Help/Advice for introductions

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Graham18

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I've started to feed them their dinner together without the gate but with Fluffy on his harness. No change really. Sapphire will hide for a few seconds before coming out to eat and Fluffy seems still very interested in her and splits his attention between the food and her. No changes at the gates. Sapphire will willingly walk up to the gate and swat at his paw while he tries to play with her. No aggressive body language, just dilated pupils on both but nothing else except hissing and growling from sapphire and usually purring/chirping from Fluffy.
Ive attached a picture of their typical interaction before the pawing starts. Fluffy is the black cat and Sapphire is the grey and white. 20210606_093316.jpg
 

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Fluffy is the black cat and Sapphire is the grey and white.
Trying to decipher thoughts by their body language, I see Fluffy saying "hey! wanna be friends?" and Sapphire saying "why are you here?" ;) Seriously, it does seem like progress is being made.
 
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Graham18

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Trying to decipher thoughts by their body language, I see Fluffy saying "hey! wanna be friends?" and Sapphire saying "why are you here?" ;) Seriously, it does seem like progress is being made.
He definitely does. I've never met a more playful cat in my whole life. Progress is definitely being made, just working on getting him less excitable around her/learning to take her hints that she doesn't want to play at the time.
 
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Graham18

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Trying to decipher thoughts by their body language, I see Fluffy saying "hey! wanna be friends?" and Sapphire saying "why are you here?" ;) Seriously, it does seem like progress is being made.
In regards to the pawing/swatting at the gate, I'm a little confused as to what I should be doing. Fluffy will usually be the one to try and initiate play when Sapphire walks up to the door, sometimes running at the gate when he sees her and gets excited. Sapphire will hit his paw and hiss and he tries to play even more and eventually they're both going back and forth at light speed with their paws, Sapphire hissing and growling before she'll walk away and go lay down in the room across the hall. I will usually try and give them both treats if she doesn't go away to quickly. Should I be letting them continue with the pawing/swatting or trying to stop them as it happens? There haven't been any injuries as I haven't been able to see claws out and both cats seem fine afterwards though Fluffy is usually a bit over stimulated and will start to bite me sometimes (not overly hard but definitely not a love bite either).
 

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I'm going to tag A ArtNJ who might have some thoughts/suggestions for you, as unlike myself he's done the cat introduction thing.
 

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Hissing and growling occurs for a time with some cats that go on to be besties. Its fairly common for cats to give a "get away" or "back off" kind of swat during this process. As long as there isn't actual fighting, that seems to be fine too.

You want the gate being up to get as much of that out of the system of still uncomfortable/fearful cat as possible. Its what the gate is for. So as long as there aren't for real fights at/thru the gate, I'd let it continue, and try and view the hissing/growling/swatting the paw as a positive -- getting the bad stuff (mostly/hopefully) out of the way in a safe way.

It doesn't really sound like there is much need to feed by the gate to me, or do anything other than let time and the cats do their thing, since the gate is doing the get-them-used-to-each-other and get-the-uncertainty/fear-out thing on its own thanks to the one cat really wanting to play. Just give it some more time.
 
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Graham18

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Hissing and growling occurs for a time with some cats that go on to be besties. Its fairly common for cats to give a "get away" or "back off" kind of swat during this process. As long as there isn't actual fighting, that seems to be fine too.

You want the gate being up to get as much of that out of the system of still uncomfortable/fearful cat as possible. Its what the gate is for. So as long as there aren't for real fights at/thru the gate, I'd let it continue, and try and view the hissing/growling/swatting the paw as a positive -- getting the bad stuff (mostly/hopefully) out of the way in a safe way.

It doesn't really sound like there is much need to feed by the gate to me, or do anything other than let time and the cats do their thing, since the gate is doing the get-them-used-to-each-other and get-the-uncertainty/fear-out thing on its own thanks to the one cat really wanting to play. Just give it some more time.
Thank you for the advice! Sorry for the late reply. I have been doing this daily for as much time as I can. Sometimes there is some light pawing, other times there is some intense hitting that goes on for a minute or maybe a bit less before Sapphire walks away and Fluffy gets super energetic. I'm a bit confused if this would be considered fighting or not but I have just been letting it happen.

Another slight issue I had today was lunging during feeding time. I've been still feeding them together with Fluffy on his harness and Sapphire seems fine to walk passed him after she's done eating but today he stopped eating and immediately tried to lunge at her (which has happened before as soon as he sees her). I'm assuming as they get more used to eachother this will slow down a bit.
 

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With Fluffy's activity level and over-enthusiasm for play, you'll have more stress, hissing and growling when you finally put them together. All you can really do before that time is give them as much time to get as used to each other as possible. Why can't the gate be up full time? I really wouldn't worry about the feeding together. As is often the case, it sounds like its causing more trouble than its worth.

In other words, this isn't about a few minutes at a time. Both now, and when you put them together, you want to give them as much time together to work through their issues as possible.

They are both two, which gives great odds no matter the initial difficulties you are seeing.
 
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Graham18

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With Fluffy's activity level and over-enthusiasm for play, you'll have more stress, hissing and growling when you finally put them together. All you can really do before that time is give them as much time to get as used to each other as possible. Why can't the gate be up full time? I really wouldn't worry about the feeding together. As is often the case, it sounds like its causing more trouble than its worth.

In other words, this isn't about a few minutes at a time. Both now, and when you put them together, you want to give them as much time together to work through their issues as possible.

They are both two, which gives great odds no matter the initial difficulties you are seeing.
Thank you! :) There are a few problems with leaving the gates up full time that I'm working on solving. First is just my stress level fearing that Fluffy will manage to get out which leads to the second issue. So far he has managed to take down whatever gate I've put up at one point or another. My house is over 100 years old so the door frames aren't exactly straight and I'm having to use various pieces of wood in the frames to just secure baby gates enough that he can't take them down instantly. I have built a diy gate using wire shelves but he very quickly learned various ways he could get the latches to come undone. I'm currently looking at ways to secure this gate in a better way.

Again, thank you so much for all the advice it is very helpful :)
 

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Gotcha. Well, don't be afraid to pull the trigger when you'll be home a lot when its clear you aren't making progress -- for example on a weekend if you'll be around. At a certain point, you need to see what they can do. Given the ages, there is every chance that within a few days they will be friends. Its all pretty normal for one cat to want to play and one to react with hisses, growls and swats. It tends to not have great odds when the reluctant cat is much older, and become a lingering thing with a long slow crawl towards toleration, but with two year olds, there is very good chances the reluctant cat can get over it with enough time together.
 
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Graham18

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Gotcha. Well, don't be afraid to pull the trigger when you'll be home a lot when its clear you aren't making progress -- for example on a weekend if you'll be around. At a certain point, you need to see what they can do. Given the ages, there is every chance that within a few days they will be friends. Its all pretty normal for one cat to want to play and one to react with hisses, growls and swats. It tends to not have great odds when the reluctant cat is much older, and become a lingering thing with a long slow crawl towards toleration, but with two year olds, there is very good chances the reluctant cat can get over it with enough time together.
I will definitely continue at least with the gates as much as possible as that has seemed to be working at least for Sapphire. I have tried letting them be together twice, once was about two months ago and again about a month ago. Both times Fluffy will instantly lunge at Sapphire and chase her, the first time ending in a fight underneath the bed at which point I had to completely restart the introductions. I'm worried that he will just continue to lunge and chase and they will fight as he is too fast most of the time for me to react.
 

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I will definitely continue at least with the gates as much as possible as that has seemed to be working at least for Sapphire. I have tried letting them be together twice, once was about two months ago and again about a month ago. Both times Fluffy will instantly lunge at Sapphire and chase her, the first time ending in a fight underneath the bed at which point I had to completely restart the introductions. I'm worried that he will just continue to lunge and chase and they will fight as he is too fast most of the time for me to react.
Fluffy will probably do that no matter how long you work the gates, since he wants to play so bad. More time with the gates might or might not help Sapphire's reaction to it a bit. Actually rolling around fights are bad, but that may or may not been what you actually had. Making a lot of noise, swatting and trying to get away while Fluffy tries to play fight is not a real fight. Sometimes you need to let them work through stuff -- as long as its short of a true fight with actual intent to injure.
 
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Graham18

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Fluffy will probably do that no matter how long you work the gates, since he wants to play so bad. More time with the gates might or might not help Sapphire's reaction to it a bit. Actually rolling around fights are bad, but that may or may not been what you actually had. Making a lot of noise, swatting and trying to get away while Fluffy tries to play fight is not a real fight. Sometimes you need to let them work through stuff -- as long as its short of a true fight with actual intent to injure.
The first time two months ago was definitely a fight. There was a lot of rolling and shrieking (I have a broken shoe rack to prove it). I do believe Fluffy was trying to play and Sapphire began to defend herself which turned into Fluffy defending himself which is the same sort of thing I'm seeing now with the hitting through the gates which is part of the reason I'm reluctant to move forward.

I'm sorry for all of the questions and concerns. I've never had cats before and I have no where else to turn to for help.
 

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The first time two months ago was definitely a fight. There was a lot of rolling and shrieking (I have a broken shoe rack to prove it). I do believe Fluffy was trying to play and Sapphire began to defend herself which turned into Fluffy defending himself which is the same sort of thing I'm seeing now with the hitting through the gates which is part of the reason I'm reluctant to move forward.

I'm sorry for all of the questions and concerns. I've never had cats before and I have no where else to turn to for help.
Oh. That is somewhat rare, but it definitely does happen, and in fact I had a young cat that was exactly like that. Not an aggressive bone in his body, he just wanted to play with my older cat so badly . . . until he got growled at/swatted, then it was like a switch flipped. This is going to make it a lot tougher for you. I agree its important to go slow . . . but your playful cat is going to be playful on the day they finally are allowed to interact, and your reluctant cat will likely growl and hiss, no matter how long the gates are up. Difficult issue. I wish I had better guidance, but at least these cats are very young, so there should be hope.
 
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Graham18

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Oh. That is somewhat rare, but it definitely does happen, and in fact I had a young cat that was exactly like that. Not an aggressive bone in his body, he just wanted to play with my older cat so badly . . . until he got growled at/swatted, then it was like a switch flipped. This is going to make it a lot tougher for you. I agree its important to go slow . . . but your playful cat is going to be playful on the day they finally are allowed to interact, and your reluctant cat will likely growl and hiss, no matter how long the gates are up. Difficult issue. I wish I had better guidance, but at least these cats are very young, so there should be hope.
Thank you for your help and advice :) I will continue to try my best and hope for the best. I will post any updates I have :)
 

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Good luck, Graham18 Graham18 . Keep us updated on their progress. Looking forward to the day that tell us Fluffy and Sapphire have become besties. :catlove:

And thanks A ArtNJ for jumping in and offering your advice / support. :thumbsup:
 
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I did manage to take a short video of their general interaction at the gates but I'm not sure how to upload it. Once I figure it out I can upload it.
 

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I did manage to take a short video of their general interaction at the gates but I'm not sure how to upload it. Once I figure it out I can upload it.
We usually tell people to just put it on another site and put the link here.
 
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I uploaded it to YouTube to see if that works. If it works, Fluffy is the black cat and Sapphire is the grey and white. They have had longer similar interactions and after the video ends, Sapphire just walks over to the room across the hall (her room) and lays down on the floor.
 

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With no hissing or growling, that looks like play. I'll grant that Saphire is a little frenetic about it, but if there is true hostility you usually get murder noises and a cat throwing themselves at the gate with obvious hostile intent. At worst, Saphire is "back off" swatting, which isn't the same as trying to fight.

People talk about body language a lot, but for the most part, its just unnecessary and subject to misinterpretation, because when cats want to fight, they are almost never silent about it. That said, Fluffy's body language does show chill/lazy playing.
 
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