Introducing new cats

Jkris24

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Hi everyone, new here! My fiancé and I recently moved to Washington state with her cat, Monty. Monty previously lived with one other cat that was a family pet and we decided to get another cat when we moved here to keep her company. To describe Monty, she is a 9 year old calico and my fiancé has had her for 4 years. She is very shy and easily startled. She likes hiding in cabinets and closed confined spaces and spends most of her day sleeping. She likes to be pet often. However, she does not like to play at all with humans and only occasionally plays by herself. She also is quite particular about where she sleeps and can be a picky eater. Now to introduce our new cat, Maze. Maze is a 6 month old black cat. She is full of energy and is extremely playful. Loves climbing, jumping, and also loves being pet. It has been two days since we got her and she is still settling in. We have had some occasional excessive meowing but I assume it is because she is still anxious about the move? We have formed a plan for the introduction and plan on giving it some more time, but needless to say the two cats are not getting along quite yet. We put Maze in the bathroom and have established our office as her play area. When sleeping we return her to the bathroom and when we leave, we also return her to the bathroom. The first day we decided to bring them to the door and tried to limit physical vision of each other as much as possible. Unfortunately (but expected) Monty hissed from under the door and at Maze through the crack. We let them sit at the door for awhile before decided to end the ‘session’. On day 2 we kept them away from each other all day while spending time with them separately. While Maze was locked up in the bathroom, Monty decided to wander into the office and shortly came out after. We decided to have them eat on opposite sides of the door this evening and it did not go well. Monty loves to eat and wouldnt eat her food until we moved it further back from the door. She ended up eating most of her food and Maze was just chowing down. Monty hissed a few times at her from the other side of the door. However, Maze wanted to play with a toy on the other side and she stuck her paw under the door which Monty subsequently lunged, swatted , and hissed at her paw. Now that everyone is up to date on this- I wanted to ask for advice going forward. (Also apologize for the long post). We were planning on maybe buying a dog gate and adding a visual factor by Tuesday. Thoughts and criticisms?? Thanks everyone!!
 

ArtNJ

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You already understand that this could be a hard introduction. Kittens have so much energy, and some of them jump all over the older cats whether they want it or not. Some older, anxious cats, don't seem able to physically put the kitten in its place, and just get really stressed by this. It is often not resolved by an introduction process, because it is not stranger danger, or not just stranger danger. Instead, its not wanting to be jumped on, which an introduction process doesn't necessarily help with. To add difficulty, you can't just put them together and assume that they will be fine and are working things out, because at 6 months, the kitten is old enough that he might be perceived as an adult, making violence a possibility (even if it seems unlikely given your older cat's personality). So you indeed do need to have an introduction process.

The flip side is that sometimes these things are not as hard as we are fearing. Some kittens are almost respectful, at least for a good while. Sometimes even kind of nervous older cats don't react as poorly as we fear. Introductions are like a box of chocolates, you never know what your gonna get. You know, provided you eat them and don't let the cats have any. So you'll have to see.

Follow the guide, check back in with us and we will try and help. Good luck!
 

calicosrspecial

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The biggest mistake I see is people rushing the process. The resident/existing cat typically has the biggest hurdle as it is "their" territory being "invaded". They don;t know if this new "thing" is a physical threat, a threat to their food, a threat to their water, or their territory. So they are very sensitive. What we try to do is slowly let the cat's know that the other cat doesn't mean any of those things. That they are positive and not negative.

I am not sure how "recent" your move was but Monty could still be feeling a lack of confidence since this is new territory to her. So help her own it. I know she doesn't really like to play but then use food, anything she can get her scent on to "own" - cat trees, scratching posts, warm and comfy bedding, and give a lot of love (stay calm and confident around her as cats tend to take on our emotions) to build her confidence and territorial security.

So we go through the process starting with feeding on either side of the closed door to make a positive association with the other cat's scent. Food (something good and life sustaining) and scent and no negativity = a positive. And we keep doing things reinforcing those positives.

What we want to do is maximize positive encounters and minimize negative encounters. It is no different than meeting another human. If someone is kind and respectful and doesn't seem threatening we start to trust but we want to give it time. But if someone is yelling at us and threatening and acting "scary" we would be defending ourselves or running away or calling for help.

"We decided to have them eat on opposite sides of the door this evening and it did not go well. Monty loves to eat and wouldnt eat her food until we moved it further back from the door. She ended up eating most of her food and Maze was just chowing down." - This is positive and exactly what we are trying to do. We start at a point the cats will eat and slowly move it closer each day. If a cat will not eat we move it back a bit to where they will.

We really don't want any other encounter for now.

If you sense tension or any negativity stay calm and confident and distract the cat to turn it into a positive (avoiding a negative). It really is all about maximizing positives and minimizing negative encounters and making positive associations.

The other thing is - often times things seem to be going really well at first. Just take it slow and reinforce positives. Setbacks just make the process take longer so I tend to take is slower so that when they do meet they are like "I know that cat, that cat is cool, not a threat, just something positive".

Intros can take a while ( a month to over a year) but with the right knowledge and the right effort the success rate is very, very high.

Let us know if you have questions anytime. Already great posters on this thread.
 
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Jkris24

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Hi everyone! Just providing an update! Things are not going great with Monty but Maze is doing very well. So, Monty did not hiss at her for 4-5 meals behind the door and ate all of her food. We also put Monty in Maze’s room to get used to her scent and only received positive thoughts. We also tried the sock with Maze’s scent and Monty seemed fine with it. So we decided to bring in the baby gates and let them see each other and it has been downhill from there. Maze is quite the climber and we had an incident with our smoke alarm and were trying to fix it- during that distraction Maze escaped from her room and Monty got defensive we quickly separated them but tried to keep Maze around for a bit. Today, Monty has been nonstep hissing at her and letting out these low bellows that we have never heard before (maybe growls). We tried to switch rooms with them and comfort Monty(brushing and feeding treats to create positivity association) when she is in vision with Maze. Unfortunately, she has lashed out numerous times and she attacked my fiancee and hissed at me as well. There have been a few times where she let out an aggressive hiss and lunged at Maze. Any advice? Unfortunately the cats are two very different personalities and I dont know if this will work. Neither of us will have time to continue to introduce them consistently as we will start work soon! Any advice is very much appreciated!! Thanks all!
 

calicosrspecial

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Hi everyone! Just providing an update! Things are not going great with Monty but Maze is doing very well. So, Monty did not hiss at her for 4-5 meals behind the door and ate all of her food. We also put Monty in Maze’s room to get used to her scent and only received positive thoughts. We also tried the sock with Maze’s scent and Monty seemed fine with it. So we decided to bring in the baby gates and let them see each other and it has been downhill from there. Maze is quite the climber and we had an incident with our smoke alarm and were trying to fix it- during that distraction Maze escaped from her room and Monty got defensive we quickly separated them but tried to keep Maze around for a bit. Today, Monty has been nonstep hissing at her and letting out these low bellows that we have never heard before (maybe growls). We tried to switch rooms with them and comfort Monty(brushing and feeding treats to create positivity association) when she is in vision with Maze. Unfortunately, she has lashed out numerous times and she attacked my fiancee and hissed at me as well. There have been a few times where she let out an aggressive hiss and lunged at Maze. Any advice? Unfortunately the cats are two very different personalities and I dont know if this will work. Neither of us will have time to continue to introduce them consistently as we will start work soon! Any advice is very much appreciated!! Thanks all!
Hi,

You are going much too quickly. I understand the desire to get it done and the worry about returning to work but the intro process can be done after work and during the weekends. This is the biggest mistake I see.

And if negative encounters happen too much then negativity builds up and it become much harder to reverse the entrenched feelings. We always want to maximize positive encounters and minimize negative encounters.

For example, if you finance lied to you every day it would be hard to move in together, to trust, to put their name on the bank account etc. But if the person tells the truth and time goes by and they still tell the truth you build up trust and therefore can move in together, marry etc. Same for cats. It is all about building trust and it takes time.

"Unfortunately the cats are two very different personalities and I dont know if this will work." - I intro different personalities all the time. It is the knowledge of intros and the effort that make it work. It is very, very rare when it doesn't.

My advice is you really have to take it slower. They should not have any visual contact and should only be fed on each side of a closed door for now. During this time confidence should be built via Play, Food, Height and Love. Negative encounters should be minimized or non-existent.

Just because we want something to happen doesn't mean it will. I would guess you dated your fiance for nearly a year or more. It takes time to get close to/trust someone. It is similar to cats. It takes time to build trust. If you go slower and go through the intro process it will save you time in the long run.

I am happy to help you through the process.
 
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Jkris24

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Thanks a lot for the advice! Should we go ahead and simply go back to feeding under the door or completely block out contact for a few days and start from scratch? I think the toughest part has been that Maze is ready to live in the entire apartment. When we have her in the room she mostly sits by the door and meows and then looks at us. Its not hard for us to distract her but she usually goes right back after. Monty has also been hissing at us, even when Maze isnt around which is unusual
 

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Hissing, howling and redirected aggression (that is when they take it out on your or fiance) seems bad, but if there is no fighting they can get over it. However, no need to rush. If you do a fulsome process they made need to work out some stuff at the end, but it seems like due to the mishap the process could be a little longer. The baby gates thing just doesn't work if they can climb over. Some people double stack them. If not, then you can't do that step. Alternatives include cracking a door with door jambs or sometimes people use a playpen type thing or even a pet crate (which I have mixed feelings about) or you can just skip the step and lengthen the other steps a bit.

You can continue the process while you are working, as long as they are secure and there is no possibility of accidentally getting at each other.
 

calicosrspecial

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"Should we go ahead and simply go back to feeding under the door or completely block out contact for a few days and start from scratch?" - Yes. They should not have any visual contact and should only be fed on each side of a closed door for now. During this time confidence should be built via Play, Food, Height and Love. Negative encounters should be minimized or non-existent.

"I think the toughest part has been that Maze is ready to live in the entire apartment. When we have her in the room she mostly sits by the door and meows and then looks at us." - Yes, this is always the hardest part. But Maze has to be in her own territory for Monty's benefit. Monty (the resident existing cat) most always has the most difficult transition as it is 'their territory" being "invaded". So we have to reassure Monty that this new cat is not a threat to her physical safety, access to food or water, etc. That Maze is a positive not a negative.

"When we have her in the room she mostly sits by the door and meows and then looks at us. Its not hard for us to distract her but she usually goes right back after." - Yep. Just play with her then give treats after play. Distract in any positive way you can. Give warm and comfy bedding, scratching post, cat tree, a place to look out of the window. Make it a cool place to hang out.

"Monty has also been hissing at us, even when Maze isnt around which is unusual" - Happens all the time. She is feeling uncertain because she doesn't trust Maze yet. Now the good news is Maze sounds like a really good cat so Maze will show Monty (in time) that she doesn't pose a threat. We just need to make a positive association now and minimize or eliminate any negative encounters.

Do everything possible to make Monty feel good. Treats, if you can play (I know it is hard), talk lovingly, calm and confident to her. Reassure her. Keep her on a routine. Keep it as positive for her as possible. So she starts to learn there is no negativity, no threat, everything is "normal" and good.

Our work will mainly be on Monty to build confidence and trust towards Maze. This is common and normal. We deal with this all the time.

It will take some time and effort but if we do that I don;t see why it wouldn't work out. Maze seems like she is going to be really helpful in the process which is GREAT.
 
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Jkris24

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Thank you so much!! This is super helpful! I will keep everyone updated! Thank you guys so much for the help, this has been great!
 

calicosrspecial

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You are very welcome.

Don't worry, we'll make it work and be successful.

Please update us and ask any questions or for clarification anytime. We are absolutely here for you and the cats.
 
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Jkris24

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Providing another short update! Things are going swimmingly! We have had a bunch of “door meals” and no missing and no hostility! In fact, Monty has been trying to go into Maze’s room and trots over there. Monty also has been exhibiting different behavior. For ages we tried to get her to drink water, we even got a fountain a month or two ago and today, she used it for the first time ever! Also she has been playing more by herself again and doing laps around the apartment!! She seems very happy. Anyone know why this sudden change in behavior maybe happening?? After all the good vibes we decided to try feeding by the gate and to say the least, it went great!!
 

calicosrspecial

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Providing another short update! Things are going swimmingly! We have had a bunch of “door meals” and no missing and no hostility! In fact, Monty has been trying to go into Maze’s room and trots over there. Monty also has been exhibiting different behavior. For ages we tried to get her to drink water, we even got a fountain a month or two ago and today, she used it for the first time ever! Also she has been playing more by herself again and doing laps around the apartment!! She seems very happy. Anyone know why this sudden change in behavior maybe happening?? After all the good vibes we decided to try feeding by the gate and to say the least, it went great!!
"We have had a bunch of “door meals” and no missing and no hostility!" - GREAT. But we need to stay on this step. Keep reinforcing the positive associations and positive encounters. We need to really ingrain those feeling before moving to the next step. There are awlasy steps forward and steps back in intros. We want to have sustained positive encounters (a week to 2 weeks)in order to move to the next step (visual). In the next few days you can get an old shirt and get the other cat's scent on it and place it inside the other cat's territory and place it near the food and/or by their bedding. Again, we want to get scent associated with something positive (food, sleep) and have a positive encounter as scent can't attack a cat and make a negative encounter.

"Monty has been trying to go into Maze’s room and trots over there." - Interesting. Body language? Tail up? Looking confident?

"Monty also has been exhibiting different behavior. For ages we tried to get her to drink water, we even got a fountain a month or two ago and today, she used it for the first time ever!" - GREAT!!!

"Also she has been playing more by herself again and doing laps around the apartment!! She seems very happy." - This is fantastic Keep trying to play with her and feed treats after play (or a meal). To build confidence.

"Anyone know why this sudden change in behavior maybe happening??" - Hard to know. Could be a couple of things. The perceived "threat" from Maze is gone. Humans could be less stressed and more calm, confident and positive - cats take on human's emotions. Just difficult to know. The resident cat/existing cat has the most difficult time adjusting typically so we want to keep reinforcing those positives and limiting any negatives.

" After all the good vibes we decided to try feeding by the gate and to say the least, it went great!!" - Ok but please take it slow. There are always ups and downs in intros. And oftentimes we see some positives then distrust starts up again. We really want to reinforce positive associations, positive encounters and minimize negative encounters. Use distraction techniques (a toy, food, calm and confident words, etc) to avoid or short circuit a negative encounter.

Also keep working on building confidence as we discussed using Play, Food, Height and Love (safely) and maximizing positive associations and positive encounters and minimizing or avoiding negative encounters.

Just take it slow. So far good signs but we still have a ways to go. But if we do it right we can shorten the time to success.

Keep up the great work!!!
 
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Jkris24

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Yes! We have continued behind the door meals. Both cats have been fine. Maze likes to stick her paw under to play. However, I think Monty may perceive it as a threat and she almost always hisses and sometimes swats her paw away with a nasty hiss too. Other than that, everything has been going smoothly. Monty definitely seems more confident and is actually acting like a cat. She is exercising and wanting to play by herself more as I said in my previous post, this trend is continuing!
 

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Thats great. When it comes time to up the level a bit, consider cracking the door with door jambs if you don't think the baby gates will prevent climbing/jumping. Let Monty hiss. Him being unhappy, but seeing nothing bad actually happens, is how this works out of his system. Hopefully -- senior cats like Monty can take a while sometimes. But you can only go step by step and see how they do.
 

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Yes! We have continued behind the door meals. Both cats have been fine. Maze likes to stick her paw under to play. However, I think Monty may perceive it as a threat and she almost always hisses and sometimes swats her paw away with a nasty hiss too. Other than that, everything has been going smoothly. Monty definitely seems more confident and is actually acting like a cat. She is exercising and wanting to play by herself more as I said in my previous post, this trend is continuing!
Great!! Keep that up. A great sign they are doing well.

"Maze likes to stick her paw under to play. However, I think Monty may perceive it as a threat and she almost always hisses and sometimes swats her paw away with a nasty hiss too." - Totally normal. It is the unknown. Just shows us that Monty needs to build that trust. Try to distract her, reassure her, etc. Try to turn it into a positive or a non-event. As ArtNJ says, she'll realize it is not a threat and that it will be fine. But it just takes some time. Hissing is just communication "Hey. don't try anything" and a paw is a little escalation. But when nothing bad happens and Monty isn't hurt, still has food, water, access to the litter box, comfy bedding etc she'l' figure out that that cat "is ok in my book".

"Other than that, everything has been going smoothly." - Great!! Keep reinforcing that.

"Monty definitely seems more confident and is actually acting like a cat. She is exercising and wanting to play by herself more as I said in my previous post, this trend is continuing!" - THIS is FANTASTIC!!! A confident cat is more likely to accept and be accepted. Play is a big part of confidence building and a great sign of confidence. As is food, and what I call Height (but which includes a lot of things) and of course Love (again encompasses a lot of things).

In intros we always want to watch what the cats are telling us. They are the best judge of where they are. Our job is to interpret their actions. I am really happy where they are right now. We have a ways to go so please take it slow, let's build on this progress and focus on positive associations, maximizing positive encounters and minimizing or avoiding negative encounters.

In a few days or this weekend you might want to try some scent swapping. So getting the other cat's scent on an old shirt and having it near where they are enjoying themselves with food, or play, or just in their favorite hangout space. And observe how they respond.

Just take it slow, step by step. But I am really encouraged with what I am reading but we do have a ways to go. There are ALWAYS ups and downs in intros so be prepared but I don't expect anything we can't overcome. I am highly confident we'll get them successfully intro'd.

Keep up the great work!! :clap2:
 
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Jkris24

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Thanks a lot!! Will keep all updated on status as usual and will keep working hard and taking it slow to make this happen!!
 
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Jkris24

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Hi all, just an update! Things are going better before and believe or not, Maze has been the trouble maker as of late. She is tiny and extremely quick. She has figured out the time window to escape when we open the door to see her and then go to the other room. We are thinking of permanently putting the gate there to slow her down when we open the door. However with that being said. She has escaped and approached Monty several times. Yesterday Monty was sitting on a chair when Maze approached and just looked at her with no hiss! We decided to have an impromptu play time to wear Maze out and show Monty that she is not a threat. We fed Monty treats and let Maze play by her and fed Maze treats as well and then we ended the session with no incidents! Maze escaped again today while Monty was on the floor and was met with (a not very aggressive) hiss. Maze slowly approached Monty and the sniffed each other and then Monty quietly hissed a few more times and Maze walked away. Again with no real incidents. I assume its more of a “dont mess with me” hiss than an aggressive attack sort of stance. We have been scent swapping and have been using socks for that. I think we are comfortable to move to the gate feeding phase but will keep the door shut after feeding to prevent anymore escapes from Maze.
 
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