Introducing Cats - Logistics Questions.

Twylasmom

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I am new to the forums but have been reading all of the articles and threads about cat introductions as I am now in that very position. I have an 11 year old resident female named Twyla that previously lived in a home with dogs, but not cats, she is very social with people and playful for her age. About a month ago a very skinny and skittish kitten showed up on my back porch and I was able to trap him last Sunday. I would like to keep him, he has a sweet and playful personality (he is no longer skinny or skittish ) He is currently set up in an upstairs bedroom and has adapted very well to human contact and has had an initial vet visit where they determined he is about 17 weeks old and healthy except for a mild case of lungworms, for which he is currently taking meds. So far there has been very little interaction between the two, she has spied him through a crack in the door once or twice and hissed, but has also eaten treats outside the door and is only curious about his scent on me or a sock. My questions are these:

1. I know getting them to eat on opposite sides of the door is a key element of training but this would require getting Twyla upstairs to eat on a regular basis, far away from her usual spot downstairs. She has some arthritis in her hips, and doesn't always want to go upstairs. There is no downstairs room that the kitten can be moved to. Would doing this once a day be enough? Or is there a workaround?

2. We are currently in the scent swapping phase, which is going pretty well. By next weekend I hope to start swapping territories, before moving on to baby gates. Kitten probably won't be neutered for at least three weeks. Should I hold off on direct interactions until he is fixed?

The last time I introduced two cats it was an absolute nightmare, but one of them had lifelong behavioral issues, and I didn't know all the tricks. Hoping to make it less stressful for everyone this time!
 

Furballsmom

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Hi! I think #1 can be/should be adjusted to accommodate your resident cat.
Utilize the other methods and see how that goes.

Some kittens are able to procreate as early as six months, if that helps :)
 
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Twylasmom

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I put the kitten's blanket downstairs for Twyla to check out. She sniffed it thoroughly but did not growl or hiss, which surprised me. Now she is just trying to avoid it. I am going to work on feeding her near and eventually on the blanket as a substitute for feeding at the door and vice versa. (I did hear them interacting about 5 this morning, so sometimes her curiosity does get the better of her!) A little hissing but not too bad.

I do wonder, does keeping them apart for an extended period ever make the transition more difficult? Believe me, I plan to take this as slow as I need to, but just wondered if anyone has had that experience.
 
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Twylasmom

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Update on progress - the past two days the kitten (Hooper) has had several hours each day to explore the house. He is very timid and has yet to fully explore the downstairs, though I am encouraging him with toys. So I think this step is going to take awhile. Twyla does not seem agitated by his scent when I let her out of her safe room after.

My big challenge seems to be getting them in close enough proximity that they are more aware of each other, such as through a closed door. Maybe when I get to the baby gate phase Twyla will be more interested in investigating and going upstairs.
 
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Twylasmom

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Since both cats seem to be unimpressed with each other's scent and because Hooper is so shy would it be a good or bad idea to start using the baby gates while also continuing with site swapping? Right now he is in a quiet part of the house when confined and he is sensitive to new sounds, etc. I'm thinking having the door open with the gates up might help him get used to the house sounds while in his safe space.

When let out he will explore a while and then go back to his room and hide.

I am just so stressed about the whole process, my resident cat is such a sweetheart and I hate to disrupt her routine. Plus, I live alone and work full time so it is hard to devote a ton of time to the process during the week.
 

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Try some chamomile tea for you, and I think you could try the gates and see what happens.
Try some intermittent classical harp music for Hooper, it may help :)
 
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Twylasmom

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Update! It has been a slow process so far. Hooper gets an hour or two to explore the house on his own everyday (more if I can be home) while Twyla stays in the master bedroom. He is slowly getting more confident about exploring the space but has a ways to go. I plan to upgrade him to a larger safe room this weekend. Unfortunately I had to back off on the introductions through the baby gate. Sunday night they were checking each other out and Twyla hissed at him, which triggered a bad coughing fit (she has periodic asthma and it tends to flare this time of year) so I ended the encounter and started her on her prednisolone. She will be moving from the loading dose to the maintenance dose soon and has had no further symptoms so
I hope we can resume introductions this weekend. Hooper has also been on steroids to reduce lung inflammation from his lungworms diagnosis so I have had two very ravenous kitties! I do worry that stress might have contributed to the asthma returning, but it flares every 3 or 4 months so it could just be that.
 

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oh, Twyla baby, hang in there! Listen to your mama, this will all be ok :cloud9:
 

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In the baby gates stacked stage of introductions I've used a towel hanging off the gates to decrease the visibility the cats had to each other and raising the towel up for more visibility as they got used to each other.
Twyla doesn't sound too terribly upset, just normal intro hissing so hopefully it will go well as they advance.
I hope Twyla's respiratory issue keeps calming down!
 
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Twylasmom

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We had a jailbreak today! Hooper made great strides exploring the house for a good 4 hours (including flushing out a lizard which I was able to capture, joys of southern living) and I guess he still wanted to explore after I put him in his room. With the baby gates stacked 3 high I still have about a 12 inch gap at the top so I rigged a curtain to hang from the door jamb to cover the gap and deter visual contact. Twyla had been out of her room for only 5 minutes when I heard a loud thump upstairs - Hooper had scaled the gates! I managed to capture him before there was an uncontrolled meeting between the two but now I am wondering how to move to face to face intros if the baby gates won't work. I was hoping to keep the door open with the gates in place anytime I was home so they could have unforced controlled contact. I know jamming the door from both sides is an option, is that secure enough to leave unattended?

Or suggestions on what to do instead?
 
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Twylasmom

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To add, I would be home, and go upstairs if I heard evidence of interactions, but not actively monitoring the door at all times.
 

pearl99

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I don't know how deep your door jamb is, but I've been able to angle the baby gates (wood frame ones) so they overlap to cover the last open inches at the top.
Hopefully the photo will show up...

BabyGates.JPG
 
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Twylasmom

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Hmmm, I will check to see if that might work! I will need to get one more gate. My other thought was inserting something at the top of the door frame to block it but can't think of a way to do that without damaging the frame. I wish the gates fit better, I am having to shim them into place with pieces of cardboard so it's a production putting them in place.

It was disappointing because Twyla came up to investigate right after I got him secured and gave a good sniff around (complete with hiss and growl).
 

pearl99

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Hmmm, I will check to see if that might work! I will need to get one more gate. My other thought was inserting something at the top of the door frame to block it but can't think of a way to do that without damaging the frame. I wish the gates fit better, I am having to shim them into place with pieces of cardboard so it's a production putting them in place.

It was disappointing because Twyla came up to investigate right after I got him secured and gave a good sniff around (complete with hiss and growl).
I was lucky I still had all these gates from having had dogs, I have 4 total- gates that is, not dogs :D
 
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Twylasmom

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Ugh, UPS says my additional gate was delivered yesterday but it was not. I was even home at time of supposed delivery and received another package about the same time. One more delay in the introduction process.
 
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Twylasmom

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The new gate configuration seems to be holding, but Hooper is very distressed about being confined, he is crying and repeatedly trying to climb the gate. Hopefully that will pass. I worry about him hurting himself.

Twyla has been at the foot of the stairs listening. She did come up earlier today and growl and hiss at the door, but that's the most interaction they have had all week. They have each been having their own time in the main living area, and they both seem comfortable in that situation.

Would it also work to confine Twyla to her space with the gates when Hooper is out exploring so they could have the potential for interaction there? I just don't know how much she is going to want to come upstairs.
 

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Would it also work to confine Twyla to her space with the gates when Hooper is out exploring so they could have the potential for interaction there?
I think so, yes - try it and see how things go (Hang in there, Hooper baby! :) ).
 
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