Cat intros at a standstill

acari

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Hello everyone,

Sorry in advance for the novella.

While I've read the articles here on the site on cat introductions, which were very helpful, along with the many related forum posts, I feel like I'm having a hard time introducing my two cats . I just wanted to see if anyone had any additional advice or could just reassure me.

Back in September, my partner and I, as first-time cat owners, adopted a 1-year-old cat we'll call K.

K turned out to be relatively low maintenance with very good kitty manners, which I consider lucky, except for one thing - it's very hard to get her to expend enough energy because she only engages with wand toys.

We thought we could get her a friend so they could be active together, and after reading about introductions we figured it would be relatively safe to adopt another cat due to K's young age. We were looking for another 1-year-old but ended up with a 6-month-old.
We'll call the younger cat T, and we adopted her in mid-October.

T is very sweet but is also very shy/skittish/scared/nervous (we're working on that). T ended up staying a full three weeks inside her safe room before showing any indication that she wanted out.

During those three weeks we discovered that K has her own anxiety problems. T's room was originally K's safe room and the litter box K preferred to use was inside - of course we moved it when the room was to become T's. (K was spending no time in the room other than to use the litter box, so we didn't feel like we were taking the room away from her.)
I put K's litter box as close to the old location as possible so as not to disrupt her routine, outside of the safe room, which is located on the second floor of our home.

Everything seemed alright until a few days later when K suddenly started acting very strangely in the evening, meowing at us and running around, different from "zooming". TMI warning: I then found a glob of what looked to be blood and mucus on the stairs, so we rushed her to the vet immediately and was told it was probably stress-induced colitis.

The lightbulb in my head didn't go off until the next day when K still hadn't pooped yet and we were worried - I moved the litter box downstairs and voila - immediate usage from K. So it seems that she was very stressed about her litter box being near the mystery newcomer.

As the days went by, we attempted scent exchanges with socks, towels, blankets, and both cats sniffed but didn't really react otherwise, which we took as a good sign. But as more time passed, the less K would venture upstairs...at first K would hunker down occasionally outside T's door. T sometimes stuck her paws out but K would hiss and swat at them before removing herself from the situation (going back downstairs). We gave them treats when they were both at the door and later opened the door a crack a few times, but K did more hissing, growling, and swatting. We would have kept trying with cracking the door but K stopped going upstairs.

We tried to feed them (their wet food) on opposite sides of the door to the safe room but K is usually fed downstairs in the kitchen, so for her to eat near T she has to go quite far away from her usual place. Again, at first, it seemed to be going well and we were encouraged that K would eat relatively close to the door (maybe a foot away), but again as time passed she would only take a few bites of her portion before leaving, eventually refusing to go upstairs at all for her food. T on the other hand eats anything, anywhere, at light speed, so at least we didn't have to worry about two cats acting this way.

We decided that it wasn't worth the additional stress to K to keep trying to force her to eat upstairs, and she settled back into a routine of eating downstairs.

Our home can only really be separated into "upstairs" and "downstairs", nothing really in between. We figured the next step would be to set up a barrier or gate of some sort at the base of our steps so that T could explore outside her room (upstairs + staircase) and K could actually see T (because she stopped going upstairs, they were having no contact at all). We skipped the territory swap because at the time, both cats (especially T) were carrier-shy but T was really trying to get out of her room so we needed to give her more space.

We've been doing "gate time" since the middle of November, at least one session a day, usually more. T is enclosed in her safe room all other times (we visit her when we can during the day). We play with both of them as much as we can and try to give lots of treats when they are near each other at the gate, however K has consistently hissed and swatted at T. Sometimes it's just one swipe, sometimes she is more aggressive and is vocalizing while pawing (longest continuous time would be about five seconds - don't know if that's long or not). K especially reacts if T is given a treat too close to her.

K meows pitifully at us while looking anxiously back and forth between us and T, usually shortly before she paws at T, but we don't know how to reassure her other than to give her treats. She doesn't really like to be pet in general and especially won't allow it when T is around, so we're not very flush with positive reinforcement options.

T has been pretty chill. She trills/chirps at K, seemingly to say hello, lies down within reach (both cats are able to stick their paws/arms through the chicken wire of the "gate"), never aggressive. She seems to be very curious about K and it looks like she wants to be friends. At times T will put up her paws and K will swipe aggressively, but T thinks they're playing...?

They have had only one possible nose touch, I wasn't sitting quite in view and it was very short, but no aggression during it. Another promising recent event was K lying down facing away from the gate, slowly swishing her tail - T tried to paw at it and K turned her head to watch her do it multiple times without reacting (until the last time when T made a more serious attempt, K then turned, swatted, and hissed before walking away).

On the other hand, T is beginning to exhibit new signs of wariness around K, dashing back up the stairs if K looks or breathes more loudly in her direction...being much more hesitant with eating treats if they are within paw-reach of K.

We've tried Nature's Miracle calming spray, which doesn't seem to do much of anything, and as of three days ago we've plugged in a Feliway Multi-Cat diffuser (unplugging it at night). At least on the first night it seemed to make K even more anxious - she was stalking low around sniffing everywhere, it looked like she might have thought there was another cat around? But we'll wait at least a week to see if it makes a difference.

With K actively avoiding anything to do with T it's very difficult to encourage them to interact. It's really starting to take a toll on us that we have to keep them separated like this, because it just eats up all of our time - basically one of us is with either cat at any given time, because we don't want them to feel neglected in any way. It's also harder on T because she's shut in the room the majority of the time but loves company - it's just not possible for us to do most things in her room. I'm not sure what else we could do and the longer we wait, the more antsy T gets. She has essentially spent a month and a half inside that one room, so that's understandable.

Does anyone have any additional advice or suggestions for things we could try? Are there other "in between" steps? (We tried a territory swap this past weekend but it didn't go as expected, I won't include the story here as my post is already way too long!)
When do we know to try meeting without the gate?

Thanks very much for reading! I'm attaching pictures of K (white) and T (black) for your time. :)

IMG_20191021_193822.jpg IMG_20191125_173203.jpg IMG_20191129_150513.jpg IMG_20191206_122227.jpg
 

blumarine916

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Hello and welcome! Ah..your cats are so beautiful.

Introduction of 2 cats can take a long time. If you’re lucky, they become friends after a week. Some may take weeks or months or some just will never accept each other. Think of it like suddenly getting a surprise roomate in your house whom you have never met. How would you react to this new stranger sharing your space/food/toilet thingies?

Give them time. I know it’s not what you want to hear and you’re probably looking for ideas to expedite the intro to the next stage but that’s really the only thing you can do. If you keep rushing them and letting K swat/hiss at T, you’re going backwards. You must follow K and T’s time, not yours. They decide when they want to be comfortable.

What you’re doing is pretty great so far. Keep on doing site swapping and try not to let them see each other when do so. T needs to get her scent all around the house instead of just that room. They would get accustomed to the smell of another cat in the area and slowly begin to accept it. Is there a way to feed T in the kitchen instead of moving K’s dish upstairs? You can try blocking with a pet gate or cardboard. K is the resident cat so she must have priority. You want her to be comfortable in her own home.

Once they are calmer (less hissing) only then you move to next stage of letting them see each other. If they hiss - pause - shut the door and give them cuddles. Try again later.

I had a situation with my cats in April this year. They hated each other since that incident and I had to separate/reintroduce them again like complete strangers. It took 6 months for them to be friends again. I was just as stressed about it and also wanted to move faster but then slowly realized that only time will fix it. By the 4th month, i stopped fussing over trying to get them together. I didn’t do door feeding regularly either but they get to see each other daily when I put up the fence/gate. In the beginning they avoided seeing one another but later they just stopped hissing and hiding. By the 6th month, I was ready to remove the fence completely. In fact, the cat inside actually managed to jump out and they both met me at the door when i came home from work one night :)

So relax, give them time. Give them cuddles and play with them. The gate is a good idea so K can see you when you play with T in the room and vice versa.
 
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acari

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Hello and thank you for your reply!! Yes, I understand that cat introductions can be slow.

We're really not trying to rush them but if we only did what K wanted then T would never be able to leave the room because K is being so stubborn about ignoring/avoiding her. Most other threads I've read here mention cats that are at least curious about each other, it doesn't apply here unfortunately!

It seems that the rule is to go at the slowest cat's pace, and I'm thankful that for now T is being cool with it, but I'm worried that soon T will start making trouble while K is still "stuck". But I suppose we'll deal with that if/when it happens.

We are concerned about "going backwards" as you mentioned and don't want to let K continue the swatting/hissing behavior. As first-time cat owners it's really hard for us to know what is "normal" swatting/hissing (perhaps just establishing hierarchy or teaching manners) and what might be actual aggression.

So the problem with site swapping that I didn't get into in my original post is that swapping blocks off T's access to her safe room (the whole point of switching). But she spooks really easily and that's exactly what happened when we tried swapping - she leapt over a barrier we had put up (not the main gate, we just wanted to make the downstairs space smaller so she wouldn't get overwhelmed), scared herself silly, then started crashing repeatedly face-first into the gate to try to get back upstairs to her room. We had to cut the site-swapping very short due to this and we're hesitant to try again.

It's a good idea/suggestion to try to feed T closer to K, we'll try to figure out the logistics of that. It sort of comes with the same problems as the site swapping, but if it's only for the duration of mealtimes then it might be feasible.

Thanks again!!
 

blumarine916

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Hello and thank you for your reply!! Yes, I understand that cat introductions can be slow.

We're really not trying to rush them but if we only did what K wanted then T would never be able to leave the room because K is being so stubborn about ignoring/avoiding her. Most other threads I've read here mention cats that are at least curious about each other, it doesn't apply here unfortunately!

It seems that the rule is to go at the slowest cat's pace, and I'm thankful that for now T is being cool with it, but I'm worried that soon T will start making trouble while K is still "stuck". But I suppose we'll deal with that if/when it happens.

We are concerned about "going backwards" as you mentioned and don't want to let K continue the swatting/hissing behavior. As first-time cat owners it's really hard for us to know what is "normal" swatting/hissing (perhaps just establishing hierarchy or teaching manners) and what might be actual aggression.

So the problem with site swapping that I didn't get into in my original post is that swapping blocks off T's access to her safe room (the whole point of switching). But she spooks really easily and that's exactly what happened when we tried swapping - she leapt over a barrier we had put up (not the main gate, we just wanted to make the downstairs space smaller so she wouldn't get overwhelmed), scared herself silly, then started crashing repeatedly face-first into the gate to try to get back upstairs to her room. We had to cut the site-swapping very short due to this and we're hesitant to try again.

It's a good idea/suggestion to try to feed T closer to K, we'll try to figure out the logistics of that. It sort of comes with the same problems as the site swapping, but if it's only for the duration of mealtimes then it might be feasible.

Thanks again!!
It’s only temporary. They’ll work it out. Yeah some cats are curious and want to find out more about the new stranger in the house yet some just don’t want to know and rather stay away. Are there any rooms downstairs where you can keep T? Maybe if they were on the same floor it’s easier for them to smell each other more often. Right now, T sees her upstairs room as a safe comfortable place to be.

Whatever you do, don’t ever try to carry the cats and drop them in the same room just to speed things up. That always ends badly.

Some people used Feliway but I’m not sure about the effectiveness since it didn’t work with my cats at that time. But it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot.
 

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Hello A acari ...your cats are truly gorgeous.

And being so young, you can actually alter some of the things you are doing...in the cat-introductions.
I moved the litter box downstairs and voila - immediate usage from K. So it seems that she was very stressed about her litter box being near the mystery newcomer.
I just included the above, because it's so amazing that you figured it out so fast.
It's something that I don't often read about, so I just noted it here, to remember it.
This shows another reason...as to why some cats may avoid using their own litterboxes. So glad that it got figured out.
...but again as time passed she would only take a few bites of her portion before leaving, eventually refusing to go upstairs at all for her food.
We decided that it wasn't worth the additional stress to K to keep trying to force her to eat upstairs, and she settled back into a routine of eating downstairs.
If it were me, I probably wouldn't alter any of K's regular mealtime habits, since she seems to get highly stressed by this.
You just don't want to do anything to stop K from eating.

Usually, the 'eating near each other' is encouraged, so that both cats get accustomed to the Sound of each other, then the Smell of each other, then the Sight of each other.
But in your case, you can substitute 'cat treats', or small portions of special favorite foods that each cat may like, and also playing near the gate, so as to encourage positive experiences.
Sometimes it's just one swipe, sometimes she is more aggressive and is vocalizing while pawing (longest continuous time would be about five seconds - don't know if that's long or not). K especially reacts if T is given a treat too close to her.
K meows pitifully at us while looking anxiously back and forth between us and T, usually shortly before she paws at T, but we don't know how to reassure her other than to give her treats. She doesn't really like to be pet in general and especially won't allow it when T is around, so we're not very flush with positive reinforcement options.
At times T will put up her paws and K will swipe aggressively, but T thinks they're playing...?
Another promising recent event was K lying down facing away from the gate, slowly swishing her tail - T tried to paw at it and K turned her head to watch her do it multiple times without reacting (until the last time when T made a more serious attempt, K then turned, swatted, and hissed before walking away).
It's very normal for a cat to not want to be pat, while they are focusing another new cat in their territory.
How is K at other times, though?
Can you pick her up? Does she sit beside you, or near you? Does she have a favorite spot?

That last part, about K laying down, swishing her tail near the gate, and T attempting to touch it...is really positive.
Even if K turned, swatted and hissed...and then walked away...it sounds good...since there was no overly exaggerated aggression, no charging at the gate, and then it ended in 'walking away'.

I'm more interested in how it sounded?
Did K do any yowling, or vocalizing as you mentioned before?
 

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Keep on doing site swapping and try not to let them see each other when do so. T needs to get her scent all around the house instead of just that room. They would get accustomed to the smell of another cat in the area and slowly begin to accept it.
So the problem with site swapping that I didn't get into in my original post is that swapping blocks off T's access to her safe room (the whole point of switching). But she spooks really easily and that's exactly what happened when we tried swapping - she leapt over a barrier we had put up (not the main gate, we just wanted to make the downstairs space smaller so she wouldn't get overwhelmed), scared herself silly, then started crashing repeatedly face-first into the gate to try to get back upstairs to her room. We had to cut the site-swapping very short due to this and we're hesitant to try again.
Wow, yeah, ...you definitely want to do the 'site swapping' ....as blumarine916 blumarine916 mentioned above.
So important to have the scents all over.

Yet, how to get T to become more relaxed?:think:

Do you think you could place T into a laundry basket, with another one on top, or cardboard on top,...since you mentioned that she was 'carrier-shy'?
Or could you carry her in a blanket, or towel?....to get her to move from one room to another?

Does T explore the entire upstairs territory? Or does she only tend to stay in one room?

The only way I could think of getting T more used to other spaces....is through food, treats, or play.
 
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acari

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Thank you both for responding! It's reassuring to hear from you that we're not mucking it up horribly.

We're going to try to figure out some short, partial site swaps this weekend, where K doesn't get to go to T's space but T can explore downstairs while still having access to her safe room. Most likely we'll have to find a way to block off the hallway between the kitchen area and the living room area and then keep K in the kitchen.

I've answered your questions below. Thank you again for your time, I really appreciate it!!

Are there any rooms downstairs where you can keep T?
No, there aren't, we only have a bathroom and a coat closet downstairs, no other rooms with doors (everything is connected).
Whatever you do, don’t ever try to carry the cats and drop them in the same room just to speed things up.
Yes! We won't do that for sure.
This shows another reason...as to why some cats may avoid using their own litterboxes. So glad that it got figured out.
Me too! I hadn't read about it as a possible thing to keep an eye out for but in hindsight it should have been obvious she was stressed about it.
It's very normal for a cat to not want to be pat, while they are focusing another new cat in their territory.
How is K at other times, though?
Can you pick her up? Does she sit beside you, or near you? Does she have a favorite spot?
K, in general, does not like to be pet, and if she does, it's not for very long at all. We can get a few head or chin rubs/scratches in before she starts making chomping motions at us.
Yes, we can pick her up easily (if she's standing, we can't do it if she's already lying down), she's quite docile in that sense.
She doesn't like to sit next to us except once in a blue moon - basically just not a touchy-feely cat in any way.
She has a cardboard box I've set up with a heating pad inside, I would say that's her favorite. Why do you ask?
I'm more interested in how it sounded?
Did K do any yowling, or vocalizing as you mentioned before?
At the very, very beginning, one of the first times K really got a good look at T, she made some abnormal sounds that we've never heard before (really low, like...moaning? and some talking-yelping, like "wrah-wrah-wrah"). It wasn't for very long and we haven't heard it since, she's only made sounds like that the one time.
These days, she huffs a bit, hisses when she's more agitated, sometimes punctuated with a short, typical "reehwr" like you hear in cartoons. It's interspersed with meowing at us, partially because she seems worried and partially because she wants more treats.
Do you think you could place T into a laundry basket, with another one on top, or cardboard on top,...since you mentioned that she was 'carrier-shy'?
She was initially very carrier-shy, but we've been working on this a lot. We have slowly gotten her accustomed to being zipped up, picked up, and carried around. Back then, she would only step in halfway, and if you so much as thought about touching the carrier she'd already have madly dashed to the other side of the room to cower in a corner.
However, we're only really guaranteed the first time. Getting her back in after she's been spooked is another story. After she scared herself during the site swap it took ages and many, many treats to get her back in so we could take her back to her room.
Carrying her is only a possibility when she is fully relaxed, usually in her safe room.
As I mentioned in reply to blu (I don't know how to tag), there aren't any rooms downstairs so moving T around is a bit of a moot point.
Does T explore the entire upstairs territory? Or does she only tend to stay in one room?
There isn't much else to the upstairs other than her room. There's a bathroom, our bedroom (which stays closed, it's off-limits to the cats because I'm actually allergic, haha), and then just the stairs. But she does explore what is available and generally follows us around (if we're in the room, she's in the room - if we're sitting on the stairs, she's sitting on the stairs).
 

calicosrspecial

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Your cats are GORGEOUS!!

I am hesitant to post but I want to say I think you are doing all the right things for the most part and the advice given by the others is really good.

Our goal is to get the cats to look at the other cat and think "I know that cat, that cat is cool. They aren't a threat to my physical being or to access to food or litter box etc".

It is totally normal for the resident (existing) cat to have the most difficult transition as it is "their" territory being "invaded". We jsut have to show K that T is not a threat in anyway.

The key is really to make every encounter as possible and if there is some staring etc then distract in any positive way as needed. At this point we really don't want a lot of hissing/swatting. We want to limit that. So distraction in any positive way is important (I know it is hard). Anytime they look away from each other and break their focus on each other it helps the other cat feel more trusting. Feeding is ideal but if the logistics don;t work then there are other ways to make positive encounters. Using treats (instead of a meal) is good. Trying to play with one while the other is around is good. Just "hanging" out is good and distracting the focus is good.

Just go at their pace. Don't force things.

Just keep working to build their confidence in their respective territories as a confident cat is more likely to accept and less likely to attack etc. So we build confidence through Play, Food, Height and Love. Play is simple and after play feed either treats or a meal. Try to give the cats places to go high (like cat shelving, cat trees). Also, give them a lot of things they can get their scent on. Scratching posts. Bedding. Things like that. And Love. Love can mean a lot of things. Since K doesn't like to be pet just hanging out can be "love", Being calm and confident and speaking in a loving tone is "Love". Anything that K likes and helps reduce stress is good.

I am a big believer in not rushing things. So given the logistics I would use scent items rather than actually swap sites for now. So an old shirt with the scent of the other cat on it and then have it near the dish at mealtime. We want them to feel comfortable with the scent and make that positive association.


You mention this - "K is being so stubborn about ignoring/avoiding her" - I actually don't think that is necessarily a bad thing. Avoiding could be negative if the body language suggests it or she is hiding etc. Ignoring though could be positive as there may not be fear there. Which goes to this next point.

"Another promising recent event was K lying down facing away from the gate, slowly swishing her tail - T tried to paw at it and K turned her head to watch her do it multiple times without reacting (until the last time when T made a more serious attempt, K then turned, swatted, and hissed before walking away). " - this is very positive as you mention. Probably more than you realize.

"K engages with wand toys" - This is great and can be used to build confidence and distract her (hopefully).

"T is very sweet but is also very shy/skittish/scared/nervous (we're working on that). T ended up staying a full three weeks inside her safe room before showing any indication that she wanted out." - Normal. Just work on building trust and confidence. Play as much as possible and feed after play. Be loving calm and confident with her. Don;t force her to come out and make interaction. She will decide to as her confidence builds.

"We've been doing "gate time" since the middle of November, at least one session a day, usually more. T is enclosed in her safe room all other times (we visit her when we can during the day). We play with both of them as much as we can and try to give lots of treats when they are near each other at the gate, however K has consistently hissed and swatted at T. Sometimes it's just one swipe, sometimes she is more aggressive and is vocalizing while pawing (longest continuous time would be about five seconds - don't know if that's long or not). K especially reacts if T is given a treat too close to her." - This tells me that they will get along. Just needs time and effort which you obviously have. They will get along. We'll help you with that.

Just take it a touch slower and try to build confidence and make every encounter as positive as possible. If T comes down to the gate try to make it positive s possible, If K is not around that is fine. It is positive. If K is around use treats or play or something to distract. If T runs back upstairs just go up and reassure T in her safe room. Play, feed treats. If K doesn't chase T then T will learn that K is not after her.

Watch how they act after any "negative" encounter. So if they are hiding, walking low, etc. And for how long after.

For a first time cat owner you are doing an amazing job. Pretty much everything right. You did rush things a bit but it did not create any long term systemic issues. They are going to be fine with the right efforts. There is a lot here and my response is totally disjointed but hopefully it can help. I hate to put "too many ingredients" in the mix. I tried to keep it more "big picture" but I did add some tactical things (rightly or wrongly) that you might consider. I am going to follow along but I see success in your future. When I am not exactly sure and as time and more information comes by it will become clearer. But you are going to be successful if you keep up the effort.

Great work so far!!
 

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Thank you both for responding! It's reassuring to hear from you that we're not mucking it up horribly.
No, you are no where near....'mucking it up horribly'...lol. :blush:
(I am totally stealing this expression, because I like the way it sounds.):biggrin:
We're going to try to figure out some short, partial site swaps this weekend, where K doesn't get to go to T's space but T can explore downstairs while still having access to her safe room. Most likely we'll have to find a way to block off the hallway between the kitchen area and the living room area and then keep K in the kitchen.
I was a little confused about all the above plans,...but then I realized that you just want T to always have access to her 'safe room'.
That makes sense now.
And if you do figure out a way to block off the hallway, between kitchen and hallway, then this will help in the future, with having both your cats near the living room area, and seeing all the interactions between humans and cats that go on. (not being left out, in other words.)

This thread might give you some ideas about 'cat barriers':
Featured - Door blockade for cats getting to know each other
Or this Article: How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – Cat Articles
She was initially very carrier-shy, but we've been working on this a lot. We have slowly gotten her accustomed to being zipped up, picked up, and carried around. Back then, she would only step in halfway, and if you so much as thought about touching the carrier she'd already have madly dashed to the other side of the room to cower in a corner.
However, we're only really guaranteed the first time. Getting her back in after she's been spooked is another story.
(You're so much better than I was. My rainbow cat would do a 'spread eagle' if I tried to get him near his cat carrier.
I had to resort to hiding the carrier from his sight, getting him wrapped up in a towel, and sort of placing him and the whole towel, into the cat carrier. No amount of treats or food enticed him....even with the cat carrier door off. Ugh, that was fun.)
After she scared herself during the site swap it took ages and many, many treats to get her back in so we could take her back to her room.
Carrying her is only a possibility when she is fully relaxed, usually in her safe room.
As I mentioned in reply to blu (I don't know how to tag), there aren't any rooms downstairs so moving T around is a bit of a moot point.
(If you just place the @ symbol...and start typing a few letters of the member's name....then a list usually comes up.
But I don't always tag, and just write the name out.)
There isn't much else to the upstairs other than her room. There's a bathroom, our bedroom (which stays closed, it's off-limits to the cats because I'm actually allergic, haha), and then just the stairs. But she does explore what is available and generally follows us around (if we're in the room, she's in the room - if we're sitting on the stairs, she's sitting on the stairs).
***Because you said that T follows you,....Could you not just place K inside of one of the bathrooms, with one of her favourite cat beds, and another litter box, and then be able to get T to follow you around the rest of the downstairs?.

Site swapping does not have to be done for long.
It could be one hour, many hours, or even just half an hour.
It's mostly to get each cat... 'used to the other cat's territory'....and scent. Also scent marking.

I would also get another litter-box, ...which does not have to be a real litter-box....and put it in a neutral location.
This way, if a cat has to use a box...they will have easy access to it...and not be bothered by the scent of the other cat.
You can use a rubbermaid box, clear plastic long under-bed storage boxes, or any plastic box that fits the dimensions.
 

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At the very, very beginning, one of the first times K really got a good look at T, she made some abnormal sounds that we've never heard before (really low, like...moaning? and some talking-yelping, like "wrah-wrah-wrah"). It wasn't for very long and we haven't heard it since, she's only made sounds like that the one time.
These days, she huffs a bit, hisses when she's more agitated, sometimes punctuated with a short, typical "reehwr" like you hear in cartoons. It's interspersed with meowing at us, partially because she seems worried and partially because she wants more treats.
This sounds excellent. Especially since it went from those first vocalizations to more of a softer type of grumble-meow, throat clearing sound.

If it's diminished from ....Post #36....of this thread...then it's really good.
(warning: keep volume down, if listening beside animals...or better yet...listen when animals are not nearby.)
Cat Intro Going Really Badly
And that cat-intro became this...There’s always hope!....Post #1.

(Her meowing at you, might be asking for treats...but it could also be asking you to 'open that door'.
"What's behind that door"...."I never got the memo, for this new cat, joining the company." :lol:
"Okay, those better be an endless supply of treats, that I'm supposed to share."...etc, etc. etc. :blush:)
 

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K, in general, does not like to be pet, and if she does, it's not for very long at all. We can get a few head or chin rubs/scratches in before she starts making chomping motions at us.
Yes, we can pick her up easily (if she's standing, we can't do it if she's already lying down), she's quite docile in that sense.
She doesn't like to sit next to us except once in a blue moon - basically just not a touchy-feely cat in any way.
She has a cardboard box I've set up with a heating pad inside, I would say that's her favorite. Why do you ask?
I asked because I wanted to get more of an idea of how K acts in general.
How her personality is, and how she acts in her territory.
I am a big believer in not rushing things. So given the logistics I would use scent items rather than actually swap sites for now. So an old shirt with the scent of the other cat on it and then have it near the dish at mealtime. We want them to feel comfortable with the scent and make that positive association.
That is interesting. I tend to disagree with C calicosrspecial ...on this point....about 'site swapping'.

I would definitely use 'scent items',... and it makes total sense to get each cat comfortable enough,....before doing 'territory swaps'....but because T is only about 8 months olds, and K is about 1 year 3 months...(could be wrong on the ages...not sure.)....then why not do 'site swaps'?.
Are you not 'holding back' the progress of T....if you confine her to only the upper areas?

How will K (resident cat..but only by a few months).... know that T is an 'okay cat'....if she does not spend time in T's (younger cat's) territory?

For a first time cat owner you are doing an amazing job. Pretty much everything right. You did rush things a bit but it did not create any long term systemic issues. They are going to be fine with the right efforts. There is a lot here and my response is totally disjointed but hopefully it can help. I hate to put "too many ingredients" in the mix. I tried to keep it more "big picture" but I did add some tactical things (rightly or wrongly) that you might consider. I am going to follow along but I see success in your future. When I am not exactly sure and as time and more information comes by it will become clearer. But you are going to be successful if you keep up the effort.
I don't see where A acari ....rushed any of the cat-intros.?
(perhaps I am reading this thread differently....I'm not sure.):dunno:
 
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acari

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Your cats are GORGEOUS!!
Thank you C calicosrspecial (and also blumarine916 blumarine916 , and cat nap cat nap ) for saying so, of course I think they are the cutest but I will tell them other people think so too.
Since K doesn't like to be pet just hanging out can be "love", Being calm and confident and speaking in a loving tone is "Love".
Thank you for this reassurance, we try to talk to her a lot and wave hi at her from across the room often. She slow blinks at us when we do so I think she accepts this as "love".
So an old shirt with the scent of the other cat on it and then have it near the dish at mealtime.
This is a really good idea and I'm kicking myself for not having thought of it! We'll start this today and see what happens.
"Another promising recent event was K lying down facing away from the gate, slowly swishing her tail - T tried to paw at it and K turned her head to watch her do it multiple times without reacting (until the last time when T made a more serious attempt, K then turned, swatted, and hissed before walking away). " - this is very positive as you mention. Probably more than you realize.
It does seem like a forward step! But it has only happened once. :sigh: I hope things like this happen more as we continue intros.
I was a little confused about all the above plans,...but then I realized that you just want T to always have access to her 'safe room'.
Yes, exactly! We want her to be able to run back to "safety" if she gets scared.
(You're so much better than I was. My rainbow cat would do a 'spread eagle' if I tried to get him near his cat carrier.
I had to resort to hiding the carrier from his sight, getting him wrapped up in a towel, and sort of placing him and the whole towel, into the cat carrier. No amount of treats or food enticed him....even with the cat carrier door off. Ugh, that was fun.)
Haha! Well, I'm sure it wasn't funny at the time. T would NOT go into the carrier at the shelter when we adopted her, they had to call in multiple reinforcements because she wouldn't let go of the cat tree she was on (they would pick her up, and the cat tree would go with her). But she's incredibly food motivated so we got to take advantage of that once she was home.
***Because you said that T follows you,....Could you not just place K inside of one of the bathrooms, with one of her favourite cat beds, and another litter box, and then be able to get T to follow you around the rest of the downstairs?.
We could put K inside "her" bathroom where her litter box is already. But it's a very tiny bathroom, wouldn't it stress her out to be stuck inside? Still, we won't know until we try!
T doesn't exactly "follow" she just wants to know where we are. In exploring a new area it would mostly be us following her to make sure she doesn't nibble on anything she shouldn't.
I would also get another litter-box, ...which does not have to be a real litter-box....and put it in a neutral location.
This way, if a cat has to use a box...they will have easy access to it...and not be bothered by the scent of the other cat.
At the beginning of the site swap last time, T actually used K's litter box immediately. I'm not sure if she was being rude or just manner-less since she's still a kitten...? She tried to use it multiple times but didn't have any pee left. :lol:
We have a third litter box that isn't in use yet because we have no idea where to put it (it's quite large). We don't have room in common areas for it and don't want it to be near our own food-prep or eating areas. Do you think putting it somewhere a bit more out of the way would be bad? We have one more staircase going from the living room down to the front door, and there's a small landing there.
But K almost never ventures down there, probably because there's nothing to do or see.
 
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If it's diminished from ....Post #36....of this thread...then it's really good.
(warning: keep volume down, if listening beside animals...or better yet...listen when animals are not nearby.)
Cat Intro Going Really Badly
And that cat-intro became this...There’s always hope!....Post #1.

(Her meowing at you, might be asking for treats...but it could also be asking you to 'open that door'.
"What's behind that door"...."I never got the memo, for this new cat, joining the company." :lol:
"Okay, those better be an endless supply of treats, that I'm supposed to share."...etc, etc. etc. :blush:)
cat nap cat nap THANK YOU so much for an example. I was having a hard time finding examples of cat introductions and behaviors.
It has never been like that with our cats at all, even that first time when K was vocalizing more it wasn't like this. And I have never heard T making any aggressive noises, she only trills/chirps (and cries when she is lonely).
And thank you for also providing the resolution post, it is good to see that time and patience really does pay off!!
I admit I was flagging a bit - posts and articles stress that cat introductions can take months, but it feels like so much longer when you're actually doing it. It feels like I've been at this for a year but it hasn't been long at all.
I have newfound motivation and energy now! And armed with great suggestions from everyone who has responded!

Haha, K's meowing could mean all of those things, she gets this worried look on her face and I feel bad but it's very cute. I take it as a good sign she wants to "talk" to us in the middle of being around T.
 

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Haha! Well, I'm sure it wasn't funny at the time. T would NOT go into the carrier at the shelter when we adopted her, they had to call in multiple reinforcements because she wouldn't let go of the cat tree she was on (they would pick her up, and the cat tree would go with her). But she's incredibly food motivated so we got to take advantage of that once she was home.
(Yeah, not funny at the time. :frustrated:):thumbsup:
Your story sounds adorable, though. lol. :crackup:
I hope you are able to get her an 'exact replica replacement cat tree'....or if not....then the 'next best model'. :blush:

Being incredibly food motivated is such a bonus.
That will tremendously help in these cat intros.
We could put K inside "her" bathroom where her litter box is already. But it's a very tiny bathroom, wouldn't it stress her out to be stuck inside? Still, we won't know until we try!
T doesn't exactly "follow" she just wants to know where we are. In exploring a new area it would mostly be us following her to make sure she doesn't nibble on anything she shouldn't.
Yes, you are probably right. Being stuck in a tiny bathroom can be stressful, when she's used to larger spaces.
(Cancel that idea.)

Oh, okay...Maybe you could get T to follow, by perhaps using long-and-wide string-type toys, or that feather wand toy.
Getting her to follow you, while playing... or even throwing a ping-pong ball, scrunched up paper, cat-toy....just to get her to explore more.
At the beginning of the site swap last time, T actually used K's litter box immediately. I'm not sure if she was being rude or just manner-less since she's still a kitten...? She tried to use it multiple times but didn't have any pee left. :lol:
That is actually excellent. :lol::clap:
I was thinking that some cats are too afraid to use another cat's litter-box, sometimes.
Not rude or manner-less at all. :crackup:
Leaving her scent there, is a bonus. Sure, maybe K didn't really appreciate it, initially,..but at least she knows there's a new cat around.
We have a third litter box that isn't in use yet because we have no idea where to put it (it's quite large). We don't have room in common areas for it and don't want it to be near our own food-prep or eating areas. Do you think putting it somewhere a bit more out of the way would be bad? We have one more staircase going from the living room down to the front door, and there's a small landing there.
But K almost never ventures down there, probably because there's nothing to do or see.
No, it's not necessary to use the third one, now.
Though it is suggested.
Since the kitten has already found and used the first one. :thumbsup:

(Usually you have one box for each cat,...then an extra one....but if no accidents happened, and T has already used the first one, then you should be good.)

(The third one, is in case one cat, likes to pee in one, and poop in another,...or for easy access to litter-boxes at all times...eg...if someone happens to be in the bathroom, and your cat has to go.)

If you were to use a third, then placing it anywhere, you think is suitable is okay.
Front door would be worrisome, if a cat were to escape outside, while the door is being opened.
 
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Please tell them we LOVE them!! :)

"we try to talk to her a lot and wave hi at her from across the room often. She slow blinks at us when we do so I think she accepts this as "love"." - PERFECT. Love is also the feeling, the emotion. Cats sense and take on our emotions so being loving helps them feel better (as does being calm and confident around them). Slow eye blinks "eye kisses" is a GREAT way to tell a cat you love them. It is also a sign of trust which is also a sign of confidence. Keep that up, that is GREAT.

Scent swapping is a good way to make a positive association. Just watch how K responds. If she does well it is a positive. If she is a little hesitant then just remove it and try another time.

Happening once is a GREAT sign. There will be many more positive times. Just keep working on making every encounter as positive as possible and use a positive distraction to help make it positive.

"At the beginning of the site swap last time, T actually used K's litter box" - that is a territorial ownership thing. Cats use scent to "own" things. So that is normal that they want to mark it and say "this is mine". Very normal for a new cat and it is good she used the litter and not a wall or floor!!

T is going about this the right way and will help make this process go better. T is not showing any sign of aggression etc which will be very helpful in getting K to accept her. As T gets more confident that will help more as well. Just keep building their confidence and making positive associations and positive encounters. You are going to succeed.
 
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Front door would be worrisome, if a cat were to escape outside, while the door is being opened.
That's true, we don't use the front door very often as we usually leave through the garage, but encouraging the cats to hang out near the door is a bit of a recipe for disaster. I'll keep thinking on possible locations but I'm not too worried about it as they really are very good about using their existing boxes.

C calicosrspecial - Thank you so much for your encouragement! I've left a shirt in T's room and she was cleaning herself on it earlier, we'll bring it down around feeding time and see how K does with it nearby while she eats.

Again, this weekend we'll see about letting T explore downstairs and I'll report back if there's any progress, negative or positive.
 

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cat nap cat nap THANK YOU so much for an example. I was having a hard time finding examples of cat introductions and behaviors.
It has never been like that with our cats at all, even that first time when K was vocalizing more it wasn't like this
A acari ....somehow I missed seeing post #13...entirely.

(I think there must be something wrong with either my wi-fi, or laptop,...since I only saw it while scrolling on my phone. It happened to me last week, too,...and I entirely missed a member's response...and wondered to myself...'okay, so they don't want to answer any of my questions...hmm'..:ohwell: :confused2: ..' well, they did'...and my dumb wi-fi is either not fast enough, or laptop is not refreshing the page...but it shows other posts....so who knows. I'll try to keep an eye on the post numbers...on the side.)

You are totally welcome, for those examples.
And I have never heard T making any aggressive noises, she only trills/chirps (and cries when she is lonely).
That is fantastic, about T not making any aggressive sounds.
I only feel badly, that she cries when lonely.
To me, that is saying that she is ready to come out and explore.

Because she is still at kitten-age, then I find that kittens adapt quicker to new things.
(I also find that kitten or young-cat-introductions, are on a different time-frame, than if it were adult-to-kitten, or adult-to-adult.)

I'm just not really sure what 'spooked' her so badly, the first time you tried a site swap?
Often times, kittens or cats will feel overwhelmed, when first coming into a new territory.
Running and hiding is normal.

Did she maybe think that K was downstairs, at the time?
In this situation, I would have let T see K, being placed inside the 'safe-room'...as long as T was safe inside her carrier.
They have already, seen each other before, through the gate, so no need to block their vision, now,....as long as they are well protected inside of a cat carrier, or behind a barrier.

However, I do understand that 'scent swapping' ...is the slower way to go, and will enable both cats to slowly adjust to each other.
But I thought you had already done this with the 'socks, towels, blankets,' ...in your first post.
Did your cats react badly, to these items...initially?

(I am asking way too many questions, here....so just skip this whole part. :doh::stars:
You have way better things to do....like be with the cats.) :lol:
I admit I was flagging a bit - posts and articles stress that cat introductions can take months, but it feels like so much longer when you're actually doing it. It feels like I've been at this for a year but it hasn't been long at all.
I have newfound motivation and energy now! And armed with great suggestions from everyone who has responded!
I so love your expressions....I had to look up what "flagging a bit" meant. lol. ('becoming weaker, slower, or less effective'...cambridge dictionary online)
Yeah, I could see that it could 'feel like you've been at this for a year'...:blush:.
Great that your motivation and energy have boosted again.
Haha, K's meowing could mean all of those things, she gets this worried look on her face and I feel bad but it's very cute. I take it as a good sign she wants to "talk" to us in the middle of being around T.
Yes, as long as K is still 'talking' to you both, then it's definitely a good sign. :catlove: (the previous smiley is a little strange...I have no idea what happens to the human, there. So better this one. :catrub:)
Again, this weekend we'll see about letting T explore downstairs and I'll report back if there's any progress, negative or positive.
Rooting for positive, positive, positive. :goodluck: :cheerleader::goldstar::angelcat::coolcat:
 
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acari

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A acari ....somehow I missed seeing post #13...entirely.
It gave me a message that it was awaiting moderator approval when I first posted it, perhaps that's why (and nothing to do with anything on your end)?
I only feel badly, that she cries when lonely.
Me too! But we extend "gate time" as long as possible these days. We figured out yesterday night that we (the humans) can climb over the stair railing if there's a step stool on the other side, so we don't get "trapped" upstairs during gate time, this means we can keep the gate up for much longer...that should help her loneliness.
Of course, if K would just cooperate...:frustrated::lol:
I'm just not really sure what 'spooked' her so badly, the first time you tried a site swap?
In this situation, I would have let T see K, being placed inside the 'safe-room'...as long as T was safe inside her carrier.
Ah, sorry I wasn't clear. She got scared because she jumped over a barrier...and landed in an unfamiliar place...and didn't know to jump back...so she scared herself, really. She was fine with us picking her up and plopping her back on the other side, but she jumped right back over and got scared all over again - then she tried to get back upstairs. I don't think it had anything to do with K, she was doing her own thing (upstairs) and not in view.
But I thought you had already done this with the 'socks, towels, blankets,' ...in your first post.
Did your cats react badly, to these items...initially?
Yes, you're right, we had done plenty of scent exchange, both cats didn't react at all. T sniffed items very thoroughly, K less so, but otherwise nothing - no sounds, pawing, nothing. For example one of the first things we'd tried was socks, and they both slept fine with the other's sock stuffed in their house/bed/box.

I mentioned earlier that I left a shirt in T's room, for use with K later during feeding time as C calicosrspecial suggested. I put it down on top of K's feeding mat as I was getting her food ready and saw K sniffing at it out of the corner of my eye, but otherwise nothing special happened, K ate as usual.
But I assume it can't hurt to keep doing this if it helps K get more accustomed to T's scent just being present.
 

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It gave me a message that it was awaiting moderator approval when I first posted it, perhaps that's why (and nothing to do with anything on your end)?
Thank you so much for informing me about this. It saves me a lot of time trying to figure out what the problem was.
Me too! But we extend "gate time" as long as possible these days. We figured out yesterday night that we (the humans) can climb over the stair railing if there's a step stool on the other side, so we don't get "trapped" upstairs during gate time, this means we can keep the gate up for much longer...that should help her loneliness.
Of course, if K would just cooperate...:frustrated::lol:
Ah, you humans are just amazing. :)
(I'm beginning to think that our cats just present these type of 'cat scenarios', or 'cat issues'....to keep us humans 'on our toes', 'fully present', and use our 'problem-solving skills'.):bluepaw:

The 'extending the gate time' sounds really good.

(In my experience, our cats will cooperate with us, ....we just have to make it seem like it was 'their idea'.
In our cats' minds....they are probably 'thinking the exact same thing'...."to make the humans think that they came up with the idea"...to "boost the confidence of my human". They are teaching us patience, too. That is some sort of virtue, I hear.:winkcat:) :blush:
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Ah, sorry I wasn't clear. She got scared because she jumped over a barrier...and landed in an unfamiliar place...and didn't know to jump back...so she scared herself, really. She was fine with us picking her up and plopping her back on the other side, but she jumped right back over and got scared all over again - then she tried to get back upstairs. I don't think it had anything to do with K, she was doing her own thing (upstairs) and not in view.
Oh, okay.
I had just wondered if T ....had actually known that K was upstairs, at this point in time.
Yes, you're right, we had done plenty of scent exchange, both cats didn't react at all. T sniffed items very thoroughly, K less so, but otherwise nothing - no sounds, pawing, nothing. For example one of the first things we'd tried was socks, and they both slept fine with the other's sock stuffed in their house/bed/box.
That is really good, about how the 'scent exchanges' are working.

Also, good on you, for doing that 'sock stuffed in their house/bed/box' area.
This would really expose each cat's scent around the other.
I mentioned earlier that I left a shirt in T's room, for use with K later during feeding time as C calicosrspecial suggested. I put it down on top of K's feeding mat as I was getting her food ready and saw K sniffing at it out of the corner of my eye, but otherwise nothing special happened, K ate as usual.
But I assume it can't hurt to keep doing this if it helps K get more accustomed to T's scent just being present.
Yes, definitely keep doing what C calicosrspecial suggested about the shirt, with scent exchange.
This is so wonderful, that K continued to eat, while having the shirt there.
That means that K will come to associate T with positive things.

Food is a positive, and so, having the scent of T right there, and K not being bothered, or more accustomed to T's scent being present, like you said, will help with 'only good associations'.
Really great to hear this. :thumbsup:
 

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:"I've left a shirt in T's room and she was cleaning herself on it earlier, we'll bring it down around feeding time and see how K does with it nearby while she eats." - Great. It is all about making that positive association so when they are physically near the scent reminds the cat of something good (food).

Just take it a bit slow on visual interactions and try to make them as positive as possible and distract (play, food, treats) in order to get them to break any focus or negativity.

It is all about making positive associations and positive encounters and limiting negative encounters.

Keep up the great work!!
 
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