Introducing kitten to two residents

littlecatt

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Been feeling overwhelmed with the introduction even though it's only been 24 hours so I wanted to make a thread where I could post updates and questions. My residents Finn (4.5 years) and Anya (2.5 years) have a fantastic relationship, though Finn is a very territorial and high-energy cat while Anya is very submissive and skittish. Yesterday I adopted Jonathan (3 months) who is full of spunk! He's an absolute sweetheart and I'm so happy to have him as part of my little family.

Anya has been very nonplussed with the new scent and meows from the spare room, but Finn is not happy! Hissing and swiping under the door, tense every time he hears a sound... it's so stressful for the both of us!

Yesterday was a bit of a disaster when Jonathan managed to escape his room and Finn cornered him, hissing and spitting. I got them split up and Jonathan back into his safe room, and Finn spent the rest of the day sulking in his cat tree. Today I think went a little better. I put a Sentry calming collar on Finn, and he spent the day going about his normal routine. Only had an incident after I left Jonathan's room and Jonathan was meowing, and Finn charged the door and hissed and swat. A bit after that he came over and sat on my lap purring so I'm hoping this means he's not as stressed as yesterday. Even one less hiss per day will be a victory! I was worried about redirected aggression, but he and Anya are still getting along fine and I even saw them allogrooming today.

I'm thinking tomorrow I'll do some scent swapping. Is it best to do visual desensitization once the hissing under the door has ceased completely?

I'm so scared they'll never get along! :bawling: Hopefully I can look back at this thread in a month and see that they've made progress.
 

ArtNJ

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My theory of the introduction process is that its like gradual densitization therapy in humans. You know, the psychiatrist has you visualize a spider. When you can do that without sweating, he brings one in a cage 10 feet away. When that doesn't make you vomit, he puts one on himself 8 feet away. ...So if your cat is a little stressed at the current step, work is occurring, and there is no need to move forward. You don't need to go to scent swapping yet, and shouldn't, because your cat is already stressed by the little scent he is getting of the kitten. Moving forward would be like bringing the spider closer when the human is still vomitting :)

That said, you might move ahead if improvement stops, at least if things have reached a reasonable level. After all, you might never be comfortable with spider crawling on the therapist 8 feet away right? But if it stops making you sweat and shake, the therapist might move to the next step. So, continuing this analogy, you don't necessarily need *all* hissing to stop to move forward. However, only 24 hours in with one of the resident cats still quite stressed, no need to rush.

If you haven't seen our guide:

How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – TheCatSite Articles

We sometimes say it takes as long as it takes, but I don't think that is quite true when one of the cats is a kitten. You don't want it to drag on for months, since there is a huge advantage to getting to face to face while the kitten is still viewed as a kitten. But certainly if it takes three weeks, it takes three weeks. At the same time, as you likely know, not all adult cats end up getting to full toleration through the introduction process, and its quite possible you will have some lingering unhappyness and stress for a bunch of months. So you want to go slowly enough that you don't look back and have regrets. You'll have to re-evaluate as you go, but with your cat reacting a bit more strongly than average initially, I would certainly be thinking this will take weeks not days.
 
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rubysmama

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Congrats on the new kitten! It's only been 24+ hours, so no need to go into "they'll never got along" worry mode yet. Generally adult cats accept new kittens more quickly than another adult cat, but of course every situation is different.

I'm sure A ArtNJ had some good points in his spider analogy, but as I have arachnophobia, I didn't read it too closely. :running:

But the article link he posted should have some tips for you. We also have one specifically for introducing kittens to adults cats, which might be helpful as well. How To Introduce A Kitten To An Older Cat – TheCatSite Articles

The main things to watch for are one cat seeming stressed (not eating, litter box issues) or the kitten seeming scared of the adult cat. If the adult cat hisses or swats and the kitten runs, then comes right back for more "fun" then all is probably well.

Here's one more TCS article on Stress in Cats – The Ultimate Guide – TheCatSite Articles that might also be helpful.

Keep giving Finn and Anya, particularly Finn lots of attention. Try to keep routines normal. And tell Finn you still love him, and he's not being replaced with Jonathan. (hmmm... Finn, Anya and Jonathan too. You're a Buffy fan, purrhaps)

Good luck. Keep us posted. And post pics if/when you can.:camera:
 
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littlecatt

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My theory of the introduction process is that its like gradual densitization therapy in humans. You know, the psychiatrist has you visualize a spider. When you can do that without sweating, he brings one in a cage 10 feet away. When that doesn't make you vomit, he puts one on himself 8 feet away. ...So if your cat is a little stressed at the current step, work is occurring, and there is no need to move forward. You don't need to go to scent swapping yet, and shouldn't, because your cat is already stressed by the little scent he is getting of the kitten. Moving forward would be like bringing the spider closer when the human is still vomitting :)

That said, you might move ahead if improvement stops, at least if things have reached a reasonable level. After all, you might never be comfortable with spider crawling on the therapist 8 feet away right? But if it stops making you sweat and shake, the therapist might move to the next step. So, continuing this analogy, you don't necessarily need *all* hissing to stop to move forward. However, only 24 hours in with one of the resident cats still quite stressed, no need to rush.

If you haven't seen our guide:

How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – TheCatSite Articles

We sometimes say it takes as long as it takes, but I don't think that is quite true when one of the cats is a kitten. You don't want it to drag on for months, since there is a huge advantage to getting to face to face while the kitten is still viewed as a kitten. But certainly if it takes three weeks, it takes three weeks. At the same time, as you likely know, not all adult cats end up getting to full toleration through the introduction process, and its quite possible you will have some lingering unhappyness and stress for a bunch of months. So you want to go slowly enough that you don't look back and have regrets. You'll have to re-evaluate as you go, but with your cat reacting a bit more strongly than average initially, I would certainly be thinking this will take weeks not days.
This is such a great analogy, thank you so so much! I've been mentally adjusting to having a new cat and poor Finn had no idea until it was just dropped on him. I don't want to rush this and with Jonathan being so young I think I have plenty of that "kitten time" left that'll make Finn realize he's not a threat. Today there's still some hissing at the door but it's less pronounced and there's no swatting, so I'll count that as progress! I've been feeding him treats and playing with him in the room where the door is. Definitely not expecting for all bumps to be smoothed out during the introduction — and knowing Finn he's going to have a few things to tell the kitten about his boundaries once they're able to meet.

Thank you so much for this! :) It makes me feel better to know other people have gone through this too!
 
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littlecatt

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Congrats on the new kitten! It's only been 24+ hours, so no need to go into "they'll never got along" worry mode yet. Generally adult cats accept new kittens more quickly than another adult cat, but of course every situation is different.

I'm sure A ArtNJ had some good points in his spider analogy, but as I have arachnophobia, I didn't read it too closely. :running:

But the article link he posted should have some tips for you. We also have one specifically for introducing kittens to adults cats, which might be helpful as well. How To Introduce A Kitten To An Older Cat – TheCatSite Articles

The main things to watch for are one cat seeming stressed (not eating, litter box issues) or the kitten seeming scared of the adult cat. If the adult cat hisses or swats and the kitten runs, then comes right back for more "fun" then all is probably well.

Here's one more TCS article on Stress in Cats – The Ultimate Guide – TheCatSite Articles that might also be helpful.

Keep giving Finn and Anya, particularly Finn lots of attention. Try to keep routines normal. And tell Finn you still love him, and he's not being replaced with Jonathan. (hmmm... Finn, Anya and Jonathan too. You're a Buffy fan, purrhaps)

Good luck. Keep us posted. And post pics if/when you can.:camera:
Thank you!! :) I've saved these articles and keep referencing them but it's so much more stressful when it's your own cats! Fortunately Finn is still eating, drinking, and urinating fine — I'm glad he's such a confident little cat at least. And it makes me feel better that he still is content to be held and purr.

Hysterically I actually got Finn and Anya and THEN watched Buffy, the friend who introduced me to the show did so after I got Anya and she said Anya was her favorite Buffy character! Jonathan came with his shelter name, and my friends who watch Jojo's Bizarre Adventure didn't want me to change it... so he also goes by Jojo :lol:

Pictures of the crew!! Jonathan has the biggest ears I've ever seen, I hope he never grows out of them! Finn's the little orange grump, and Anya's the massive white furball... I love them all so much.
 

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rubysmama

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Oh, they're all gorgeous. Hope they'll be one big happy feline family soon. :catlove:

I love that their names are all inadvertently Buffy-themed. I wonder what the odds are that something like that would happen.
 
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littlecatt

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I am SO thrilled right now over the smallest thing, Jonathan was screaming at the door and Finn wandered over, laid down about six inches away, and didn't hiss or anything! After about a minute he got distracted by a fly and wandered off. So excited that having the kitten in a bedroom is starting to be acceptable for him! Definitely a change from the first day where he parked himself outside and hissed every time I went in or out.
 
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littlecatt

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Progress has been made in leaps and bounds, there's been absolutely no more charging and swatting, and hisses now seem more defensive than offensive if that makes sense? They had their first visual introduction and it went really well I think, I'm attaching a video if anyone has any insight!


They actually touched noses at one point but then Finn hissed and Jonathan backed off. I'm really grateful that he seems to be an oddly respectful kitten! He's not boisterous through the gate at all, he gives Finn lots of space and doesn't antagonize him.

As I was typing this they touched noses again, and Finn tried to give Jonathan a little bop but no vocalizations! Really proud of both of them!!
 

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ArtNJ

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Finn doesn't seem complete sure the kitten is harmless yet, but thats ok, you just started and have already made a ton of progress. A lot of the guides recommend feeding on opposite sides of the gate, but I don't think its worth worrying about if it ends up causing stress. Its mostly just time for Finn to get used to the spider. I think I'm going to use that analogy all the time since rubysmama rubysmama liked it so much :)
 
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littlecatt

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Finn doesn't seem complete sure the kitten is harmless yet, but thats ok, you just started and have already made a ton of progress. A lot of the guides recommend feeding on opposite sides of the gate, but I don't think its worth worrying about if it ends up causing stress. Its mostly just time for Finn to get used to the spider. I think I'm going to use that analogy all the time since rubysmama rubysmama liked it so much :)
Kittens are a handful, he has good reason to be suspicious! :lol: The two of them seem more interested in play sessions on either side of the gate so I've been doing that instead — that string in the video is Finn's favorite toy... a piece of a $1 ball of twine rather than all of the expensive toys I've bought him of course. The analogy is perfect, it really helps so much! I'm going to focus on doing short visual exposure sessions and end them when something positive or neutral happens. Inching towards success and I don't want to punish Finn's amazing courage and tolerance by moving too fast.

On a side note, Finn gets SUPER energetic after the kitten meetings? Running around the house, pouncing on his sister, batting around all of his toys... Is it just a healthy outlet for the stress of meeting Jonathan?
 

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A lot of times when they don't try to play with the big cat they aren't completely sure yet, there might be some of that, but the kitten didn't look stressed to me, just curious.

If he likes a string, you could try this product. I need to order a new one -- it lasted a long time:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007VPFC8C/?tag=thecatsite

When they would get a little bored of it, we would tie a favorite mouse onto the end.
 

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littlecatt

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A lot of times when they don't try to play with the big cat they aren't completely sure yet, there might be some of that, but the kitten didn't look stressed to me, just curious.

If he likes a string, you could try this product. I need to order a new one -- it lasted a long time:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007VPFC8C/?tag=thecatsite

When they would get a little bored of it, we would tie a favorite mouse onto the end.
I was worried Jonathan was being wary because of the mishap on the first day when he slipped out... but he doesn't seem scared or stressed, just careful. These slow introductions are good for everyone.

Oh I think he would love this! I have wands but he gets more excited about the string than the feathers on the end of the wand so this seems perfect!
 
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littlecatt

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That's amazing progress in just a few days! Congrats to you, and your furbabies.

So there'll be lots of happy cats and cat parents, and one traumatized TCS forum helper. :fear: ;)
:lol: :lol:

Thank you!! I'm over the moon, I've been excitedly texting my friends who don't understand why them staring tensely at each other through a gate is amazing progress... life of a cat person. Hopefully with careful observation of both the cats' demeanor things keep going well!
 

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I've been excitedly texting my friends who don't understand why them staring tensely at each other through a gate is amazing progress... life of a cat person.
That's why it's good you have us. We understand. :catlove:
 
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littlecatt

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Viewing tonight also went well I think! Finn hissed when Jonathan got too close, then rolled onto his side and stuck his paw through the baby gate to bop him, but Jonathan didn't seem stressed or intimidated. Session ended when Finn left to go sit in the window. It definitely wasn't a swat like before! Is it a good sign if the resident cat is showing more disinterest towards the newcomer, not needing to watch them as much, etc? Or is it avoidant and not a positive sign?

I keep forgetting to mention Anya because she's SO easy comparatively! Her and Jojo had a great meet tonight too, they touched noses and he tried to stick a paw out to play with her and she let him touch her then retreated without any vocalizations. Finn's a rough player and more active than her so I already have quite a few zones in the apartment for her to retreat to when she doesn't want to be bothered, which I'm sure she'll be using to dodge the kitten too lol
 
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Very funny that you don't want him to grow into the ears, I can relate! I had a cat that seemed to have a huge tail for the longest time. A cat sitter even said "my what a huge tail" immediately on meeting him at like 1 year old. But he kept getting longer and longer, and the tail mostly did not. In other words, the tail grew no longer while the cat kept growing longer and longer, and after a long time where the tail seemed quite long, it no longer seems especially long to me. So take lots of close up pictures and come up with silly captions while you can!
 

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Maybe my cat's tail might still be a little long, so there is hope for your kitten's ears!
 

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littlecatt

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Very funny that you don't want him to grow into the ears, I can relate! I had a cat that seemed to have a huge tail for the longest time. A cat sitter even said "my what a huge tail" immediately on meeting him at like 1 year old. But he kept getting longer and longer, and the tail mostly did not. In other words, the tail grew no longer while the cat kept growing longer and longer, and after a long time where the tail seemed quite long, it no longer seems especially long to me. So take lots of close up pictures and come up with silly captions while you can!
Maybe my cat's tail might still be a little long, so there is hope for your kitten's ears!
Oh my gosh that is precious, honestly it still looks long to me — it must have been so long as a kitten! :redheartpump: Do you have any pictures? You're right, I need to take lots of pictures of jackrabbit Jonathan while I can 🐰 I hope his ears stay a little bit long at least!

Great treat-filled morning! Anya loves the treat-dispensing baby gate, the kitten is an after thought :lol:
 

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Jojo is out (supervised) and things are going SO well! The "stranger danger" had passed and things were going well at the baby gate, so it seemed like the next natural step to let them talk things out amongst themselves.

All the cats are doing great. Anya is completely fine with the kitten in her space but doesn't really go out of her way to interact with him. Finn is making his boundaries clear but isn't being hostile, if Jonathan enters his bubble he lets him know with a hiss and sometimes a smack, but he doesn't antagonize him and will sometimes sniff his rear or touch noses. Definitely still vigilant but unstressed enough to sleep with Jonathan in the same room. Jonathan is both curious and respectful of Finn's space — for some reason, Finn seems to be his favorite! He's always trying to approach his big brother and likes to investigate Finn when he's sleeping.

Really focusing on making sure everyone is still confident with lots of play, treats, and affection, and everything is going great on the sharing litter boxes, dishes, and favorite perches front ! It makes me SO happy to see these three in the same room! :bliss:
 

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