Cat introduction setback?

BrianD60

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I adopted a 9 yr old kitty about 1 month ago. I'm still working on the introduction in stages; home base, feeding opposites sides of the door and site swapping. My adopted cat stays in my bedroom with toys, food, water, cat tree and litter box. She is always calm and relaxed there and has no reaction when my resident gets vocal, she's always been a talker. I wanted her to bond with me and my resident cat didn't usually sleep in my room so that hasn't been a problem. My resident cat is 11. The new kitty was in the shelter for a year but is sweet, loving and very social. Her owner gave her up due to being homeless. They have very similar personalities. Its been a slow process. Recently I have my resident cat in a large kennel and would bring in the new cat for short visits. That was going well, in fact my resident cat would go into the kennel cage on her own anticipating the visit, until tonight when suddenly they lunged at each other and tried to fight through the cage. I have no idea what happened other than the adopted cat got a bit closer than usual. Should I start the introductions over again from stage 1 or just try to proceed? I love both cats very much, rehoming either isn't an option. I can see this process may be months or longer. Please wish me luck I'm feeling a bit shaken and defeated.
 

ArtNJ

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Well, I guess the first question is are you totally sure it wasn't playing? If there were no hostile noises, it should be considered.

Assuming it was with hostile intent, I don't find a bit of a bump in the process surprising. You decided to tackle a very difficult one -- two senior cats is about as hard as it gets. You can get these guys to at least pretty close to toleration, maybe more, anything is possible and its not wrong to hope for friendship. Expecting friendship (vs hoping), that would be wrong. Expecting friendship isn't realistic unless you are introducing a kitten to a kitten, but you do have a shot.

There is nothing especially wrong with your kennel approach, especially if it isn't stressing your resident cat out, but it does seem fairly confrontational, so I guess one question is whether you went from 15 to 60 mph and it was too big a jump. I prefer baby gates (stacked double high if one cat looks like it wants to jump them) because both cats can be in their home area and only look/deal with each if they want to, and there is no chance of being kennel'd adding to the stress. So it wouldn't be 15 to 60, more like 15 to 30 (hopefully). A cracked door (held cracked with door jambs) is another tactic, and a little less confrontational so a possible useful intermediate step.

I wouldn't be too off put by how this went. Just maybe back up briefly and try to craft a different next step rather than the kennel. If the baby gate thing is unrealistic in your home or you dont want to fuss with it, maybe use a cracked door as the intermediate step. If a cracked door is also unworkable, you might just need a longer period of scent swapping, and might need to skip directly from that to supervised interactions and see how they do. It could be that the kennel thing just won't work for these cats, although you did note that your resident cat didn't seem to mind, so it definitely wouldn't be crazy to try that again at a later point.
 
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BrianD60

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Thank you for taking the time to reply and greatly appreciate your suggestions. I'll do more scent and basecamp swapping. Both cats seemed distressed when I'd get home from work and I noticed some scratches on the outside of the basecamp room door so I put my resident cat in the room she spends most of her day and closing the door while I'm at work. It has her favorite bed, a cat tree in front of a window, litter box, toys and food. My resident cat spends most of her day there sleeping even when I'm home, she's 11. The result was they're both much calmer when I get home. I usually feed them through a cracked door held by a door stop and a pet gate in the door with a sheet held by a tension rod above that. I keep a blanket over the kennel cage so only the bottom half of the front gate is open and its for short visits only. I give both treats during those visits which I'm sure is the reason my resident cat goes into the cage on her own so often. I realize the kennel cage is more for my peace of mind. It allows me to be more relaxed during their visits and I can tell my kitties sense that and are more relaxed.
I adopted this kitty because I know how many older cats need a home, shown by being in a shelter for a year. I knew it would have challenges. This girl was surprised by the sound of rain, the sight of birds on the roof of the house next door and would lower her hind quarters when she walked through a doorway as if she were still in a cage. She loves to sleep in the sun on her cat tree in front of the window. She's opened up so much during this month and is sweet, affectionate, plays and greets me joyfully when I go in basecamp. I added the pet gate so I wouldn't have to say no no no stay when I'd come in the room. Now I can greet her with Hi good girl. I noticed she would be very itchy and chew on her legs after mealtime so I switched to grain free wet food and that is greatly improved. I will keep up the work and not be disappointed if they're not great friends but both can coexist peacefully. Thanks again!
 

rubysmama

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Hello and welcome to TCS. :wave2: Thanks so much for giving that poor kitty a home. I hope in time she and your resident cat will learn to at the very least tolerate each other.

There's not much I can add to what A ArtNJ posted, so I'll just post a few TCS articles that might be helpful. Good luck. Keep us posted on things. And post pics of them, if you can. How To Add A Picture To Your Forum Post | TheCatSite

Here's the article links:
How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide | TheCatSite (this one has pics of the stacked baby gates)
Introducing Cats To Cats | TheCatSite
How To Fix An Unsuccessful Cat Introduction | TheCatSite
The Multi-cat Household | TheCatSite

Why Do Cats Attack? | TheCatSite
Are My Cats Fighting Or Playing? | TheCatSite
 
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BrianD60

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Well, I keep working at it. Its been 6 weeks since adoption. The kennel had been working really well, my resident Missy stays very calm. Missy shows no signs of stress, great appetite, no accidents, playful and behaving normally. My adopted cat Lucy is sweet, affectionate, eats well, no litter box problems. She's quite content in her basecamp but wants out into the rest of the house, normal. I noticed she feels nervous by noises like wind and rain. Since she was in a shelter for a year all she heard was barking dogs, staff and other cats.
They eat about 6 ft apart across a doorway with a pet gate. A few stares but they return to eating. Tonight Lucy was a bit aggressive, she slowly came up to the kennel cage and pounced. Her body language didn't indicate aggression so it surprised me. There was hissing, crying and paw batting. I used a pillow to separate them and I walked her back to basecamp her tail bushy and walking low to the ground. She was ready for more. Missy was immediately calm.
I went into Lucy's room, she was calling me and sounded upset. I sat on the floor and talked to her in a low, soothing voice and she calmed down. I fed them across the door about an hour later and no incidents, just a few unhappy stares. I've resigned myself this may be months, not weeks, to resolve to a truce. I believe its worth it because both kitties are so purrrfect in all other ways, really dream cats.
Has anyone else had this process take months?
 

rubysmama

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BrianD60

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Thank you!
 

KittyCatCove

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I've had many of the same experiences trying to introduce new adult cats to my resident cats. I really hate to say this, but it may never get better. In my experience, unless they are siblings or raised together as kittens, adult females tend to fight with other females and adult males fight with other males.

I am going through this right now with 2 female cats. Both were rescues off the street. I brought Patches (2yo) in during the summer of 2018. Did a textbook style introduction: kept Patches in a separate bedroom with door closed for 2 weeks, then door opened for 4 weeks with gate so her and Blackie (6yo, here since 2015) could see each other. It's now 18 months later and they they still don't get along. Best I can do now try to keep Patches (dominant) from stalking/attacking Blackie (less dominant). Blackie stays upstairs most of the time now, her feeding station and litter is up there too. I'm retired, so I have more time to watch them, but she still charges Blackie and swats at her a few times a week. Since my Buddy (12 yo male) passed from CKD in early October, their fights have only gotten worse. Buddy was somewhat of a buffer because he kept Patches busy. I'm planning to adopt another male cat in the near future.
 
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BrianD60

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Yes, its stressful. I fear I'm not making any progress and may have to keep them separated permanently and hope at some point Lucy will calm down about my original cat. The thought of returning her to the shelter is so sad because I know she'll never be adopted due to her age.
 

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I’m wondering if the fact that one of them is in the kennel doesn’t create any issues. If one of them is restrained, it creates sort of unequal ground. Would you be able to use pet gates fixed on one another at the door way? I won’t guarantee that would change anything but maybe it’s worth trying?

Edited: ok I’ve just read again that you have gates already, sorry that my post is not relevant then..
 
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BrianD60

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I’m wondering if the fact that one of them is in the kennel doesn’t create any issues. If one of them is restrained, it creates sort of unequal ground. Would you be able to use pet gates fixed on one another at the door way? I won’t guarantee that would change anything but maybe it’s worth trying?

Edited: ok I’ve just read again that you have gates already, sorry that my post is not relevant then..
Thank you for your reply. The kennel cage was used for meetings in the same room. I see your point. Incidents and signs of aggression by my adopted cat since the post make me believe this may never be successful. When you adopt an older cat you get the cat's history as well. I think she came from a chaotic home and may have been feral for awhile. I'm left to wonder now if that's fair to both kittys. She's very content in my room, I don't mind and due to age she'll probably never get adopted if I return her, so I'm just gonna keep trying. What else can you do?
 
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