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The backstory here is someone moved and left their 18 year old, deaf and almost completely blind cat behind, which my in-laws took in, but since they are both old and fragile, they can't really care for him besides providing food, a litterbox and a warm place to sleep for the time being.

We just took him to the vet for a complete check-up, and apart from a bit of weakness in his hind legs which the vet attributed to arthritis, he got a clean bill of health.

The vet says he can only see shadows and differentiate between light and dark at best, and does not seem to react to sounds at all, so we're working under the assumption that he's completely deaf.

Otherwise his body is still strong and muscular, he is eating well and using his litterbox properly, no indication that he's given up just yet or is about to anytime soon.


Now the problem, since my in-laws can't really take care of him and provide activity, if we can't find a better suited home which seems unlikely at the moment, we'll have to take him in and introduce him to our three younger cats.

Our youngest is a very social, and somewhat wild female just about a year old, and the older two are brother and sister just over two years old.

None of them showed aggression in the past, though the young one enjoys roughhousing with our tom quite a bit.


The question:

We're experienced in "normal" introductions, but I am somewhat worried about first direct contact after the initial exchange of smell and settling in, especially with such a huge age gap, and the fact that the old tom will not be able to tell the other cats approaching until they are very close.

Normally, we'd take a back seat and observe in that situation, only intervening if things start going poorly, but I'm wondering if physical assurance, i.e. petting the old one while the others approach him, would be the better route to take.

I'm specifically interested in tips and experiences regarding this special situation and the disabilities involved combined with the age gap in play here, that aren't covered in the typical cat introduction playbook.


Update:

We managed to find a suitable home for him in the end, and the introductions there went flawlessly. He bonded with a 17 year old female right away, and while a 6 year old male was suspicious at first, no problems did arise.

It appears my worries were somewhat unfounded, as him being unable to engage in a staring contest with the other male seemed to have avoided a lot of possible tension in the first place, allowing the other cat to observe without being challenged, or even noticed for that matter.

While the situation itself is resolved, I'll leave the question open in case someone might come up with a definitive answer that isn't situational and somewhat depending on the personalities of the involved cats.

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  • you could assume, that the old cat will smell them, when they come near and so could notice them easy. But I would give the old one more time to get a sense for the rooms than usual. I assume that it is like in humans, where one nearly see no difference in known areas (deaf/blind or not) but in unknown area it is more difficult for a deaf/blind to become comfortable. And as I assume a save feeling is essential for a good/stressless introduction Apr 5 at 6:48
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    Are you sure taking him in is the better solution for him? He has to get used to a different environment again and he has to deal with cats he doesn't know. Would his life at your in-laws really be so much worse? My experience with blind dogs is that they become extremely wary of other animals because they're unable to read their body langage.
    – Elmy
    Apr 6 at 5:16
  • @Elmy There are other cats with the in-laws as well. Problem is they both have disabilities and are at their limit already, taking care of an animal with special needs isn't something they can manage permanently. We're of course desperately looking for a good home, but that is proving difficult on short notice for such an old cat. All the good shelters in the area are completely full as well, as you'd expected. From our point of view, taking him in with us would provide quality of life compared to the in-laws which can only provide survival really.
    – bgse
    Apr 6 at 9:44
  • Hi thanks for updating; SE permits answering own questions, so pretty please consider posting your solution as an answer so we could reward you with reputation (just without acc*pting it so the question remains "unsolved" according to your wish); thanks.
    – lila
    Apr 26 at 16:22
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Partial answer as per my recent update to the question. This is just taken from observation on how this specific case played out, and I'd assume is highly dependent on the personalities of the cats involved.

We found a good home for the senior cat in question, where he was introduced to a 17 year old female, and a 6 year old male.


First direct contact was with the female, and went without any trouble as both immediately liked each other. They rubbed heads right away exchanging scent, which might have played a role in how the next introduction went.

First contact with the other male resulted in a bit of growling from the younger male when our senior started walking in his general direction, presumably not realizing the other cat was there.

The senior did not notice the growl, or the fact that the younger male was staring him down, which appeared to help in avoiding a more serious conflict at this point.

The younger male seemed to relax quickly when realizing that he could safely observe the senior from a distance without being noticed or challenged, ultimately accepting the presence of the newcomer and going back to his regular business after 20 minutes.


The younger male in this case could best be described as cautious, without any history of aggressive behavior or being overly territorial.

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