introducing 2nd cat in studio apartment

marx

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Hello,

I'm a single person living in a studio apartment in a major city. I have a cat who I adopted two years ago at a big adoption event. She's 8 now. She's not very high energy but loves to sit on my lap while I watch TV or use the computer. We get along pretty well with just the two of us.

Since I'm out for much of the day, she's usually home alone. I've been thinking of getting her a companion, specifically a certain 9 year old cat who was abandoned by her owner when the owner moved from a house to a small apartment and had to give up some of her cats. I feel bad because it's clear this cat was not one of the ones she picked, and at 9 years old she's going to have a hard time getting adopted.

The problem is I don't really know how my current cat would react to a newcomer. I think she's kind of a scardy cat because she trembles whenever we go anywhere, gets nervous when she hears people out in the hall, runs away from bugs, and was very quiet and depressed-looking at the big auction event I got her from. But I don't really know how she'd react to other cats because I've never seen her with any aside from one time she was making low-meow sounds at a stray outside the window. The last thing I want to do is put her in a situation where she would feel uncomfortable or even threatened by a new cat.

Making matters worse, since it's a studio apartment, I can't really keep them seperated during the introductory stage. There's a bathroom, but it's very small and I'd basically have to put the litter box in the sink. There's also closets, but they're also small, and my cat's actually clever enough to slide the doors open and get in anyhow if she wants.

Every guide in existence says you should keep new cats separate for a few days, but I don't think I have that option, and I'm no cat expert so I can't always correctly interpret signs that there's an issue. What should I do?
 

ArtNJ

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There will almost certainly be an issue. It is incredibly rare for cats of this age to immediately hit it off. Hissing, growling and "get away" swatting are extremely likely, and if you are unlucky, they may wish to fight. Without the ability to isolate, you simply cannot perform this introduction if they start off wishing to fight. As such, you must have the ability to give up and give the new cat to someone else or you cannot proceed. Now, people do introduction processes in a studio. Sometimes they use the bathroom. Sometimes they use a secure playpen type thing. However, neither is ideal. Far from it.

Honestly, I understand you want to do good, but I just don't recommend this. It is too difficult for someone that hasn't introduced cats in the past, and in a studio there just aren't good backup options. And, although you want to do good for the other cat, you have your resident cat to think about. Without a proper introduction process, if things go bad, huge amounts of stress are very possible, and even injuries. Even with a proper introduction process, huge amounts of stress can last a longgg time, and its just much harder to manage that in a studio.

Now if you do want to proceed despite that warning, and you have the ability to bail out if need be, it is possible that neither cat will wish to fight, and they will simply hiss and growl, and/or hide. It is quite possible that they can work through that in time. There may be difficulties even in the best case. You might get woken up at 3am by howling, and have to get up quickly in a panic to make sure they aren't actually fighting. One or more may hide under the bed and not want to come out to eat or use the litter box. They may both appear miserably stressed for weeks. They may never like each other. But, if things go well, the stress should gradually improve, and they should edge towards toleration. If you get really lucky, the sky is the limit and friendship is possible, but don't plan on that; the odds are that if your current cat could talk, he would never thank you for doing this - not now, and not a year from now.

In a studio, adding a kitten to an adult resident is about as far as I would ever recommend, and even that only to someone that really understands the issues. Even adding a kitten, there can still be big problems, but since adults don't attack kittens, the risk of disaster is just lower. Kittens are also much more adaptable, so you don't have two cats both with a high chance of having lasting issues. So with a kitten, you have better odds of success, but even so, I wouldn't bet on the adult resident benefitting from the kitten. Even with a kitten, toleration with some lingering distaste, especially when the kitten is too active/in the older cat's face, can really linger.
 
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Mamanyt1953

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The only thing I can think of, agreeing with all of A ArtNJ 's excellent insights, is getting a LARGE crate for the newcomer, but it MUST have a sheltered box she can retreat to if your cat attacks. Now, from the sound of it, she probably won't, but the chance is there. I'm worried about this one. As much as your heart is in the right place, I'm concerned that your resident cat may well end up bullied to the point of being miserable.
 

rosegold

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So, I live in a studio apartment, and I’ve introduced two adult female cats in here as well as an adult female and a kitten. Have two currently and they get along great. In each introduction, I used my very small bathroom to keep the new one in while exchanging scents and all that. It’s all worked out remarkably well for me... HOWEVER I had a few things going for me:
1) I knew each of the cats had lived with other cats before, and I knew they were each very gentle and patient with other cats
2) I wasn’t working at the time, so was home all day and able to supervise introductions better
3) I simply got very lucky that all my cats took to each other so well with no drama. The adult/kitten took a few days to become fully integrated. The two adults took about a month (but that was only because I was also socializing the new semiferal one and purposely kept her in the bathroom longer). I *never* had any outright aggression between *any* of the cats.

So I agree with the above commenters... it’s possible, but probably won’t be easy, and no way to know if there’ll be long-term success... so do think carefully to make sure you have backup plans in case it doesn’t work out.
 

ArtNJ

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Nice to hear from someone that has made it work. Maybe my prior post was a touch pessimistic.

However, there are challenges to using the bathroom for intros. Door darting can be a big issue, especially at night. In fact, I would flatly never consider using the bathroom for intros it if you are someone that needs to go in the middle of the night. The cat will dart out while you are sleepy, the cats will growl and hiss at each other, and goodbye sleep. I tried it once, and it just didn't work for me at all.

I've never personally used a playpen for intros, but I imagine it is very tough to bond with the cat in the playpen, and assume it might be distressing for some cats. Anyway, if that option is of more interest, probably we can find you someone with firsthand experience to describe how it works more.
 

She's a witch

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Maybe my prior post was a touch pessimistic.
I think it’s very important to prepare the OP for the most pessimistic but very likely outcome. Both cats are well past the age when easy introductions happen.

Having said so, I’ve seen introductions work that were not supposed to work. Willingness, patience, time and love can make all the difference. Sacrifice of bathroom space for months in one case. We’re talking about living beings and they are unpredictable, even if some behavior patterns are common. So if you’re really willing to try, M marx , out of love for this cat that needs a home, being fully aware that it may end up badly, and if you have lots of patience, who knows, maybe we’ll end up surprised with the outcome. But you need to make this decision consciously, knowing the consequences and having plan B (and knowing that plan B would also be stressful for new cat, as being returned to the shelter is incredibly stressful for a cat her age).
In any case, all the best and good luck if you decide to take her in!
 
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marx

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Thank you for the replies. It's sounding like I won't be able to do this. Although I love cats, I'm really not that great with understanding them (my current cat is my first pet ever) and might not have the talent for pulling this off. The last thing I'd want to do is make my current cat miserable.

Plus I hate the thought of trying to bring a new cat in only for it to not work out and have to bring her back to the shelter. She's been through enough with her current owner giving her up.

Maybe some day I'll move to a bigger place and can give this another try.
 

Furballsmom

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Hi! You're not limited by your small living space in ways you can help.

specifically a certain 9 year old cat who was abandoned by her owner when the owner moved from a house to a small apartment and had to give up some of her cats. I feel bad because it's clear this cat was not one of the ones she picked, and at 9 years old she's going to have a hard time getting adopted.
I'm a little confused I think, is this cat in a shelter now? Is it hopefully a true no-kill shelter? Can you volunteer there and help this kitty, and others, with the transition to a shelter environment?

You could find out if the organization has a facebook et al account(s) and if they highlight special cats with photographs and writeups. If they don't and you have a camera, see if they'd let you take photos - there are a couple articles on this site of how to take good pictures of cats or you could research it. Ask them if they're ok if you post about this cat on Nextdoor . com etc.

There are a lot of things you can do, and at the same time you'd be learning more about these wonderful felines :)
 

maggie101

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Your cat loves you and is excited for you to come home,feed her, and spend time with her. It helps to have a cat tower, window to look out and a bird feeder if possible. Getting another cat will be hard.

When I rescued Peaches,5 weeks old,
I had Josie for 10 years. At first Josie did not like her but eventually started grooming her. Josie probably would have acted different if Peaches was adult. When I rescued Maggie,a year younger than Peaches, 3 months old, Peaches and Maggie were friends. Now as adults, they tolerate each other usually. I have a large 1 bedroom apartment
 

maggie101

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I should add that cats sleep while your gone especially at her age. My cat Peaches growls if she is disturbed in her sleep. Then Maggie will want to play with her but Peaches wants to go back to bed
 

doomsdave

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M marx welcome!

Sounds like perhaps discretion is the better part of valor in your particular situation at the moment. I have six cats, but I also have a multi room house and that does make a difference. (Though everyone crowds in bed with me at night.)

I was going to suggest maybe trying a dry run with the shelter kitty to see if she and your kitty would have (pardon the expression) a fighting chance of getting along without fighting, but I can understand your concerns. I suggest that because: (a) both are females; and (b) both are about the same age, i.e., aging but not crotchety-old. Your present kitty sounds nice and mellow, and if Ms. Newbie is, too, they'll likely be okay. BUT . . . up to you.

(Maybe a public service announcement for a lurker who might have a similar situation?)

Someone correct me if my data set's too small, but I've found that girl kitties generally get along much better with strangers than boys do, especially if the boys were neutered late. Girls don't have to assert kitty machismo, though I did have a "warrior princess" once.

In any case, welcome, and maybe introduce us to your kitty?
 

ArtNJ

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M marx welcome!

Someone correct me if my data set's too small, but I've found that girl kitties generally get along much better with strangers than boys do, especially if the boys were neutered late. Girls don't have to assert kitty machismo, though I did have a "warrior princess" once.
I googled it deeply in the past and found that you can find some really experienced folks that say there are differences, but if you really drill down they don't necessarily agree on what they are! I concluded that for timely spayed/neutered cats, any differences are small enough that they are mostly subsumed by the great variation in our pets. But there are people on here that have spent a ton of years taking care of a ton of cats that disagree!

I think we do all agree that its much easier to do away with an introduction when you are adding a kitten. I still wouldn't recommend adding a kitten to an adult resident cat in a studio lightly, but its certainly not quite so risky!
 

doomsdave

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I googled it deeply in the past and found that you can find some really experienced folks that say there are differences, but if you really drill down they don't necessarily agree on what they are! I concluded that for timely spayed/neutered cats, any differences are small enough that they are mostly subsumed by the great variation in our pets. But there are people on here that have spent a ton of years taking care of a ton of cats that disagree!

I think we do all agree that its much easier to do away with an introduction when you are adding a kitten. I still wouldn't recommend adding a kitten to an adult resident cat in a studio lightly, but its certainly not quite so risky!
I do accede to your greater experience, though I've had some luck in the past with similarly aged females. But, concededly, the numbers were small, about 5.

I've found kittens, especially males, to be harder to add, in large part because they're so physically rambunctious and the other cats aren't into it. (I imagine my 15-year-old self tackling my grandfather down the stairs, and his likely reaction :p . . . . )

Here's Exhibit "A"; Conan, named after the Barbarian, not O'Brien. At rest. But not for long.

conan at rest.jpg
 

She's a witch

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IMO, I agree that introducing kittens to older cats it's easier, in a sense that kitten adapts quickly to anything, and adults are more understanding towards kittens (although often fearful) so the risk of "real fighting" is indeed small. But I always find introducing one kitten to an older, inactive cat somewhat "cruel-ish", for both older cat, who deserves peace&quiet so suddenly taken away from him/her, which could really have bad health consequences, and for poor kitten, who all he/she wants to do is play, and the only member of his species, perfect candidate for being a playmate from his/her perspective, isn't having it. Plus, their humans are probably accusing the little guy for pestering an older, like that's something that wasn't expected. So often everyone ends up being frustrated.
 

Sarah93003

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Lots of great advice above. It has been my experience that cats are very territorial and not always welcoming of a newcomer. There will also be a pecking order with someone being the alpha. I have introduced a kitten into a household that already had an adult cat and that went pretty well. With my beloved Torrie I also introduced a puppy which actually became her puppy and they were inseparable for 11 years up to the moment she passed at age 19. Alernatively, I used to own a cat hotel where I had nearly 60 cats free roaming in a 1600 squar foot space. Since it was nobody's territory they always got along just fine. The only exeption being if a cat accidentally got cornered. In a previous two bedroom apartment I had a couple of cat towers as well as shelves spaced along the walls where cats can climb and hang out. As long as there are multiple escape routes cats will usually just avoid each other until they develop a relationship or familiarity. Marx, first I would not assume your cat even needs a companion when you are gone. They are either eating or sleeping when indoors. Just my opinion, but I'd only introduce #2 if its something you really want to do for your benefit or the benefit of #2, such as saving it's life.
 
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marx

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I don't think I'd be able to do fostering. I'd get too attached and wouldn't want to give the other cat up when the time came. I always stop to visit them at the pet store and end up having to fight the urge to adopt more.
 
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