- May 5, 2021
Absolutely no need to apologize whatsoeverI am so sorry for the delayed response.
"I did speak a bit too soon." - Ok
" I was bringing him upstairs to my room on his harness to let him get more used to it and Sapphire was up on top of her cat tree. As we were walking by she decided she actually wanted to come down without treats to see him." - Awwww, awesome
" Of course he got excited before I could grab a treat and he tried to jump at her again" - Yep
" and both got a few wacks at eachother before I could pull him away at which point he was much too focused on her and wanting to go back for more (he did go for a treat afterwards but went straight back to her)." - Ok, how was his body language?
"She did follow upstairs afterwards however and went to lay in her room across from him." - how was her body language? Normal? If so that is pretty good.
"It looks so scary when he goes after her" - Yes, it does.
" but really not seeing any other signs of aggression in him so I'm still thinking that it's just rough play hopefully." - And he doesn't seem like a mean cat so I would guess it is just play as well. AND if it wasn't she would be acting more fearful which she doesn't seem to be.
"I want to add, later in the afternoon, I put Fluffy on his harness again before bringing him back upstairs to nap and let Sapphire out of her room." - Ok
"She went half way down the stairs before seeing him and turning around and running back up to her room." - How did he react? The fact he didn;t chase her will give her confidence that he "isn't so bad".
"I did bring Fluffy upstairs and gave them treats together from my hands and she would get right close up for treats and then wall back a few feet. " - Ok, that is great!!! It is more the fear of the unknown. When she sees him, is near him she is less fearful then when she is kinda "surprised" by him.
"Yes Fluffy spends most of the time in either his room or my bedroom." - Is it possible to get him into her room as well? And her into his room?
" He's out for around 4 hours a day or so or as much as I can let him out (during the week my mom lets him out in the afternoon when I'm at work). Monday to Friday I'm working/driving to and from work for about 11 hours so my time is super limited." - Understandable.
"I have definitely considered just letting them be after treat time," - I do think it is a bit early for this BUT I think we are really close for this.
" but I think it's more so my anxiety that is holding me back." - Yes, I agree. I think the cats are more ready. BUT hte human needs to be calm and confident as the cats take on our emotions. If the humans are anxious they will be more on guard and therefore more stressed and can get into it.
" Even when he lunges at her while on his harness it kills me inside" - PLEASE do not feel badly. He is being a cat and wanting to play. It is normal. I am not a harness user so I just wonder if maybe some of it is the harness. The restraint that might cause some anxiety because cats like to move as they want and not be impeded. Independence. BUT since I am not an expert with harnesses I could be totally wrong.
"and I have to try really hard to keep it from getting too me too much and it's something I think I need to work on." - It is ok, normal. Most people struggle with that. We all need to work on that at some point. You are going to be fine. When we get trust the cats tend to get trust. And cats pick up on our emotions, fears etc. Now if there is a good reason to fear we do something about it but when the fear is maybe a bit overblown then we have to think it through and see if the fear is unwarranted. I will not do anything if I think there is a real risk to the safety of the cats.
"I think I've mentioned it but 90% of the time now both cats are very good. Zero issues at the gates anymore, not even hissing from Sapphire." - Exactly. We are well on the way, we are just not totally there yet.
"It's that 10% of the time when Fluffy does go after her that worries me as it seems to set things back a little." - Yes. But it is why he "lunges" and what tells us a lot about the intent is how she acts. Now, she did run back up the stairs so she is not 100% there yet BUT then she eats with him so she is close.
"I do like your suggestions though I feel like you are probably right about things improving once they can both be out as Fluffy probably feels cooped up." - Yes and he is excited about playing with his sister. But we need to be sure it will not set us back. That is the art of the process.
"I just need to try an eliminate that fear and anxiety from myself." - Yes And you will.
"I am still using the diffusers but I don't know if they are working or not," - Ok
"plus still giving them CBD oil and calming treats daily. I do think they're having some effect as Fluffy is much calmer than even a few weeks ago but I honestly couldn't say." - It is difficult to know. :/
"Thank you again for your support and advice " - You are welcome.
Now to Rubysmama's post-
Just went back to your first post and see this long introduction process started in February. So nearing 6 months!
"Am I correct, that right now Fluffy is still spending most of his time in his room? If so, and keeping in mind I have never introduced cats, so I could be totally off base here, but my gut thought is that things won't improve substantially until both cats have almost constant full range of the house, so that they both feel as if it is their home." - I would add it is an ownership/confidence thing. SO we want each cat to feel like they own each place in the house and feel that confidence. So we do that using play and then feed after. We use scent soakers (cat trees, scratching posts bedding, etc) so that they can "own" things in the territory and be like "yep, this is mine".
" It just seems like things are moving forward, but extremely slowly." - This last bit does move slowly sadly BUT I do think they are close. We do need to get to the point where we trust them and keep our emotions calm and confident. once we get that breakthrough we will be good to go.
"Again, I have no experience, so this could be very bad idea, and of course, only you know your cats, and their personalities and behaviours. And I would not, at this time, leave them alone if there will not be any humans around to supervise." - Totally agree
"But, I'm wondering, if next time you'll be home for the whole day, if after "treat time" you just let both cats go off on their own, or just see what they do." - I think we are really close to this. I do think the humans need to get a bit more confident and trusting to where the cats are. Though I do think the cats need just a touch more. What we want to avoid is a cat acting like prey and running from the other (as it will lead to a chase then potentially escalate). So I would like a bit more confidence that Sapphire will hold her own rather than run. We are really close though.
"I would also suggest having a large piece of corrugated cardboard handy, that you could put between Fluffy and Sapphire, if Fluffy goes to lunge at her. The cardboard serves 2 purposes. One gets between 2 possibly fighting cats. And two, keeps your hands safe from getting scratched / bit trying to separate 2 possibly fighting cats." - Yes. The one caveat is the humans need to view this calmly and confidently and not be anxious having the cardboard around. Sometimes I see the fat ther eis cardboard makes the humans anticipate trouble and be more anxious which makes the cat more anxious and more likely bad things happening. So having it there (like treats or a toy) and viewing it as a positive thing and being calm and confident about it is really important.
"Another thing I noticed in your first post, you said you had Feliway running. Is that still the case? If so, maybe stop it for a bit. As I think I've read in some cases it can stress cats, as opposed to calming them. Another disclaimer, I've never used Feliway, so no experience with it." - I never use feliway. :/
"And lastly, I'll throw out the idea again of taking both cats out for a drive in the car, and see how they react in the car. And if they seem calm in the car, then "set them both free" once you get back home, and see what happens." - If you do this just make sure no one gets out, etc.
Anyway, just wanted to post some thoughts that have come to my mind.
Again, please remember I've no experience introducing cats, but I have followed lots of threads here, so my ideas/thoughts come from all I've read / learned from other cat parents' experiences.
To answer your questions..
- The best I could describe his body language is I guess excited. Typically these little spats happen over a period of about 3 seconds before I intervene and he's VERY fast. He'll go from laying down relaxing to flying towards her like that. It's hard to explain how he acts after. The best I can think of is like a dog who is laying down letting out a very quiet half bark, wagging its tail and getting ready to chase a ball if that makes sense. It's very hard to describe.
- Sapphires body language was a bit anxious looking. Even though she followed, she was laying with her tail wrapped around her and just watching.
- I also don't believe that he is a mean cat. I think he's a young very excitable cat and that he may not fully know when he needs to calm down. As I've mentioned he does bite sometimes pretty hard and I don't believe he does it in a mean way and just believes he's having fun. My biggest worry, which I may have mentioned before, is that he will think he is playing and won't stop and will unintentionally bite or hurt Sapphire as he doesn't know the difference between play and back off yet fully.
- He usually doesn't react too much to her (at least with his harness on), unless she gets close to him. He saw him run upstairs and didn't move but just looked. He generally only reacts in fact when she comes to him uncoerced (ie. When she came down from her cat tree without treats involved). This would most likely be a different story if he wasn't restrained by the harness.
- She has slept in his room in the afternoon a few times since I've started putting him upstairs during the day but I don't know if she still does when I'm at work or not. She rarely went into the room that is his room prior to adopting him and has always preferred her room or my bedroom. It also never crossed my mind to put him in her room because the diy gate that is up all day is attached to my door frame and at this point I didn't know if the territory swapping would have any effect since they're used to eachothers scents.
- As for the chasing and lunging I have noticed Sapphire standing her ground a bit more (a month ago she would have taken off right away). As I mentioned, at least when his harness is on, he only tends to lunge/jump/paw when she comes close to him though not always. I've noticed about half the time if he is the one moving towards her he seems to be more calm and wanting to sniff and usually doesn't react until she swats at him and then he starts to paw back at her (I say paw for him because Sapphire is clearly trying to tell him to back off and he just seems to enjoy it as play and gets excited). He may immediately chase her as soon as he is free from the harness without her running but since I haven't tried it I have no idea what he would do.
I want to add that this morning they were fairly fine. Sapphire was still showing a bit of anxiety but not much. At one point he did start to move towards her slightly and slowly and I did notice he started to raise one of his paws while he was laying down and she was growling (I distracted with a treat right away as I didn't want him to hit her). He was fine after that but I noticed something odd with Sapphire that I rarely see and maybe you will know what it means. She walked a few feet from him after treats were done, back to him, and started licking herself very quickly for about 30 seconds and I also noticed some slight twitching. After I put Fluffy away, Sapphire ran up to her room and was really playful for about five minutes. I notice this sometimes but not very often at all.