Cat Introductions Going Poorly

Discussion in 'Cat Behavior' started by The Practical Cat, Jul 17, 2017 at 3:05 PM.

  1. The Practical Cat

    The Practical Cat TCS Member Kitten

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    Hi all, I am new to the forum and seeking some help. About three weeks ago I adopted a three year old cat from the shelter, Nymeria. She is a spunky little girl who has been living in my bedroom thus far. My older cat, Pandora, is having a very hard time adjusting to her presence. I've been trying the textbook slow introduction but it is going slooow and Pandora's reactions also seem overly extreme.

    For the first week or so I just inched Pandora's food bowl over to the door, because she refused to eat if the bowl moved suddenly. Finally I got her to the door, and even got the door cracked open and propped with doorstops after a few days so the cats could see each other while they ate. There was some hissing but it wasn't too bad, but then Pandora became sick. She had diarrhea, then vomiting and constipation. I took her to the vet, they gave her fluids and prescribed pepcid, which I'm still giving her at home. We're not sure of the cause but her vomiting has stopped and I'm continuing to monitor her. During that week or so I ceased cat introductions to reduce Pandora's stress and allow her to recover.

    Fast forward to this week, we started over again with the food bowl outside the door, cracking the door open a bit so they can see each other, and now I've tried to push it a little and let them interact a little with the door open at mealtimes. This is where I am now. We've done this a few times, and each time Nymeria darts for Pandora's food and I redirect Nymeria to her own. Nymeria eats some more, Pandora walks away without eating, and Nymeria darts after her. A chase and a fight erupts and I have to separate them. Pandora sits huddled and growling for at least a half hour after separation.

    The bigger problem now, Pandora is simply refusing to eat. I may be wrong but it feels like rather than associating Nymeria with "good things" like food she's started to associate food with "bad things" like a cat running at her full throttle. She's also creeping around the house looking for Nymeria around every corner even though Nymeria is currently locked in the bedroom.

    Is this normal behavior? Am I doing this right? Pandora has a history of some anxiety, she is an overgroomer which I'm told is an OCD behavior for cats. I do use a feliway diffuser, and recently started giving her a treat called Solliquin which is supposed to be calming (though she's not always eating it these days). I myself have anxiety and this introduction, as well as having to have Nymeria live in my bedroom, are also taking their toll on me. Any thoughts or advice are much appreciated...
     
  2. danteshuman

    danteshuman TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    Mar 27, 2017
    If your cat is OCD and that nervous, maybe some kitty prozac is in order? People on this site that used it for their cats swear by it.
     
  3. poppy09

    poppy09 TCS Member Young Cat

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    Sep 13, 2015
    I've not had to introduce strangers before, but Milo has been in for surgery twice and both times Poppy (his mum) would growl and hiss at him when we got him home, for over a week! We had to separate them when we weren't home and at night and this lasted about 2 weeks the second time.

    I've also been reading 'the trainable cat' and this says to go back a few steps if progress stops. That said it could just be that Pandora is never going to get on with another cat in her house - especially if she's already a stressy cat.

    I hope you figure it out!!
     
  4. susanm9006

    susanm9006 TCS Member Adult Cat

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    If eating near your new baby is making Pandora sick or stressed then move her dish back to its usual place and introduce them via treats or play instead. Some cats as they get older get very very attached to their routine and stressed by anything that alters it.
     
  5. Animal Freak

    Animal Freak TCS Member Adult Cat

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    Try getting a couple of baby gates and stacking them up in the doorway instead of just leaving the door open a crack. That way Nymeria can't steal food or chase Pandora. Also, even if they did get into a fight, they couldn't do much damage. Pandora is probably very stressed about having an intruder and this intruder is now chasing her. It's threatening and so she can't feel comfortable or safe. You might even want to back up a little and start with the closed door again and then, when Pandora is comfortable, try the baby gates.
     
  6. The Practical Cat

    The Practical Cat TCS Member Kitten

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    Thanks for the advice, everyone.

    I have the door closed at the moment and haven't tried opening it or cracking it since their fight this morning. Pandora is still ignoring her food and hissed at the door earlier, and even hissed at me. I will go a few steps back in the process and start with this closed door. I think this is going to require a lot of patience. I'd prefer not to move her food bowls back because play won't draw her (she's pretty lazy) and she has been refusing treats sometimes as well. If her hunger strike lasts too long I'll do what I have to do though heh. Also want to clarify we don't know if stress was the cause of her stomach issues or if it was something else. The vet didn't think it was parasites, but I'm still wondering if it may be because Nymeria had had some at the shelter. She was treated but to be on the safe side we're going to do a followup stool test when the vet thinks it's time.

    As for anxiety medication, I've considered it and it's been suggested before by a vet. We started the solliquin to see if that might work because I'm hesitant to put her on actual drugs, but I'll see how things go and may need to consider that option more seriously.

    I have one baby gate I ordered before realizing Nymeria will just leap it, I can order a second and stack it if that seems safe and try that out, as well.
     
  7. Animal Freak

    Animal Freak TCS Member Adult Cat

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    I would definitely recommend baby gates. I didn't use them, but I hadn't been in the situation before and two of my cats are really laid back so there were relatively few issues anyway. However, baby gates would be extremely helpful in allowing them to see and smell, but not injure each other.

    If you want to invest in calming products without putting her on medication, there are several options. I'm currently trying out Rescue Remedy myself and a lot of people have had luck with it. They make a version for people too! I was considering trying it myself if it seemed to work for the cats. I also started using Whisker City's spray At Ease and do think it at least took the edge off of our own issues, but hasn't helped with any of the major things. These are only a couple of options though. There are many different brands and forms, but it can get a bit expensive trying to find what works. A prescription drug might help, however this is a process that can usually be done without it.

    As far as her not eating, you may want to move her bowl back a distance and start moving her closer again. Their fight could have made her nervous and unwilling to get too close. She needs to realize no one is trying to hurt her and that she's safe.
     
  8. The Practical Cat

    The Practical Cat TCS Member Kitten

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    Thanks, Animal Freak, I ordered a second baby gate. Hopefully we can get far enough to try that. I did move Pandora's bowl about a foot further and have kept the door closed and she is eating again but very sparingly and hesitantly. Having to pill her with the pepcid is not helping her stress level or trust of me either, but she figured out that I was slipping them in her treats and it's the only option now.

    I am starting to think seriously about anxiety meds for her, both for her and for my own piece of mind at this point. She's a neurotic grump but she's also a huge sweety and I love her like crazy, and I want her to feel ok. I'm going to call the vet to see about doing Nymeria's stool test either today or tomorrow so I will also try to talk to her about Pandora's behavior issues then as well.

    Oh yeah- re: Rescue Remedy. This was just my own experience but I feel like it was more of a placebo effect for me when I used it myself years ago. That was on me the human, not my cat, but I've heard other people having success so I suppose it doesn't hurt for you to give it a try. Let me know how it goes for your cats!
     
  9. Animal Freak

    Animal Freak TCS Member Adult Cat

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    I'll definitely let you know if I see any major improvements with the Rescue Remedy. It's hard to say whether or not it's helping since we don't have constant issues, but we haven't had a fight in a couple of days which seems about right for when I started giving her the Rescue Remedy. However, we do still have tension and moments that could have led up to a fight. I've only been giving her a couple of drops though. The dose is four and I've been putting two in her food.
     

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