From Michelle: I am currently about 6.5 months pregnant, and am starting to worry about my two cats and the little one that is going to be here before we know it.
I have one grumpy old man cat (he’s a good 12 years old, I believe. I can’t remember his exact birth date, but he’s definitely a senior). I think that he will generally just avoid my baby as best he can. I just worry because he has arthritis and isn’t able to get to high places easily, once the baby becomes mobile.
My second cat is estimated to be about 3 years old. He is generally a love bug with me, and until very recently, I thought I was the only one he came to for affection. He goes to my dad for food, and if I’m not home he lays in a cat bed we have near my mom’s chair that she relaxes in when she isn’t at work or sleeping. Anyway, I know I am the main source for affection for him.
I’m not so much worried about my grumpy old man. I think he will avoid the baby, or at least ignore her until she becomes mobile. I do worry about when she hits that stage.
I’m more worried about my other boy. I want to make sure that he still feels he is loved, and is getting the attention he needs. But at the same time, I’m going to be mainly focused on my child, of course. Other than him possibly getting depressed that his mom doesn’t give him attention like she used to, I truly don’t know how he will react to such a huge change in our lives.
Oh, and both boys are indoor/outdoor cats. Mainly outdoor (they both are quite vocal) when my mom and I are at work, as they annoy my dad.
Any suggestions on how I can ease at least my “youngin” into this huge transition over the time I have left? Do you think that I need to do anything for my old man to help him acclimate too?
Regarding your old-man cat, have you considered a baby gate with a pet door in it? I don’t know how well those work, I only know that they exist – and honestly, babies aren’t all that much bigger than cats, so I can’t swear that your toddler won’t just follow the cat through the gate!
As far as your younger cat, it might help if you start now making certain that he gets affection from your parents (which could be encouraged by giving him treats at the same time to enforce that it’s a pleasurable experience, if he’s food-driven), he might consider them a source of affection and accept them as a substitute for when you aren’t available.
Do you guys have suggestions on this? Michelle said that her younger cat isn’t food-driven at all, and that her father isn’t a big cat fan and her mother is a big cat lover, but works long hours. Please chime in, you guys – I’m afraid I’m not very helpful on this (when I had my own baby nearly 30 years ago, we had one cat, and she was able to hop over the baby gate with no problem.)
We got another cat, who is in the isolation chamber/my office, and so I ordered some rescue remedy both because she’s very shy and because I want them all to get along as easily as possible. I got the for-pets version off Amazon. How much do you put in the water? I assume with all your residents you have some big water bowls… thanks!
I said: Our bowls hold about a quart of water, and I put 3-4 drops in each bowl when I fill them in the morning.
OK So – can the starting of RR actually make some cats MORE nervous? Our new cat was loving the attention on Sunday and Monday. Yesterday my RR came so I put some in all the water dishes, and late yesterday she decided she hates us both and won’t let us hold her anymore. ???
I would think it’s certainly possible! Try stopping it and see if she reverts to her previous behavior.
This got me curious – has anyone else had experience with Rescue Remedy making the behavior worse?
From Jo: Long time reader, first time commenter here, to ask for advice on cat introductions – I’m sorry this is so long. [Tl;dr: new cat suddenly ran and swiped at old cat after some progress in normal, slow cat introduction, old cat now hides every time she thinks new cat might be coming into the room. What do?]
Protagonists: resident Smallcat (6.5lbs), about eight and a half years old, and newcomer Floofcat (10lbs), about 3-4 years. Both are neutered, female, rescue indoor cats with no apparent interest in going outside.
We lost Smallcat’s colleague (they were never *friends*) just under a year ago and got Floofcat from a small rescue three weeks ago. Smallcat was wary but interested to start with, hissing and growling through a glass door when she could see Floofcat, but regularly sniffing behind the (solid) door to the spare room where Floofcat lives. Floofcat is let out in the rest of the house every day, with Smallcat in one room, so they get to sniff at areas where the other one has been. Floofcat is *very* motivated by food, so it was easy to keep her distracted when we eventually started to have them in the same room, a few minutes at a time. All was going well, with Smallcat expressing her displeasure from a safe distance and Floofcat asking for more treats. After about a week of the short visits Smallcat started even to turn her back and nonchalantly stretch and saunter away from Floofcat, who is always more interested in treats than in the other cat. Smallcat stayed very suspicious and a little worried though.
About five days ago, I wasn’t quick enough stuffing Floofcat’s face, or something, and she suddenly, with no warning, just ran at Smallcat who was minding her own business on the back of the sofa, and went straight into swiping at her. Smallcat hissed and growled and swiped back, and ran and hid as soon as I shooed Floofcat away. I couldn’t find any injuries after, which was good, and it mostly seemed that Floofcat just wanted to chase Smallcat away.
Since the Incident, Smallcat will still hiss at Floofcat, through the door, and will even eat where they can see each other through a glass door, but will slink off and hide behind the sofa as soon as Floofcat comes into the same room, or if she thinks I’m about to let Floofcat in.
How to proceed from here? I’m worried Smallcat will just keep hiding, no matter how many times Floofcat comes into the room and nothing happens – and there’s no guarantee there won’t be a repeat of the Incident at some point, which might then set all progress back, again. I don’t know what to do.
I’d love to be able to broker enough peace that the two cats can eventually be left home alone without being physically separated for their own safety. Smallcat has always been a real people-cat (she sends purrs), so her being chased into permanent hiding isn’t an option, either.
There are Feliways, both the new “Friends” and an original one plugged in, in theory well in excess to the size of the house.
Very grateful for any suggestions, or even just reassurance that carrying on the introduction sloooooowly would be the best way forward.
I think that carrying on very very slowly is exactly what you should be doing, that’s what I’d recommend. You might consider adding Rescue Remedy to Smallcat’s regimen, it could help. (If you guys have thoughts on this, please chime in!)
Alice seems to have relaxed with the move…or is that just the picture?
Alice is pretty much the same here as she was at Crooked Acres. She’s usually pretty relaxed, unless Jake or Stefan decides they need to chase her. And even then it’s a tossup as to whether she flees in terror or plays with them.
Darcy asked: What ingredients are bad for cats? What ingredients are good for cats? The expensive food has no corn or wheat but cheaper food has corn & wheat. What is definently not good for cats? Thanks.
I said: Cats are obligate carnivores – corn and wheat are something that they don’t eat in the wild, so I’d avoid those when possible. Look at the ingredients – everything (most everything) on the list should be something you can recognize and something they would eat if they were left to hunt for themselves.
(Thanks, Alyslinn – and anyone else who wants to weigh in on this topic, please do!)
(Note: all the links in this section are Amazon affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking on the link, we’ll get a small percentage of your purchase in the form of an Amazon gift card, which I guarantee you I will immediately use to buy something else for the cats, which comes as no shock to y’all, I’m sure.)
From Carolyn: A question for Robyn and the community at large. I very suddenly found myself adopting a 4 month old kitten. (An orange boy with a pink nose). It was very bittersweet. I found out it was Sophie’s time to run to the Bridge literally minutes after I met a kitten needing a home. He’s adorable, sweet and very active. He MAY be getting an older sister soon. My questions: #1: can anyone recommend an interactive toy that doesn’t require a lot of energy (or any – for those times I’m at work) from the human? He LOVES da’bird, but I can only swing it around for 45 minutes or so – not long enough for his preference. #2: Also, I may have the opportunity to adopt an 18 month old female (the other cats in her house hate her). From what little I know, she’s friendly, but is being kept downstairs for her own safety. I’ll get the vet’s advice on compatibility since he knows both cats, but is there any thing else I should be considering? I’d love to give her a better home, and get an active playmate for the kitten, but I’m a little worried (without knowing anything about her) that she’ll pick on the kitten. Thoughts? Advice? Thanks in advance!
I said: I just ran across an interactive ball that you can set to motion detect, so it’ll (at least in theory) entice a cat to play if it wanders by. I haven’t tried it myself, but I think the idea is neat – it’s this toy. And Jake likes the Frolicat Bolt laser toy.
But I think the best interactive toy you can give him would be another kitten. Given that she’s 18 months old, she’s still pretty much a kitten, and I bet they’ll play well together. There might even be a little hero worship on his part.
Other interactive toys I’ve thought of since then:
Track toys – the popular ones around here are the Bergan Turbo, the Tower of Tracks, the one with the toy mouse on a spring sticking up, and the other Bergan Turbo track, that you can configure in a number of ways.
We tried the Fling-A-Ma-String in the past, and while it got a lot of attention at first, I think cats tend to get bored and wander off after a little while.
There’s this toy that you can hook over the top of a door. It was always very popular with our fosters, and sometimes with the permanent residents. (As a note, I would probably tuck the toy up so that the cats can’t get to it while you’re not home. I’d hate someone to get a claw hooked in the string and not be able to un-hook.)
There are toys like the Pounce and the Catty Whack that you turn on and (I think) turn off after 10 minutes or so. Those are also toys that I’d use sparingly because cats will get bored after a while.
Lastly, there is the Mystery Mouse toy, which cats always seem to like, but which annoys me because it’s a wand moving around under a piece of material, and eventually the cats will go sit on it and the wand can’t move any more, and that just annoys me, because I’m weird.
Okay, those are the toys that I managed to remember. How about y’all – what interactive toys do you recommend?
I wrote a couple of years ago about Wesley. He was abandoned here as a kitten and I bottle raised him. He has been the most difficult cat I’ve ever had. He’s totally a house cat. For at least two years he either bit or scratched me every day of his life. He fears nothing, he isn’t wild, he wasn’t mad. He knew better, he’d bite and then run. My son loves cats and they love him. Wesley would meet him at the door with his tail swishing, ready to attack. At other times the cat would come sit on my lap and purr contentedly. The other cats disliked him. It went on like this for 4 years. Then my son and his girlfriend moved in with me. After two years the girlfriend asked if she could get a puppy. She did. Wesley loves the puppy. He plays with her, he swats toys around and chases them with her. She chases him and grabs his tail. All he does is bop her on the head with his claws tucked in. If she’s outside and needs to get back in, he runs and finds someone to open the door. He treats her so much better than he’s ever treated any of us, or any of our other cats. There were days in the past when Wesley would go through the kitchen, open all the cabinet doors, and toss things onto the floor. I had thought, “I should get a Jack Russell to sic on that danged cat.” He probably would have loved it.
Awww, Wesley. “He treats her so much better than he’s ever treated any of us, or any of our other cats” made me literally laugh out loud. Who knew that all along all he needed was his own puppy?
Out of curiosity, I zoomed in on Frankie’s mouth. It looks like he only has his fangs and 4 front teeth left, is that about right or does he have more?
I’m aware that many cats get along just fine after having lost many of their teeth if they’re on a good quality canned food only diet, but could a cat actually do alright with zero teeth by just gumming the canned food or does the loss of all teeth (including fangs) present other challenges for their care?
Joy said: My Harry (now sadly deceased but he made it to 18!) lost all his teeth over his life, due to resorption of the roots. At the end, he only had his front nibblers. The fangs went first, and then the molars, one or two at a time. He was a kibble kitty (his choice), though he would eat a tiny little dab of pate canned food. He ate kibble for his entire life. When he had molars, he would crunch up the kibble pieces, but after the molars were gone, he’d just pick up kibble pieces and swallow them whole. (They were small size so he could do this without choking). I think he used his nibbler teeth and his tongue to get the kibble into his mouth.
The vet also told me that after their gums heal, they harden up a bit, and it doesn’t hurt them if they do “gum” the food. His worst problem seemed to be losing/dropping a lot of the kibbles, which meant more clean up for me. Which I was happy to do for him.
Yep, Frankie’s just got his fangs and nibblers left, and it doesn’t slow him down at all. His favorite treat is Royal Canin Babycat kibble at night, which I’m pretty sure he eats without chewing. At morning snack time, he gets something that Fred makes for him in the blender – I think it’s some sort of canned food with goat milk and water added in. Frankie could (and does) eat regular canned food with no problem, but he LOVES his pureed stuff so much that Fred keeps on giving it to him.
Our cats? Spoiled? Nahhhh.
Decades ago when we lived in Indiana (I know, that’s not where L&H is located) there were fox squirrels, significantly larger than the typical gray squirrel. Could that be what Khal was observing?
Maybe! I need to get out the camera and the long lens so I can get some closeup pictures. I’m telling you, I’ve never seen squirrels with double chins before now.
Poop closet aside, how are you liking your house? And [how] has the cat hierarchy shifted in your new digs?
We are absolutely loving the house still, though there are some things. For one, we still don’t have a properly functioning oven – remember how I told y’all before Christmas that they weren’t working? Well, they’re OLD ovens, so the parts to fix them have to come from China, and for the past two months they’ve been due to arrive from China “next Tuesday.” Fred finally talked to the warranty company last week, and hopefully they’ll get something done. I’ve been doing a lot of stove top cooking and crock pot cooking, and I can use the oven for things where the exact temperature isn’t that important – mostly roasting vegetables – but I’ll be glad when I have an oven I can count on to get to 350º and stay there. (I won’t deny that I’m kind of hoping we end up with new ovens that are at least partially covered by the warranty company, but I’m not holding my breath.)
The middle of January, the clothes dryer suddenly stopped working. Fred called the warranty company, and they said that if he wanted to expedite the process, he could call the repair company directly. Fred called on a Thursday, and they said their next available appointment was the following Tuesday. Now, I can limp along with a poorly-functioning oven for months at a time, but the dryer? I can’t go without a dryer for more than two days. Fred ended up calling another company, and they got it working the next day for just a little more than the co-pay we would have had to pay the warranty company-approved repairman.
BUT WAIT. I’M NOT DONE.
Last Wednesday I turned the shower on to let the water get warm… and it didn’t. If I can’t go without a clothes dryer, I REALLY can’t go without a working water heater, so long story short, we got a new water heater, and the warranty company covered most of the cost of that.
But, with all that said, we are loving this house. I love the house itself, I love the location, and I really love our back yard. And it is SO QUIET here! It’s funny that it was much louder at Crooked Acres than it is here, but Crooked Acres is on a busy road, and we’re located on a cul-de-sac. We have city garbage and recycling services – SO nice. Now that we live in a neighborhood with sidewalks, we’ve been going out and walking a couple of miles in the evening, and it’s really nice to be able to do that. Also: attached garage. ATTACHED GARAGE. I cannot overstate how much I LOVE HAVING AN ATTACHED GARAGE.
The cat hierarchy doesn’t really seem to have shifted, though they are able to spread out more and are less prone to spats (especially Archie and Stefan.) Which isn’t to say that there are never any spats, just that they seem to be happening less often.
Have you seen any cats (stray or otherwise) around your place since you moved? Just curious. I live in a small town, and there’s quite a few here — ferals as well as pet cats that owners allow outside. I feed the ferals, and have tamed a couple enough to TNR.
I have personally seen one cat outside since we moved here, and I’m pretty sure he belonged to the house he was hanging out in front of. Fred reported that he’s seen one cat also. I don’t think there’s much of a feral population here, possibly because (we’ve heard) coyotes roam this area. I see the occasional post on Next Door about stray cats, but haven’t seen them myself.
2017: The vet called to let us know that Frankie’s mouth is a hot mess.
2016: Koko gets out her slappin’ paw.
2015: Meet Archie
2014: No entry.
2013: No entry.
2012: “Come here, my beloved bird seed. Come ever so closer…”
2011: “Where’s my mama?” starring Reacher.
2010: Skeptical Truvy.
2009: No entry.
2008: No entry.
2007: No entry.
2006: No entry.
2005: No entry.