Introducing 2 enthusiastic teenage kittens to older cat, where next

Bananna4444

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Hello. I had 3 rescue cats for 8 years, sadly 2 of them died at the same time leaving Lily aged 12. Normally I would have adopted whoever needs a home but because 2 went at once, lockdown and because I thought they would have been less of a threat to Lily I opted for kittens. Because of the time of year and lockdown it was difficult to get kittens so I adopted two 8month old brothers from abroad.
I have had them for 3 and a half weeks and have been trying to slowly introduce them to Lily. I have given them the dining room as a base, I have been site swapping them around, I have a plug in pet remedy, I have been using treats, stroking and toys. I volunteer rescueing chickens and used mini fence panels from that to put a screen over the dining room doorway - however one of them kept climbing it which made a noise and just scared Lily. I have tried feeding them at the same time gradually moving closer, with the door shut this is fine, but the boys are mega enthusiastic about food time, run to the bowl and eat their food really fast. Even with a screen barrier this just scares Lily and she runs off and waits till they have gone before eating.
Where I am at the moment is if they are in the same room as each other Lily will just sit there, they will constantly try to stalk her, hiding behind things to get near her then jump at her. She will hiss/growl if they come near her, they will jump on her, she will swipe them and then run off scared. So now I am stuck in a rut where I am sitting next to Lily holding a blanket/cushion/barriers trying to stop them from stalking her and removing them from the room if they get too pushy. Playing with them/distraction works until they get bored and go back to stalking. I have tried one at a time, I have tried putting them in a pen in the room with her - mixture of staring contest and how can I escape this pen and jump on Lily. The boys are lovely with each other and they got on well with other cats in their foster home. For the first couple of weeks there was gradual progress but now I don't know what to do next? Thanks
 

calicosrspecial

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Hello. I had 3 rescue cats for 8 years, sadly 2 of them died at the same time leaving Lily aged 12. Normally I would have adopted whoever needs a home but because 2 went at once, lockdown and because I thought they would have been less of a threat to Lily I opted for kittens. Because of the time of year and lockdown it was difficult to get kittens so I adopted two 8month old brothers from abroad.
I have had them for 3 and a half weeks and have been trying to slowly introduce them to Lily. I have given them the dining room as a base, I have been site swapping them around, I have a plug in pet remedy, I have been using treats, stroking and toys. I volunteer rescueing chickens and used mini fence panels from that to put a screen over the dining room doorway - however one of them kept climbing it which made a noise and just scared Lily. I have tried feeding them at the same time gradually moving closer, with the door shut this is fine, but the boys are mega enthusiastic about food time, run to the bowl and eat their food really fast. Even with a screen barrier this just scares Lily and she runs off and waits till they have gone before eating.
Where I am at the moment is if they are in the same room as each other Lily will just sit there, they will constantly try to stalk her, hiding behind things to get near her then jump at her. She will hiss/growl if they come near her, they will jump on her, she will swipe them and then run off scared. So now I am stuck in a rut where I am sitting next to Lily holding a blanket/cushion/barriers trying to stop them from stalking her and removing them from the room if they get too pushy. Playing with them/distraction works until they get bored and go back to stalking. I have tried one at a time, I have tried putting them in a pen in the room with her - mixture of staring contest and how can I escape this pen and jump on Lily. The boys are lovely with each other and they got on well with other cats in their foster home. For the first couple of weeks there was gradual progress but now I don't know what to do next? Thanks
It sounds like you are doing a great job so far. I tend to try to take it slower and maximize positive associations (food) and positive encounters. Trying to maximize positive encounters while minimizing or avoiding negative encounters.

It sounds like they are doing pretty well so far. I am not sure you are really in a "rut". In intros I believe it really is all about getting them to trust each other and realize that the other cat(s) are not a threat to their safety, food, water, litter box, etc. And reinforcing and repeating that helps build that trust.

"Where I am at the moment is if they are in the same room as each other Lily will just sit there" - It is a great sign she sits there.

" they will constantly try to stalk her, hiding behind things to get near her then jump at her." - Yes, they want to play with her.

" She will hiss/growl if they come near her" - Yes, she is warning them not to try anything

" they will jump on her" - Yes, she is not forceful enough so that don't take her that seriously.

"she will swipe them" - Yes, so she steps up her resistance.

" and then run off scared." - This is where we want to improve her response. So we want to try to step in and reduce her uncertainty.

" So now I am stuck in a rut where I am sitting next to Lily holding a blanket/cushion/barriers trying to stop them from stalking her and removing them from the room if they get too pushy." - I would continue doing this. It is like practicing the same piano song. Building skills or belief or trust etc.

" Playing with them/distraction works" - Great and that helps Lily.

" until they get bored and go back to stalking." - Yes, because another cat is much more fun than any toy.

" I have tried one at a time, I have tried putting them in a pen in the room with her - mixture of staring contest and how can I escape this pen and jump on Lily. " - Yes, just keep trying to distract to make it as positive as possible.

"The boys are lovely with each other and they got on well with other cats in their foster home." - Sounds like they are normal cats and are doing everything normal cats do. I think they will be fine. We just need to fine tune things.

"For the first couple of weeks there was gradual progress but now I don't know what to do next?" - I would continue doing what you are doing. Distracting as needed, making their encounters as positive as possible, maximizing positive encounters and minimizing or avoiding negative encounters and Lily will do her part.

We'll guide you through this. A few weeks is not a long time at all so everything is normal and expected. The kittens want to play, Lily seems really good so far. Just keep doing the above mentioned. Also, step up play with Lily, reassure her that all is "ok", give her a little extra love and attention (safely).

I will be with you every step of the way until we get them successfully intro'd. But I am not worried, they will be just fine.

Ask anything anytime. Keep up the great work!!
 
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Bananna4444

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Thank you very much for the reassurance and being very helpful, I guess it feels like a longer time than it actually is. Glad you think the kittens just want to play with her I wasn't sure, but you are probably right.
 

calicosrspecial

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Thank you very much for the reassurance and being very helpful, I guess it feels like a longer time than it actually is. Glad you think the kittens just want to play with her I wasn't sure, but you are probably right.
You are very welcome.

Yes, it can feel like a long time and it can cause some doubts so having another set of eyes can be very helpful.

Yes, it seems like they want to play. Please keep updating us so if any issues start we can end them quickly. There are a little nuanced actions, etc that can tell us a lot. So it is important to keep an observant eye and just bring it up.

The resident cat typically has the most difficult time adjusting as it is "their territory" being "invaded". So we want to build the resident cat's confidence through Play, Food, Height and Love and let the resident cat know that the new cats aren't a threat through positive associations and positive encounters. So far, Lily is doing extremely well so you have a head start on the intro.

Just keep up the great work, ask any questions, share any observations and we'll get them intro'd.
 

ArtNJ

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I tend to think that once you get to a certain point, its mostly about time. Sometimes, with a kitten and a senior cat, you get stuck on the long slow road to toleration where they slowly get to the point where the older cat is only bothered (and even then, not that greatly) if the kitten is actively being a PITA in that moment and otherwise ignores the kitten.

Was having a discussion with FeebysOwner FeebysOwner the other day about whether it is possible to train kittens not to bug an older cat. I'm skeptical, but I *have* seen a rare post or two claiming success at doing this over the years, and FeebysOwner has friends that did it by immediately holding up the kitten and hissing at it after the kitten pounces the older cat. So maybe! The idea there is that you have to target it to the kitten(s) only, as you don't want to scare the adult more. Might be worth trying once the kittens are well bonded to you. Generally though, it seems that most people end up on the long slow road to toleration, with gradual improvement over time. I hope you can avoid it, but just being honest, most people in your situation do seem to end up on that path. I've gone down that road with two different senior cats and active kittens. As a good owner, you want to eliminate all stress and get them to where they get along -- but sometimes, that just isn't possible, and you have to let them work on things on their own.

I think C calicosrspecial is recommending extending the introduction process. Its hard to argue against that, because you don't want to be a few months down the road, with the older cat still stressed, and wonder what you could have done differently. All of that said, I don't know that an extended introduction process really ever solves the issue when the older cat just doesn't want to be jumped on by a won't take no kitten. Another week or two certainly won't hurt anything, but at some point, you will likely have to to pull the trigger and see how they can progress on their own.

Seeing as they haven't had much time together yet, perhaps you'll get lucky and can avoid the long slow road to toleration. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. Keep us posted.
 
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