2 new cats and 1 established

Catmom#3

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Hello! 3years ago I adopted a (3? yr old) black domestic shorthair named Slinky from a local humane society. She is sweet and cuddly and I love her very much. On April 29th of this year I adopted two 3? yr old females from the Last Hope Animal Rescue. I was initially interested in just one cat but it turned out that the cat I was interested in had a sibling to whom she was bonded. Now what kind of cold blooded monster would break up a bonded pair? So I brought both of these gray and white domestic shorthairs home.I

I have read a lot of info regarding the process of introducing new cats to a home with established cats and I have watched the videos on YouTube. When I brought Zelda and Maggie home, they were placed in the smallish 2nd bedroom on the upper level of my condo. They stayed there for 2 days. While I am positive that this room (with a very nice cat condo placed right in front of a window with a view) was much nicer than the PetSmart where they had been living for a YEAR, it still seemed like a prison to me. Consequently, I expanded their space to include a bit of the hallway, the master bathroom, and the master bedroom (also with a large window with a view).

I set up a blow-up bed in the living room on the main level so that Slinky and I could sleep there.I also have a garden level finished basement with two windows that face the backyard woods. There is a bed down there and Slinky’s litter box is located there as well. (This info will be pertinent later in this tale.)

The one step of the introduction process that I was unable to do was getting Slinky’s food dish closer and closer to the girls upstairs. Her food remains on the main level andI she refused to even agree to move it to the stairs.


Anyway, after a few more days, I cannot recall now how many, I let the very curious and eager cats come down to the main level. The basement remained out of bounds. The girls explored and Slinky watched with a wary eye from the kitchen counter, partially hidden from sight. She was on high alert and not at all amused, but she was not aggressive. After about 10 minutes I shooed the girls back upstairs. This scenario played out 4 or 5 more times, during which time I learned a bit more about the girls. Zelda is far more social than Maggie. She will come out from under my bed (which is their preferred location when not engaged in some other pursuit) and rub her head against my arms, legs, head, whatever she can get and she lets me pet her. Maggie, on the other hand, is very timid and shy and does not want to be handled. She spends much less time on the main floor and very cautiously descends the stairs, often running back upstairs and just looking through the banisters to see what is happening down there. !
Now is when things begin to get more tricky. Three days ago Z and M were down on the main level when suddenly #%&# crash!# Hiss%# screech and a blur of gray and black running ...some fur went flying! Maggie was up the stairs in a flash! I managed to get between Slinky and Zelda. Zelda went upstairs and Slinky remained on the main level. Play time was over.

The next morning Z came down and S sat on a dining room chair and glared but did not move. I gave Z 5 minutes and then shooed her back upstairs.

Now we come to yesterday: Slinky went down to the basement. As noted previously, that is where her litter box is. She also often goes down there to perch on the ledge in front of one of the windows where she has a great view of the birds that come to my bird feeders as well as some very fat squirrels, rabbits, and a plethora of other woodsy denizens of the woods out back of my condo.

Zelda came down to the main floor and went straight to the open basement door. I was nearby and warned her not to go there but she was fast and down she went. The inevitable occurred ….

Everyone is ok, but all are in their own corners.I explained as best I could toZelda that Slinky has been and will always remain the Queen of this castle, but she and Maggie will be loved (by me anyway) princesses.

Yesterday I took down the blow-up bed, as it took up much of the available floor space. Now and for the foreseeable future Slinky is banned from the upstairs which includes my bed on which she used to sleep. And the girls remain in their gilded cage for most of their days. As for me I rotate between sleeping on my couch with Slinky nearby, down in the basement with Slinky if she chooses, and up in my king size bed with Maggie at the foot of the bed and with Zelda rubbing her head and body all over me throughout the night. I am also trying to earn Maggie’s trust and make her less skittish. She is always looking over her shoulder….

Any advice will be appreciated!
 

rubysmama

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Hello and welcome to TCS. Sorry though for the situation that's brought you here.

Reading everything, I feel like you probably should have left the newbies in that one bedroom a lot longer, before expanding their space into Slinky's territory. When new cats are brought to a home, the resident cat's routine shouldn't be changed much, other than being kept out of the 1 room when the new cat(s) are staying. Then from time to time, you put the resident cat in a closed room, and let the new cat walk around the home so its scent gets on things, and the resident cat starts to recognize it, but not be a chance for a fight to occur.

Do you know what happened 3 days ago when you heard the crash? Did something fall that startled the cats, which caused the fighting. Or did they just get into a fight.

I guess it doesn't really matter, as they've been separated now. If possible, I'd try keeping them in that one room for a bit. Maybe even set up stacked baby gates so the cats and see each other, without being able to cause harm.

Unsuccessful introductions are common, and TCS even has an article on the subject:
How To Fix An Unsuccessful Cat Introduction – TheCatSite Articles

We also have How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – TheCatSite Articles which includes pics on how to stack the baby gates, plus a couple other ideas, which you might find helpful.

Hopefully with starting the introductions all over, things will work out and they'll be friends, or will at least learn to peacefully live together. Good luck.
 
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Catmom#3

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I have now moved Z and M to one room upstairs (a fabulous high-rise studio apartment with a view !) Today is day 2 of one room seclusion. how long should I wait to allow them to let them venture down to the main level for a short visit? Maggie may not make the journey at all but will most likely will observe from the upstairs hall or the stairs through the bannisters. I am continuing scent swapping activities.
 

rubysmama

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how long should I wait to allow them to let them venture down to the main level for a short visit?
To visit with Slinky? Or to visit when Slinky is safe in another room with the door closed.

For starters, I'd put Slinky in another room, so Z & M can visit without the possibility of a confrontation. Then once they're back in their room, let Slinky out and see how she reacts.

Has she ventured upstairs yet, to sniff at the door of their room?
 
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Catmom#3

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Slinky has not ventured upstairs. I was thinking while Slinky was in the room, but I could probably wait till Slinky goes down to the basement to bird watch and shut the door. They had previously been down without any aggression from Slinky a few times...
 

di and bob

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It has only been two weeks, far too short a time for three females to learn to get along since females are very territory-driven and don't want to give up anything at all. They need to see each other with no chance of clashing physically. Gates, or even putting Slinky on a leash or in a big dog cage to observe each other is good right now. Give her a small box to hide in inside the cage so she doesn't feel trapped. chasing, swatting, growling, and hissing is all normal, as long as no blood is drawn. But it is way too early to chance them all meeting safely. Maggie will be most likely the most beat-up since she is shy and runs, Slinky enjoys chasing her and scaring her, Maggie will eventually stand up for herself one day, but not for months. This will all take months to happen, but it WILL happen, they will become sisters and share a house. It just takes one day at a time, and you keeping them from getting hurt.....
 

rubysmama

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I think waiting till Slinky is bird watching, and no chance of her encountering the others, is the best plan. Basically, you want Slinky to e able to live her life as normally as possible, and slowly let her get used to there being 2 other cats in her home.

Since they had spend a year (poor babies) at Petsmart, having an entire room to themselves will seem enormous. Not to mention, having loving humans to care for them. They won't be unhappy living in a comfy room for a while.

With cat introductions, it's always better to go too slow, than to move too quickly. They are going to being living together as a feline family for many years, so it's best to try to get it right from the start.

Meanwhile, spend time with Slinky as normal, so that she doesn't feel neglected. And tell her she's not being replaced.

And, of course, spend time with Zelda and Maggie.

Eventually try to set up something at the bedroom door so they can see each other, even touch paws. The stacked baby gates can work. But even setting up something so that the door can be just ajar, can work too. You don't want them to get into another fight, but being able to see each other is good.
 
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Catmom#3

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okay. Thank you for all your advice! Rest assured that Slinky is getting lots of love as usual, and the girls upstairs as well.
 
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Catmom#3

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Hey there! In the area of scent swapping, I have tried the sock method; get a sock and rub it on a cat, then leave it for the other cat to check it out. So far Slinky has totally ignored the sock with Zelda's scent. Not sure of what Z has noticed about Slink's sock. Maggie won't let me pet her enough to get a scent sock... I feel like everybody is okay, but I wonder if Z & M get too comfortable in the master bedroom, will Slinky ever be able to go there again? I am ok with everyone just being grudging housemates....not best friends and maintaining distance but living in peace. I am hoping that might happen in...6 months? just wondering
 

rubysmama

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Oh, didn't realize Z & M were in the master bedroom. Do you have another room you could put them in?

As for scent swapping, just letting Z & M wander through the rest of the home, when Slinky is bird watching, will leave their scent on things. And of course, his scent is already on everything.

Also didn't realize Maggie is that timid. Maybe these TCS articles will have some tips to help you with her.

16 Top Cat Experts Share Tips For Dealing With Timid Cats – TheCatSite Articles
10 Must-know Tips For Happy Living With A Shy Cat – TheCatSite Articles
 

di and bob

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It may take 6 months, but harmony and at least tolerance should come sooner. Eventually, maybe in 6-12 months, it will change from tolerance to actual family and acceptance all the way around.
 
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Catmom#3

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Here is an update on the Introductions of 2 cats to my established cat: Zelda and Maggie now have free range of the upstairs level which includes the master bedroom with a view, a 2nd small bedroom with a smaller view, and the upstairs hall which is a loft style with a banister that overlooks the main level living and dining area ( with great views of the deck and back yard woodsy area). The upstairs has a pet gate to prevent the girls from coming down the stairs or Slinky from getting upstairs (she has shown no interest in doing so). The girls occasionally stick their heads through the banister rails to look around, especially Zelda. Slinky watches them with a wary eye but has only hissed a bit once, I thought to let this arrangement play out until Slinky seems disinterested in the girls and/or until she shows some interest in going up the stairs for a better look. If it takes months and months I am okay with that. Thoughts?
 

di and bob

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You know, God what you feel comfortable with. The more Slinky sees them, even if it is just their heads, the better. It Will happen, mine took a year before they became a real family, they tolerated each other before that.
 

rubysmama

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If you're ok with it, and the cats seem content, then all is well. As long as everyone is eating and using the litter box normally, and show no signs of stress, let them take it at their own speed, and hopefully, eventually, they'll be able to share the entire house.

Thanks, btw, for being that patient with them. Not everyone is willing, or able, to split their home into 2 separate cat zones, so it's great that you are doing that. :redheartpump: :petcat:
 
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Catmom#3

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Really appreciate your feedback. Things are going well...I have moved their litter boxes to the 2nd bedroom and most of their toys to the hallway. Their feeding stations are now in the hall that overlooks the main level. They still have the master bed to lounge on and watch the street life pass by. They have been spending more time in the hallway that looks over the main level, so they have seen more of Slinky and she has seen more of them. No hissing or bushy tails. Thinking that in a couple of weeks I will move the gate a bit down the stairs...everyone will have a better view of each other. Thoughts?
 

rubysmama

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Sounds good to me. Again, your patience with them will probably pay off in the end, with you having a well integrated little family of cats.
 

Newly a Cat Guy

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I'm in the same boat so I am getting a lot out of the replies as well. Thanks for all those that take time to help us less knowledgeable ones out!
 
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Catmom#3

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An Update on the 2cat introduction: It has been 2 weeks since I moved the gate down to the first landing. Zelda and Maggie come down regularly. They are only 5 steps from the main level. Slinky has been watching them and they have been watching Slinky. Early on, some hissing by Slinky was made, but lately I have noticed that no hissing is going on. A lot of staring at each other, but pretty quiet. At first, Zelda was the most frequent visitor, but lately Maggie is showing up more as well. I talk to everyone by name and act like we are one big family...Z and M clearly want to get to the main level, but Slinky still seems wary. S has been going up to the gate and watching out for them and sometimes simply ignoring them. Progress?? Meanwhile, I climb over the gate about 30 times a day, which my yoga teacher tells me if I am focused on breathing it counts as yoga...lol! When might I let the girls down to the main level and should I close the basement to them? The basement is where I have been sleeping and Slinky's litter box is located there as well.
 

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I don't have an answer for you, but much love and sympathy as I'm doing the same thing but with 3 unconnected cats. They sound like they are getting along better and better, and that makes me hopeful for my situation as well.
 

rubysmama

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When might I let the girls down to the main level and should I close the basement to them? The basement is where I have been sleeping and Slinky's litter box is located there as well.
I don't really know the answer to your question, but it definitely sounds like you're making progress.
 
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