Cat intros at a standstill

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acari

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Yeah, I think that is a good plan. Site swapping usually comes before visual contact in my intros so at this point gate time is best if K is getting restless.
C calicosrspecial Oh that's true isn't it, that site swapping normally comes first. We're doing everything in a weird order!
That is why when a cat looks away is such a positive as no cat would take their eyes off a real threat,
Sure, it is slower than we may like and some of the signs do not match her body language (I am kind of surprised we are seeing some of the pawing but we are seeing less of it it seems) but i don;t see any reason why they will not be successfully intro'd.
Part of the reason I can't quite understand K's body language is exactly what you mention, she doesn't seem to be super aggressive or negative but the pawing and her little worried face makes it seem like she's feeling some type of way. But she doesn't have a problem with looking away from T, even if T is right there at the gate.
I think we're not quite seeing less of the pawing, just that it's less forceful at least 60% of the time, like she's not sure she should bother with pawing but still wants to make her unhappiness known.
I do think it will help if you can design the gate with allowing more access, but still maintaining protection for both cats.
cat nap cat nap I will have to brainstorm on that this weekend. I have some scrap wood around but I'm not sure how to attach it temporarily, because I have to be able to take it off in order for the gate to fit in other configurations around the house! Maybe if I tie it really well?
We get more exercise, then the cats do, while the cats lay there.
I relate to this so much. When playing with T especially we try to tire her out on the stairs, but really I'm the one who needs to sit down after five minutes while she's the one who still wants to go go go!
Members have mentioned 'classical music for cats'...maybe I should try some
I would expect it's one of those "can't hurt" types of things. I think there are even cat lullabies, like music made specifically with cats in mind? Anyway, my partner listens to a lot of different kinds of "classical" music and it doesn't seem to affect K or T at all.
I forgot to ask you: How do both T and K act like, when they are placed within their cat carriers?

Are they both nervous, meowing, agitated?
Or do they relax and sleep?
They both definitely do not relax, and so they don't sleep. But we don't put them in there long enough for that - and it's a small carrier, meant for airplane travel (I don't know why I got TWO of these when we don't plan to fly with them ever...I think I went off a guide and didn't notice it was for travel use).
But they don't meow either, at least when we're inside the house. K did the tiniest, worried meows when we took her home, and took her to the vet, or anytime she was inside a car, but we haven't done that lately.
K basically turkeys and looks around half curiously half anxious, waiting to be let out.
T, until recently, was only inside for feeding, which she was fine with - so all she did was eat. But the past few days I've been luring her in there with a treat, closing her up and carrying her around, then letting her back out with another treat, and that seems to be fine.
For some reason she likes to try to butt her head up against the top, sort of testing escape, but not really - then she settles down a bit more than K (sphinx position) and also just looks around curiously, waiting to be let out (so she can eat a treat).

K we can "place" in her carrier. T...not so much. I'll work on getting her used to being in there with treats first, then maybe my partner and I can slowly work on getting her used to being picked up and placed in, with lots more treats.
How do we know that we aren't telling the cat/kitten something really bad....so I don't think hissing at our cats is ever a good idea
I've thought about this too, but I tried hissing once and both cats definitely ignored me. Also it's hard to hiss loudly like a cat without spitting (at least for me) and I'm not about that life. So we just say HEY instead.
My cats also like to sometimes sleep undisturbed beneath the sofa, beds, side tables, and places that are dark.
K used to sleep under the couch all the time for the first three weeks we had her, but now we think that was just her way of getting acclimated to the space on her own terms. She much prefers her heated box now and goes belly-up in it often.
T has taken to sitting under the couch now when she's out in the living room and nothing else is happening, but the second you get up and walk around she will pop out and follow you.
Would you be able to do this "Gate time", ...but also be able to switch each cat, to the other side of the gate, every so often,...so that no one cat gets too accustomed to that one side?
Basically, you want each cat to find their own 'special spaces' on each side of the gate.

Also, is there any way that you can leave the gate up for more than an hour, so that both T and K get the most exposure....even if it's just looking at a gate from far away, and not necessarily being right up to it?
Well, when we switch between blocking off the kitchen and blocking off the living room, we really mean blocking K in those spaces, so they're sort of switching (only K doesn't get to go upstairs - and she doesn't want to be there anyway).
With the configuration of the house and what is possible for blocking plus the limitations of my cruddy gate, it's pretty much impossible to switch more than what we're doing, unfortunately.
It might be possible to switch them entirely - gate at the bottom of the stairs, K upstairs, T downstairs. But this requires two people and a LOT of time for the person on T's side, because we have to keep a really close eye on her when she's downstairs (lots of things she could get into that we haven't taught her not to yet).
Anyway, regarding your last point - the gate is almost always up through the whole day (minus a few hours, and the nighttime) at the bottom of the stairs. K just ignores T for the most part. The one-hour windows are for when we do the level-up of "gate time" which is the kitchen/living room blocking like I mentioned.
Heidi will be 3yrs old in June and Cocoa will be 2yrs old this in March.They about a year apart.
I never would have did that intentionally we were having company and I was throwing everything in bedroom and they just ended up in same room together.
S Sugasmom Oh, so your cats are proper adults, not like my young ones. Those are the ages we had wanted to adopt originally but somehow we ended up with K (1.5 years) and T (10 months).
It's really nice that they ended up being close friends from that! A happy accident. :)
 
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When you have the time, watch this informative video. I could not believe my eyes. Perhaps all our cats already know about this video. K's probably watching other TCS videos, while we're all sleeping. I wouldn't be surprised. :blush:
See: Catio access (need some ideas to teach cats!!)
Post #17.
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I've seen that video before! My mind was mostly on how the owner got the cats to do it repeatedly. Even with treats I bet K would ignore me after doing it like...twice. She already ignores me sometimes when I'm trying to teach her tricks.

I read somewhere that a cat's whiskers help it determine whether it'll fit through a gap, something like, the whiskers are about as long as the body is wide. Basically if the whiskers fit, the body will fit? I'm rambling.
 

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You are doing well. The order of things is fine.

"Part of the reason I can't quite understand K's body language is exactly what you mention, she doesn't seem to be super aggressive or negative but the pawing and her little worried face makes it seem like she's feeling some type of way. But she doesn't have a problem with looking away from T, even if T is right there at the gate." - Well, K just doesn't have the trust yet and feels the need to be a bit defensive. It is normal. The fact does look away tells me there is some trust, just not total yet.

"I think we're not quite seeing less of the pawing, just that it's less forceful at least 60% of the time, like she's not sure she should bother with pawing but still wants to make her unhappiness known." - OK. Less forceful though is great.

"K used to sleep under the couch all the time for the first three weeks we had her, but now we think that was just her way of getting acclimated to the space on her own terms. She much prefers her heated box now and goes belly-up in it often." - This is a great sign of K getting more confident. A cat that exposes their belly (which is a VERY vulnerable position) is a cat that really trusts.
 

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cat nap cat nap I will have to brainstorm on that this weekend. I have some scrap wood around but I'm not sure how to attach it temporarily, because I have to be able to take it off in order for the gate to fit in other configurations around the house! Maybe if I tie it really well?
Tying it with rope sounds good.
I use plastic zip ties for everything, but the downside is that you can only use them once, then you have to cut them off.
(You can pry them off with the tiniest screwdriver you have...like think eyeglass screwdrivers, but if you slip slightly, it really hurts your hand. ouch.)
I relate to this so much. When playing with T especially we try to tire her out on the stairs, but really I'm the one who needs to sit down after five minutes while she's the one who still wants to go go go!
Goodness, if you can do stairs, then you're really good.:walk: I stay well away from playing near any stairs, not just because the workout would be brutal, but because I've slipped and nearly slipped a few times. Stairs are not my friend. I'd probably have to sit down from running around for five minutes on level ground, too. :tongue:
I think there are even cat lullabies, like music made specifically with cats in mind? Anyway, my partner listens to a lot of different kinds of "classical" music and it doesn't seem to affect K or T at all.
I have to now go and look for these 'cat lullabies'. It's not that I don't believe you...I just wonder what they sound like.
I hope they can put humans as well as cats to sleep. :sleep:
Ahh, so K and T are not 'classical music' cat fans either? I was hoping your partner could name some composers that do affect cats...but in a good way...not in the 'let's run on the surf' all day, type of thing. :lol:
...K basically turkeys and looks around half curiously half anxious, waiting to be let out.
T, until recently, was only inside for feeding, which she was fine with - so all she did was eat. But the past few days I've been luring her in there with a treat, closing her up and carrying her around, then letting her back out with another treat, and that seems to be fine.
For some reason she likes to try to butt her head up against the top, sort of testing escape, but not really - then she settles down a bit more than K (sphinx position) and also just looks around curiously, waiting to be let out (so she can eat a treat).

K we can "place" in her carrier
. T...not so much. I'll work on getting her used to being in there with treats first, then maybe my partner and I can slowly work on getting her used to being picked up and placed in, with lots more treats.
The reason I asked about how they were in carriers, is because I was thinking on how you could get K to lessen her aggressive play style.
I had read of an intro technique where they used carriers, but had a towel in between, and let their cats get used to each other that way. But then I thought...how's that work if a cat hates the carrier? Wouldn't that make a cat more aggravated and upset versus less upset and chilled out? The whole idea of intros is to lessen a cat's fear...not add to it.
This carrier technique probably only works for kittens, and cats that are so used to other cats, that they don't even care who's in the other carrier. (I think those are probably the cats that are in Vet's offices and walk around and greet everyone. They seem so extremely chilled and nonchalant.)

You mentioned that K has a mild form of hyperesthesia, so wearing a harness would be bothersome.
The reason that I had mentioned the harness, but forgot to answer you until now, was because I was thinking that having K on a harness would prevent her from lunging at T, when the eventually do meet.

But after all the good events that unfolded, yesterday,...I'm thinking that you won't need to do any extra things...but rather just proceed as you are doing...since you are seeing really good results.
I know that yesterday's events will be repeated.:agree:
I've thought about this too, but I tried hissing once and both cats definitely ignored me. Also it's hard to hiss loudly like a cat without spitting (at least for me) and I'm not about that life. So we just say HEY instead.
Me too. I tried hissing once at my cat, and she looked at me like I had gone nuts. I profusely apologized afterwards, and told her I didn't mean anything by it...that I was just testing out a theory. (and yes if I'm talking to the animals and other family members are around...they ask who I'm talking to...I'll say the animals...no big deal...haha. I catch my family members talking to them too, so it's not a strange thing at all. I'm not sure why I'm telling you this. I'm sure you know it's not strange at all. Whose rambling now. :blush: :crazy: :crackup:)
(My hiss was more like the S-S-sound in 'snake'...so who knows what it meant.)
Anyway, your method of saying HEY is also what I use...I sometimes just triple it, or "no, no, no." For whatever reason I think triples work.
K used to sleep under the couch all the time for the first three weeks we had her, but now we think that was just her way of getting acclimated to the space on her own terms. She much prefers her heated box now and goes belly-up in it often.
T has taken to sitting under the couch now when she's out in the living room
and nothing else is happening, but the second you get up and walk around she will pop out and follow you.
I like the way they choose their spaces, and it's interesting when they choose new spaces, too.
Well, when we switch between blocking off the kitchen and blocking off the living room, we really mean blocking K in those spaces, so they're sort of switching (only K doesn't get to go upstairs - and she doesn't want to be there anyway).
With the configuration of the house and what is possible for blocking plus the limitations of my cruddy gate, it's pretty much impossible to switch more than what we're doing, unfortunately.
It might be possible to switch them entirely - gate at the bottom of the stairs, K upstairs, T downstairs. But this requires two people and a LOT of time for the person on T's side, because we have to keep a really close eye on her when she's downstairs (lots of things she could get into that we haven't taught her not to yet).
Anyway, regarding your last point - the gate is almost always up through the whole day (minus a few hours, and the nighttime) at the bottom of the stairs. K just ignores T for the most part. The one-hour windows are for when we do the level-up of "gate time" which is the kitchen/living room blocking like I mentioned.
Oh, okay. I was just getting confused thinking that K's space seemed like 25%, but T had like 75%....in that K would be in the kitchen, or living room only. But now I understand it's because K does not go upstairs, anyhow,...and T cannot be by herself in the downstairs rooms.
 

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I've seen that video before! My mind was mostly on how the owner got the cats to do it repeatedly. Even with treats I bet K would ignore me after doing it like...twice. She already ignores me sometimes when I'm trying to teach her tricks.

I read somewhere that a cat's whiskers help it determine whether it'll fit through a gap, something like, the whiskers are about as long as the body is wide. Basically if the whiskers fit, the body will fit? I'm rambling.
You're not rambling. :lol: :thumbsup:
That makes total sense...the part about the whiskers.
I only remember reading that a cat's whiskers help them to feel in the dark, and not bump into things.

Your readings are much more 'cooler info' and more informative to know. :clover:
I've never noticed how wide my cats' whiskers are. Hmmm. I will have to notice this, now. :think:

Didn't the owner use 'food' as the incentive, and it was 'time lapsed' so who knows how long that actual experiment took.
But you're right, the cats did do it repeatedly, which was impressive. I have read that people use 'clicker training for cats' but have no idea how they do it. It does look neat.

If you're able to teach K or T to do any tricks, ...then your cats are by far...way more co-operative than mine. :bluepaw:

Have you ever watched the 'Eva Longoria behind the scenes of the Sheba cat food ad', where they use food for training the cat, with some sort of special clicker-food-dispenser. They never tell you how long it takes, though.
 
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This is a great sign of K getting more confident. A cat that exposes their belly (which is a VERY vulnerable position) is a cat that really trusts.
K has been confident in that way after about a month with us, and now she still acts the same unless T is making a lot of noise or she is interested in T (negatively or positively). I'm guessing that we're building her (or their) confidence with T by doing "gate" time - or giving them opportunities to interact.
Wouldn't that make a cat more aggravated and upset versus less upset and chilled out? The whole idea of intros is to lessen a cat's fear...not add to it.
I feel like it would be kind of negative unless both cats were super happy in their carriers. My guess is that if they don't like being in there, then they might associate that negative feeling with the other cat?
You mentioned that K has a mild form of hyperesthesia, so wearing a harness would be bothersome.
I think that a harness wouldn't work well, but we'll see how things are after another week or two. K's pawing has become less intense overall so we're less worried about the eventual face-to-face meeting...but we're still not fully comfortable...if we're worried at all we'll get a harness and try to get her used to it before we introduce them without a gate.
and yes if I'm talking to the animals and other family members are around...they ask who I'm talking to...I'll say the animals...no big deal...haha.
Apparently, cats understand a lot of what we say to them, only they choose to ignore us most of the time. So talking to animals is totally normal!
Oh, okay. I was just getting confused thinking that K's space seemed like 25%, but T had like 75%....in that K would be in the kitchen, or living room only. But now I understand it's because K does not go upstairs, anyhow,...and T cannot be by herself in the downstairs rooms.
Yes, exactly. When the gate is up at the bottom of the stairs (most of the day) it's like, K = 58% and T = 42%. At night, K has 100% minus T's room, but she doesn't go into the 42% space (except to come to our door in the morning to wait for us to come out).

-----

Update: K is playing again these last few days, which is so interesting. And it coincides with her being a bit more accepting of T. We're wondering if she's feeling better about the whole situation so she's willing to play with toys again? She's even running around on the stairs like she used to, only it's the stairs to the front door and not the stairs where T normally is.

Earlier tonight we had a step back, I think.
I had just played with T so we were taking a break, and she was roaming around the stairs.
My partner started playing with K, with a mousy toy that both of them like (T LOVES it, goes absolutely nuts over it). They each have one of these in a different color.
T started crying because she wanted to play with it.
But me and my partner are chatting, so we don't really pay attention to T - then she puts her paw through the gate and possibly gets a claw stuck, and she starts writhing around and making weird sounds. They sounded worrying so we thought she was panicking about being stuck, so my partner came over to free her...but she just kept focusing on the toy, pulled herself free, put her paws back through the gate to reach out for the toy, then started crying a lot more, and loudly, when she still couldn't reach the toy.
K then runs over and paws really* aggressively at her, vocalizing.
*Really aggressively meaning what I've shown already in videos, though she did go up on her back legs (standing position) too.
T definitely isn't calm and I think kind of paws back but not with any particular intent (play or defense), and because things felt super tense and chaotic I loudly say HEY! and they both scatter.

I am definitely not happy with T for crying so desperately for the toy so I keep her on the landing as "punishment" - but before that, she showed every sign of wanting to go back down.
And K walked right by the gate, confident-looking, tail up, etc.

So both of them seemed fine after, but it was a weird situation.

All that to ask: what happens if they get competitive over toys? I've been wondering about this for when they actually meet without the gate too - what's the usual process to keep cats from fighting over the same toy?
I know - we probably should have timed it so that they were playing with toys at the same time. But T keeps playing until she's panting, so we have to stop, and I'd just played with her...and K usually doesn't like to play if T is around, so we take advantage of her wanting to play whenever we can.

Sigh!
 
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You're not rambling. :lol: :thumbsup:
That makes total sense...the part about the whiskers.
I only remember reading that a cat's whiskers help them to feel in the dark, and not bump into things.

Your readings are much more 'cooler info' and more informative to know. :clover:
I've never noticed how wide my cats' whiskers are. Hmmm. I will have to notice this, now. :think:

Didn't the owner use 'food' as the incentive, and it was 'time lapsed' so who knows how long that actual experiment took.
But you're right, the cats did do it repeatedly, which was impressive. I have read that people use 'clicker training for cats' but have no idea how they do it. It does look neat.

If you're able to teach K or T to do any tricks, ...then your cats are by far...way more co-operative than mine. :bluepaw:

Have you ever watched the 'Eva Longoria behind the scenes of the Sheba cat food ad', where they use food for training the cat, with some sort of special clicker-food-dispenser. They never tell you how long it takes, though.
cat nap cat nap Since this is sort of a different conversation I'm separating out my reply! I'm so sorry for the essay that's to follow. It's mostly about clicker training so please feel free to skip reading once I mention training.

I just read today that cats don't have collarbones (or maybe not like, attached ones), and that's why they can squeeze through small openings. If their head can fit then generally their body can too (I'm assuming this is only true for regular-weight cats).

It's true that if you just time-lapsed it, you can get all the footage if you just have enough time, that didn't cross my mind!

I will look up the BTS for the ad you mentioned, I've never seen it before and I'm curious. :)

I do clicker training with them actually! K took to it really fast and somehow automatically knew to sit still while waiting for commands. I'm wondering if maybe someone tried to train her before she became a stray...or maybe she's a genius? A dumb genius (affectionately).
T on the other hand has no idea what's going on. I'm sure we'll get there someday, I only started this week with her.

You didn't ask, but basically "clicker" training is getting them to associate a specific, unique sound, with treats/rewards. Generally this is used for dogs, because for most dogs, eventually the sound is enough of a reward that they'll do the tricks without treats. But for cats I've heard (and it seems to be true) that they're smart enough to only do tricks for treats.
The sound has a second purpose so it's still good to use for cat training: to raise the success chance of teaching the trick. Apparently, you have to "reward" the correct action within a certain amount of time (something really short, like a second or something) or else they won't connect the action with what you're asking for. So you use the sound to indicate a "reward" because it's a lot faster than getting a treat and giving it to them.

The very first "trick" to teach then, is that anytime they hear the sound, they get a treat. Even if you accidentally make the sound, they still get a treat. Then, as long as you make the sound at the right time during training (within the window), you can take your time giving the treat.

Any sound can be used for the "clicking". I've read that people just make a specific sound with their mouth so they don't have to hold a clicker (I use a keyboard app on my phone, one note for K and a different one for T). I will say that holding my phone limits me for hand signals and stuff, but I don't think I could be consistent enough making a sound.

Then, for teaching tricks, there's a lot of mixed information out there. Generally I think what you're supposed to do is start small for what you want and reward incrementally. And you're not supposed to add a verbal command until they can do the full trick consistently every time, or else they'll get confused with the verbal command being associated with all the steps you teach in between.
Example: shake paw (left and right paws should have different commands). Theoretically they would know "sit" or already be sitting.
You start by putting your finger right behind their leg, because their instinct will be to move their leg/paw. Once they react, you "click" and reward.
Eventually, they should learn that you want them to lift their leg when you reach out or give a particular signal, and they'll do it without you having to touch them, and from there you touch their paw, then "click" and reward. Etc, etc.
That's actually kind of a bad example because I haven't been able to successfully teach K this. My signal for now is to hold out my hand flat, palm up, and she's supposed to put her paw onto my palm, but she really really hates if I initiate paw touching and she turns into a super ninja at avoiding my hand even if I bring it up towards her.
I have absolutely no idea how to teach things like "lie down" or "stay", I feel like those must be really difficult.

Other "rules" are things like, don't repeat commands if they don't do the trick, you wait a few seconds to "reset" before moving on. Lately K has been a big brat and not doing tricks I know she knows how to do, like "boop" which is where I hold out my index finger, and she's supposed to touch her nose to it. But she prefers not to touch sometimes, so she just gets within a centimeter before looking at me expecting a treat.
Because I know she knows how to do it, I "punish" her by ending training time immediately. No tricks, no treats!
Usually the next day, she'll do the trick immediately and properly. Ha! I feel like this is an extra complication of training for cats vs. dogs.

You also didn't ask, but I haven't been able to share this with anyone and I'm kind of proud: K knows "sit", "left/right paw" (she lifts her paw and SHOULD touch my palm lol), "boop", and "weave" (standing with my legs apart, she goes between them under me, then back again). We're working on "down" (I want to teach her to lie down but all I've gotten is that she puts her nose on my hand because she thinks I'm holding a treat on the floor), and "kiss" (I lean in close and she's supposed to nose-to-nose, but she just sniffs my forehead or bonks my glasses).
Teaching her name is really hard, I've given up on it. She just won't consistently look at me when I say it, it's a bit of a lost cause. But I'll make "tsking" sounds and if she makes direct eye contact, she gets a click and a treat for that.

T does not stay still and sitting like K does, so it's much more difficult to get her to do anything when she's just going in circles around me.
I think T is learning "sit", and since she rolls over so much I'm trying to teach her "belly" (roll over with paws on chest/stomach). But.......she just rolls over anytime without me asking, and gets huffy when I don't reward her!
Half of her "training" treats at the moment are going towards getting her comfortable in her carrier though, so progress on training is slower than for K.

Okay, sorry for the essay again!!
 

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"K has been confident in that way after about a month with us, and now she still acts the same unless T is making a lot of noise or she is interested in T (negatively or positively). I'm guessing that we're building her (or their) confidence with T by doing "gate" time - or giving them opportunities to interact." - That is great. You are definitely doing the right things with her. Absolutely, gate time is building her confidence in a few ways (but most importantly with T).

"Apparently, cats understand a lot of what we say to them, only they choose to ignore us most of the time. So talking to animals is totally normal!" - ABSOLUTELY. It is amazing. And what is interesting is it is not only how we say it (emotions, tones, etc) but also the specific words. For example, if I say "Rollie Pollie" in a real monotone voice my boy responds. So he must actually understand the words instead of just the tone, inflection etc. It is amazing honestly.

"K is playing again these last few days, which is so interesting. And it coincides with her being a bit more accepting of T. We're wondering if she's feeling better about the whole situation so she's willing to play with toys again? She's even running around on the stairs like she used to, only it's the stairs to the front door and not the stairs where T normally is." - WOW, this is GREAT!!! It is hard to know why but it very well could be that she is feeling more trusting. Either way it is really positive. Again, going into more territory is great so adding to the territory again is positive.

I don't think that is a big setback. Sure it wasn't ideal but nothing really came of it other than the pawing and then nothing else. If it is possible to get T playing while K is that would be great. I know it is hard and time consuming and tiring but if possible. And it sounds like K ignored at first so that is good. Scattering after the "hey" is a good way to distract and it is good they scattered.

"I am definitely not happy with T for crying so desperately for the toy so I keep her on the landing as "punishment" " - I wouldn't be too hard on T. She just wants to play and seems to not mind K. Which is great. Typically punishment tends to be counterproductive or not helpful. Typically there has to be a good reason for them to choose another path.

"but before that, she showed every sign of wanting to go back down. And K walked right by the gate, confident-looking, tail up, etc.
So both of them seemed fine after, but it was a weird situation." - THIS is GREAT. They are telling us it was a minor issue. Actually, this is very positive to hear. It tells me they are more trusting than maybe we think.

"All that to ask: what happens if they get competitive over toys? I've been wondering about this for when they actually meet without the gate too - what's the usual process to keep cats from fighting over the same toy? I know - we probably should have timed it so that they were playing with toys at the same time. But T keeps playing until she's panting, so we have to stop, and I'd just played with her...and K usually doesn't like to play if T is around, so we take advantage of her wanting to play whenever we can." - If T shows signs she wants more play then I say just go ahead and play. And if K is involved it should be fine. If K stops then keep trying and if K chooses to walk away that is fine. Just do whatever you think makes it as positive as possible. If K keeps playing then it is a great success. So I would try to avoid T agitating K in that way so as to avoid a negative gate incident. If K plays at one time she will play at a later time as well. I know it is hard but just don;t worry. Do your best to make it as positive as possible for both.

No need to sigh, all sounds really good. I love that K rebounded so quickly.
 

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I feel like it would be kind of negative unless both cats were super happy in their carriers. My guess is that if they don't like being in there, then they might associate that negative feeling with the other cat?
Yes, I totally agree with this.
I think that a harness wouldn't work well, but we'll see how things are after another week or two. K's pawing has become less intense overall so we're less worried about the eventual face-to-face meeting...but we're still not fully comfortable...if we're worried at all we'll get a harness and try to get her used to it before we introduce them without a gate.
That sounds good.
Excellent, too, that K's pawing has become less intense.
Both your cats really do influence each other, so I figure that they will steadily get to a level of good play.

Probably the more they see each other, the more familiar with one another, and the more bored they will get of each other.
Yet being young, and the area and other cat still being relatively new to them, they're still going to go all out with play.
It's just fun to watch.
Apparently, cats understand a lot of what we say to them, only they choose to ignore us most of the time. So talking to animals is totally normal!
Yes, they definitely do.
Yes, exactly. When the gate is up at the bottom of the stairs (most of the day) it's like, K = 58% and T = 42%. At night, K has 100% minus T's room, but she doesn't go into the 42% space (except to come to our door in the morning to wait for us to come out).
Thanks for this run down with the numbers. I forgot about night time completely, so this totally evens the 'area-time' out.
I had this strange picture in my head, where K was relegated to smaller space areas versus T...and thought..."no wonder K's grumpy". But now it all seems fair. :thumbsup:
Update: K is playing again these last few days, which is so interesting. And it coincides with her being a bit more accepting of T. We're wondering if she's feeling better about the whole situation so she's willing to play with toys again? She's even running around on the stairs like she used to, only it's the stairs to the front door and not the stairs where T normally is.
That's great. And yes, I think you are spot on...that K is 'feeling better about the whole situation' so therefore her actions show this.
Do you notice anything different in the style of K's play?
As in, does she play slightly differently than before, or does it look basically the same?
Regardless, though, as long as K is playing...that's all that counts. :)
Earlier tonight we had a step back, I think.
I had just played with T so we were taking a break, and she was roaming
around the stairs.
My partner started playing with K, with a mousy toy that both of them like (T LOVES it, goes absolutely nuts over it). They each have one of these in a different color.
T started crying because she wanted to play with it.
But me and my partner are chatting, so we don't really pay attention to T - then she puts her paw through the gate and possibly gets a claw stuck, and she starts writhing around and making weird sounds. They sounded worrying so we thought she was panicking about being stuck, so my partner came over to free her...but she just kept focusing on the toy, pulled herself free, put her paws back through the gate to reach out for the toy, then started crying a lot more, and loudly, when she still couldn't reach the toy.
K then runs over and paws really* aggressively at her, vocalizing.

*Really aggressively meaning what I've shown already in videos, though she did go up on her back legs (standing position) too.
T definitely isn't calm and I think kind of paws back but not with any particular intent (play or defense), and because things felt super tense and chaotic I loudly say HEY! and they both scatter.

I am definitely not happy with T for crying so desperately for the toy so I keep her on the landing as "punishment" - but before that, she showed every sign of wanting to go back down.
And K walked right by the gate, confident-looking, tail up, etc.


So both of them seemed fine after, but it was a weird situation.
It does not sound like a 'step back', to me.
It sounds like you both handled everything really well.

It also sounds good that when you said "hey"...that both cats scattered. This is really, really, good...in that both cats listened to your voice, and disengaged without you having to go over, and separate them. Honestly, you all did well.
The fact that they all came back, and both cats didn't feel like it was a big issue, is excellent, too.

Was this 'mousy toy' the one that hangs on a string...and does it contain cat nip?
All that to ask: what happens if they get competitive over toys? I've been wondering about this for when they actually meet without the gate too - what's the usual process to keep cats from fighting over the same toy?
I know - we probably should have timed it so that they were playing with toys at the same time. But T keeps playing until she's panting, so we have to stop, and I'd just played with her...and K usually doesn't like to play if T is around, so we take advantage of her wanting to play whenever we can.
Excellent question. I have to think back, to when my cats actually played near each other. I remember that they would get possessive of one toy, especially a small furry mouse, no cat nip inside,...it came from inside a plastic toy that spun around...so I have no idea how the cats managed to extricate the small mouse from inside the track... but they would act like it was real. Tepaul would growl, and keep her brother away. If Tripp got a hold of it, he would run off with it, or bat it around.

All I remember doing is saying "hey", "no" and taking the toy away. In retrospect, I now wonder if I caused them to not want to play near each other...but then again...I wouldn't want them to fight over a toy, either...so now I'm not sure.

My cats will be 5 years old in May, but I think they stopped playing near each other, with toys, as they got older. They would run after the same toy, when younger, but now prefer to play separately. They also leave a cat toy for weeks to months on end, and then suddenly start playing with it again. They prefer new toys to old toys, too...which I think has to do with scent.

This doesn't really answer your question, though:
"what happens if they get competitive over toys?"
and "what's the usual process to keep cats from fighting over the same toy?"

I'm drawing 'blanks' here, and can only think that playing separately will work, but in your case, right now,...you want them to see the other cat playing...so how to avoid then from fighting over the same toy...Gosh, this question has me stumped.
Maybe my 'brain power' will come back later in the week, but doubtful, for this answer.
Can you possibly leave another toy, which is equally enticing with the other cat? on their side of the gate? (this answer is terrible...I know. I'm going to go start talking to my cats again...and see if they give me any hints. lol. :blush: :catlove: :geekcat::think:)
 

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cat nap cat nap Since this is sort of a different conversation I'm separating out my reply! I'm so sorry for the essay that's to follow. It's mostly about clicker training so please feel free to skip reading once I mention training.

I just read today that cats don't have collarbones (or maybe not like, attached ones), and that's why they can squeeze through small openings. If their head can fit then generally their body can too (I'm assuming this is only true for regular-weight cats).
:cloud9: I think this essay just blew my mind away...well, actually last night it did and today, too. :cloud9:
This must be the most understandable, detailed, and instructional essay/post,...that I have ever read about 'clicker training'.
All I could say is "Wow"...just "Wow".

The way you present it, and explain it,...actually makes me 'understand' it. Thank you so much for this. A million thanks, truly. :)

(and p.s ....also thanks for that info on cats not having collarbones. I didn't know that. I looked it up, and yeah...wikipedia...mentions that cats have 'free-floating clavicle bones'. That is like awesome to know. I agree though, it must be for regular-weighted cats to fit between tiny spaces....although that one cat in that previous video did look a tad bit fluffy or heavy...so my bet was on the other cat to make it further. I was wrong. The fluffier cat had way more determination. haha.)
I do clicker training with them actually! K took to it really fast and somehow automatically knew to sit still while waiting for commands. I'm wondering if maybe someone tried to train her before she became a stray...or maybe she's a genius? A dumb genius (affectionately).
T on the other hand has no idea what's going on. I'm sure we'll get there someday, I only started this week with her.

You didn't ask, but basically "clicker" training is getting them to associate a specific, unique sound, with treats/rewards. Generally this is used for dogs, because for most dogs, eventually the sound is enough of a reward that they'll do the tricks without treats. But for cats I've heard (and it seems to be true) that they're smart enough to only do tricks for treats.
The sound has a second purpose so it's still good to use for cat training: to raise the success chance of teaching the trick. Apparently, you have to "reward" the correct action within a certain amount of time (something really short, like a second or something) or else they won't connect the action with what you're asking for. So you use the sound to indicate a "reward" because it's a lot faster than getting a treat and giving it to them.
I've never heard it explained this way.

And yes, I now think that K is a genius, or a 'natural' and not like my ordinary cats.
(Though, granted I think my cats are geniuses, too, but in different ways than K. I think all us cat-guardians think our own cats are geniuses, since they all have different talents and unique styles. Not near K's level, though.)
The very first "trick" to teach then, is that anytime they hear the sound, they get a treat. Even if you accidentally make the sound, they still get a treat. Then, as long as you make the sound at the right time during training (within the window), you can take your time giving the treat.

Any sound can be used for the "clicking". I've read that people just make a specific sound with their mouth
so they don't have to hold a clicker (I use a keyboard app on my phone, one note for K and a different one for T). I will say that holding my phone limits me for hand signals and stuff, but I don't think I could be consistent enough making a sound.
So you click, and treat. Click and treat.
Really neat about the 'different phone app sounds'...for each cat,...so they don't get confused with the clicker(training) sounds...meant for the other cat. (Never would have thought of that one.)
Then, for teaching tricks, there's a lot of mixed information out there. Generally I think what you're supposed to do is start small for what you want and reward incrementally. And you're not supposed to add a verbal command until they can do the full trick consistently every time, or else they'll get confused with the verbal command being associated with all the steps you teach in between.
Example: shake paw (left and right paws should have different commands). Theoretically they would know "sit" or already be sitting.
You start by putting your finger right behind their leg, because their instinct will be to move their leg/paw. Once they react, you "click" and reward.
Eventually, they should learn that you want them to lift their leg when you reach out or give a particular signal, and they'll do it without you having to touch them, and from there you touch their paw, then "click" and reward. Etc, etc.
That's actually kind of a bad example because I haven't been able to successfully teach K this. My signal for now is to hold out my hand flat, palm up, and she's supposed to put her paw onto my palm, but she really really hates if I initiate paw touching and she turns into a super ninja at avoiding my hand even if I bring it up towards her.
I have absolutely no idea how to teach things like "lie down" or "stay",
I feel like those must be really difficult.
There are so many steps involved in this.
Other "rules" are things like, don't repeat commands if they don't do the trick, you wait a few seconds to "reset" before moving on. Lately K has been a big brat and not doing tricks I know she knows how to do, like "boop" which is where I hold out my index finger, and she's supposed to touch her nose to it. But she prefers not to touch sometimes, so she just gets within a centimeter before looking at me expecting a treat.
Because I know she knows how to do it, I "punish" her by ending training time immediately. No tricks, no treats!
Usually the next day, she'll do the trick immediately and properly.
Ha! I feel like this is an extra complication of training for cats vs. dogs.
OMG...I again think that K is a genius...since you mentioned that she turns into a super ninja and knows tricks but does not feel like doing them all the way...yet the next day she does. She's awesome. That's so typical cat. :lol: :crackup:
That she'll do them in the first place, that 'boop' trick...proves her genius level.
You also didn't ask, but I haven't been able to share this with anyone and I'm kind of proud: K knows "sit", "left/right paw" (she lifts her paw and SHOULD touch my palm lol), "boop", and "weave" (standing with my legs apart, she goes between them under me, then back again). We're working on "down" (I want to teach her to lie down but all I've gotten is that she puts her nose on my hand because she thinks I'm holding a treat on the floor), and "kiss" (I lean in close and she's supposed to nose-to-nose, but she just sniffs my forehead or bonks my glasses).
Teaching her name is really hard, I've given up on it. She just won't consistently look at me when I say it, it's a bit of a lost cause.
But I'll make "tsking" sounds and if she makes direct eye contact, she gets a click and a treat for that.
That is an impressive collection of tricks/actions that K knows.:cool:

In theory, then, couldn't you basically teach a cat to 'not' play so rough?
Or is the play-drive greater than the treat/food drive?
I'm not sure.

I am so impressed with the different ways that people interact, play, teach their cats.
It's like you're not only playing, but creating a game, and using 'mental stimulation' (clicker training).
(Another member pointed out on a previous thread, how mental stimulation is just as important as physical play, for cats and dogs.)
T does not stay still and sitting like K does, so it's much more difficult to get her to do anything when she's just going in circles around me.
I think T is learning "sit"
, and since she rolls over so much I'm trying to teach her "belly" (roll over with paws on chest/stomach). But.......she just rolls over anytime without me asking, and gets huffy when I don't reward her!
Half of her "training" treats at the moment are going towards getting her comfortable in her carrier though, so progress on training is slower than for K.
Lol. "she just rolls over anytime without me asking, and gets huffy when I don't reward her!"
I shouldn't laugh, but ...it is kind of funny.
T's just 'way ahead' of the 'clicker action' ...I guess. :lol:
She's probably wondering why you're not prepared ahead of time. Maybe T's just a touch impatient. :wink:

You know, I've only seen the clicker training in video, where someone created a whole obstacle course, and was training their cat to jump over obstacles and through hoops. I just don't remember where exactly I saw it. It was also one of those 'wow' moments.
Thanks again A acari for sharing and explaining the clicker technique. :)
 
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acari

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Typically punishment tends to be counterproductive or not helpful. Typically there has to be a good reason for them to choose another path.
Yes, I understand this, it wasn't actually punishment just "punishment" in that she didn't immediately get rewarded with play, or interaction with K, or the toy, pets, etc.
Both your cats really do influence each other, so I figure that they will steadily get to a level of good play.
They do in funny ways. T witnessed K diving into her paper, making a lot of noise, and then the next time T was in the living room with paper - she dove in too.
And K cleans her face really thoroughly with her paws after eating dinner, but T never did...until she saw K doing it. Then she copied for all of 0.7 seconds.
T has a habit of reaching out with her paws to "trap" a treat if we put it on the ground, which we're trying to teach her not to do (because she swipes at our hands in the process) - K never did this until she saw T doing it...of all the things to learn.
Do you notice anything different in the style of K's play?
As in, does she play slightly differently than before, or does it look basically the same?
No, K plays the same as she did before, except she doesn't run after the toy as much and gets distracted more easily with T. But otherwise, pretty much exactly the same.
Was this 'mousy toy' the one that hangs on a string...and does it contain cat nip?
It hangs on a leather string but no cat nip. I'm really surprised they both like it so much.
It's called Vee Toys PURRfect LeatherBouncer ($7 from our local pet store).
They prefer new toys to old toys, too...which I think has to do with scent.
I thought this would be the case for K but she doesn't care whether a toy is new or not, I've unwrapped at least four new, different toys for her since T arrived and she can't be bothered with any of them!
And T gets terribly disappointed if we pull out any toy other than her favorite, new or not.
Can you possibly leave another toy, which is equally enticing with the other cat? on their side of the gate?
K only plays with wand toys, so we can't leave her with something - sometimes she'll kick at her catnip banana or little fish for ten seconds or so, but that's it.
T can't easily play with toys that can be bat around on the stairs, and she avoids catnip toys so far (unfamiliar item lying on the ground). We don't leave catnip toys out, so maybe she hasn't gotten the chance to get used to them...I should just try putting one out for a whole day tomorrow.

-----

Update: We're chugging along, I think they're more interested in each other and playing on a more level field (of confidence), K's pawing is less intense and slower, and T is confident enough to paw back, dash away, try to surprise K, etc.
Sometimes I think K is still uncertain about what's happening, so she gets more tense and worried, and it reflects in her pawing. We try to distract with treats when this happens.

Another instance that mirrored one of the videos from before happened yesterday night, where T's paw was "stuck" on the gate (I think she likes pretending she's stuck). K almost pawed, saw that T's paw wasn't moving, then sniffed it before pawing the air in front and making a worried sound. I don't think she was worried about T exactly but she must not have felt threatened (had the opportunity to hurt T but didn't).

By the way, we thought we should try mixing in some new wet food to give them some variety, and now both of them are licking their plates clean. Either they really like pate, or they just wanted something different (or both).

Anyway, if they keep playing as they have been the past couple of days without any major incidents or misunderstandings, we're thinking the coming weekend might be a good time for a real meeting without the gate (which we would keep short).
 
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The way you present it, and explain it,...actually makes me 'understand' it. Thank you so much for this. A million thanks, truly. :)
Aw, you're welcome! And of course this is just based on all the stuff I read and put together, I might not be 100% accurate or it probably depends on the specific cat too. But it does seem to be working for both K and T!
Really neat about the 'different phone app sounds'...for each cat,...so they don't get confused with the clicker(training) sounds...meant for the other cat. (Never would have thought of that one.)
I was thinking ahead because I didn't want them to possibly fight over treats and stuff. I was imagining if I had to train them separately...clicking for one cat...but the other cat comes running - probably not productive!
Maybe if you had cats that were really close to each other that learned everything at the same time, that would be fine?
In theory, then, couldn't you basically teach a cat to 'not' play so rough?
Or is the play-drive greater than the treat/food drive?
I'm not sure.
I think actual playing, like with toys or other cats, would be a case of play-drive > treat-drive (just my guess though).
But when it's a cat playing with you, isn't the normal thing to do to say OUCH! loudly, then leave them immediately? And this teaches them not to hurt you if they still want your company.
I guess if the cats are playing with each other, and one cat is being hurt, they would make ouchy sounds in cat-speak. Then it's up to the other cat whether they'll be more gentle or not.
For toys...wouldn't it be better for the cat to be able to "take out their aggression" on a toy (instead of on you, another cat, the curtains, etc.)?
It's like you're not only playing, but creating a game, and using 'mental stimulation' (clicker training).
(Another member pointed out on a previous thread, how mental stimulation is just as important as physical play, for cats and dogs.)
Yes, I heard that cats get bored easily, especially indoor cats. So I figured the training would just be another activity, to enrich their lives. :)
I shouldn't laugh, but ...it is kind of funny.
T's just 'way ahead' of the 'clicker action' ...I guess. :lol:
It is very funny and definitely for laughing at! I can see her out of the corner of my eye when she does it, but because I'm not looking directly at her, she thinks I didn't see. So she will huff, get up, scoot over a few inches more in my line of sight, then flop down belly-up waiting for a treat.
 

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"T's paw was "stuck" on the gate (I think she likes pretending she's stuck). K almost pawed, saw that T's paw wasn't moving, then sniffed it before pawing the air in front and making a worried sound. I don't think she was worried about T exactly but she must not have felt threatened (had the opportunity to hurt T but didn't)." - That is REALLY positive. Another good sign.

"By the way, we thought we should try mixing in some new wet food to give them some variety, and now both of them are licking their plates clean. Either they really like pate, or they just wanted something different (or both)." - Yes, cats can get bored with the same food. So good to change around. Food tends to help make positive associations so the fact they love it is very helpful on a number of levels.

"Anyway, if they keep playing as they have been the past couple of days without any major incidents or misunderstandings, we're thinking the coming weekend might be a good time for a real meeting without the gate (which we would keep short)." - I tend to be more cautious but I think I would keep reinforcing the positive encounters at the gate for a little while before letting them meet face to face. And make sure they can be distracted as well before they meet. When they do meet without the gate I tend to like to have them eating with the gate. Again, I tend to be slower in this part of the intro than many people (rightly or wrongly). But i tend to try to avoid negatives. And also, I try to let the parents know how important our emotions are when we get to this. So it is really important to be calm and confident and act like everything is absolutely fine and normal. Cats take on our emotions so the more we can help the better.
 
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I tend to be more cautious but I think I would keep reinforcing the positive encounters at the gate for a little while before letting them meet face to face. And make sure they can be distracted as well before they meet. When they do meet without the gate I tend to like to have them eating with the gate. Again, I tend to be slower in this part of the intro than many people (rightly or wrongly). But i tend to try to avoid negatives.
C calicosrspecial Well, we have the rest of the week to see where they are, I guess. But I'm not sure what else we are waiting for, as I asked earlier if we should wait until K stops pawing entirely or something, and you said no (or maybe it was someone else?). I thought you had said that we should still wait until the pawing has lessened in intensity (which it has now, in general).

A "problem" we're running into now with positive reinforcement at the gate is that if we're there, they don't play or interact. They just wait for the treats without looking at each other. And I know you consider that a good positive (looking away, food), but we do want them to interact so that we can judge how they feel about each other - since the first true "playing" interaction happened (on the 17th), they've only played with each other when we're not at the gate with them.

Is there a next step still, between what we're doing now and a face-to-face meeting without the gate? Or what changes are we still looking for before we attempt a no-gate meeting?

Sorry for all of the questions. We don't want to rush the meeting, but it seems like normally people don't wait all the way until the cats are best friends with the gate between, before they meet face-to-face?
 

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I like to see them kind of ignoring each other, being easily distracted. If you feel like you are highly confident it will go well then I say trust your instincts. If you think "it is time now" or "let's see what happens" then I would say hold off. I always try to get to a point where when they do not have a barrier they are like "I know that cat, this is no big deal. Let's eat or play with that toy".

As I said, I tend to be more cautious than many others. Rightly or wrongly. In my mind the risk of going too slowly is less than the risk of moving too quickly. And when I am not in person it does make it harder to judge exactly where they are so another reason why I err on the side of caution. Again rightly or wrongly.

"A "problem" we're running into now with positive reinforcement at the gate is that if we're there, they don't play or interact. They just wait for the treats without looking at each other. And I know you consider that a good positive (looking away, food)" - Yes, I don't consider that a problem at all, that is a goal to achieve. So if we can achieve that without the gate (even if for a minute or two) that is great.

The one thing we have to be aware of is how the other will react if or when they interact without a gate. So if one runs like prey it will probably get ugly. So we want them to be confident and trusting so if the one cat charges the other cat holds their ground and maybe let's the cat know that charging is not going to be acceptable. Of course, it may go into an altercation and distraction will be needed.

It is definitely more art than science. And human emotions and the ability to distract are really important.

"we do want them to interact so that we can judge how they feel about each other - since the first true "playing" interaction happened (on the 17th), they've only played with each other when we're not at the gate with them." - Again having a gate will tell us something but not everything. It really depends on the trust and confidence they have. And that is where interpreting body language comes in. So if you think they are both confident and they have a fair amount of trust then it might be time. I sadly am not observing them over time so just can't get a real good feel for where they are.

"Is there a next step still, between what we're doing now and a face-to-face meeting without the gate?" - In my eyes it is reinforcement of what you are doing. It is like a baby learning to walk. We still hold their hands for a while until they get the hang of it.

"Or what changes are we still looking for before we attempt a no-gate meeting?" - Probably less aggressive pawing (or none) and the ability to easily distract if they are in a pawing match. Watching the body language of each and looking at how fast they rebound to "normal". No question you are making progress and very close. I am just trying to figure out if this weekend is right or in 2-3 weeks. Again, most importantly it is how you are feeling about he chances of success. There is always anxiety when we get two cats together but it is really important to have calm and confident emotions and feel confident that all will go well as cats take on our emotions. If you think they will do well that goes a long way. But if you are just thinking "it is time now" then thinking more about it may be wise.

Please, don't apologize for questions. That is how we get to make the progress and figure it out. The goal is to have them intro'd successfully. People have different takes on intros. It is really just style. I tend to be more cautious. Others are more adventurous (not meaning that in a negative way). Typically I am on site so I can read where they are so it is much easier. Over the internet with 30 second clips is pretty difficult to see where they are so relying on the humans is really important. Then it goes to the experience of the humans (which I think you have done a good job on).

So think about what you think will happen when the gate is down and how you would react to a "situation" - a chase. Whether you feel like you can distract them in good times (nothing too negative happening - anything before fighting or chasing) and what can be done if it does result in a chase/fight (have a pillow and/or a piece of cardboard ready to "break it up" safely). And also where you are emotionally (if you think you can be calm and confident) when they get together.

Let's see where cat nap is when she can respond.
 

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Is there a next step still, between what we're doing now and a face-to-face meeting without the gate? Or what changes are we still looking for before we attempt a no-gate meeting?
Hi, acari, I'm going to answer this latter part first, then reply to the other parts.

I know I'm going to sound like a 'broken record'...but I do think it's very important to try and see how a 'small bit of space' between the gate and wall, or bottom of the gate will allow both T and K to interact.
If the cats have a bit more contact, then you'd be better able to observe how K will react to T, and if K can adjust her pawing/playing to lessen any chances that K will go all full-out and pounce on T.

This is kind of what I foresee happening, if no gate it there: K looks to be much stronger than T, so K will chase T, pounce on her, and be too rough. (Of course, I'm not psychic, and maybe none of this will happen. At this stage,...I also like to be a bit more cautious,(like Calicosrspecial), but only because both T and K have been making so much progress.) It's not going to be the worst thing in the world, if K does pounce on T, ...but it might frighten T a little too much, and then you'd have more work in trying to assure, distract, and build more confidence back up.
Well, we have the rest of the week to see where they are, I guess. But I'm not sure what else we are waiting for, as I asked earlier if we should wait until K stops pawing entirely or something, and you said no (or maybe it was someone else?). I thought you had said that we should still wait until the pawing has lessened in intensity (which it has now, in general).
I think the above, is what I had said, or what I had told you to look for, before any actual meeting.
But, yes, you do have the rest of the week to see more progress, and by the sounds of things, you seem to be progressing very well.
A "problem" we're running into now with positive reinforcement at the gate is that if we're there, they don't play or interact. They just wait for the treats without looking at each other. And I know you consider that a good positive (looking away, food), but we do want them to interact so that we can judge how they feel about each other - since the first true "playing" interaction happened (on the 17th), they've only played with each other when we're not at the gate with them.
Don't be at the gate, then. Watch from a distance. If the interactions look good, then give positive rewards afterwards.
You can reward with positive praise and pats, if you think that too many treats are being given out.
Sorry for all of the questions. We don't want to rush the meeting, but it seems like normally people don't wait all the way until the cats are best friends with the gate between, before they meet face-to-face?
You're absolutely right, people don't wait until their cats are best friends with a gate in place, and the gate would not give a good indication of this anyhow. It's too much of a protective barrier, to actually see how natural cat interactions will go, but the gate does offer more time for both cats to get bored and mellow.
 
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acari

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Thanks to the both of you for your input. Since you both agree that we should wait, I guess it would be best to. But I expand a bit below in my responses.

I like to see them kind of ignoring each other, being easily distracted. If you feel like you are highly confident it will go well then I say trust your instincts. If you think "it is time now" or "let's see what happens" then I would say hold off. I always try to get to a point where when they do not have a barrier they are like "I know that cat, this is no big deal. Let's eat or play with that toy".
They are generally already easily distracted - T with treats or toys, and K with treats. Or, us saying "Hey" at various volumes. It's not easy to distract them with just anything though (for example we are unable to distract K with toys)...but I'm guessing this isn't the goal, because it would depend so much on each cat?
So if you think they are both confident and they have a fair amount of trust then it might be time.
I just don't know what a confident cat really looks like. I only have K and T as examples and they just are the way they are. It is definitely the case that T has gotten more confident, because she generally sticks around and doesn't run away when K paws (up to a certain intensity).
Probably less aggressive pawing (or none) and the ability to easily distract if they are in a pawing match. Watching the body language of each and looking at how fast they rebound to "normal". No question you are making progress and very close. I am just trying to figure out if this weekend is right or in 2-3 weeks.
I really doubt that there will be no pawing ever, because T already was pawing in play. It would make sense that if K was playing with T, then she would paw too. And K's pawing for toys and such has always been kind of aggressive, so I can't tell if it's "normal" for her or if she's actually being aggressive now.
Another thing is that I am really getting the feeling that K goes to paw at T these days because she will get treats.
I guess the point here is that if I'm unsure, we should wait. And that's fine. T has been looking more and more like she wants to jump the stair railing (K too, actually), so of course I'm worried about that. And T has definitely been more frustrated with her confinement, she is happiest when she has more room to roam instead of just squishing herself at the bottom of the steps all day.
It's so weird for K because sometimes it seems like she's starting out in play, and T will engage, but then suddenly and without warning or transition, the pawing seems to get somehow negative. I can't describe it. It's almost like she doesn't know how to play, and she feels too self-conscious to play?
She's a bit like this with wand toys too. It's like she doesn't "play" for fun, she's just winding herself up to get frustrated with the toy, then she takes her frustration out on the toy. And if she misses the toy, she dashes over to a scratching pad and it really looks like she's taking out her anger on it.
Because T has shown signs of frustration at being kept to the "upstairs" we don't want to wait too long to introduce them in case K is just always going to be like this. I hope that makes sense.
Body language for both has been about the same as what you've seen in videos, only T doesn't run away as much now. They both have almost always gone back to "normal" pretty much immediately.
I know I'm going to sound like a 'broken record'...but I do think it's very important to try and see how a 'small bit of space' between the gate and wall, or bottom of the gate will allow both T and K to interact.
If the cats have a bit more contact, then you'd be better able to observe how K will react to T, and if K can adjust her pawing/playing to lessen any chances that K will go all full-out and pounce on T.
No, not at all! And I appreciate the reminders. But since the gate is always up during the day, I don't have much time to figure out the spacing thing, and at the end of the day I'm way too tired.
I don't want you to think I'm ignoring your advice, I've been trying to think of ways to do this but I'm not sure it's possible. Even if we could prop up the gate at the bottom so there's an open section, there isn't enough room at the bottom of the steps for T to take advantage and stick her paws through easily or anything, only K would be able to. But if I remember, after dinner today when the gate is down (we put her into her room for kibble dinner) I'll see what I can do.
Providing an "open section" when the gate is in the other configuration is practically impossible too, because the gate needs to lean up against the wall or something, and leaving a space would mean it would just fall over. Plus, the space has to be big enough for them to touch each other but NOT get through, which I feel is another difficulty.
And, I'm not sure this is a normal expectation for cat introductions? How many people have a gate that would allow cats to touch but not escape?
You can reward with positive praise and pats, if you think that too many treats are being given out.
That's a lost cause with K, she doesn't care what we say and she doesn't accept petting in general, especially not at the gate. It's almost like she doesn't like being pet, except sometimes she will make the decision to come rub up on us for a few minutes.
So...have to keep giving her treats if I want it to be "positive".
 

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Yes, I understand this, it wasn't actually punishment just "punishment" in that she didn't immediately get rewarded with play, or interaction with K, or the toy, pets, etc.
Yeah, I wouldn't call that punishment at all. It's more like you put T in a 'holding pattern' on the stair landing, and gave her a 'pause' or 'reset' or 'distraction', so T didn't go immediately back to the gate in the same frame of mind.
Punishments are more when people intentionally try to scare their cats, thinking that the behaviour will stop, and not thinking that it just makes it worse, in that their cats get frightened, more agitated and nervous and cause a whole other set of problems.
They do in funny ways. T witnessed K diving into her paper, making a lot of noise, and then the next time T was in the living room with paper - she dove in too.
And K cleans her face really thoroughly with her paws after eating dinner, but T never did...until she saw K doing it. Then she copied for all of 0.7 seconds.
T has a habit of reaching out with her paws to "trap" a treat if we put it on the ground,
which we're trying to teach her not to do (because she swipes at our hands in the process) - K never did this until she saw T doing it...of all the things to learn.
Haha. You'd hope that the cats would copy all the good and fun actions from each other, and none of the seemingly 'mischievous or troublesome' ones. Yet that last one seems like a 'good one for cats' in that the 'treat cannot get away'. :yummy:
Not so good for us humans who are not as fast in getting our hands away. (I think our cats must think we are the slowest creatures on earth, especially when getting their food ready, playing, typing, dressing, etc)
(I just looked up the term 'copycat' and did not know that it had such negative meanings throughout history. Sometimes I get disappointed when I looks things up. Back to playing, patting, and hanging out with the animals then...making all things better. :blush: :catrub: )
No, K plays the same as she did before, except she doesn't run after the toy as much and gets distracted more easily with T. But otherwise, pretty much exactly the same.
It hangs on a leather string but no cat nip. I'm really surprised they both like it so much.
It's called Vee Toys PURRfect LeatherBouncer ($7 from our local pet store)
.
I thought this would be the case for K but she doesn't care whether a toy is new or not, I've unwrapped at least four new, different toys for her since T arrived and she can't be bothered with any of them!
And T gets terribly disappointed if we pull out any toy other than her favorite, new or not.
K only plays with wand toys, so we can't leave her with something - sometimes she'll kick at her catnip banana or little fish for ten seconds or so, but that's it.
T can't easily play with toys that can be bat around on the stairs,
and she avoids catnip toys so far (unfamiliar item lying on the ground). We don't leave catnip toys out, so maybe she hasn't gotten the chance to get used to them...I should just try putting one out for a whole day tomorrow.
I actually don't use cat nip with my cats, because I was always afraid that it would hype them up too much while playing, and since they get running, chasing, and wrestling, then I figured that they don't really need anything added to get to that amped up stage.
A TCS Member told me that cats have a gene that responds to cat nip, and some cats do not have this gene. That was kind of interesting.

I was just curious why T loved that one toy so much, but it sounds like she just does, and probably the way you make it move, or maybe the leather smell is more enticing to her.
For K perhaps the smell of a newly unwrapped toy is too strong. I think this is sometimes the case with my cats, too, in that they do like new toys, but the initial smell of the wrapping is too strong for me, so I can imagine how it must be for them.

It makes sense that K would be more easily distracted by T, and enjoys watching T more than playing with any toy.
It sounds like their bond with each other is forming, and now it's just using all sorts of intro practices, which you are, in getting to a stronger comfortable 'confidence level' which you mention below.
Update: We're chugging along, I think they're more interested in each other and playing on a more level field (of confidence), K's pawing is less intense and slower, and T is confident enough to paw back, dash away, try to surprise K, etc.
Sometimes I think K is still uncertain about what's happening, so she gets more tense and worried, and it reflects in her pawing. We try to distract with treats when this happens.

Another instance that mirrored one of the videos from before happened yesterday night, where T's paw was "stuck" on the gate (I think she likes pretending she's stuck). K almost pawed, saw that T's paw wasn't moving, then sniffed it before pawing the air in front and making a worried sound. I don't think she was worried about T exactly but she must not have felt threatened (had the opportunity to hurt T but didn't).
This sounds really good, and it's great that both K and T are playing more with each other.
Excellent, that when given the chance to hurt or swipe at T's paw, K chooses not to
Anyway, if they keep playing as they have been the past couple of days without any major incidents or misunderstandings, we're thinking the coming weekend might be a good time for a real meeting without the gate (which we would keep short).
If there were a way in which you could do it, with having control over K from charging, running, or pouncing on T...then I'd say okay.
But I do think it's still too soon, yet you're very good in your cat observations, so if you think that T would be able to handle K's actions, and have plenty of escape routes, or some sort of plan, as Calicosrspecial mentioned, then it might go okay.

Opening up the gate more is what I would do....(I know...total broken record...constantly on repeat....time to unplug cat nap. :p;):lol::crash: :soapbox::catlove::gaah::popcorn: :blush:)
 

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...T has been looking more and more like she wants to jump the stair railing (K too, actually), so of course I'm worried about that. And T has definitely been more frustrated with her confinement, she is happiest when she has more room to roam instead of just squishing herself at the bottom of the steps all day.
Don't worry if either cat jumps the gate. Just have a towel, or light bed sheet/blanket, pillow,...handy if you have to block line of sight, or break up some extremely rough cat play. Also if you feel that one cat is stuck in a corner, then try your voice, then throwing the towel near them for distraction, or towards them to get them to scatter. As long as both cats have different places to go, or run to, then it won't be such a big deal.

My worry is really on T, but maybe she is much more capable, quicker, and ready than I am thinking.
I totally agree that T will be happiest having way more space. I also think that it will be very soon. Maybe this weekend will be the time. Like you said, you still have more days to go, until that time.
It's so weird for K because sometimes it seems like she's starting out in play, and T will engage, but then suddenly and without warning or transition, the pawing seems to get somehow negative. I can't describe it. It's almost like she doesn't know how to play, and she feels too self-conscious to play?
She's a bit like this with wand toys too. It's like she doesn't "play" for fun, she's just winding herself up to get frustrated with the toy, then she takes her frustration out on the toy. And if she misses the toy, she dashes over to a scratching pad and it really looks like she's taking out her anger on it.
Because T has shown signs of frustration at being kept to the "upstairs" we don't want to wait too long to introduce them in case K is just always going to be like this. I hope that makes sense.
Body language for both has been about the same
as what you've seen in videos, only T doesn't run away as much now. They both have almost always gone back to "normal" pretty much immediately.
These last two things you mention are extremely important, ...that T does not run away as much means that she has gained a lot of confidence, and will likely be able to stand up to K,...and also that both cats return to 'normal' after any type of situation means that the cats don't perceive the interaction as being quite so negative. If you are seeing this consistently, then that would be another positive example of good progress.

I think that K plays with more focus and precision, and gets way more serious. To me, K seems to have much more perfected skills at playing, and this makes her play at a higher level. It's almost like she'd be an alpha hunter in another setting. What might look like frustration to you, might just be K's adrenaline rushing, and her needing to take out more added energy on her scratching pad, or toy.

What is good is, ...if you are already noticing that K's pawing has lessened, and she is adjusting her strikes, and running more...then that means that she is using more than just pawing to let-go of her energy. That is really good. You're getting K to wear-off her energy in other ways, and K is responding to T in good ways, too.
No, not at all! And I appreciate the reminders. But since the gate is always up during the day, I don't have much time to figure out the spacing thing, and at the end of the day I'm way too tired.
I don't want you to think I'm ignoring your advice, I've been trying to think of ways to do this but I'm not sure it's possible. Even if we could prop up the gate at the bottom so there's an open section,
there isn't enough room at the bottom of the steps for T to take advantage and stick her paws through easily or anything, only K would be able to. But if I remember, after dinner today when the gate is down (we put her into her room for kibble dinner) I'll see what I can do.
Providing an "open section" when the gate is in the other configuration is practically impossible too, because the gate needs to lean up against the wall or something, and leaving a space would mean it would just fall over. Plus, the space has to be big enough for them to touch each other but NOT get through, which I feel is another difficulty.
And, I'm not sure this is a normal expectation for cat introductions? How many people have a gate that would allow cats to touch but not escape?
"How many people have a gate that would allow cats to touch but not escape?"
You're absolutely right. Probably not many. If I think about it, maybe one, possibly two, that I remember reading about. The spaces in many baby gates, wire shelving and mesh-netting are mainly small.

Maybe my idea is not all that great, then. I was just trying to think up ways to get K to further lessen her pawing, or aggressive pawing.
I was thinking that if K could actually touch T, then K would again adjust her pawing in using less force.
That's a lost cause with K, she doesn't care what we say and she doesn't accept petting in general, especially not at the gate. It's almost like she doesn't like being pet, except sometimes she will make the decision to come rub up on us for a few minutes.
So...have to keep giving her treats if I want it to be "positive".
K does listen to you, though. Or else she would not turn and rub against you.
Yeah, petting her while she is in a vigilant state, probably makes her more nervous, and if she's too sensitive to petting, that won't work, you're right.
I would just try using voice for a while, but if treats make it more positive, then continue with those
 

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"They are generally already easily distracted - T with treats or toys, and K with treats. Or, us saying "Hey" at various volumes. It's not easy to distract them with just anything though (for example we are unable to distract K with toys)...but I'm guessing this isn't the goal, because it would depend so much on each cat?" - That is great. Will be very helpful. It doesn't matter what works or what doesn't as long as something works to distract. Wand toys do tend to work better though in intense situations.

"I just don't know what a confident cat really looks like. I only have K and T as examples and they just are the way they are. It is definitely the case that T has gotten more confident, because she generally sticks around and doesn't run away when K paws (up to a certain intensity)." - Yes, it is hard without much experience. Body language and actions matter. T has gotten better with confidence and K seems to be better though she still seems to be a little uneasy (with the pawing). If you can get longer videos that can help. Confidence can be seen in how they walk (tail up and walking tall). Walking calmly. Not avoiding areas. No explosive bouts of anger or outlashes. Things like that.

"I really doubt that there will be no pawing ever, because T already was pawing in play. It would make sense that if K was playing with T, then she would paw too. And K's pawing for toys and such has always been kind of aggressive, so I can't tell if it's "normal" for her or if she's actually being aggressive now." - There are different kinds of pawing. The play kind (restrained - but could be faster or slower but with no intent of hurting) or the more aggressive or defensive pawing (which has a very different feel and goes along with poor body language and actions). It is at times hard to know without much experience but usually you can kind of feel it. K's pawing seem more defensive but it has gotten better.

"T has been looking more and more like she wants to jump the stair railing (K too, actually), so of course I'm worried about that." - That tells me that the don;t fear as much as we may think. That the rewards of getting more territory offset the risks of being attacked. So they are telling us they are closer which is good.

"It's so weird for K because sometimes it seems like she's starting out in play, and T will engage, but then suddenly and without warning or transition, the pawing seems to get somehow negative. I can't describe it. It's almost like she doesn't know how to play, and she feels too self-conscious to play?" - Not weird normal. She is building trust but not yet totally trusting it sounds. That is normal. Remember cats worry about their safety, survival instinct, so they have to trust this "intruder" is going to be ok, safe. It just takes time.

"She's a bit like this with wand toys too. It's like she doesn't "play" for fun, she's just winding herself up to get frustrated with the toy, then she takes her frustration out on the toy. And if she misses the toy, she dashes over to a scratching pad and it really looks like she's taking out her anger on it." - Well play is replicating the Hunt, Capture, Kill, Eat instinct. So it tends to have an intent. That is why we feed after play and why it builds confidence. Because it is survival instinct. Scratching is getting their scent on something and "owning" it. This is my hunting territory. Sure it can be frustrating if they aren't "capturing" the toy but try to get them to catch it and kill it then rest for a second then repeat Then feed after.

"Because T has shown signs of frustration at being kept to the "upstairs" we don't want to wait too long to introduce them in case K is just always going to be like this. I hope that makes sense." - Yes totally understand and we want to control the encounter and not have it in a uncontrolled situation if possible.

"Body language for both has been about the same as what you've seen in videos, only T doesn't run away as much now. They both have almost always gone back to "normal" pretty much immediately." - That is very good and tells me we are making progress.

"That's a lost cause with K, she doesn't care what we say and she doesn't accept petting in general, especially not at the gate. It's almost like she doesn't like being pet, except sometimes she will make the decision to come rub up on us for a few minutes.
So...have to keep giving her treats if I want it to be "positive"." - That is fine. Some cats don't like to be pet or get overstimulated when pet too much. Not an issue. Love can be giving food, giving eye kisses, talking lovingly, giving good food. Best not to "force' attention on a cat.

K rubbing on you is REALLY positive. She is saying "I Love You" and "You are Mine". There is love and appreciation.
 
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