Cat intro - moral support thread?

cessena

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I just brought home a new boy to keep my diva princess company. She was doing really well for the first week but now she's seen him through the door a few times and there has been some hissing and growling. He on the other hand is a big sweetie and mrrrrs and mews. He can't wait to come hang out.

My big dilemma right now is getting him out of his base camp more. Vega does not have any interest in going in that room. And I don't want to keep locking off the master bedroom from him, but that's where she wants to be when she is uncomfortable. (She is very difficult to pick up or handle. She hates it. So I can really only pick him up.)

Is hard to hear him crying to be out in the living room with us, but if they can't get along I can't keep him so I need to be patient it is just hard.


Anyway thought I would post a thread to see if anyone else is mid intro and could use some moral support! What are your struggles?
 

neely

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Sammygirl95

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One of the things that really works, or at least has worked for me, is feeding them on opposite sides of the door at the same time. That way they associate the kittens smell with something they enjoy. When we got our male kitten our vet also reminded us that it’s ok if the cats just tolerate each other. You don’t have to try to force them to be best friends but try to make sure they don’t fight either. As long as they eventually can tolerate being in the same room together with no growling or fighting that’s ok.
 
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cessena

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I have been feeding them as close to each other as I can. Trying toys and treats by closed doors and scent soaker too.

Unfortunately we had a set back today. Apollo was being extra pitiful this morning at 4am so I closed the door to the master bedroom and gave him access to the rest of the apartment. At once point I heard a crash and got back up to investigate, and he took advantage of my half asleep state to sneak in to the master bedroom. It took me several minutes to realize what had happened. Vega was under the bed growling and he was checking things out happy as can be.

I moved her food a few feet away from his door this morning to give her more breathing room. He is just so sad in there. I spent most of yesterday with him and he is still unhappy to be alone.

(pics below, the flame point is Apollo, and the black one is Vega)
 

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Sammygirl95

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Awwww they’re both so adorable! This definitely sounds like how our cats started out. Just don’t lose hope! Eventually, it’ll become easier. I would say maybe if it’s possible, sleep in the room he’s in with him just a couple nights. :)
 
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cessena

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Thanks, that's very comforting! He seems to REALLY want to try to get to know her, and she is just a ball of growls. Last night I tried to use a screen to corral him into the living room and her into his office. But he wouldn't leave the screen trying to say hi to her with mrrrrrrrrrrrs. And she sat there and growled and hissed. It would be funny if I wasn't so stressed about it.
 

Sammygirl95

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Yeah. It definitely sounds exactly like our cats. Our kitten just want to love and play and our older cat was having none of it. They kind of just tolerate each other now and it’s been 3 years but it’s miles from where we started.
 
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cessena

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Yeah unfortunately my existing cat is barely leaving the master bedroom now. She's grouchy and being very timid. I'm going to move back all the way to keeping him confined and just doing scent swapping, which he's not going to like but she's clearly not ready. Fortunately I'm traveling next week, so they will have to be kept completely seperated anyway and now I wont need to try to explain site swapping to my cat sitters. They'll just need to play with him and wear him out.
 
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cessena

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Well, I'm home from vacation and Apollo wants OUT. He's destroyed the carpet by the office door, and the last two nights managed to open the closet and tear stuff down. This was after I spent the evening playing with him in the living room, and the office and generally hanging out with him.

Vega is still growling and hissing at him when she sees him or he gets too close. She comes up to his door now, to sniff, and also to eat some tuna. But if he approaches her there is much hissing and growling. (I've been playing with him on the other side of a gate, and she will watch. He does this adorable thing where he catches the toy and carries it over to her. She is not impressed.)

If anyone has any suggestions? I feel like as with all cat things nothing is going to my standard plan of how I want this to go/ how it is supposed to. Hes very hard to keep contained and she's really not that motivated by food or play so it's hard to reward her. (Tuna seems to be working but wet food was a no, so i can't give her too much.)

This morning he got out and ran into the bedroom to explore, she was growling under the bed. He's very good about leaving her alone and just seems confused, but I don't know how to make her more comfortable. Is it just more time? The good news is she was out and about and calmer before i left so there does seem to be some progress it just feels... non linear.
 

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This sounds like its going very well actually! Neither wants to fight, and Apollo is willing to chill, be harmless and wait somewhere near her, so she will get the growling out of her system eventually! This weekend, I'd open the doors and keep a close eye out. Provided that Apollo remains at some distance and Vega doesn't feel the need to rush him, let them be.

Its super common that cats need to do a little work on their own, and when they are like yours, they usually can do it. Just need to keep a close eye on them at first to make sure this is going to shake out the way we think and not go south.

Now I don't know how long its been in total, and I'm not saying you can't/shouldn't continue the intro. Just saying it sounds like its going quite well and you might be ready to see what happens when they can mingle.

If you aren't quite sure they are ready for it, an excellent intermediate step is to double stack baby gates in the doorway so they can see each other.
 

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Be patient, and go at the pace of the slowest cat. I have an older cat and a 10 month old and it has taken six months for us to get to a point where they can be out all day together, and I have only been leaving them alone together for about a week. Using baby gates was key in our introduction process as well as starting slow with very short face to face introductions. Letting the younger one have more time to run around and explore the house really helps with the excess energy. I did several weeks where my resident cat was shut in the master bedroom all day so the new cat could roam. I still separate them at night so my resident cat can have some quiet time. I had the same issue with the younger one ripping up the carpet under the door. Putting a door mat, plastic runner or even cardboard down in the doorway can help. At some point It can be patched with carpet from the back of the closet.

It can be very frustrating, and it is definitely not a linear process, but I think you are in a good place to get there! I had to accept that my two enjoy playing rough, so some hissing and wrestling matches are the norm, but they also can peacefully hang out.
 

pearl99

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I am in an intro process, will be 3 months tomorrow. It's a 12 year old newcomer, Gracie, adopted on November 13, 2019, and my 2 resident cats, ages 5 years and 2 years. My residents (Waffles and Mooshoo) are a bit beyond where Vega is.
Gracie is very cognizant of the other two's hissing and growling, and they all creep slowly around each other.
They can be out in the house together.
I used the stacked baby gates to keep Gracie in 1/3 of the main level of the house, the others free. I at first put towels over the gates except for the bottom few inches so they could see each other gradually, raising them bit by bit.
Waffles and Mooshoo still growl and hiss at Gracie if she gets too close, I take that as cat communication meaning "don't get too close. I don't know about you yet..." And there's no fighting or aggression (lucky for me!!.) And it's been 3 months.
But it gradually gets better, the distance they are comfortable in is shrinking.
So yes, Vega can get "used to" Apollo with time, and it sounds like he is listening to her warnings, which is great. Maybe they won't ever be cuddle buddies (mine have never been) but tolerance is good. It's really cute he brought the toy over!
I alternate who sleeps with me now- I have a finished basement and Waffs/Moo one night and Gracie the next sleep down there.
And I leave Gracie contained in the mornings so Waffs/Moo can be in the favorite living room spot looking out the picture window. Alternating has really helped.

It's really good that Apollo is doing what he is doing! And that no one is attacking with injuries, no fights breaking out. Cats in my experience can really take their sweet time observing and figuring the other cat(s) out before taking some steps forward and feeling more confident. It's in their DNA. At least a lot of them.
As Twylasmom says going at the pace of the slowest cat is best, and patience- which is hard for me.
 

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The good news is she was out and about and calmer before i left so there does seem to be some progress it just feels... non linear.
That's cats, and this is fantastic that she's calmer, and yes, just more time.

Putting a door mat, plastic runner or even cardboard down in the doorway can help. At some point It can be patched with carpet from the back of the closet.
or even one of those office chair mats to cover the carpet to help protect it from claws :)
 
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cessena

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I tried using a mat that I had to cover the carpet but then the door got stuck and it was a whole situation. So I'm definitely going to look in to something thinner I can use.

Unfortunately last night we ALMOST had a fight. Apollo is VERY play focused when I'm home so I had him out and was playing with him while Vega slept in her favorite corner. He left her alone, but then at one point he was running around the apartment and she decided to come see what was happening in the bedroom. Of course this didn't go well and she ended up under the bed spitting and growling. This morning she wouldn't come eat her breakfast tuna with him. So I think we're moving back a few steps.

But she is still interacting with me normally, just seems a little put out with him at the moment.

I'm going to try to get a bigger cat tree for Apollo's room I think he needs more jumping/climbing opportunities. (He will regularly jump like 3ft to catch his wand toy, it's crazy.) I just hate how pricey they are.

Thanks for the encouragment and support you guys. Patience is really the hardest part to me, and I really want this to be a good home for both of them.
 

pearl99

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I tried using a mat that I had to cover the carpet but then the door got stuck and it was a whole situation. So I'm definitely going to look in to something thinner I can use.

Unfortunately last night we ALMOST had a fight. Apollo is VERY play focused when I'm home so I had him out and was playing with him while Vega slept in her favorite corner. He left her alone, but then at one point he was running around the apartment and she decided to come see what was happening in the bedroom. Of course this didn't go well and she ended up under the bed spitting and growling. This morning she wouldn't come eat her breakfast tuna with him. So I think we're moving back a few steps.

But she is still interacting with me normally, just seems a little put out with him at the moment.

I'm going to try to get a bigger cat tree for Apollo's room I think he needs more jumping/climbing opportunities. (He will regularly jump like 3ft to catch his wand toy, it's crazy.) I just hate how pricey they are.

Thanks for the encouragment and support you guys. Patience is really the hardest part to me, and I really want this to be a good home for both of them.
Cat tree sounds great. I agree about the price! I'm not super experienced with cat intros, but I think the fact there are not all out fights and attacks by either is a good sign.
Does Vega accept pets and scratches from you? When she sees Apollo or senses him? If she's not play or food motivated affection and attention can help for reassurance to her, if she's not too stressed or might lash out at you.
Are stacked baby gates possible?
 
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cessena

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I'm using a tall walk through gate (48") that so far Apollo hasn't gone over, or really tried to. So that's been good for them to see each other and eat on either side.

She doesn't like to be petted with stressed unfortunately, she's easily over stimulated. She does love catnip though so I've left her favorite catnip toy outside his door today so maybe that will be a nice reward.
 

pearl99

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The things I go by are:
Slow, patience, go at the pace of the slowest cat. (Patience is hard for me.)
It's harder on the resident cat than the new cat, usually.
Give positive reinforcement by play, food/treats, attention/love (scratches, pets, soft talking) when they see each other/or are together to both cats (it's only me so I have to alternate with each cat, unless I can toss treats to both or use 2 wand toys) as much as possible.
Growling/hissing is normal, it's cat communication of "don't come near me yet."
Use distraction with toys, noises like finger snaps or knocking on something or talk "stop" "hey" their names, tossing treats or food if I feel it's too much staring, or at the gate, or when meeting with no barriers, or one looks about to instigate something- if they learn they can look away with the other cat visible that's good.
I have a piece of cardboard, or pillow or something with me to block line of sight if things get too tense, for a break for them or to stop a charge or pending attack when the step of being together happens.
Keep visible intros/mingling together short at first and reward reward reward both cats with the above or whatever the cats see as a reward (harder if not too food or play motivated.)

From calicosrspecial's coaching on this site I've learned that if nothing negative happens (like a fight, or attack etc.) it's a positive interaction and is made more positive with the rewards of food, attention, play, and it builds on that. So your two not fighting or attacking is great!!!

Today, 3 months to the day, of bringing Gracie home Mooshoo (the 2 year old cat) actually didn't hiss or growl when Gracie walked by her when Mooshoo was on the couch! Waffles still ran away when Gracie came into the room. Time, it takes time. Moo will still growl and hiss if Gracie walks toward her. Well it's slow progress.
 
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cessena

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Last night we had a really nice session at the baby gate where they both got some tuna and watched the laser a lot, and at one point Vega was trying to sniff Apollo's butt through the bars, which was hilarious.

Today I left the door open while i was working in Apollo's room and Vega came over so I put the laser on for them to watch again. Unfortunately before I realized what he was doing Apollo managed to get out from behind the gate by pushing the bottom part out of the door. (He's a lot stronger than other cats I've had and I keep forgetting this/not accounting for it.)

It went ok at first, but I don't know how to interpret this behavior where she sniffs his butt while GROWLING at him the whole time lol. She's up in his business and he turns around and she hisses. Eventually before I could get him back in his sanctuary she ran to the bedroom and he followed where there was a little bit of swatting and her usual insane amount of growling.

I do think she's showing a lot more confidence and interest in him, but obviously, is doing it in the most cat like way possible. (I would like to get very close to you DON"T LOOK AT ME)
 

pearl99

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I do think she's showing a lot more confidence and interest in him, but obviously, is doing it in the most cat like way possible. (I would like to get very close to you DON"T LOOK AT ME)
I think that's it exactly! Curious, but letting you know REALLY LOUDLY that JUST STAY STILL I'm not your friend yet. In my opinion this sounds very very good! Vega has to figure him out more. But progress!
 
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