Giving new cat enough time away from kitty base camp?

saharahoshi

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We adopted male cat, Jellybean (a little under a year, he'll be 1 next month in August). We have an 9-year old resident cat, Ruthie. Long story short, weeks ago Jellybean got loose twice (I'm not proud of it) so we had to start the intro process all over. We've been giving him "yard time" (it's a personal joke) for at least about an hour and maybe 20/30 minutes a day? Ruthie is almost/is? a senior and loses her goshdarned mind. It's all she can handle right now but are we being unfair to Jellybean? She's just very vocal when's she in another room.
 

ArtNJ

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We really need a bit more detail to know where your at is why you probably haven't gotten any responses yet. What is "yard time" -- free run of the house? Ruthie can see or only hear that? "Losing her mind" means what exactly? What happened during the two times Jellybean got loose exactly? What is the timing of the intro? Who is where normally, and are you switching that up?

In the meantime, here is this site's guide:

How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – TheCatSite Articles

In very general terms, you want the stage you are at to do work. If you are only getting hissing and growling during yard time, whatever that is, then that is the only stage doing much work, and I don't think an hour a day is enough. Once we understand the situation better we can better customize our advice, but in general, you need more than an hour a day to be doing work. More time will enable Ruthie to calm down and see that nothing so bad is happening.
 

di and bob

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Yes, growling, hissing, and swatting are perfectly normal. Females are not known to want to relinquish any of their domain, give her places to retreat to when she has had enough, preferably up high. Weeks are not enough, it may take months before she accepts him, but it WILL happen in time. if she is actually attacking him and drawing blood, then yes they must be separated for a longer while yet. Letting her get used to the sight of him helps tremendously, put him (and then her) in a large wire dog kennel so they become used to each other without actual contact or put a screen door/gate between rooms. you can get one cheap on facebook buy and sale or borrow one from a friend. Start feeding them closer together with a door/gate between them to bring on good feelings, or give them both treats. My little girl, and the one I have now, always hiss at the boys and keep them in line, even after years, but they are family and keep each other amused and company. Another girl would have been a turf war, so you have avoided that! don't give up, these things just take time and a lot of it.....
 
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saharahoshi

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Thank you all so much! So basically when we feed them between the door it is fine, she will hiss once and a while but not much. The main issue is he wants out, we have everything set up for a kitty base camp (towe4s toys, food etc.) ut he still can't be in one room all day.

We let him out for about an hour per day. The problem is that we are in a 2 bedroom, 2 bath a little bit over 900 square feet. We both work so when she goes into a separate room even with the door shut she scratches at the door almost 5he entire time and is very very vocal even when 2e are in there with her trying to bribe her with treats and toys, etc.

I have tried everything holistic including rescue remedy, multicat feliway diffusers, tryptophan treats, the jackson galaxy remedies (gave them 3 weeks to work and applied them multiple times per day.) My husband and I CANNOT work (we both work in the evenings some days) with her going nuts for an hour or two without feeling guilty. But if we leave him in the master bedroom/bathroom he might redirect his aggression towards us or her.

We have a meeting with our vet recommended behaviorist in a month. I'm trying to get through the month without fing up this intro process. We already 2 fights in August where he broke out (accident) and fur flew, she got a minor scrape so I am trying to to figure all of this out while working from home after a screwed up initial introduction. We started over 2 weeks ago from step 1.5/2 where they are eating near the door and scent swapping. Our vet, an initial consult, and the behaviorist didn't think the jailbreaks were a complete deal breaker so we kept him.

Eating near the door is going well but I need to give him space while not stressing her out too much, that's why I'm asking for advice. I don't need them to be best friends nor was it expected when we adopted him but after a few months I will settle for begrudging tolerance.
 

ArtNJ

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Got to be honest, I'm still now sure I'm understanding well enough to dare an opinion when you are already consulting with a behaviorist!

That said, it sounds like things are fine in your retreat to scent swapping and feedings on the opposite side of a door, except for the door scratching, and your not progressing because of the relatively recent escapes which led to real fights? Did you ever get to a step where they could see each other through baby gates or a cracked door wedged with door jambs? Do you think you could manage to set something like that up without escapes? What step is the furthest you got to and how did it go?

If you are asking only about door scratching, the main solution to that is never giving and and whethering the storm of annoyance for as long as it takes.
 
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saharahoshi

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Ok I'm sorry for the lack of clarity. The fights were two weeks ago. The furthest we have gotten is scent swapping, they have not seen each other since the jail break. We are being extra cautious when we swap them, I am trying to figure out:

A. Am I being overly cautious by only giving the new cat an hour outside at a time when she is meiwing and scratching at the door in another room for 45 minutes?

B. should we move on to visuals even though she will growl and hiss at the door when he gets super close.

The behaviorist follow up appointment is tentative, we are hoping we can make a little more progress i.e. visuals by the beginning of November before shelling out the $$. We only consulted the behaviorist to determine if the 2 fights would be an insurmountable thing for both cats.

Does this make more sense? Usually I am more coherent but introductions have me stressed! We realize this could take months to a year but I don't want to move too slow or too fast...
 

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Hmm, maybe my theory of introductions will help. Have you heard of gradual desensitization therapy? Thats like if a human is afraid of spiders, the therapist will start by showing you a stuffed spider 10 feet away, and when that no longer makes you sweat, maybe next session a spider in a cage 9 feet away. After you stop shaking, maybe next session, he has a live spider on his hand 8 feet away. He wants each step to make you sweat, shake, etc. When you stop sweating, he knows that step has done its work and he can move on. That is all growling and hissing is -- its the sweating in my example. It shows you that a step is doing work. Right now, if I am understanding the situation correctly, you are at a point where you are only getting work done when they get close on opposite sides of the door at feeding time. That isn't necessarily enough work throughout the day for progress. So yeah, you are probably ready to move on to the visual step, so you can get some more consistent work in, if that makes sense. You want them to be a little stressed by the step, that shows the step is doing its work. Not too much obviously -- that would be like the human vomitting or wetting herself, we don't want that. We just want the sweating level of discomfort, which in cat terms is the growling and hissing. So lets move forward and get some growling and hissing.

As for the door scratching, I think room swapping on maybe a non consistent schedule is creating a monster. The cat has concluded that if he scratches, he can change rooms, and cats very very much like to be where they aren't and hate being restricted to one room when they know there are others available. Here is the thing: it sounds like room swapping isn't really doing any work anymore! In the spider example, it is like reshowing the stuffed spider at 10 feet -- the human is over that, it doesn't do anything anymore. You can stop room swapping entirely if you are moving to the visual stage. In time, this might help with the scratching, although TBH its quite possible you will be done with the introduction before he gets over it entirely -- it can take weeks of ignoring the scratching sometimes and you are just going to start that now (assuming he thinks room swapping has something to do with his efforts). Still, its worth a shot, maybe it will only be a day or two after you stop room swapping.

Does that help? As always, I must cc my fellow expert who loves my spider theory. Unfortunately, I forget exactly who that is so will CC two of the super helpful helpers here, one of whom is the spider lover. Furballsmom Furballsmom rubysmama rubysmama .
 

di and bob

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I too think the next step is visual. Put the male in a kennel and see what happens. Do this for a week then put the girl in the kennel for a few days. You could also put up a couple of double stacked baby gates in a doorway until they are used to seeing each other. After a few weeks Let them in the same room and monitor them. A squabble with fur flying can end with a truce, you never know. Girls usually scream and hiss and growl when the boys get too close, that is normal. It truly just takes a lot of time, it WILL happen. Mine were REALLY bad and took almost a year,they were then friends.
 

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