Human stress during cat introduction

JacobinCat

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
May 30, 2018
Messages
41
Purraise
102
Hi all,

This may not be even an appropriate question for this forum, but if anyone has any input I'd really appreciate it. I'm in the midst of a cat introduction process that is probably not really going too badly (new kitty arrived on May 18; the kitties can be out together with supervision for as much as 12 hours, and I've occasionally left them alone together for a few hours at a time, and everyone has survived; still keeping them separated when I am out for long periods of time at work and overnight). I have accepted that this may be the status quo for a while more. The problem is ... me. I think that I have absorbed all the stress I *think* my resident cat *could* be feeling. I think that my stress (though I try not to show it) may be impeding the introduction process a bit. The resident cat is elderly and this has brought up a lot of anticipatory grieving for me -- she is still doing ok but I know that time with her is finite. I adopted her after a previous beloved kitty passed away, and I think I am mourning that kitty afresh again as well. My hands are shaking and I have completely lost my appetite. I feel better when I am away from home -- the anxiety dissipates when I'm at work -- but that makes things feel even worse, because my home with these two wonderful cats (both rescues) is now a source of stress rather than peace. Again, I think the cats are doing pretty well -- new kitty (Padma) has lots of attention and stays in the back half of the apartment with me at night, while resident kitty (Lucy) has the run of the rest of the apartment and can eat a little bit at a time without interruption (she hasn't been jumping on the bed or sofa for a long time now, so sadly she wouldn't be sleeping on the bed anyway, alas). Both cats are eating fine and can even eat in the same room, though there have been a few minor aggressions (Lucy toward Padma) and some growling/hissing when Padma is too annoying (i.e., follows Lucy when Lucy wants to be left the bleep alone). I'm trying hard to strike a balance where Padma has attention and playtime, and Lucy has peace and quiet, and they both have some time each day to interact, mostly with supervision. The problem, again, is.... the human. I can't get my anxiety and hypervigilance to turn off. Has anyone had this experience? And any words of wisdom? I think the cats will probably be fine if I can just get hold of my own cortisol levels...
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #3

JacobinCat

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
May 30, 2018
Messages
41
Purraise
102
Bless your heart for being so open and honest.

Is there anything you've found in the past that has brought you peace of mind, or a calm center?

12 tips to tame stress

Feeling Stressed Out? Learn How to Relax.
Thank you for the kind words -- honestly it's being quietly at home reading that has always been a refuge for me, and now when I'm at home I am having such trouble turning off my hypervigilance that the refuge has become toxic. I think that reminding myself that everything is really going pretty well, considering the stories I've read of difficult introductions, and staying distracted and busy with work will be the key. (I also think that I *really* need to get back to working in person after years of remote work during the pandemic... I'm an introvert, but I've finally hit the wall where remote life is no longer a relief, but has rather started to feel like a trap. Returnng to in-person on August 22.) Thanks for letting me vent here and share such personal feelings. I know this is a cat site and not a "share your anxiety issues" site ;) I am determined not to let human nonsense get in the way of these two wonderful kitties having a good home.
 

Furballsmom

Cat Devotee
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Jan 9, 2018
Messages
34,450
Purraise
45,912
Location
Colorado US
I know this is a cat site and not a "share your anxiety issues" site ;) I am determined not to let human nonsense get in the way of these two wonderful kitties having a good home.
It's people like yourself, who care so very much about the felines in your life, who make this site what it is.
 

D_H

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Jan 1, 2022
Messages
78
Purraise
161
I wish I could share any words of wisdom here, I was on the verge of a breakdown during our period of re-introductions..
You said they're doing pretty fine, if that so it means you're in the last steps of the process and I guess that patience is the key here?

Practicing mindfulness sometimes helped, although I was too much of a wreck to practiced regularly..

All the best! :goodluck:
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #6

JacobinCat

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
May 30, 2018
Messages
41
Purraise
102
I wish I could share any words of wisdom here, I was on the verge of a breakdown during our period of re-introductions..
You said they're doing pretty fine, if that so it means you're in the last steps of the process and I guess that patience is the key here?

Practicing mindfulness sometimes helped, although I was too much of a wreck to practiced regularly..

All the best! :goodluck:
Thank you so much, that really helps! I hope that things are going well with your kitties now (and with you!)
 

Alldara

TCS Member
Super Cat
Joined
Apr 29, 2022
Messages
1,043
Purraise
1,386
They sound like they are doing excellently!

We certainly had a BUNCH of this stress when we brought Magnus home. (I never expected to introduce a new pet to my, just recently 16 yr old cat. But alas he was not happy living solo and now I wouldn't have it any other way).

Here's what we tried that helped us:
1. Reminding ourselves that it was going to be okay.
2. Doing some meditations on YouTube
3. Watching videos about cat introductions (helped us to see thing we're going well and what(if) we could improve). NOT the horror stories but just the explainational videos.

What did not work for us but has helped others:
1. Joining a pet grief counseling group

I also did some local, free same-day counseling to help work on my stress and began reattending a local virtual support group. Sometimes that outside perspective is SUPER helpful in just reminding us that it's okay to relax or take time for ourselves.

Introducing a new family member is a HUGE stressor. It was overwhelming for us as two adults so I can't imagine how much more pressure you are feeling. But it's okay to begin letting go of that pressure too. You cannot control it all, you can only do your best to facilitate a good relationship.

Adding some passive enrichment may help take some of the pressure off as well. I really encourage food enrichment whenever possible (especially easy if your cat eats some dried food!) You'll be amazed at how much your senior cat may like this as well. Nobel learned so many new things from Magnus when we started that and is now a pro-kibble-hunter.

One last but of advice is that young cats take a lot of work, so to make sure jealousy doesn't begin. We must make sure to take two minutes to prioritize Nobel's play in the morning and night. He's not as active as the 2 and 1 yr olds so he's often not in our faces about needing things, and he needs extra care that he *hates*. But we noticed that he hissed less and enjoyed the kittens if we ensured he was getting his positive attention too.
 

CaseysMom

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Jul 7, 2022
Messages
84
Purraise
178
Hi! I think this makes perfect sense, really. Having just adopted a new kitten myself, I can attest that it is very stressful! And she's my only cat! It's a lot like having a baby! I'm sure things will settle down for you in no time, and then it will just seem like they have always been the way they are. Going back to work outside the home will probably be very good for you as well. I think working at home blurred the lines of work and home (refuge) for us, and not in a good way.
 

rockitorknockit

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Nov 5, 2021
Messages
80
Purraise
155
Wow. I just wanted to chime in and say how strongly I relate to the stress and anxiety, including anticipatory grieving and the hypervigilance despite all the evidence pointing to things going well. I have OCD and that is what plays a big role in it for me. Out of control worry, panic attacks, tears, dread. Not sure what your anxiety diagnoses may or may not be, but you are not alone. It's like your post come straight from my own brain!

A few things I do to deal with my stress and anxiety around my older kitty:

1, Bring the focus back to the present, here and now. Am I worried about what I can't see and what is coming tomorrow? You bet your butt I am. But how is Oscar (my kitty) actually doing right this very second, right in front of me? What things prove to me he is OKAY right now?

2, If I feel compelled to check on Oscar for the 5,000th time in an hour, I ask myself: could I wait ten minutes and see if I still need to check on him? Can I picture how he was the last 4,999 times, in which he was always the exact same, and let that carry me for ten more minutes?

3, Hand it to my wife - ask her to check on him for me, ask her to tell me her opinion, ask her to hold it for me for a few minutes.

4, Post on this site, and then "put it on a shelf" (focus on something distracting and unrelated) for a time. Giving myself permission to stop worrying for a time, but knowing I've made a post that I can review responses to later, is helpful for me.

Not sure if any of these ideas will work for you, but it doesn't hurt to share. Wishing you peace and grace.
 

lisahe

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Mar 23, 2014
Messages
5,448
Purraise
4,099
Location
Maine
There's lot of great advice here -- far wiser than what I can offer. After having just gone through a nonrecognition aggression reintroduction (the second in two years for our two cats who are littermates!), I want to add that the point when we know the cats are ready to be left unchaperoned is when Cat One aggressively sniffs Cat Two's butt and Cat Two just walks away. When the cats sniff each other's butts simultaneously without incident, we know they're fully reintroduced. I mean this in all seriousness! Eating together is good, too, a crucial step, but it's the butt sniffs that really count with our two.

As for what happened this past week... We had to leave them unchaperoned for the night a day earlier than I would have preferred because neither cat would allow being shut in with me for the night... So we let them stay, despite the fact that the aggressive cat had hissed several times at the cat who'd had surgery two weeks before. The butt sniffing went okay, though there wasn't a simultaneous sniff. Even so, they did great! I expected to be woken up by screeching and running but I think they were as exhausted as I was! And I have to wonder if they did better on their own because I wasn't there with them, hovering and nervous. Last year's reintroduction took three or four weeks and it was very, very nasty -- I'm sure the cats noticed my nerves (and lack of trust in them to behave!) that those memories caused. Like rockitorknockit rockitorknockit , I felt compelled to check in on the cats a bit too frequently the other evening... I finally stopped when they were just lying on the floor a few feet from each other, just as they've been doing for years.

I identify with lots of what you write, JacobinCat JacobinCat , since I'm an introvert who loves reading in a quiet room, preferably with one or both cats, so it's hard for me to have that disturbed. I hope Padma and Lucy make peace soon!
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #13

JacobinCat

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
May 30, 2018
Messages
41
Purraise
102
Thank you A Alldara , CaseysMom CaseysMom , rockitorknockit rockitorknockit , and lisahe lisahe for your kind words and support, and sharing your stories. I'm sorry to hear about the difficult things you and your kitties have been through, but it's encouraging that love and patience can win the day.

A Alldara thank you for the wonderful suggestions. I've tried some of what you suggested and will do more. About food enrichment, I should try some "kibble hunting" for Padma, but Lucy has no back teeth, she can only manage wet food. We are doing lots of "treats without borders", sharing tubes of Churu, though. And separate crunchy treats for Padma. I'm doing lots of playtime with her, and lots of separate love and attention for Lucy. Things are actually getting better and better -- I think it's really me at this point, not them. They can wander around and do their thing, and walk past each other, with no conflict. Lucy can do her strolls into the kitchen and even if Padma follows, Lucy doesn't get upset. (And I'm still keeping them separated overnight so that Lucy has some uninterrupted time.) I finally let myself start to accept that things are going to be ok, and was able to make a normal dinner for myself for the first time in weeks.

CaseysMom CaseysMom I hope things are going really well with your new little kitten! And I totally agree about blurred lines between work and home being very unhealthy. And so many people took their work home far too much even before the pandemic...

rockitorknockit rockitorknockit your suggestions for curbing anxiety really are wonderful -- thank you. I've been doing the "checking too frequently" thing far too much -- wash three dishes and go back into the living room to make sure everyone is still alive...
coming back to the present moment, where everyone really is safe and loved, is such a gift.

lisahe lisahe I hope your second re-introduction goes smoothly for your kitties and that you don't have to do it a third time. I can't imagine the stress. I hope they will keep lying cozily near each other in peace, so you can get some reading done! :) The butt sniffing test is a good one ;) A few weeks ago, Lucy sniffed Padma's butt and then bit her (no injury, thank goodness). I think we are far past that now, though not quite at the ideal butt choreography!

Blurry photo shows a moment of detente -- and one of the first times Lucy has gotten onto the sofa in months (she's on tramadol for arthritis and I think it's gradually helping...)
 

Attachments

Last edited:
Top