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Introducing 4 cats to 2 dogs?!?!

(10 Posts)
Hurr1cane Fri 18-Sep-15 16:08:19

Ok, so I have a DP and we have been together for a while, and we are starting to talk about moving in together. We've spoken logistics and he'll be selling his house to move into mine. That's all fine, mines bigger with a garden and in a better area. Brilliant.

The only thing is, I have a 9 year old DS with disabilities and 4 rescue cats, one of whom is feral, and he has 2 Cairne Terriers! shock

Anyway obviously we won't be giving up any of them as they're part of our family, so we've been trying to think of the best way to introduce them slowly before they all have to share the same space.

The dogs are good, They wouldn't hurt the cats at all, but they would want to sniff at them and say hello.

The cats. Well one is 12 now. One will be ok. One is a bit uppity and one is a tiny feral and has taken on a big dog before and won! But when she's seen these two briefly she's only stared at them and growled if they've got too close.

Has anyone any ideas about how to go about this in the least stressful way? (We're not expecting it to be all rainbows don't worry, just want to make them all as at ease as possible)

Also logistically, my cats have to have dry food down all day, because of their issues, his dogs have a strict diet and feeding times because of their delicate guts, any ideas where I can move the cats food so the dogs don't eat it? grin not asking for much I know.

haggisaggis Fri 18-Sep-15 16:15:06

Can you separate an area of the house (using stairgates) so the cats have somewhere to retreat to? When I first moved in with dh we put a stairgate on the stairs and the cats stuff upstairs. The cat could get through the bars of the gate to safety but the dog couldn't (you can get a stairgate with a catflap if you have larger cats!) We also had very wide window ledges upstairs so when they got used to each other the cats dishes went onto the window ledge so the dog couldn't reach them.

Hurr1cane Fri 18-Sep-15 16:18:08

Stair gates are a good idea. Just have to get DS to close them! That is a very good idea though. I was planning to leave the dogs in the living room overnight and let the cats have the run of the house, and the cats have upstairs and outside in the day. The stairs are right near the cat flap as well so they could probably go out and in without encountering any sniffy monsters.

Will just have to check how high one of them can jump... He's 9 years old but still as fit as a puppy!

KatharineClifton Fri 18-Sep-15 16:24:58

I had the cats first for years before getting dogs. The way it's worked out is dogs downstairs, cats upstairs. Litter tray and biscuits down in the bathroom. Stair gate. I know people have integrated households and I'm envious of them, but my cats won't have it and the dogs eyes are just too important!

One of mine is a tiny feral too, and is QUEEN of the whole house.

You could try those plug in diffusers, they are supposed to be good for de-stressing.

You'd be better off leaving the dogs in the kitchen to start off with, stressed dogs can create a lot of mess and destruction (as I know from rescues) so leaving them with a nice carpet and furniture isn't best. Perhaps gate them in the kitchen to start off with so the cats can still come and go as they please? As terriers if they aren't used to cats from the word go then there will probably never be safe integration.

Hurr1cane Fri 18-Sep-15 16:30:49

The terriers are pretty good. They've lived with birds and rabbits before now so I'm not concerned about them going for the cats. But I am concerned about the cats going for the dogs. I don't know if DP would 'have' them in the kitchen because they're used to sleeping on the sofa and they're his little lads. But I'm not bothered about a bit of five and take on that because DS is bound to accidentally wreck something of his at some point so I can't really moan. Plus I do love those dogs.

I've heard of the diffusers? Do they really work? I'm most concerned about the feral, because she's a cowbag, and the ragdoll but only because he was 'replaced' in his old home and locked in the shed and neglected, when the dogs have been here before he's spent the time trying to get to me and howling as if to say 'don't leave me' but he was like that when feral came alone as well so I'm sure once he realises we're not dumping him he'll be ok...

Hurr1cane Fri 18-Sep-15 16:32:47

The dogs have slept over before and not caused any damage apart from being smelly and putting muddy paws on my sofa grin but I suppose it will be different if it's full time for them. Should we have more occasional sleep overs to get them all used to each other?

haggisaggis Fri 18-Sep-15 16:39:48

You could help get them used to each others scent. Wipe a blanket over the cats and give to the dogs and vice versa. I used Feliway when trying to introduce 2 cats and it didn't work for me but other people swear by it. The important thing is the cats having somewhere to escape to - even if it is on top of the bookshelf watching the dogs!

msrisotto Fri 18-Sep-15 16:41:42

Bloody hell, you don't do things by half do you Hurr1cane?!!

I can't give much advice as i've no experience with dogs, but I would say to shut the door between the two species at first to give the cats a chance to sniff them out from under the door. Then I might graduate to separating them by a see through gate.

Make sure the cats have their own spaces - hide aways or spots up high that the dogs can't get to. You could always re-locate their food bowls up high too, as long as the dogs can't get up there.

Thinking about litter trays - you just wanna make sure the cats can get to them safely, otherwise they might well choose to go somewhere less convenient for you...

msrisotto Fri 18-Sep-15 16:42:14

Best of luck! wink

Hurr1cane Fri 18-Sep-15 16:55:05

Thanks everyone. I know I don't! But I've finally found someone decent and I'm not letting him go for a bit of hard work. They currently have 5 litter trays in various rooms so I'll just redistribute them all. They're very clean cats usually, apart from the old one but she can be excused poor girl.

I will shut the doors first and do the scent thing.

One of them sleeps on top of the wardrobes and one on DSs bunk bed so those two should be ok. There is a lot of high spaces and wide window ledges so hopefully that will be ok.

so so nervous about it all. I've lived alone for 9 years not having to think about anyone but DS. Not sure how I'll manage myself to be honest haha

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