Introducing new kitten to mature cat

JavierG

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Hi All

I have read the articles on Kitten introduction, and read other related discussions on the topic. All very helpful and informative, but wanted to ask about my specific situation, I have a mature cat, aged 14, who in the past lived with other cats and dogs and got along quite well with them. However it’s been a few years since she saw another cat. Three weeks ago we brought in a new Kitten that is 3 months old. We setup her “base camp” in the guest room upstairs, and kept her fully isolated for a week. We have allowed them To interactby keeping door slightly opened so can see each other, and recently started to allow the kitten periods to wander through the house while we keep resident cat secured in the basement. Usually an hour at a time once or twice per day.
With all of that the older cat seems still pretty upset and hisses and swipes towards the kitten. Should I wait until that type of behavior is gone before allowing them to interact directly? Or is this to be expected and just allow them to interact and sort it out while supervised to ensure it doesn’t get out of hand

I recently purchased a play pen for the kitten to allow her to be in the same room with older cat but still seperated, would this help? Or would it make things worse?

Thank You for any advise!
 

rubysmama

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Hello and welcome to TCS. Sounds like you're doing everything right, pertaining to the introductions. It's generally easier to introduce cats when they are younger, so your resident cat being 14, makes sense that they aren't welcoming the new kitten with open paws.

But hissing isn't so bad. The swiping maybe a bit concerning. Especially if it's looks more like aggression, than just annoyance.

How is your older cat otherwise? No signs of stress, such as litter box avoidance, not eating as much, etc.

The playpen certainly sounds like it could work, and would give your resident cat more time to get used to the kitten.

Generally an adult cat will not hurt a kitten, so that is something to keep in mind. There are always exceptions though.

Another thing to keep in mind, is that your kitten is still pretty young. So some of the hissing / swiping by your resident cat could be them teaching the kitten cat manners. How does the kitten respond to the hissing / swiping?
 
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JavierG

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Thank you for the response, as I have not experienced this type of thing before it’s hard to say what level of hostility the older cat is displaying, but there is aside from hissing and occasional swiping, she also sometimes growls. My feeling is she is still a bit hostile, as in this is an invader, type of hostile. But not consistently, for example yesterday earlier in the day resident cat saw the kitten in the playpen and simply walked away with no reaction. But then later she was hissing and avoiding when she saw the kitten in the play pen.

I would say mature resident cat is stressed, in fact very much. On Saturday I tried one of the proposed approaches of swapping rooms,letting kitty loose in house and putting existing cat in the kitten room to let her be exposed to the kittens scent. 30 minutes later when I went to let her out, I found her hiding in the closet and she was hissing at ME! She almost seemed like a different cat. I let her leave on her own, and she ran out and hid for a bit. I was a little shocked at how she was acting, she seemed panicked or like she was cornered.

later in the day she seemed back to normal. But lately She does spend more time in the basement, as I assume she sees that as a safe haven, and a place where the kitten has not yet been.
 

rubysmama

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Here's a TCS article on stress, that might be helpful: Stress in Cats – The Ultimate Guide – Cat Articles

It's possible when she hissed at you, she could smell the kitten's scent on your hands, or clothes. Or it was just her telling you she wasn't happy about things.

Three weeks is not a very long time, especially in a 14 year old cat's mind, so it's probably just going to take additional time.

Try to make her routine as normal as possible, and tell her you still love her, and that she's not being replaced.

You mentioned reading the introduction articles, but I'll put the links here in case you might have missed one.

How To Introduce A Kitten To An Older Cat [A Guide] - TheCatSite
How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide - TheCatSite
Introducing Cats To Cats: The Expert's Guide To A Smooth Transition - TheCatSite
How To Fix An Unsuccessful Cat Introduction - TheCatSite
 

heatherwillard0614

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The above information provided is good. And can definitely be a little unnerving when things don't seem to be going right. But I think with more time things will be good. It has been a short amount of time
 
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JavierG

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Thank You all for the feedback, I guess a question, some referenced that it’s a short amount of time we have been doing this, how long should I expect to be doing this, and more importantly how do I know when it’s time to allow direct interaction between the kitten and resident cat?
 

rubysmama

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Unfortunately, we can't give you a timeline of when things will be good between them. As Mamanyt1953 Mamanyt1953 always says, you can only proceed as quickly as the most resistant cat, which in your case is your resident cat.

That doesn't mean you can't proceed with the introductions. But you absolutely don't want to stress out your senior girl to the point that she stops eating, or develops a UTI. So keep an eye on her. And when you do have them interact, make it a pleasant time, with super yummy treats.

The playpen is a good idea, but I presume it's mesh. Which means they can't actually touch each other. Maybe keep doing the door ajar thing, so they can paw at each other, without the risk of harm. Or if you can, the stacked baby gates.
 
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JavierG

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Well just read the stress on cats article and realize that Resident Cat, Lola, is actually going through a lot that would stress her. Recently Dr changed her food to a kidney diet which she absolutely hates( she literally did the whole covering her poop action on the food) and has at times gone for more than a day without eating, until I mix in something. She had surgery to remove a growth in her mouth and had some teeth removed, so she cannot properly eat solid food. Throw in a new kitten and I can imagine she is really stressed. So I am guessing this will take time.

however there was some progress, this morning she was able to be redirected to a treat in front of kitten who was in the playpen Previously there was no distracting her from hissing and being upset at kitten. So maybe she is slowly getting used to Kitten? Also bought feliway diffuser so hopefully that helps
 

rubysmama

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Awww... poor Lola has been through a lot in a short bit of time. No wonder she's a bit stressed. Fingers crossed that with treats, and possibly help from the Feliway, that she'll get more comfortable around the kitten.
 

ArtNJ

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Think of this process like desensitization training for a human that is afraid of spiders. The therapist starts with the spider 12 feet away in a cage, and gradually ups the ante. The therapist thinks its fine that the human has an elevated pulse and maybe a bead of sweat, but doesn't want the human having a panic attack with a pulse in the red zone. That would be too much too fast, and indicate that the spider should have been further away right? If we think about the process this way, its pretty clear that scent swapping the adult into the kittens room was simply too much too fast. Whatever the guides say, we need to customize based on how its actually going -- otherwise its like having some poor human vomiting in the therapists office because things went too fast. Something like sticking the kitten's blanket on the adults favorite couch might be a more chill way to get some scent exposure.
 
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JavierG

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I think there has been progress over the week. Lola is no longer treating the kitten as an imminent threat, and in fact can now sit next to kittens playpen without any elevated fear/ aggression. Attached a pic where Lola can even ignore to kitty to smile for the camera. There is the occasional pawing and some hissing but much much reduced. I feel maybe in a few days if this continues can try in person without barriers. But curious how that’s done? Do you have both cats held and bring them together? Or just open the door to kittens room or playpen and let kitten come out on own and allow a more natural encounter on their own?
IMG_5319.jpeg
 

ArtNJ

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J JavierG as to how its done, if there is a substantial reason to expect problematic violence, sometimes people do hold one or both cats (if you have a helper). For example, if introducing a cat to a large dog this is often recommended. However, generally its a leap of faith. When you think they are ready to be together, you let them be together, and if there is some hissing, or even a "get away from me" swat, you let them be. What you cant allow is actual fighting, which destroys progress. Some some people recommend having a towel ready so you can safely pick up one cat if they do fight. Or I've seen some people say use a large piece of cardboard to separate them.

The good news is that you dont need to worry about that! A stressed/unhappy adult cat will sometimes do some "get away from me" swats of a kitten, or pin it if the kitten is being a PITA, but will not attack with intent to injure. Its some sort of biological hard wiring, that prevents a true attack with intent to hurt up until the kitten is old enough to be perceived as a threat. So when you conclude they are ready, you can safely put them together and see what happens. The only risk you'll face is that your 14 year old cat will be too stressed, and either do some swatting, or more likely act like a scared baby and make a ton of noise, run away, and maybe even have other stress related problems like not eating or using the litter box. So it is possible you'll have to back up, but you'll never have an actual fight with actual injuries because the kitten is too young. While it is difficult to introduce a kitten to a senior cat, its harder and riskier to introduce a one year old to a senior -- things can still be very difficult with a kitten, but at least you can safely see how things are going without risking an actual fight.
 
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JavierG

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J JavierG as to how its done, if there is a substantial reason to expect problematic violence, sometimes people do hold one or both cats (if you have a helper). For example, if introducing a cat to a large dog this is often recommended. However, generally its a leap of faith. When you think they are ready to be together, you let them be together, and if there is some hissing, or even a "get away from me" swat, you let them be. What you cant allow is actual fighting, which destroys progress. Some some people recommend having a towel ready so you can safely pick up one cat if they do fight. Or I've seen some people say use a large piece of cardboard to separate them.

The good news is that you dont need to worry about that! A stressed/unhappy adult cat will sometimes do some "get away from me" swats of a kitten, or pin it if the kitten is being a PITA, but will not attack with intent to injure. Its some sort of biological hard wiring, that prevents a true attack with intent to hurt up until the kitten is old enough to be perceived as a threat. So when you conclude they are ready, you can safely put them together and see what happens. The only risk you'll face is that your 14 year old cat will be too stressed, and either do some swatting, or more likely act like a scared baby and make a ton of noise, run away, and maybe even have other stress related problems like not eating or using the litter box. So it is possible you'll have to back up, but you'll never have an actual fight with actual injuries because the kitten is too young. While it is difficult to introduce a kitten to a senior cat, its harder and riskier to introduce a one year old to a senior -- things can still be very difficult with a kitten, but at least you can safely see how things are going without risking an actual fight.
Thank You, very helpful. A question is I did notice there is sometimes swatting at each other and even the kitten doing the sideways bounce with ears flattened, then leap at Lola. No hissing or growling, my first impression is the kitten is actually trying to play. And the fact that Lola doesn’t react seems either Lola also thinks it’s play, or she knows there is a barrier, so doesn’t stress about it. But would there be some aggression without hissing or growls?
 

ArtNJ

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Thank You, very helpful. A question is I did notice there is sometimes swatting at each other and even the kitten doing the sideways bounce with ears flattened, then leap at Lola. No hissing or growling, my first impression is the kitten is actually trying to play. And the fact that Lola doesn’t react seems either Lola also thinks it’s play, or she knows there is a barrier, so doesn’t stress about it. But would there be some aggression without hissing or growls?
The kitten is trying to play. Believe me, the kitten wanting to play wont stop a much larger senior cat from getting super stressed by the kitten getting close and trying to jump on the senior. A big adult acting afraid of a kitten? Its weird! But it happens a high percentage of the time. You never know, maybe your senior will just make some light hissing and quickly become fine, even friendly. But some stress would be very common.
 

rubysmama

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Glad to hear progress is being made. Good luck with the next step.

lola is gorgeous, btw. And kitten is a cutie pie.
 
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JavierG

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So we progressed to next stage, had a brief no barrier introduction yesterday. Only about 30 minutes which was the plan. I assumed it would be a bit like starting over as Lola hasn’t interacted with Kitten before. So it wasn’t a totally bad interaction, but to be honest I can’t say it was good either. It was quite stressful as we couldn’t tell if Lola was aggressive or actually playing. There was little hissing, maybe at first. Lola did take some swipes at kitten and definitely did some move to put kitten in its place by standing over it. But ears were always up and after each interaction. The kitten would seek out Lola and attack her tail or such. But there were times Lola did pounce on kitten, where the Kitten was running after a ball, and Lola chased her. Which was frightening to us.

hiwever throughout Lola was easily distracted for treats or if I called her.

so not sure what to make of it. I sort of feel it was a little in between, maybe Lola was playing, but not necessarily in good intent, sort of “I’ll show you”.

I figure to try again in small bites again this week, assuming it will settle down as Lola gets used to kitten.

do Cats show aggression without hissing, vocalización? Etc? Are they like dogs where ears upright can be a dominance thing?
 

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I think we need a video to help. It sounds more or less fine, like its going well even, but with your resident cat being 14, I dont want to tell you its fine without seeing what is going on.

In general, older cats that arent afraid to pin a kitten they deem annoying do much better than older cats that are stressed by a kitten, but for whatever reason, are unable/unwilling to physically express their feelings. Some older cats act scared of the kitten, and just run off.

So sounds like a good update, but lets see a video.
 
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JavierG

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I think we need a video to help. It sounds more or less fine, like its going well even, but with your resident cat being 14, I dont want to tell you its fine without seeing what is going on.

In general, older cats that arent afraid to pin a kitten they deem annoying do much better than older cats that are stressed by a kitten, but for whatever reason, are unable/unwilling to physically express their feelings. Some older cats act scared of the kitten, and just run off.

So sounds like a good update, but lets see a video.
Thanks, I thought the same but was too stressed myself, think I might need to intervene. Plus was trying to distract resident cat with treats. Tonight will try to take some video. Thank You!
 
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JavierG

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Thanks, I thought the same but was too stressed myself to take video as I thought I might need to intervene. Plus was trying to distract resident cat with treats. Tonight will try to take some video. Thank You!
 
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