When you’re in the habit of rescuing and adopting new cats, you inevitably have to deal with another problem: how to integrate the new fur babies with the rest of the household.
When our Siamese, Bunny, came along, he was instantly friendly with everyone. He was just a kitten, and all the other cats had no problem with him. Well, except for Miffy, who picked on him a lot. It got so bad that we had to ask Dante to adopt Miffy. Now he lives with our friends Paul and Jovan, and he’s fat and silly.
When Sweetheart came into our lives, she seemed to have no problem integrating with the bigger cats, especially Hedwig. Now that Botchok is gone, it seems the role of Queen of the Cattery has fallen to Sweetheart.
By now we have had the Barden Bellas for over three months. They’re getting quite big, and soon even their current cage won’t able to contain them–or their energy! We really have to put them in the cattery soon. But we’re a little worried about Sweetheart.
When the kittens were new, naturally most of our attention was focused on them. We had to feed them and teach them to poop and all that. Sweetheart would sit in the window, watching.
I knew I had to show her some affection too. She had been the baby for months, and was used to being cuddled and carried and petted. Then all of a sudden, some new kittens arrived! I was worried she felt snubbed, ignored, forgotten. True enough, she started sulking!
Before the Barden Bellas arrived, I would walk into the cattery, and Sweetheart would circle my feet, follow me around, and meow for attention. I would pick her up and she would purr nonstop. But after their arrival, she would run and hide! Or she would lie on one of the upper shelves, out of reach. I would try to pick her up, and she would resist! I felt so guilty.
With Oneal she was less of a drama kitten. When he entered the cattery, she still came up to him and asked to be picked up. So it was really me she was upset with.
A few times we tried to introduce Sweetheart to the new kittens. “You have baby sisters!” we told her. We carried the kittens one by one to the window, where she sat. After a few sniffs, she would hiss at them. I think she was really jealous.
One time, we brought her into the bedroom to meet the kittens. Almost instantly she started hissing, and the kittens got so scared.
When Botchok was in our room, we moved the kittens to my office. Their cage was positioned quite close to the window, and Sweetheart would often sit in the window and watch them. We think that this helped a lot, because she could smell and watch them regularly, and hopefully get used to them.
After Botchok passed away, we moved the kittens back to our room. At night, we let them run around. Sometimes, we let Hedwig and Sweetheart into the bedroom, to get acquainted with the kittens.
Hedwig is so adorable. He looks wistfully at the kittens, as if he wants to play but isn’t sure how. Sometimes he sits on the bed, gazing at them. Sometimes he lurks beside the cage, keeping his distance as they run frantically across the floor. They don’t seem to mind him, and he seems extremely curious about them.
Blondie seems to have taken a liking to him. She often sniffs him, or she sits nearby and looks him over. It makes sense that they would be the ones to make friends first. She’s the most docile of the Barden Bellas, and Hedwig is the nicest and most maternal of our cats.
Samwise and Furriosa don’t seem to mind Hedwig, though when he sneaks up behind them they get startled and hiss. He just looks at them, then backs off.
But Sweetheart is another matter! She keeps her distance, then sits in a corner, under the chair or the stepladder, and watches them, warily. She hisses if they crash into her, and tries to swipe. No injuries so far, as we make sure to pull them apart before anything happens.
Of the three kittens, Samwise seems most curious about Sweetheart. Every time Sweetheart is in the bedroom, Samwise goes close and tries to sniff her. When Sweetheart hisses, Samwise doesn’t get scared, and she doesn’t back away. Then she just loses interest and runs off.
It may take a few more visits, but I think Sweetheart will eventually warm up to the kittens. Oneal thinks we can put the kittens in the cattery by January. Here’s hoping!