Girl

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2014, 08:07:07 AM »
Definitely like the cat tree idea. We've got one in our dining room, and our cat goes to the top whenever she feels the need to be around, but have her own space. You might also want to see if you can bring a blanket or comforter from the bed for her to snuggle into so it still smells like home.

I've also heard of setting the cat up in a room that can be just theirs and having their litter box and food and water dishes in there, and using a baby gate to keep out the dogs. That way the cat can choose to socialize or not, but will be getting used to the sounds and smells and activity and has a choice of where she goes.

If the cat can't jump over the gate, either provide some sturdy objects on either side to use as steps for the cat, or raise the gate enough for the cat to go under but still keep out the dogs. Could be just a temporary situation as the cat and dogs acclimate over a few weeks.

And so sorry for your loss.

Cpa Cat

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2014, 08:13:59 AM »
Get a baby gate/dog gate to help corral the various members of your pet household and allow safe introductions and let them get used to each other through the barrier. This has been the #1 thing that has helped me introduce new members of the family. They see and smell each other, but all individuals feel safe with the gate in the way. And yes, the cat could jump over it - but my experience is that they don't.

Also - cat trees. Giving the cat an up-high place to go away from the dogs can be helpful to overall kitty disposition. It lets the cat get up out of reach when she wants to, but still be in the room.

EDIT: I ignored the message warning me that other replies were posted and it's like these people read my mind. Eerie.

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2014, 08:20:53 AM »
I'm sorry for your loss.

I've got a dog and a cat.  I'm going to echo everyone else with getting a cat tree with a perch that puts her higher than your dogs.  Cats like high places and it gives her an escape route.  I also got a cheap shelf and covered it with carpet, it gives her a high perch to escape, watch everyone, and scratch.  Privacy and stress relief. 

Make sure she has privacy for her litterbox as well.

Also be prepared for her to possibly get stressed.  She is moving to a new location, around new people, around new dogs, etc.  She'll eventually settle in but the time it takes varies.  The cats I've had have had very different personalities and reactions to change.    If she wears a collar, update it with your phone number as soon as possible in case she sneaks outside and gets lost.

Dicey

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2014, 11:56:25 AM »
Thanks everyone, these are all good suggestions. The fact that I have most points covered makes me hopeful that things will work out well. We have a guest bedroom and she has a cat tree (which I re-carpeted for her several years ago).  She ignores it all day but sleeps on the highest tier at night, so she won't have to change habits. I'll place it in a corner where she can see out the window. There is ample space for her litter box and food dish in the room, so it should work well to start. (She eats her food all at once, another reason we think she may have lived with dogs before.) I'd wondered about a baby gate so I'll post an ad on freecycle today and keep my fingers crossed.

Since y'all gave such great advice, here's another thing I'm not sure of. We live near open space and there is a fair amount of wildlife activity. Our dogs use radio collars to get in and out. The kitty (not saying her name until she's actually here) is and will remain an indoor cat. Since we all know that cats are smarter than dogs* (hee). I am sure she will figure out that she can just draft them out the door. Keeping her in her own space initially will prevent this, but what about once she has the run of the house?

* Okay, here's my dumb dog story: We moved from house #1 where the dogs had lived all their lives with a regular dog door. We bought house #2 and installed the radio controlled door. They caught on in a couple of days, with much praise and coaching. Six months later, when we started preparing house #1 for market, we would take them with us. The two of them would stand in front of the dog door with their heads cocked, waiting for the door to open. In their brains, all doors must be automatic now, lol. We went through this every.single.time. It was pretty funny to watch.

Cpa Cat

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2014, 12:21:07 PM »
Wait and see if it's a problem. Make sure she's microchipped and tagged as a precaution. But if she's an indoor cat, it may be possible that she won't try to exit.

I'm not totally sure how you prevent it if she does become interested in escape, other than limiting your poor dogs' free access to the outdoors.

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2014, 12:33:42 PM »
I'd wondered about a baby gate so I'll post an ad on freecycle today and keep my fingers crossed.

You can also use other non-baby gate things to corral the animal traffic since you said they were small dogs. I've used empty laundry baskets as well as a piece of plywood+chair before. The baby gate is probably only short-term until the house returns to equilibrium.

In my experience, cats like to be a part of the group while NOT being part of the group. So if there's a room you and the dogs hang out in regularly, make sure there's a place for the cat as well. For our cats, it's the top of a (cleared off!) short bookcase, or the nearby windowsill with a breeze. They prefer to survey their domain and keep an eye on all us peons, while also getting the occassional head scratch for their labors!

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2014, 12:37:31 PM »
Good advice above... and I'll add one tidbit:  I've had several dogs that are very prey triggered.  (Dachshunds.)  Each time I've added a cat in with prey driven dogs (and over the years, this number is about 5 cats) -- it took time.  DO NOT throw your hands up when it doesn't work.  My dogs are well adapted to my cats, but EVERY TIME a new one is added it is a total new experience.  They don't seem to learn "be friendly to cats."  Instead they learn "be friendly to my cats."  I've had to work with them on leashes, in down-stays and in one case with muzzles.  They do learn, but it might take a month or more, depending on the animals.

Dicey

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2014, 05:24:36 PM »
Good advice above... and I'll add one tidbit:  I've had several dogs that are very prey triggered.  (Dachshunds.)  Each time I've added a cat in with prey driven dogs (and over the years, this number is about 5 cats) -- it took time.  DO NOT throw your hands up when it doesn't work.  My dogs are well adapted to my cats, but EVERY TIME a new one is added it is a total new experience.  They don't seem to learn "be friendly to cats."  Instead they learn "be friendly to my cats."  I've had to work with them on leashes, in down-stays and in one case with muzzles.  They do learn, but it might take a month or more, depending on the animals.

Thanks for this, Spork. Yesterday there was a black cat in our front yard. I opened the door a little too far and both dogs (Shitzu and Shitty Poo, aka The Monsters) raced out to defend their turf*. In fact, the SP literally ran off her feet. She actually hit the ground and kept on scrambling. If I weren't so worried about the new kitty, it would have been hilarious. However, she was the one who actually groomed our last cat, so I will take what you said to heart.

*Needless to say, the cat wasn't the least bit concerned and the crazy dogs never got close.

arebelspy

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2014, 09:16:44 AM »
Good for you for taking on this cat, and sorry for the loss of your friend.

How did the transition with the pets go?
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dude

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2014, 09:38:09 AM »
Close doors between old and new family members until they get used to each other's scents 3 days to two weeks.  Then start having supervised visitations in new kitty's room. When that works, let kitty wander the rest of the house. If she doesn't pee on the dogs bed, you're good to go.

+1, but I would also advise opening the door a crack for a day or two as well (while you are there) after the few days of closed door to allow them to not only smell but see each other.  Gradual adjustment.  Worked fine for us.

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2014, 11:08:13 AM »
Re: the radio collars and going outside -- my 2 indoor cats will try to escape through inside doors, but they are much more cautious about outside doors. One jetted out the outside door ONCE and then just stood there in complete bewilderment. I've noticed this a lot with indoor cats who manage to go outside; they will either freeze right there so you can just grab them or they will hide in the bushes/under the porch/etc. My guess is that if kitty gets out even once, she won't try again.

Dicey

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2014, 12:10:21 PM »
Thanks to everyone for all your wonderful tips and condolences. I figured it was time for an Alice update, now that she's settling in. I'm happy to report that she seems to be adjusting well. She tolerates the dogs, is eating well and loves to be petted. She did get out on the day of her Master's Celebration of Life, just before it started. She seemed not the least bit intimidated and quickly started exploring her surroundings. We are now on high alert when doors are open. She will sit at the front door with her nose right in the crack. We joke that she's trying to smell her way out.

Since she's disinterested in the dogs, she hasn't even noticed the radio-controlled dog door, so less worry about her drafting them outside. Otherwise, she has the run of the house, with her food, litter box and beloved cat tree in the guest bedroom, protected from the barbarian dogs by a baby gate, which she jumps with ease.

I found a screaming deal (I think) on her cat litter yesterday, so I'll pass it on. At Target this week, Tidy Cat Litter is $4.00 per 25# bag. If you spend $40 on food/litter/treats, you get $10 off with coupon or download. I didn't know what a deal it was until it was scanned at checkout because it wasn't marked. Regular price is $6.19 and coupon is only good through Saturday, August 16. Set on litter for a year or so.

Now, if there are any good hacks for acquiring cat food, I'l love to hear about them. She eats Royal Canin Indoor Light 40. I just ordered it via Amazon, but I suspect there are better deals out there. Should I be careful about stocking up on food? I assume it gets stale and I suspect that one day she will get tired of it so I don't want to over buy.

Thanks for all of your support. We are happily a one cat, two dog, four human family now.

Frankies Girl

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2014, 02:19:37 PM »
So glad she's settled in well!

I've had escapee cats as well, and you get used to opening the door to leave or enter by leading with your leg... ;) Hopefully she'll stop that after a while, and even if she does continue to escape, make sure she's tagged with a phone number, and hope she stays close. We got flat tags that you attach to the collars with grommets at PetSmart - the engravers at the front of the stores - so they don't hang up on crap and pull the collar off. But also consider getting her chipped at the vet's office if you're particularly worried (but if she wears the collar okay, it's not as big a deal if she sticks close).

Don't have any suggestions on the food, as we feed ferals as well as our own cats, so we buy the big bags of target branded cat food. I  have the cartwheel app and they almost always have a 10% off on their brand in there (so using the target card that gives 5% off, I get 15% off total 16 lbs. of dry food so it comes out to about $8 and we go through that in around a month). I do imagine you could stock up if you're buying wet catfood since that should stay good for a year or so.

Dicey

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #18 on: August 14, 2014, 02:43:54 PM »
Good points, Frankie. She is chipped, but does not wear a collar. I think I'll try one to see if she will get used to it. If so, I'll head to PetSmart and get a tag. Love that suggestion, thank you! We do the leg in the door trick for the dogs, but they will come back when called. I doubt that the cat would.

As to the cat food, it's dry. I just paid $42.00 w/tax for 15 lbs. at Amazon. She only eats 1/2 cup a day, so it should last a while, but it's certainly nowhere close to what you're paying! I'm not willing to change her food any time soon, so I hope to figure out a good place/way to get it. Any idea how long dry food lasts?

FWIW, I know Target's red card+cartwheel can score some deals, but I hate Target almost as much as I hate Wally World. I'd rather avoid them both like the plague than sign up for their deals. (Which is why I was so happy to score a year's worth of litter yesterday!)


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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2014, 03:44:40 PM »
My cats are Fancy Feast eaters (ugghhhh) and I've found that the cheapest deal is through Amazon most of the time, but I have my eye out on sales and whatnot. Amazon comes out to about ~$0.53 a can and they go through two a day. Sometimes my local supermarket will have it on sale for $0.50, and Petsmart might have it on sale for even less occasionally (maybe $0.47 or $0.48). It's a couple of bucks saved here and there, and I always get a laugh with another fussy cat owner (Oh, your cat only eats the pink cans? Mine only eats the purple!).

You didn't ask, but regarding toys... I find the best cat toys are plastic bottle tops, rolls of toilet paper, plastic bags, and pretty much anything you don't want them getting into.

Dicey

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #20 on: August 14, 2014, 05:52:25 PM »
Oh, your cat only eats the pink cans? Mine only eats the purple!.

LOL! That's why I'm looking for a good price. Better that than trying to switch her to something else.

You didn't ask, but regarding toys... I find the best cat toys are plastic bottle tops, rolls of toilet paper, plastic bags, and pretty much anything you don't want them getting into.
More grins here. She came to me with a bagful of toys, some of which I know she likes, but so far she has no interest. Her former owner used to travel a lot, maybe she's just expecting him to come home again. Funny, when he did return from a trip, she would ignore him for at least two days.

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #21 on: August 14, 2014, 06:12:12 PM »
Diane:

Do you have a Pet Club or An Jan up where you are?  I buy the food there.  Looks like the closest Pet Clubs to you are Hayward and Emeryville.  I'm not fond of Royal Canin - read the ingredient list.  I feed a combination of Costco chicken and rice (25 pounds is too much for one cat) dry and Blue Wilderness dry for the rescues with IBD.  The feral feeders got four bags of Purina cat chow for $9.02 per 16 pound bag this week with the Target coupon and my red card.  Canned is California Natural and Evo, bought on sale when An Jan has older stock to move.  Frugal Zony coupons a lot and donates food and supplies to a couple of rescues in Phoenix.  Here's a link to her frugal pet supply site:

http://www.pennywisepaws.com/

and a link to the Pet Club ad:

http://petclubstores.com/ad/

You might look at clumping litter, which is easier to clean.  Pet Club is cheapest for that.

Frugal Zony generally catches and posts the sales on Royal Canin at Petco and Petsmart.

Dicey

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #22 on: August 14, 2014, 11:57:17 PM »
Thanks AR. I got 155 lbs. of litter for about $25, so I'm good there for a while. It is the clumping type, btw. I'm afraid to change her food yet, so I'll stick with the RC for now, as she's used to it and still needs to lose another pound or two. I'd like to try Costco food, but don't want to buy a ton of it only to find out she won't eat it. Maybe I'll try to mooch a small amount on freecycle and gradually blend it into the RC.
I haven't had a cat since I was a child and our dogs happily snarf the Costco stuff so I had not heard of Pet Club or An Jan. Those areas used to be part of my territory before I retired, but not now, hooray. Should I find myself down near any of my old haunts, I will look one or both of them up. Thank you for the advice and the links. I'd heard of FZony, so I will hop on over. Many thanks for these tips.

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Re: I've inherited a sweet cat and need advice please.
« Reply #23 on: August 15, 2014, 01:54:40 AM »
I'm not going to lecture by any means. BUT I have heard that dry cat food is really not good for cats.

(1) This website has a lot of information about this: www.catinfo.org.

(2) We fed our cats dry food exclusively and two of them died young of renal failure. No, that doesn't prove anything by itself, I know.

I'm just putting this out there. Again, not lecturing. But my experience with dry cat food has been bad.