Cat Introductions Month 14

saharahoshi

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Hi,

It's month 14 of cat introductions (Insert confetti canon here). Sorry for the constant posting but maybe fresh perspectives will help.

Brief recap:
1. Ruthie is 9ish (fixed female) and Jellybean (fixed male) is now 2. We got Jellybean as Ruthie was mourning the loss of her buddy, pulling hair out, etc. Vet said maybe another cat. We go to shelter, JB is approached by two female cats - 7 and 9, declawed, immediately backs down, seems like such a love and we're like great, that's the best endorsement we might get.
2. Cat intros start, a few weeks later, JB escapes twice (our fault - sleep depravation unrelated) and chases Ruthie, the two scuffle, fur flying, about 30 seconds, everyone is ok minus a cut on Ruthie - obvs. this was traumatic for her so we go back to square one. JB gets at least 2-4 hours out of his master bedroom with attached bath (more than 300 square feet).
3. We consult a vet who is also a behaviorist, both kitties go on Prozac (still on Prozac) play enrichment starts for JB, both cats go on Prozac and we start clicker training plus foraging for JB.
4. I get COVID (BAD), so have to isolate for 14 days meaning cat intros stop. Afterwards, we talk to behaviorist again, try to start up. Jellybean develops a food allergy and seems stressed so we stop again until his diet is sorted out because not feeling good he was stressed to the max.
5. About month 9-ish into the process, I get good advice on the cat site that maybe we just let them see each other as exposure therapy and they'll adjust - problem is Ruthie hides every time and our apartment isn't really set up so that they can easily see each other without her hiding.

So fast forward to today and basically we still separate them. I've read the Pat Johnson Bennett book Cat vs. Cat, watched Jackson Galaxy, shelled out the money for a vet behaviorist, read all the articles and advice on the cat site etc. they have a billion toys and four cat towers so I'm not worried about them not living their best lives - it's more a pain at this point and I'm kind of wondering if maybe we just accept that they might have to be separate or if it's worth trying step 1 again and seeing if we can solve this. I mean some people say it takes years to get cats to be friends but 14 months is a long time. I don't like stopping the process but if we're sick and another time if the cat is sick then we have to take care of those first, maybe it's worth to keep trying now that health issues are solved? Any thoughts/advice or even stories of encouragement about kitties getting at least frenemies situation going?
 

GustifursMom

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Can I just say your patience is amazing.

Not every cat will get along. Your goal here might just be finding a way these two cats can live together but separately.
 

mrsgreenjeens

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Personally, I think introducing males to females is difficult. At one point, we had a lone female and things were lovely. Then we brought in an older male and unfortunately knew nothing about introducing them to each other. Luckily, they tolerated each other most of the time, with just a few knock down drag out fights over the years. But then, we brought in two male "toddlers: and one of them got lose and immediately ran up to the female. That didn't go well, and ever since, they NEVER got along. But for months and months we worked on the integration techniques we were supposed to follow, trading scents, letting them visualize each other without touching, then letting them eat near each other without touching (we put the kittens in a dog cage to eat yet be seen but safe), short supervised visits, etc, and nothing seemed to work. We were advised that if one of the steps wasn't working, to take a step back until everyone was really comfortable, so we did that, many, many times. Our older male could care less about the new guys, but our female was fit to be tied. She attacked the door of the safe room often, but if they were out in their dog cage, she would just stay away and growl at them. Finally one night I'd had it and decided it was all or nothing and just let the kittens out of their safe room. By that time, they were big enough to fend for themselves (there were almost a year old by then). I opened the door, left it open and just sat back. Nothing at all happened. All night long, no hissing, no growling, nothing! We determined that the issue might have been that she was upset because she didn't have free access too their saferoom. Nothing else made any sense. I will say though, that we did put them back in that room whenever we were going to be gone for any length of time, at least for the next month or so.

She and the kitten that ran up to her during his escape barely tolerated each other for the rest of her life, but she got along ok with the other one. She never cuddled with any of them, but at least she never glared at him :rolleyes2:

In your case, I think I would start from square one. Try exchanging scents again and go from there.
 
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saharahoshi

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Welp, today JB had directed aggression and bit up my arm, I'm ok bc I had long sleeves on so cold water, soap, and neosporin for me. He is also keeping me up at night even after several play sessions which is exacerbating a few of my own medical issues. Our vet is at a loss and suggested we email our behaviorist but its now like 25/16 months and we are at the point of keep trying or give him up for his own sake.

The only things we haven't tried is visuals where they constantly see each other bc our other cats or as some people suggest letting them interact safely enough where she can get a few smacks in. Who knows what the right answer is, rhetorical question but nothing is getting solved today.
 
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