Wednesday, March 17, 2010


One of the things I worried about most (which alot of others interested in fostering have told me they too have been concerned about), when I first started fostering, was how to turn the Two Amigos into Three's Company. In essence, how to introduce a foster cat to my two resident cats without WWIII breaking out in my livingroom?

Except for small spaces of time over the years, I have always had two cats. For me personally, I worried over the lonliness factor if there was only 1 by him or herself, so I've always been of the mindset that two compliment each other better, and are perfect company for one another while we're at work all day or out in the evening or on a weekend.

When we initially started fostering it was Miss Remy, The Princess who I was worried about most. Not about her attacking another cat, but about how royally she'd give the DIVA stare, the DIVA glare, the DIVA hiss, the DIVA saunter, as she clearly indicated her displeasure at having to share her royal abode with a male cat that was virutally a total stranger! Well I'm delighted to report that for a 15 yr old missy, she didn't do too badly. Don't misunderstand, she wasn't full of purrs and tall tail as she encountered this new man whom she hadn't requested, but she did seem to learn to tolerate him to the point where they could be in the same room, on the same bed even, and she wouldn't throw a complete disgust fit.
Things would have probably gone alot more swimmingly if "Chester" (the orange/white male that we adopted when he was 7 shortly after Marty passed away) hadn't decided that (like alot of boys), it was fun to torment the girl.........something about him chasing her at full speed from one end of the house to the other just didn't do it for her (think pulling pigtails in the schoolyard and you get the idea).

As I've explained previously, after Miss Remy's passing, I could not have another female, so the makeup of our situation from then on has always been two males. I have found that males are far more tolerant of newcomers overall than females are. It's not to say that there aren't some females who can handle the dynamics of a new cat in the house, because I've spoken to, and read, from alot of other people of how it has worked for them, and I think that that's great. It's just that the majority of the time, females are not as easily swayed over and don't "go with the flow" as easily as most males do when it comes to multiple cats in a household. True to their feminine side, they wish to be Queen, Diva and Princess all rolled into one, and do not look favourably on anything that might upset that.
I've also heard about how introductions between a foster and the resident cat/s can be instantaneous - meaning you take "Fluffy" home, open up the carrier door and voila!, it's a party! Again, I know it does work for some, but for us it has never worked, and I'm not sure that it's even the wisest of choices.

It's important to remember that any cat being brought into a home with existing pets, is a stranger - period. Nobody knows one another and it seems pretty unfair to just expect them on the spot, to have a quick introduction, size one another up in two minutes, get a sense of personality in under 10 minutes, force them start using the same washroom, eating off the same dishes, and sleeping together, all after the first hour, without so much as some indication that that one or all of them are not happy with your great idea!! When explaining this to potential adoptee's that come to our home to meet a foster, I always tell them to compare it to going to an office function after work hours and being told by your boss that the new technical analyst whose just come on board with the company the day before, is now your new roomate at home............sound like fun? *NOT*
As far as I see it, it's a recipe for disaster and one that can be totally avoided most of the time if you just respect the fact that they need time to get to know one another.

Our one boy Rocky is a "Mighty Little Monkey" as we lovingly refer to him. He's a tabby that is small for a male, and one who suffers from Hypdisplasia (a deformity of the hips) which causes him to walk unsteady - cats with this condition are sometimes referred to as "wobby kitties". Rocky has, we strongly suspect, suffered a great amount of abuse before coming to our family as he has always exhibited a large amount of distrust and anxiety with strangers both human and feline alike.
To make up for his small stature, he is large in demeanour - doing lots of growling, hissing and stalking (and let us not forget the infamous sulking) when new fosters arrive and are eventually given free roam of the house.
Oftentimes we've heard him actually sitting outside the spare bedroom where the new foster will be quarantined, to hear him growling and you'd honestly think it was a saber tooth tiger out there vs. a little, epileptic, unsteady cat!! *L*

The ornery behaviour (as we like to call it), normally lasts anywhere from afew days to a couple of weeks, but it always eventually subsides and before we know it, Rocky and Silly both have completely adjusted and all is once again kosher. We have learned that it's important to give all the felines in your home time to get used to the idea of another cat before actually making the official introduction and with our guys, that few days with a new foster behind closed doors is just what they need to wrap their heads around the idea once again.
There may be posturing, hissing, growling and arched backs initially, but that's all very normal as they "work out" the pecking order of who gets to be top cat, 2nd in command, and so on and so forth.

It's not to say however, that Rocky still doesn't do the "HAPPY DANCE" around the house immediately after a foster has been adopted and is on his way to his new forever home - it comes without fail each and every time............but after almost 6 years and 54 fosters later, there is one thing we're absolutely sure of, and that's that the "Two Amigos" can always become "Three's Company" - they just need the time to work it out - and believe us, they always do.

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