Cat Training and Behavior (Domestic and Feral)/moving with 2 cats
Hi. My name is Katie. I have 2 cats, 1 is older, about 16 yrs actually , but still very sprightly and the other is 4. We've lived in one place for 4 years and I'm getting ready to move in with my boyfriend pretty soon. It shouldn't be an awful move, but the trouble comes because he has 1 dog and a cat already. They love each other and I know the dog loves cats, but mine have never seen one before, much less dealing with the already established cat. I know we plan on keeping my cats in the room with us by themselves for at least 5-7 days just to calm down and decompress, but after that, introducing them...I need some advice on that one if you've got it lol. Just don't want anyone steppin on anyone's toes and getting in fights. The house is definitely big enough for everyone to have there own territory. I just want to make sure I'm doing the right thing so it's the least amount of stress on all of us.Any advice you have will be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance
One thing to know is no matter how many cats another has been around, there will always be a phase of territory aggression and/or jealousy. There's going to be to hard difficulties to get through; having your cats deal with being in another cat's territory and not knowing how to handle the situation, and his cats dealing with the possible jealousy and being territorial. I definitely don't want to think that there is a way to avoid a physical conflict, because more than likely, there will be.
It's great that you are able to keep them separated for a little while to help them calm down. The main thing to remember is neither you or your boyfriend should act like anything different is going on. Keeping the same routine is what is going to help them the best- if they can sense something is going on they are going to have that much more anxiety.
When the time comes for introduction, (and you will notice when all the cats become relaxed in their space) I would recommend keeping his dog separated and the cats deal with things first. One of two things are going to happen; they are going to instantly hiss/growl and run away and hide or get curious and start sniffing each other out. I'm hoping for the latter but expecting the first. FYI, I would keep a spray bottle on hand in case a physical confrontation does happen. I would start with finding a spacious area and free of things the cats can get hurt with. Start with his cat since it's his house and place a food dish with a favorite food or treat for each cat. Once his cat is eating peacefully, bring in one of your cats, whichever the one you think may freak out more and place him/her with food dish as far apart as you can. Once they are eating peacefully...and this could take awhile, bring in the other cat as far from his as well. You can slowly begin to move the dishes closer together once everyone is eating in peace and eventually they will be able to eat side by side or right off the other's plate. **Do not expect this to work on the first try. I would maintain a safe haven for them be able to go in the mean with their own food/water/litter box and bed.
The dog is actually quite easy and easier if calm and knows manner. Basically keep the dog on a leash and allow the cats to come out and investigate. It's best if the dog knows lay down and stay, that will make the cats feel less threatened.
Keep me posted as this can become more involved.