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Hi blumarine916 ! Thanks for posting and sharing your thoughts! I definitely think chilling out (me) will help everything over here. It's just not always my strong suit, hahah. But I am trying. I think Florie and Hawthorne have some foundation of trust but still some chasing/boundaries to figure out. So I'm trying to be more relaxed for that. I appreciate you sharing your experience! I didn't think it was ranty at all! I value hearing from other people - what they did to make it work. It gives me hope!"I have experienced the stressful 6 month introduction in 2019. Back then it was because of a stray cat that entered my home and caused both my cats who have lived together for 8 years to stop recognizing one another. It was heartbreaking and very stressful to us. I followed all the steps in the TCS articles to a T, sometimes failing and restarting over and over." - THANK YOU SO MUCH for saving the cats and doing all you did to give them a great home!!
"It came to a point where I was so stressed out watching my cats’ every move, freaking out and worrying over a little hiss or growls, putting up with all the inconvenience of having one cat in the room and one outside, always needing to divide my attention, always thinking about the pet gate/divider that I just…..
"stopped being bothered." - THIS IS THE KEY. Cats take on our emotions so once we are "cool" with the situation they tend to be "cool" with the situation. I work with ferals all the time and I see every day how much human emotions have an impact on the behavior of cats. It is mindboggling how large of an impact. It is amazing to see an angry. scared cat calm down when I am totally relaxed around them. The do take on or refelct our emotions.
"This was on the 6th month when progress was so slow. I just went, “I’m not going to care anymore.” " - Or maybe a better feeling of "accepting" and maybe even "trusting"? I guarantee you cared still quite a lot BUT you basically allowed the feelings of trust come to the forefront (maybe sub-consciously you were were confident than you thought?).
"At that moment, I removed the annoying barricade and opened all the doors. I let my cats be. I ignored their little hisses, stopped hovering over them over everything" - EXACTLY!!!! Trusting them so that they could trust themselves. It is unanced but this is a really big deal. Getting to the point we trust them enough to allow them to work out the final pieces. Because intros are about the human actions BUT the cats have their parts to play as well.
" and just told myself to be alert IF I hear them actually fighting." - EXACTLY
And any nervous energy the humans might have had disappeared and the cats couldn't pick up on it and personalize it holding them back.
It is very much like a kid. If you tell a kid he is stupid he probably will be stupid. BUT if you build confidence, honestly address weaknesses yet build on positives it will help the child be better. Same with cats in my opinion.
"True enough, that worked out. " = Because all your work built the solid base of trust and confidence to allow for them to put the finishing touches on the relationship.
"I believe our cats get nervous if we watch them too closely. They become anxious with our presence because we get nervous if they did anything. " - EXACTLY!!!
"If they aren’t physically engaging in angry, growling, meowing positions, leave them be. They’ll work it out and learn to respect one another." - As long as they have a solid base of trust and confidence.
"Sorry for the long ranty post. " - Oh my goodness, no reason to apologize. THIS was GREAT!!!! exactly correct!!
"I’m just saying we shouldn’t be too obsessed over their progress on accepting each other. Let them work it out." - When the base of trust and confidence are showing. And with Hawthorne and Florie it is there.
I often find the humans lag a bit behind the cats in trust and confidence (because we love so much and want everything to be perfect etc). It is understandable but it can impede the progress. It is not to blame anyone (I did it as well on my first intro - YES I was a helicopter mom before the term even existed!!!) - it is to help and make progress. Constructive.
Thank you for the excellent post and congratulations on the success and all you are doing to save lives and make cat lives great!!!
And hello C calicosrspecial ! We're all doing well over here. Florie seems to be back on track - peeing in her litterbox, purring, grooming, eating. I suppose the bed peeing is something that could occur again if we were to go away, but taking a little more care around the cat sitter meetings and getting comfortable might help. Out of curiousity, is it your experience that cats can 'learn' to trust that you'll return from vacation? Will she get more comfortable in the future if we travel and come back, travel and come back? Or will she be scared each time?
In terms of the intro, we've been playing it pretty cool - treats at the gate, visual through the gate, etc. I'm figuring out if I try harness training or I just capitalize on feeling a bit less stressed and try another intro in the main room. I don't know if it was the break, but she seems a bit more sassy to Hawthorne. Like, she holds her ground at the gate (when in her room and he's out) and growls and HE might be the one to walk away. Maybe my imagination. Maybe not. Maybe she's just tired of being in her room, hahah.
I am going also to post, just for interest's sake, examples of them swatting through the gate. It's hard to get a video because as soon as I show up, they both stop and look at me. But you can see. The videos are very short. As usual, if you can't hear the volume, envision her growling the whole time with the growling going up in volume and pitch as she swats at him.
Video links: F & H Fussing at Gate 2.MP4
and F & H Fussing at Gate 1.MP4