Cat introductions - after the initial introductions, what are the next steps?

JimmyL

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Hi - thanks for the ongoing advice here about cat introductions. Greatly appreciated!

We are slowly introducing a one-year-old outdoor cat to our home environment. Although feral, 'Bob' is generally friendly and good-natured, if a little lively! The existing cat - Fleaso - a five-year-old, is blind and nervous. We separate the cats with a mosquito net (see picture below). They come close, out of curiosity; there have been a couple of hisses when too close.

So what next? Nothing seems to progress from this stand-off, but we are worried that, when they do mix, Bob will completely overwhelm Fleaso. Maybe this is an inevitable part of the socialisation, but do you have any advice on the next steps to make the process go smoothly?

Thanks

James

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sivyaleah

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How long has the door been open between them? If less than a week I'd give it more time. Most times it takes longer than sooner to acclimate cats though of course there are instances when they become friends right off the bat. But most of the time it takes several weeks to months for them to live well together. At minimum, try to wait for the hissing to abate.

I'm not sure, however, if netting is the best way to handle this. It's flimsy, and can be torn down fast and since one of the cats is sight impaired, potentially get tangled in the netting. If the two of them go after each other there really isn't any protection to prevent an all out brawl.
 

ArtNJ

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My advice was basically stated by sivyaleah sivyaleah . However, I think perhaps I read that with a blind cat, putting a bell on the collar of the other cat helps? Although frankly the noise might drive me crazy so I dunno. I too am very surprised the netting is working!

Your right that sometimes one year olds do really bug older cats and even after the introduction process, it can be a long slow climb to toleration. With the older cat being nervous and blind, unfortunately that would be my expectation. However, sometimes we do get surprised!
 
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JimmyL

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How long has the door been open between them? If less than a week I'd give it more time. Most times it takes longer than sooner to acclimate cats though of course there are instances when they become friends right off the bat. But most of the time it takes several weeks to months for them to live well together. At minimum, try to wait for the hissing to abate.

I'm not sure, however, if netting is the best way to handle this. It's flimsy, and can be torn down fast and since one of the cats is sight impaired, potentially get tangled in the netting. If the two of them go after each other there really isn't any protection to prevent an all out brawl.
We have had this arrangement for about 10 days. Don't worry about the netting - the cats are always supervised (my wife and I are working from home so we can keep our eye on them constantly. Hopefully, we can use this to our advantage when bringing them into the same room). The netting always thems to see - and smell - each other. The only next step is that they will be in the same room at the same time...but when and how? How can we tell when it's appropriate to try? The outdoor cat who comes in is getting more comfortable with his environment. The blind one remains nervous and wary, and isn't progressing beyond this...
 
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JimmyL

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StanAndAlf

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We have had this arrangement for about 10 days. Don't worry about the netting - the cats are always supervised (my wife and I are working from home so we can keep our eye on them constantly. Hopefully, we can use this to our advantage when bringing them into the same room). The netting always thems to see - and smell - each other. The only next step is that they will be in the same room at the same time...but when and how? How can we tell when it's appropriate to try? The outdoor cat who comes in is getting more comfortable with his environment. The blind one remains nervous and wary, and isn't progressing beyond this...
10 days still isn't a long time really, so do be patient. Have you tried swapping blankets so the blind cat can get better acclimated to the other cats smell? Have you also tried feeding each cat on either side of the mesh so they get used to being in close proximity?

I think because one cat is impaired this introduction may take a little longer than other ones. You may even want to try a calming diffuser to help him relax a little more. I think you should leave them separated until all hissing stops on both parts, and even then try to prevent them from interacting directly with each other in the beginning by engaging them in separate play.

Best of luck, would love to hear some updates!
 
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JimmyL

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I will definitely keep you updated - and thanks so much for the advice!

Quick question: what's a 'calming diffuser'?

Bob - the outdoor cat comes in in the morning and evening. I have gone from a 10-minute timeframe to two hours each time...gradually building things up. After meowing a lot at the beginning, he is already getting comfortable with his surroundings.

We switch a bit - sometimes one in the bedroom, the other in the main flat space. My wife often works on the balcony, with Fleaso (the blind one - pictured in the photo I use for my postings. You might be able to see that her eyes are darkened, indicating the blindness) with her. The kitchen door is closed off or netted, so Fleaso has access to the kitchen and balcony.

When they get close, between the netting, Bob usually makes a sound and Fleaso backs away. But I must say, when she is REALLY frightened when we get storms, for example, she gets the 'expanded tail' and goes and hides under the bed. We haven't had any of this in her interactions with Bob... it seems more of an inquisitive nervousness.

She is more relaxed when she knows my wife and I are around - ours smells and our voices. So we make sure to talk to each other when the cats are near one another.

Generally, when they are on either side of the netting and are aware of each other, we try and distract them with play. But, the awareness of another cat's presence often takes the focus away from the fun games we are offering!

They both have separate litter trays. I bought some earth in from the courtyard where he spends most of his time - from a place he usefully poops! - and mixed it will cat litter, for his own tray. It worked a treat! I am gradually taking more of the earth out and mixing the litter in.

Obviously, it's Fleaso's original territory, so when Bob comes he sniffs around a lot. When he leaves, she comes back into the area. This is when she seems very nervous. I think she can obviously smell him and (without sight) is wondering if he is still around. But with stroking and a lot of chat from my wife, she soon calms down.

Last night was interesting. After a short standoff, both cats, a metre on either side of the netting were grooming themselves and seemed very relaxed. Shortly after - and this is the first time it happened - Fleaso barrelled through the netting and started prowling around the room Bob was in. I don't know if she was looking for Bob, but it was the first time I saw him on the 'back paw': he got 'big tail' and was hissing. It was also the first time we have seen Fleaso in 'assertive' mode. She was like that again a bit this morning...I don't know if that's a good thing..!?

We will be taking both cats back to the UK (from Serbia) at the beginning of November. It will be a two-day trip across countries in a car. So a stressful journey awaits. On the plus side I have all that time - and patience - to slowly work at getting this relationship right - three-and-a-half months!. The fact that my wife and I can supervise their interactions is a big plus.

I will keep you updated - reading back, I now realise I've just written an essay - apologies! But feel free to add any tips at will.

Many thanks

James
 

StanAndAlf

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It sounds like you've made some really great progress! Fleaso's behaviour sounds mildly territorial to me, its possible she has sussed put the new cat enough to be comfortable in challenging him. I think Bob was threatened by the sudden invasion, and that's why he reacted the way he did.

You're doing great, just be patient, you'll get there.

You can buy diffusers for cats, much like human ones, that plug into a power outlet. They diffuse a calming scent (which I personally can't smell myself) but does seem to relax some cats. An example off the top of my head is Feliway.
 
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JimmyL

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I will definitely invest in Feliway...

Seems like we are going backwards at the moment. We were taking it patiently, my wife in one section of the flat with the door closed, and her looking after Fleaso. I bring Bob in for breakfast and dinner, and stay in the other part. Last week he stayed three hours in the evening, curled on my lap - it was lovely!

My wife has had to go back to the UK for three weeks (we live in Belgrade Serbia). And the challenges have really increased...

Fleaso starts whining when she knows I am leaving the flat to collect Bob. I bring him in, put some food down for him, and go to the other room to comfort her. Then he starts moaning, and I go back to play with him. And as soon, as I'm with him, she then gets frantic!

Her stress levels definitely affect him..I feel like a single parent, trying to juggle the needs of two children, and upsetting both in the process!

The last couple of evenings he's happier to go back outside quickly - even wants to after 10 mins - a long way from the three hours last week!

My choices seem to be:

(1) Carry on as I am doing and let the cats just learn how to deal with the stress
(2) Stick them in the same room and try and keep between them
(3) Go back to feeding Bob outside - letting him stay outside - until my wife gets back, and each cat then gets their own supervisor again!

What do you think? (Thanks)
 

CarmiesMom

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feed them both a can or other sort of nummy treat at the same time on either side of the barrier, like others suggested maybe get Bob a bell, theirs likely to be a little agression between them as they establish who is boss i would keep a squirt bottle handy , your planning fr Bob to become an indooor cat right so makke sure theirs a rug or blanket on ether side of the barrier that can be switched every time bob comes in or goes out so Fleaso can be aquainted with his scent , then maybe use a pet carrier put one cat in it with treats or canned food and feed the other outside of it with the same at the same time , it might help, when i brought my Caramel in from outside affter an emergancy c-section, my Mignon was already assosciated with her threw te window over the window air conditioner on which she would jump daily as he would perch on the back of the sofa next to the window and they could get eachothers scentt threw the AC but neither was handicapped , anyway when she was let out of her carrier (kittens didnt make it) Mignon was enamoured with her they took to each other immideately, last january we brought in sweetie durring sub zero temps and an ice storm as she gave up refused to go to one of the shelters set up for our feral colony she sat their in the ice/snow for a few hours affter i took the dog out the first time she hadnt moved 3 hrs later when the dog had to go again and as we were out their stoppped shhivering well i scooped her up brought her in got her warm and dry before plopping her butt in a pet carrier with a cann of food that first week/week and a half she basically lived in that pet carrier getting out 3-4 times a day for potty and drinks while the other kids were either distracted or in another area affter about a week and a half Caramel and MIgnons daughter who was an oops addopted her as Sweets was only about 4-5 months old but every case is different ...so i wish you the best of luck keep trying
 
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JimmyL

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Some great advice - thank you! Yes, I might reintroduce the bell on a collar for Bob when he is in the flat. Tried it once; obviously, he didn't like it, but I will persevere. The 'scent' stuff I have been doing.

Bob seems to react to Fleaso's temperament. We found her abandoned as a kitten, in a terrible state. She almost died, but we quickly nursed her to full health. We could not save her eyesight and, for the 5 years of her life, she has not been near another cat, apart from the occasional trip to the vet.

This morning, Bob got out of the room I had him in and there was a two-second confrontation. You could see that Fleaso was trying to sense where Bob was and came forward towards him. But he bopped her on the nose, and she retreated hastily, hissing with a big tail. I put Bob back in the room, but Fleaso would not allow me to come near her for a couple of minutes; she was hissy and nervous.

She was alright after 10 minutes - basically back to normal, but will probably spend the rest of the day away from the area of the room where she and Bob met!

I noticed Bob is more wired and energetic in the mornings; probably after a night of activity! So I think spending less time in the flat in the morning than the evening, is probably a good idea for the moment.
 
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