Advice for socializing

Lynn704

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Hello everyone! I could use some advice for our rescued semi-feral - now 5-month-old kitten (5 pounds), Bella. She has been cleared by the vet for social interactions but won't be spayed until six months per vet's advice. We keep her in a safe room (larger bathroom) and she's been overall doing well, but I feel like it's often one step forward, two steps back the next day. It's been approximately 4 weeks since we've rescued her. We have a 4-year-old cat (Shadow - 20-pound male also a rescue who is used to being the only cat) and a very senior Shih-tzu (laid back, can't see or hear well). Overall, Bella and I have bonded, and she's very affectionate to me (lots of rubs against my legs and curling up by me to sleep and purring in the same room). Still working on getting her used to my spouse as she'll still sometimes hiss at him so we're working on him giving her treats and today she let him pet her with me in the room, and she drifted off to sleep purring (baby steps...)

We gave her several weeks to get comfy in the safe room to the point she'd leap from the vanity to her mini cat tree and will chase lasers all around the room. I'm retired so I have plenty of time to work with her. At first, we just partly opened the door and put-up baby gates and that progressed well between her and Shadow and we eventually took down the gates as she showed signs she wanted out, but now I'm getting mixed signals. Bella was eating with Shadow without barriers (closest was about 3 feet apart) during scheduled mealtimes door open. The two of them even just yesterday will eat treats within a foot of each other if I'm in the middle passing out the goodies. But the last two days, Bella will run out to greet Shadow at his bowl for breakfast or dinner, and Shadow will eat, then turns and walks away, then Bella retreats and won't come back out to eat her meal. They've sniffed noses several times and have played with a string together also. Last night, Bella even went exploring more while Shadow was around, and she walked right past him and into the family room and kitchen and explored Shadow's cat tree. Shadow wasn't reacting as I had his attention on some string. Afterwards, Bella seemed a bit overly affectionate (almost a little aggressively affectionate) to me in the bathroom (mewing, and some love nips on my toes and then weaving in and out of my legs so I wouldn't leave) before bed. I ended up staying up later to play with her more with the door closed to help calm her nerves a bit. This morning, she ran out again when I opened the door for breakfast, sniffed her bowl, walked up to Shadow and then ran back inside again and hid behind the door.

Today, I spent most of the day hanging out in the bathroom, just working on my computer and I put a recently worn shirt of mine in her bed to curl up against. She seems content today, stretching out on top her cat tower in the bathroom with the door open, but I'm in there, too. Overall as I'm writing this I acknowledge she's making great progress, but I'm quite worried (maybe more than I should be) by her not wanting to eat meals now with Shadow. I'm wondering if I should back up and close the door more often, or if I should just stop stressing and let her get comfortable without my continued interference? When she doesn't eat at the scheduled mealtime, I have been sitting in the bathroom with her playing with her until I see that she eats. I don't feel comfortable leaving her out all the time if we're asleep or not home as I do sometimes see occasional signs of a stare down between her and Shadow and as he's so much bigger, I want to be around to cat-sit. Also, a rescue mentioned I try the purrito when Bella was first rescued, and she does not like that at all (I got quite the nasty scratch and the silent treatment from Bella for about 3 days after). We also have been spraying some feliway around the common areas. She now will let me pick her up and move her gently sometimes but will give me a look with ears down that tells me she doesn't want me doing it often. I'd love to get some thoughts on what I should be doing next, or if I just need to relax and keep on doing what we're doing? Thanks so much!
 

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Hello everyone! I could use some advice for our rescued semi-feral - now 5-month-old kitten (5 pounds), Bella. She has been cleared by the vet for social interactions but won't be spayed until six months per vet's advice. We keep her in a safe room (larger bathroom) and she's been overall doing well, but I feel like it's often one step forward, two steps back the next day. It's been approximately 4 weeks since we've rescued her. We have a 4-year-old cat (Shadow - 20-pound male also a rescue who is used to being the only cat) and a very senior Shih-tzu (laid back, can't see or hear well). Overall, Bella and I have bonded, and she's very affectionate to me (lots of rubs against my legs and curling up by me to sleep and purring in the same room). Still working on getting her used to my spouse as she'll still sometimes hiss at him so we're working on him giving her treats and today she let him pet her with me in the room, and she drifted off to sleep purring (baby steps...)

We gave her several weeks to get comfy in the safe room to the point she'd leap from the vanity to her mini cat tree and will chase lasers all around the room. I'm retired so I have plenty of time to work with her. At first, we just partly opened the door and put-up baby gates and that progressed well between her and Shadow and we eventually took down the gates as she showed signs she wanted out, but now I'm getting mixed signals. Bella was eating with Shadow without barriers (closest was about 3 feet apart) during scheduled mealtimes door open. The two of them even just yesterday will eat treats within a foot of each other if I'm in the middle passing out the goodies. But the last two days, Bella will run out to greet Shadow at his bowl for breakfast or dinner, and Shadow will eat, then turns and walks away, then Bella retreats and won't come back out to eat her meal. They've sniffed noses several times and have played with a string together also. Last night, Bella even went exploring more while Shadow was around, and she walked right past him and into the family room and kitchen and explored Shadow's cat tree. Shadow wasn't reacting as I had his attention on some string. Afterwards, Bella seemed a bit overly affectionate (almost a little aggressively affectionate) to me in the bathroom (mewing, and some love nips on my toes and then weaving in and out of my legs so I wouldn't leave) before bed. I ended up staying up later to play with her more with the door closed to help calm her nerves a bit. This morning, she ran out again when I opened the door for breakfast, sniffed her bowl, walked up to Shadow and then ran back inside again and hid behind the door.

Today, I spent most of the day hanging out in the bathroom, just working on my computer and I put a recently worn shirt of mine in her bed to curl up against. She seems content today, stretching out on top her cat tower in the bathroom with the door open, but I'm in there, too. Overall as I'm writing this I acknowledge she's making great progress, but I'm quite worried (maybe more than I should be) by her not wanting to eat meals now with Shadow. I'm wondering if I should back up and close the door more often, or if I should just stop stressing and let her get comfortable without my continued interference? When she doesn't eat at the scheduled mealtime, I have been sitting in the bathroom with her playing with her until I see that she eats. I don't feel comfortable leaving her out all the time if we're asleep or not home as I do sometimes see occasional signs of a stare down between her and Shadow and as he's so much bigger, I want to be around to cat-sit. Also, a rescue mentioned I try the purrito when Bella was first rescued, and she does not like that at all (I got quite the nasty scratch and the silent treatment from Bella for about 3 days after). We also have been spraying some feliway around the common areas. She now will let me pick her up and move her gently sometimes but will give me a look with ears down that tells me she doesn't want me doing it often. I'd love to get some thoughts on what I should be doing next, or if I just need to relax and keep on doing what we're doing? Thanks so much!
Hi there- I'm Kwik and it sounds to me like you are quite the Momma worrying so about your babies and that just THRILLS me ❤

Yes indeed @Lynn,I think you're overly concerned- your Shadow sounds like a wonderful sweet big teddy bear fellow and WOW he's doing GREAT for a long time uno cat!👍Having had shared his territory with your Shih-tzu certainly has attributed to his non chalant attitude no doubt

I believe you're doing a fantastic job-what exactly are your concerns ? It sounds to me progress is excellent so far

So it's probably high time to expand little Bellas territory if you can extend it beyond her safe room thst would be ideal -her running back there just shows she has well established her territory and it's good time to let her explore and expand- the rest of the home is just not yet been part of it ,still unfamiliar so her retreating is a positive thing( it would not be positive if she panicked snd didn't run back to her safe room- that would mean longer containment required)

Sounds like she's very ready and don't stress over her not wanting to eat where Shadow is,you can continue to feed her in her safe room and gradually move her dish closer and closer to where you want meals served - changing eating places can be very stressful for many cats so go slow
 
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Lynn704

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Thank you, both so much for your advice and support! I will stop stressing so much about the eating at the same time and went ahead and fed both of them at their regular places this morning. They both ate much better and Bella was eager to come out this morning and do some more exploring and even came up and introduced herself to our shihtzu! I'll also try the brushing idea today! Thanks again for the advice and reassurance!
 

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Thank you, both so much for your advice and support! I will stop stressing so much about the eating at the same time and went ahead and fed both of them at their regular places this morning. They both ate much better and Bella was eager to come out this morning and do some more exploring and even came up and introduced herself to our shihtzu! I'll also try the brushing idea today! Thanks again for the advice and reassurance!
Yes,good-Im happy to hear it. You know some cats prefer to eat alone and it's not always about food competition- they just like to eat very quietly and the slightest distraction interrupt their eating time

My cat Graycie ,very sweet Russian Blue has always had her own eating space above the others so there's no competition there- however,even with outside noises (condo- walkway by kitchen door)or if I'm busy in the kitchen she will keep looking up and it's obvious to see it distracts her and then she'll eat nervously or leave it so I started feeding Graycie in the living room( for other reasons) and it's much quiter,not near outdoor noises etc and she eats very peacefully,even with the other 4 in the room...my intention was to bring everyone back in the kitchen for meals but I think I might just leave sweet Graycie to thecplace she's more relaxed ( for now anyway)

I can either bring her back to her feeding station gradually or just let her be.... we'll see. I had everyone eating in the living room to be near the newest kitty,now everyone is in the kitchen again but Graycie clearly likes her present place- so why not?
 
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Lynn704

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Thanks Kwik, that is really interesting, and your kitties are so cute!

As an update, Bella is making some progress and is venturing out more at night to explore. Last night, she finally explored in-depth the family room where we all hang out. It was the last room left to explore. She was in the room for probably 15 minutes and I'm proud of her for staying out of the bathroom that long but noticed she was a little aggressive with our big boy, Shadow. While Bella explored, Shadow seemed calm at first, lying down and stretching belly up, yawning while watching Bella walked into the room and even explored his cat tower. But then, Shadow started staring at her more intently (despite me trying to distract both of them with toys). Bella approached, they sniffed noses and Shadow backed up fast, and Bella swatted him. (couldn't tell if claws were out or not, but no blood or anything, more just a one-time single paw swat.) Shadow ran off and jumped on the kitchen counter where he could watch her from up high. I tried a lickable treat and attempted again to distract them with play. They both ate a tiny bit but Bella was wanting to continue sniffing and Shadow seemed too irritated and upset to eat.

This morning, Shadow approached the doorway to the safe room(bathroom) where I was petting Bella on the vanity. Bella jumped down toward Shadow, postured herself all big and stout, and Shadow ran away. Afterward, she jumped back up on the vanity and gave me a little hiss/spit. Since she was upset, I immediately left and gave her some quiet time to calm down. I felt bad for Shadow and gave him some extra loving. Later in the day, I spent time playing in the hall outside the bathroom with ribbons and a pop-up cube. Shadow would play independently, but when Bella approached for her turn to play, he'd run off and watch her play from afar. He seemed quite afraid to come over for their afternoon lickable treat and would sniff it (and he usually adores these things) and then wince backwards. I was thinking maybe they just need more commingled scents in the bathroom, so I did try putting a Shadow toy in Bella's room this afternoon, and she loved it, and played with it and rubbed her cheeks on it.

With the swatting/lunging incidents, should I back-up on socializing and maybe put back up the baby gates until they stop showing any signs of aggression, or perhaps this is all normal behavior as they learn each other's boundaries? My husband thought it was a possibility that maybe Bella was trying to play with Shadow, but I'm not sure since she swatted and seemed to lunge forward at him.
 

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Doesn't sound like " play" but a swat and a hiss here and there is to be expected along the way- how about Shadow has he been in Bellas room to get her scent while Bella is out exploring? I believe you mentioned item scent swapping but don't recall room swapping?

When mine start to do some swatting I say" No"- mine know what that means very well and it stops them in their tracks to turn and look at me'- then when they are stand nicely I praise & pet

But now,Timmy is getting very confident and has well established his territory so when he is the aggressor( like Bella) who is not very clear on what " No" means ,I clap my hand and say " No " -that gets his attention '- again,he stands nicely and gets pets n praise

Might be too soon with Bella for a sharp "No" if she's not completely relaxed with you - then I'd say back it up a bit but at some point you're going to have to see how it goes
 
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Lynn704

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Thank you, Kwik! Shadow hasn't been in Bella's room much as she seems to bolt back there every time she goes exploring and hasn't been out very long for us to put Shadow in there, but I do think that would help. I think part of Bella's aggression comes from Shadow doing the stare-down thing when he gets uncomfortable with her on his turf which puts her on guard, too, and also, when he approaches into her safe room, she's also getting territorial. I agree with your thoughts that it didn't seem like "play" to me either. Not with the added hiss and a spit this morning. I have been saying a little softer version of "no" which yeah, she doesn't seem to like being told, no, but she seems to stop and then runs off after I say it. I think I'll try the room swap idea next as both kitties might like the alone time to investigate without the other one giving them the stink-eye while they sniff around. It might be a bit tricky if she runs back to the safe room and her door is closed, I'm not sure what she'll do. Maybe I could pull out her cat tower into the hallway, so she'd have a familiar place to hide temporarily until we opened back up the bathroom door.
 

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Thank you, Kwik! Shadow hasn't been in Bella's room much as she seems to bolt back there every time she goes exploring and hasn't been out very long for us to put Shadow in there, but I do think that would help. I think part of Bella's aggression comes from Shadow doing the stare-down thing when he gets uncomfortable with her on his turf which puts her on guard, too, and also, when he approaches into her safe room, she's also getting territorial. I agree with your thoughts that it didn't seem like "play" to me either. Not with the added hiss and a spit this morning. I have been saying a little softer version of "no" which yeah, she doesn't seem to like being told, no, but she seems to stop and then runs off after I say it. I think I'll try the room swap idea next as both kitties might like the alone time to investigate without the other one giving them the stink-eye while they sniff around. It might be a bit tricky if she runs back to the safe room and her door is closed, I'm not sure what she'll do. Maybe I could pull out her cat tower into the hallway, so she'd have a familiar place to hide temporarily until we opened back up the bathroom door.
Good plan- it's an important part of the process prior to " sight" and actual interaction- they do well when VERY familiar with each other's scents and the overwhelming scent a cat smells in another cats territory- its a good sign when they are in the others room( room swapping) and they begin rubbing their faces to mark the others territory- those are different messages ,it's communicating- where is " urine" marking is a " keep out" message ,head gland markings ard more of a " how do you do,who are you,this is mine also"....

It's like writing letters to get to know someone prior to meeting them for coffee❤
 

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Keep in mind that females are the manners teachers, the limit setters. She is establishing her heirarchy in the household and will end up the 'queen' of her domain. i have seen battlescarred huge feral tom cats back down from little 6 lb females. She is trying to whip him into obediance. All completely normal!
 

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Keep in mind that females are the manners teachers, the limit setters. She is establishing her heirarchy in the household and will end up the 'queen' of her domain. i have seen battlescarred huge feral tom cats back down from little 6 lb females. She is trying to whip him into obediance. All completely normal!
So true -you know my Timmy,big tough King Feral all those years as rogue protector of his outdoor territory,then he met little 6 lb Bella insude & she had him running to his cubby for months-:kitty: Lol
 
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Thank you, Kwik, Di & Bob! I greatly appreciate the advice and support! That is good to hear that this behavior is normal. My Bella sounds like your little girls too, as I am so surprised to see 5–6-pound Bella standing up to big Shadow (20-pounder big boy who is used to ruling the roost). I can totally see where she is calling the shots and will probably end up the ruler of this domain. Shadow was never socialized with other kittens as we rescued him off the streets at 6 weeks when his momma left him behind as he had a little leg injury that healed up just fine. We've worked hard over the past four years to teach him limits on playing too hard with us, and although he's 4, the sweet baby still suckles on anything soft.

Last night, Bella preferred to stay close to her safe room and seemed a bit sleepy from all the playing we did during the day. I'll continue to look for opportunities for them to swap spaces.

Today, when we let Bella out of the saferoom in the morning, she tried to go under Shadow's chin in what appeared to be affectionate rubbing up against him as her head was down and she approached his chest turned to the side and tail-up. Shadow didn't like that and jumped back and then Bella swatted and Shadow's tail puffed up and he ran off. I did intervene and say, no, a bit louder this time. No one was hurt, and thankfully Bella still trusts me and is giving me nose-kisses today. Also, to my surprise, Shadow returned a few minutes later like nothing had happened and engaged in string play. Makes me wonder if maybe these little tufts are more concerning to me, than for them. I just worry about kitty injuries, and backward progress in their relationship building.

We continued to monitor today and as we have been doing, we decided to keep the safe room door partly open and monitored them closely. Bella seems relaxed and has slept on top her cat tower all day, and Shadow went to sleep on the sofa in our living room. All has been quiet on the western front all day, and both just stayed in their respective comfort zones.

These two are definitely a puzzle to my husband and me. Almost seems like it's a love-hate relationship.
 

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Thank you, Kwik, Di & Bob! I greatly appreciate the advice and support! That is good to hear that this behavior is normal. My Bella sounds like your little girls too, as I am so surprised to see 5–6-pound Bella standing up to big Shadow (20-pounder big boy who is used to ruling the roost). I can totally see where she is calling the shots and will probably end up the ruler of this domain. Shadow was never socialized with other kittens as we rescued him off the streets at 6 weeks when his momma left him behind as he had a little leg injury that healed up just fine. We've worked hard over the past four years to teach him limits on playing too hard with us, and although he's 4, the sweet baby still suckles on anything soft.

Last night, Bella preferred to stay close to her safe room and seemed a bit sleepy from all the playing we did during the day. I'll continue to look for opportunities for them to swap spaces.

Today, when we let Bella out of the saferoom in the morning, she tried to go under Shadow's chin in what appeared to be affectionate rubbing up against him as her head was down and she approached his chest turned to the side and tail-up. Shadow didn't like that and jumped back and then Bella swatted and Shadow's tail puffed up and he ran off. I did intervene and say, no, a bit louder this time. No one was hurt, and thankfully Bella still trusts me and is giving me nose-kisses today. Also, to my surprise, Shadow returned a few minutes later like nothing had happened and engaged in string play. Makes me wonder if maybe these little tufts are more concerning to me, than for them. I just worry about kitty injuries, and backward progress in their relationship building.

We continued to monitor today and as we have been doing, we decided to keep the safe room door partly open and monitored them closely. Bella seems relaxed and has slept on top her cat tower all day, and Shadow went to sleep on the sofa in our living room. All has been quiet on the western front all day, and both just stayed in their respective comfort zones.

These two are definitely a puzzle to my husband and me. Almost seems like it's a love-hate relationship.
It's finding their respective place - probably is not half as much a problem for them as you may think.....they are working it out,setting boundaries and communicating in their own language....

Don't be surprised if the roles reverse when and if Shadow decides little Bella is not so scarey after all and they will work that out too becsuse you are there to teach then what is pleasing,acceptable ahd what is not

Very often I get the impression that the cats rule the house,do what they do as if their hoomans have no say in the matter and that's where the real issues are- you are at the helm,you are their steward not their servant- humans have domain over all the animals on earth because we have intellect and reason- surely we can establish a peaceful environment within our own home,right? Of course you can! You're doing a great job,our animals really are a reflection of ourselves- you set the tone❤
 
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Lynn704

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Thank you for all your guidance and support! It's been so helpful and has relieved a lot of my concerns! It's so nice to be able to talk to someone who has experience with semi-feral kittens and socializing them into a multi-pet household. Thank you sooo much! :)
 

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Thank you for all your guidance and support! It's been so helpful and has relieved a lot of my concerns! It's so nice to be able to talk to someone who has experience with semi-feral kittens and socializing them into a multi-pet household. Thank you sooo much! :)
It's my absolute pleasure to be able to share my experience of over 4 decades with you-Im very happy to tell you that there is always a solution for harmonious co - habitation of multi cat households..... I could count on one hand how many times I've had to say re- homing a cat was the only option and it was not because the cat could not be reconditioned to fit in,it's not always an easy task and not everyone is up for the process( no fault of their own,it's just not for everyone or the environment greatly reduces options to provide enough space for everyone)

My career with Equines went on to include BIG CATS and it somehow evolved into working with ferals...they just need to trust someone like all creatures❤❤❤
 
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Lynn704

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Sorry I didn't see your response, earlier, Kwik, but wow, what an amazing career you've had in your life! It is definitely a challenge socializing a feral kitten, with ups and downs each week, and your guidance and experience is super helpful.

I'm struggling a bit today and thought I'd write an update. Bella is coming out at night quite a bit to play, albeit not usually in the room where our Shih-tzu dog is behind a gated area. She tends to prefer areas away from Shadow and Jake, and likes to play in our foyer, living room, and stairs to the second floor as we shine a laser all around she runs and has fun. We opened up a kitten-proofed room for her to explore on the second floor and she goes in there now and then but doesn't seem to hang out long and if I come up into the room, she runs back downstairs to her safe room bathroom. She will sometimes try and engage Shadow in what seems like play, with maybe a closed paw swat or playfully gently swatting his moving tail, and then a run or chasing a laser toy by Shadow or last night they even played with a mouse toy a foot from each other.

During the day though it's a different story - right after breakfast, she'll run out of the bathroom (we still keep her in the bathroom with door closed at night), but when she sees our dog, Jake and Shadow walking around the kitchen, she'll typically run back to the safe room and prefers to still eat in there, while our other pets eat at the same time in the kitchen. Before and after she eats, I love her up with some one-on-one attention and she'll crawl on my lap and rest and purrs while I pet her on a soft blanket. My concern is what happens after. Shadow comes down the hall towards Bella's safe room and seems a bit aggressive for some reason (scratching and meowing at the bathroom door today - maybe jealous I'm spending time inside with Bella?) and then Bella hisses at him from under the door or through the crack if I open it, and it kinda starts the day off rough as then Bella's adrenaline seems high and she'll even hiss then at me sometimes afterwards if I enter the room, or at my husband. I tried moving her cat tower out into the hallway thinking more exposure might help, and she'll come out to explore a few seconds but then runs back in and hides either behind the door or the toilet, and then will start mewing until I put the cat tower back in the bathroom. She seems angry afterwards, and I just settled her with a treat and then closed the bathroom door to allow her time to relax again. Shadow then settles down and naps in the family room. After that she's fine the rest of the day.

For a while I was doing lickable treats at the same time and even tried one in each hand, but that was turning into some swatting/hissing from Bella toward Shadow, so I decided to back off simultaneous lickable treats as they were getting territorial over the high-value treat. As I write this out, I'm wondering if maybe the initial fear is seeing our dog out actively sniffing around, and then her anxiety is already heightened and then when Shadow wants to be in the room where she's eating, it just ramps up the stress. Do you have any thoughts on how I could handle the morning routine better? Thanks so much for any ideas!

**Also, I forgot to mention, Bella went into heat early (twice now) but is back out of heat currently - Shadow is neutered so no pregnancy concerns, but Bella is scheduled to be spayed in two weeks.
 

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I was wondering what was happening,glad to see you again.

Just don't get discouraged,stay positive with great expectation- it's a slow process and often times it will seem like an eternity of being stuck with no progress but it isnt,I mean it sincerely- so be encouraged,your energy matters

It's difficult with her safe room being the bathroom but it is what it is so lets back up to the room swapping situation where I believe we left off- how have you been doing with that? Is there a way you can close off the area out side of Bellas bathroom so she is not out of sight from Shadow but she can get familiar with expanding her territory behind something safe? Gate?screens? Lattice?Can you erect something where she'll not feel threatened outside of her safe room?

How long is she inside now?I would not push much before her being spayed,that's going to make a difference too- remember to get her scent on a towel before you take her to the Vet so you can rub her scent back on her when she returns or she'll smell like a completely new stranger to the residents-making it all the more difficult

So where are we at with her familiarity with the environment? And have the others been in her bathroom?
 
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Lynn704

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Hi Kwik! Thank you again for your continued help - I hate to keep bothering you, but really appreciate the guidance!

I wish our saferoom was someplace better, too, and a bit quieter of an area. It's right by the entry to the garage so there are lots of noises with garage doors opening and foot traffic outside her door. In the beginning she was a bit spicy and we needed a contained room with hard flooring so that was the only room that worked, but I've been wondering if there's a way to move her upstairs now into a quieter kitten-proofed room (and our pup is not allowed upstairs), but with the upcoming spaying maybe the bathroom might be our best bet until we're done with post-surgery recovery.

The downstairs is sort of split in half, divided by stairs, the left side is rarely used and we gate it off typically (making an exception for Bella though), so that has little scent in it, and that's where Bells is wanting to play in the most at night (foyer, stairs, living room, dining room). She free roams that area comfortably now without fear but typically only after dusk and until we put her back in the saferoom around 11pm. She's out of the bathroom for about 4-6 hours a day, although oftentimes during the day I'll leave the door open so she can choose to come out if she wants, but she usually chooses not to and sleeps on her tower most the day.

Room swapping - Shadow has explored Bella's room while Bella is in the room, but it's been difficult to keep her out of the room long enough for Shadow to explore without Bella looking over him. Shadow has been brave enough to check out Bella's cat box and even play with some of Bella's toys in the bathroom. Last time was two days ago, and Bella didn't react until Shadow started to leave and then she jumped down off the vanity, and swatted Shadow on the behind with closed paw as he left the room. We tried gating Shadow so he could watch Bella roam, but we really need to buy taller gates, as even double stacked Shadow could jump it, or barrel through. Bella has explored the room Shadow hangs in the most - the family room and kitchen - she sometimes has walked around Shadow when he's lying on the floor, and when in heat, she'll even roll around a foot from him. We hoped that when she was out of heat, she'd remain a little more affectionate, but she seems to revert back to being a little scared with an occasional swat/hiss at him.

After receiving your reply this morning I tried something new today. I fed Shadow first and then put him in a room upstairs, and then put our pup outside to play. Bella had free roam of the entire downstairs for a good two hours, and what a difference in her daytime demeanor! She hung out with me in common areas - family room and kitchen and played and rubbed up against my leg. Eventually she walked around with a happy high tail when she realized she was alone with me. I can really see how far she's come since we rescued her off the streets, but I feel a little sad that she's struggling feeling comfortable with Shadow and Jake, but as you noted, I'm trying to keep positive that I can make this work! My husband is a good support person also and reminds me how far she's come! Although I couldn't put Shadow in her room since he wasn't very happy, I did put one of Bella's blankets in with Shadow so he could smell her scent some more. Afterwards, when letting Shadow back out though, he was definitely showing signs of stress, maybe because her scent was more widespread.

Great tip on the upcoming vet visit! I'll be sure to do that as yeah, I was wondering how that might affect socialization and worried a little that it might set us back at first.

Sorry for my long posts, but thanks again!
 

Kwik

Animals are Blessings
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You're not bothering me,don't ever feel that way- we all WANT to be here to help one another on a voluntary basis or we would simply not reply,right? It's my absolute pleasure to have something to offer you even if it's just to encourage you and reassure you as my experience gives me such confidence to do so.... and I'm thrilled to know your husband is a supportive sweetheart..... it's so very important , animals thrive in positive environments with great energy- they truly do

You're doing so very well,Bellas little closed paw swat at Shadow's behind is a good sign,she's engaged and interested..... Shadow seems like a good guy,it's just going to take time Remember too that cats spend 75% of their time sleeping so the fact that you have her attention and engagement with you 4 to 6 hrs a day is tremendous!

Now we have to really think about where your going to put Bella post surgery-moving her upstairs sounds really good but it's a completely unfamiliar place again and not a busy part of the house,right?It's far from where she's established her territory so it's kinda like starting over again- I like thst she's exploring the most of downstairs and thst you spend most of your time in the family room and kitchen.... might be good to leave her where she's comfortable ..... it'll probably take a long time before she venture upstairs- does thst matter? It shouldnt, if Shadow is annoyed he can go upstairs....

So eventually you might want to try closing off the bathroom to Bella when she finds another spot she likes in downstairs after she really builds that confidence....I like how it's going at your house,I like new residents to be around busy parts of the house such as you've described with the right kind of kitty,Bella is the right fit for it me thinks👍lol

Hey-I set Timmy's enclosure up in the busiest noisiest part of my own home-I did not want a skittish hider and that's the way to do it-youd think the opposite ,right? But the thing is it greatly depends on the cats personality-Timmy was very used to me so it was only a matter of time before we'd resume our relationship,after he felt safe...... it's 9months later and he hardly goes in the front room or my bedroom- he stays where we are all busy and hanging out,the enclosure is gone now( like when you'll close off Bellas access to the bathroom eventually,see?) Our end goal is everyone hanging out with one another,us included,right?So thats the conditioning that's happening at your house..... integration "happens" as it may,in their time when you're all in a common space-nobody hides,when YOU have the luxury of being present for the most part( not everyone does so thats different too)

Just make sure if you see staring or aggressive body stances to distract and intervene - continue to really praise Shadow and give him lots of attention when he's present so it's " good" association..

Mine are all within 5 ft of me as I write- Bella is on the couch with me... a foot away on the couch is Sami,Timmy is in his bed on the floor across from me ,Graycie is sleeping on the floor to my right and Max is zooming up n down the Cat Condo and in and out of the patio......took 9 months but here we are,nobody is going to fight because that is not allowed and if they even " think" about it they get alerted quickly BEFORE any action- just supervise,pay attention to body language and they will work it out ..... in good time
 
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