Introducing new kittens to resident cat.

Grinchy

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Hi everyone. I’ve been lurking for ages on this forum, but I’ve decided to bite the bullet and register and ask for some advice and find out about your experiences with cat introductions.

I have three female cats: an adult cat, Buffy (5 yrs) and two kittens, Ferius and Kellen (10 weeks old). The kittens have their own lovely room. Three litter trays, toys, cat fountains, cat cube, cat trees, extensive catification of the wall space etc. I’ve really tried to make their base camp comfortable, fun and cosy. They’ve settled in well and enjoy their space.

As for the cat introductions, I’ve followed the Jackson Galaxy approach (from his book Cat Mojo and advice from his website and videos). The kittens were born to my brother’s cat, so I was able to visit them and rub their scents onto socks and bring them back to my cat.

The kittens have been here for two weeks now and this is what I have achieved so far:

- Feeding other side of the door a couple of feet apart

- Site swapping
- Scent swapping
- Feeding either side of baby gate one foot apart each side but covered by blanket
- Feeding either side of baby gate one foot apart each side with blanket lifted up a little every feeding
- Feeding either side of baby gate one foot apart each side but no blanket covering and in full view of each other


I’ve had mixed results with the last step because sometimes Kellen becomes curious about Buffy’s food and runs to the gate. Buffy responds by hissing and going back to her eating. I started giving Kellen wet food today, and this has stopped her going up to the gate.

I’ve also tried moving to the next stage which is playing in the same room, but at opposite ends, but this has not worked yet. Buffy becomes aware of the kittens and refuses to play or she runs towards them, so we have reverted back to focus on the feeding ritual.

When I started this process, I was very positive and pleased with the progress of all cats. But today, I was in tears at my failure to get ‘play time’ to work in a meaningful way. I just feel that there’s no progress beyond the feeding either side of the baby gate in full view stage.

I’d be grateful for any advice you can give me that could help make the introductions successful. Also, I’m curious to know how long it took your resident cat to stop hissing at a new cat(s). How long were your new additions isolated from your resident cat before they could mingle safely with the resident cat?

Thank you.
 

Furballsmom

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Hi! I'm glad you came in!

Something to be aware of is that your expectations are set too specifically. They are functioning on cat time, and we humans are almost 100% in too much of a hurry/rush. It's only been two weeks-this is not a long timeperiod at all.

we have reverted back to focus on the feeding ritual.
You can go only as fast as the slowest cat, and every cat is different in regards to how quickly they'll accommodate changes such as this.

I started giving Kellen wet food today, and this has stopped her going up to the gate
You're doing quite a lot better than you think.

You just need to continue doing what you've been doing, listen to her and watch what is going on as you have been, and gently try the next stage at whatever point that you feel more comfortable and confident.
 
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Grinchy

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Hi! I'm glad you came in!

Something to be aware of is that your expectations are set too specifically. They are functioning on cat time, and we humans are almost 100% in too much of a hurry/rush. It's only been two weeks-this is not a long timeperiod at all.


You can go only as fast as the slowest cat, and every cat is different in regards to how quickly they'll accommodate changes such as this.


You're doing quite a lot better than you think.

You just need to continue doing what you've been doing, listen to her and watch what is going on as you have been, and gently try the next stage at whatever point that you feel more comfortable and confident.
Thank you so much for your feedback and observations. I think you're right. On reflecting on what you said, I need to manage my expectations a bit better and consider that Buffy needs a bit longer than me or the kittens.

Thank you.
 

Furballsmom

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Let us know how things go with this, and like I say, you're doing better than you think you are :heartshape:
 

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My personal opinion is that the Jackson Galaxy process can be too formalized. The overall goal of the introduction process is for the big cat to, over time, see that the kitten isn't so bad and isn't causing any problems. Scent swap a bit, sure. If that doesn't cause much reaction, let them see each other via the baby gate.

Some of the other stuff though, like feeding on opposite side of the baby gate, seems to cause more problems then its worth. There is an idea behind it sure. But in practice for many people, it seems to stress them out and not work out too well. So WTH is it an important part of the process? In my opinion, it isn't. ANY method by which the big cat gradually realizes the kitten isn't so bad is sufficient.

An analogy is gradual desensitization therapy with humans. You know, the therapist says close your eyes, think of a spider. Next week if that doesn't make you vomit, he moves on, has a spider in a cage 10 feet away. If you don't pee yourself, the next session he has a small spider on his hand 9 feet away. Etc, etc. But there is no magic to any single step -- rather its an overall idea. So if you start screaming and pulling out your hair at the "watch a spider eating live bugs from 8 feet away" step, the therapist should just do something else, because watching a spider eating live prey doesn't have to be part of the process -- there are a dozen other things he could have done to gradually get you used to the spider.

This analogy also helps show that the steps can be modified. If feeding the cats within one feet of the gate is causing stress, then you could try feeding them four feet awy from the gate as an intermediate step. You know, if you want to have a feeding step in the first place. Because the overall idea is just to get the big cat used to the kitten gradually, and no single step is magic. If any step is causing a problem, you could do it in a less stressful way (like starting with the spider further away) or not do it at all and do something different (like just skipping the spider eats live prey step).

Really, I don't think it needs to be very compicated. Scent swap a bit, then if the big cat seems ok, do the baby gate thing for a couple of days and make sure the big cat isn't reacting with stress. If he is, then that step is doing actual work in the process, so extend that step and let the big cat get gradually used to it. If the big cat seems ok, you can see what happens with a supervised visit. A little light hissing at any stage is fine, but signs of stress or hostility beyond that is a good reason to slow down. As mentioned above, it takes as long as it takes -- anywhere from a couple of days to 2 or even 3 weeks would be typical.

Hope this helps. If not, Furballsmom Furballsmom loves spiders so its for her.
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Grinchy

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My personal opinion is that the Jackson Galaxy process can be too formalized. The overall goal of the introduction process is for the big cat to, over time, see that the kitten isn't so bad and isn't causing any problems. Scent swap a bit, sure. If that doesn't cause much reaction, let them see each other via the baby gate.

Some of the other stuff though, like feeding on opposite side of the baby gate, seems to cause more problems then its worth. There is an idea behind it sure. But in practice for many people, it seems to stress them out and not work out too well. So WTH is it an important part of the process? In my opinion, it isn't. ANY method by which the big cat gradually realizes the kitten isn't so bad is sufficient.

An analogy is gradual desensitization therapy with humans. You know, the therapist says close your eyes, think of a spider. Next week if that doesn't make you vomit, he moves on, has a spider in a cage 10 feet away. If you don't pee yourself, the next session he has a small spider on his hand 9 feet away. Etc, etc. But there is no magic to any single step -- rather its an overall idea. So if you start screaming and pulling out your hair at the "watch a spider eating live bugs from 8 feet away" step, the therapist should just do something else, because watching a spider eating live prey doesn't have to be part of the process -- there are a dozen other things he could have done to gradually get you used to the spider.

This analogy also helps show that the steps can be modified. If feeding the cats within one feet of the gate is causing stress, then you could try feeding them four feet awy from the gate as an intermediate step. You know, if you want to have a feeding step in the first place. Because the overall idea is just to get the big cat used to the kitten gradually, and no single step is magic. If any step is causing a problem, you could do it in a less stressful way (like starting with the spider further away) or not do it at all and do something different (like just skipping the spider eats live prey step).

Really, I don't think it needs to be very compicated. Scent swap a bit, then if the big cat seems ok, do the baby gate thing for a couple of days and make sure the big cat isn't reacting with stress. If he is, then that step is doing actual work in the process, so extend that step and let the big cat get gradually used to it. If the big cat seems ok, you can see what happens with a supervised visit. A little light hissing at any stage is fine, but signs of stress or hostility beyond that is a good reason to slow down. As mentioned above, it takes as long as it takes -- anywhere from a couple of days to 2 or even 3 weeks would be typical.

Hope this helps. If not, Furballsmom Furballsmom loves spiders so its for her.
🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷
Thank you so much for your advice. I've really understood it by the way you've framed it.
 
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Grinchy

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Post
Tue Aug 25, 2020 4:35 pm

Hi,

I have an update...

Buffy has been very relaxed eating near the kittens. She's eating with them sideways on and only looks up once and then again when she's finished. She also walks away to groom.

However, we had a bit of a drama today. The kittens escaped from my room and Buffy saw them. She hissed at them. They made themselves all big and puffy and she ran away!!

Will it cause an issue going forward?

Many thanks in advance for any help and advice.
 

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Post Tue Aug 25, 2020 4:35 pm

Hi,

I have an update...

Buffy has been very relaxed eating near the kittens. She's eating with them sideways on and only looks up once and then again when she's finished. She also walks away to groom.

However, we had a bit of a drama today. The kittens escaped from my room and Buffy saw them. She hissed at them. They made themselves all big and puffy and she ran away!!

Will it cause an issue going forward?

Many thanks in advance for any help and advice.
Sounds like the babies are getting some courage which is a great thing. They are learning to stand up for themselves.
 
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Grinchy

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Thanks for your reassurance.

I am now looking ahead to the next stage and I don't know what to do.

Do I make them play in the same room? Do I bring a kitten into the room where Buffy is.

I don't know what my next step should be after shared feeding time.

I've seen lots of articles but they're vague and there's no tangible steps to help.
 

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If you have been letting the cats see each other through a baby gate, and that step no longer seems to be doing any work, then you can let them interact. A little light hissing from the big cat is nothing. And the kittens being a little scared is a good thing, not a bad thing. It means they will give the cat some space for a time and not jump on him right away looking to play.

In other words, the final step -- free interaction -- often needs to do some work too. You can't get them to the goal line through the intro process alone. They need to do that last bit themselves. That takes time together. No need to force it though; just let them wander freely when you are home and have some time to keep an eye on em.
 
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Grinchy

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If you have been letting the cats see each other through a baby gate, and that step no longer seems to be doing any work, then you can let them interact. A little light hissing from the big cat is nothing. And the kittens being a little scared is a good thing, not a bad thing. It means they will give the cat some space for a time and not jump on him right away looking to play.

In other words, the final step -- free interaction -- often needs to do some work too. You can't get them to the goal line through the intro process alone. They need to do that last bit themselves. That takes time together. No need to force it though; just let them wander freely when you are home and have some time to keep an eye on em.
Thank you for your advice and ideas.

I plan to start with one kitten in the room with me and the adult cat. Two might be too much for Buffy.

Do I play with one of them? Play with both. Let the kitten explore the sitting room whilst Buffy looks on?
 

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Those are good thoughts, but in my experience they dont work. If they have *any* stress at all, they won't play with you, they won't eat a treat. So there isn't much you can do; you need to just let them be. They will see nothing terrible happens and get over it in time
 
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Grinchy

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Those are good thoughts, but in my experience they dont work. If they have *any* stress at all, they won't play with you, they won't eat a treat. So there isn't much you can do; you need to just let them be. They will see nothing terrible happens and get over it in time
Thank you. I will try this with a very deep breath!
 
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Thank you.

Buffy and the kittens ate today with the baby gate 1/3 open.

Buffy looked up a bit more, but other than that, no dramas!
 
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6am feed update! I left the gate half open. Buffy only looked up twice.

Ferius finished first and walked off to groom.

Then Buffy finished. Instead of walking off, she crossed the baby gate into their room then stopped!

I pushed Ferius' bowl a bit closer to her. She ate, looked at Ferius, and hissed. Then backed off and left.

All this time, Kellen was a few inches from her!

The best thing was the reaction of the kittens. Just as stunned as I was!

I'm so happy and pleased that Buffy made some progress to come into their room.
 
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5pm feed. The gate was open half way. Buffy went completely in to the kitten room to eat Ferius' food. I put more kitten food in it and she took her time to chomp it whilst I played with red dot with the other two.

All was well. Buffy ate, walked off, hung around. Walked into my room. Ferius dashed for it into my room. Buffy hissed. Ferius went into submissive posture Buffy ran to hide under the bed.

So apart from Ferius running at Buffy, all went well.
 
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