Introducing two males

Janie834

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Hello, I'm hoping for feedback on how to interpret interactions between our resident boy (12 year old rescue) and a newcomer (11 month old rescue).

We have a 12 year old male rescue, who is shy and sweet and has historically loved other cats very much. He was part of an cared for colony until he was about 6 months old. He became exceptionally close to both our other resident cats almost immediately, and stayed that way until they passed away a few years ago. He has been an only furchild for about 4 years.

We recently rescued a young stray, who is estimated by the vet to be about 11 months old. He has been separated from our resident boy for 4.5 weeks, first in a bathroom, and now in a bedroom, while we worked through some health issues, etc. We initially planned to bring him to a rescue organization, but now hope to keep him.

We have been scent swapping, and then site swapping. It was at a point where the kitten purred and cuddled and played with the swapped items; the resident cat sniffed and intentionally sat on the towel from the newcomer's room, etc. They had also seen each other from a distance a few times and seemed interested in each other. Zero signs of aggression. The resident cat would investigate the door separating them occasionally. He would occasionally give a hiss; the newcomer would respond with cute chirping noises and try to play under the door. I was optimistic.

They have recently had their first in person meetings, and I am a little unsure of how they went. I know there are some with lots of experience here, and am hoping for some feedback.

Our resident boy seemed nervous about the newcomer coming downstairs. He watched him cautiously. The newcomer was very interested in the resident boy and approached him multiple times. They touched noses, and the resident cat warned him with a mild hiss (no other signs of aggression). The newcomer explored around the house, played randomly, but kept coming back to see the resident boy, wanting to be close to him, purring, sometimes meowing, and even making biscuits on the couch next to him. However, his tail was puffed at times. His ears seemed relaxed and normal, he did not stiffen, did not seem like he was about to attack. No hissing from him at all; just purring, biscuits, keen interest, and puffiness.

At one point, when he was close to the resident boy, the newcomer kind of reached out to him - I do not think it was a swat, it did not seem aggressive - but I am not sure what his intention was. I ended that meet and greet and brought the newcomer back upstairs to his room.

Today, during a separate interaction, the newcomer was close to the resident boy and sniffing him. The resident boy was tolerating this cautiously. The newcomer meowed occasionally, purred, etc - then randomly seemed to actually nip at or bite the resident cat! It sounds strange to say but it did not seem aggressive - he was purring, etc. No marks or blood or anything. No fight ensued. I redirected then put the newcomer back in his room. The resident boy obviously didn't love that interaction but did not run away and hide after (I would normally expect him to do that if he was scared).

after this interaction, I scent swapped again, and the. newcomer immediately went on the blanket from the resident cat's area, smelled it, then starting making biscuits and purring.

I'm trying to interpret these interactions to figure out if the newcomer is being aggressive. It's so strange with the purring and biscuits, combined with the puffiness, etc.

Any advice would be appreciated. Does it sound like the new boy was being aggressive? It was such a strange interaction (to my untrained eyes, anyway!).

I am leaning toward returning to strictly scent and site swapping for now.
 

Furballsmom

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I am leaning toward returning to strictly scent and site swapping for now.
I'd let them interact.

At 11 months he is out of kittenhood. You don't know his background, and purring from a cat can sometimes be from stress. He's had quite a go of it from what it sounds like.

Hopefully your resident boy is confident enough to teach any manners as necessary.
 

Alldara

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Sounds like it went well. The kitten probably puffed up from nerves. Puffing isn't normally aggressive per say in younger cats.

My boys regularly "spook" one another causing them to get puffy tails. One has zoomies and is running around and another will hide and pop out and then the first will get what we affectionately call, "squirrel tail".

Sounds like you are fine to proceed with visits. Keep in mind that the first visits the cats are meant to have a distraction to partake in together like play, cat "tv" or cat tv, eating or an electronic toy, etc.
 
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Janie834

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Thank you both! I do always have toys, treats, etc involved as a distraction when they meet. The newcomer is just very focused on the resident boy and keeps coming directly to him despite distractions.

I let them see each other again today. The newcomer again was very focused on the resident boy, who was sitting in a cat bed on the floor. The newcomer approached him repeatedly, with his head down a bit, meowing (kind of a drawn out meow). He flopped onto the floor beside the bed, rolled over on his back and purred. He kept coming to sniff the resident boy, meowing in greeting. He'd purr again when I pet them both simultaneously. They ate treats within a of each other and both seemed very happy. Here's the thing though - the newcomer keeps trying to bite my older boy. It seems to be in the same place - his lower stomach area (or possibly I am wrong and he is going for his hip - but it seems to be his tummy). Maybe he trying to suckle??? That is what it seemed like today. He is meowing as he does it, almost asking for permission it seems, approaching super slowly, no sings of aggression, but he is very persistent and very focused.

The more worrying moment - resident boy got up and starting to walk away, and the newcomer seemed to leap at him from behind. I actually caught him mid-air - not a smart move but I got lucky and he was not aggressive toward me. Man though he tried so hard to get away and run after (at?) the resident boy.

I'm not sure what to do at this point. I want them to be friends, they do seem to actually quite like each other, but the newcomer seems to want to bite him and climb on him and possibly jump on him from behind (at one point). I don't want a fight. The newcomer is young but he is almost a fullgrown cat. My older boy is overweight and a senior boy.
 

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It sounds like the younger one is trying to be friends and maybe trying to play. The pounce definitely sounds like play. Usually, this is why its suggested add younger ones in pairs.

Also the sign that you snatched him in the air and he wasn't aggressive says he wasn't aggressive as trust me, even a cat that loves you will turn on you if you break up a true fight with your arms (I've been to the hospital for this).

Play biting is part of a younger cats play. It's not meant to hurt. It's a good idea to place your hand on the younger one's chest and stop them from following when the older one gets up to leave. That's the behaviour we all hope for our cats, that they walk away when they are done with a situation rather than act out.

Does the senior cat have any health issues? Even Nobel at 14, with arthritis learned to play with Magnus. I'll see if I can find a video. It's hard not to feel over-protective but I do recommend keeping nails clipped to prevent accidents during play.
 

Furballsmom

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The newcomer is young but he is almost a fullgrown cat.
I have a couple ideas;

Can you take this youngster for walks? The physical and mental stimulation could be very helpful. --This could also help your older boy lose some weight.

Also, try getting a comfort "toy", rub it all over with your resident cat's scent (that blanket you mentioned above would work well to transfer scent to the "toy"). Like this one below, and give that to your youngster. After reading your posts again, I really think baby boy is looking for a surrogate mom;

This one has purrs and heartbeats, and also has a microwaveable heat pack;
Amazon.com
 
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Janie834

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Thank both you for the ideas and encouragement. :) I think you may be right and will keep letting them interact, just keeping a close eye on them for now. Furballsmom Furballsmom , the toy you linked to fits very well since my senior boy is an orange tabby! I may get this. Thank you again.
 
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Janie834

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I am not so sure about the idea that the newcomer is looking for a surrogate mom anymore. Today he kept trying to go for my resident cat's neck. The first couple of times he was redirected/distracted easily before he bit, but at one point he did manage to really get him. My older boy meowed/squeked and tried to get away. :( I put the newcomer back in his room at that point. They are still separated most of the time. I give them time together, but it is closely supervised. It has to be, because every time my poor resident guy even tries to stand up, the newcomer's focus zeroes in on him with considerable intensity and he visibly itches to chase him and jump on him. My resident boy is a senior, overweight, with multiple health issues. He is shy and quite meek (he has taught no manners at all in response to the newcomer's biting, for example). I can't imagine putting him through this long term.
 

Furballsmom

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I'm sorry to hear this is happening 😔

You're right, your older boy needs his home.

Aside from the newcomer, can you help your older boy get a little more exercise? For example, if you were to hold his food bowl and have him follow you as you walk around the kitchen?
 
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Janie834

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Thank you, Furballsmom Furballsmom . He has been on a diet for a long time, with some limited success. His diet is also used to address health issues (idiopathic cystitis, and now only very recently, early signs of kidney problems) and his intake is as low as it can go according to his vet. Getting him to be more physically active is a focus and a challenge. He has never been a big fan of interactive play. He has always only played in secret (late at night, or early in the morning, but if he sees you watching him he acts like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar). He is adorable and loved very much. We are focused on his weight and working with his vet. :)

This dynamic between them makes me feel so sad for the new boy. He has clearly had a really rough go of it, we believe he was living outside for a long time before he found us, and was quite ill when he first came inside. Who knows what his backstory is, and what role it might play in how he is acting with my older guy. I want so badly to give him a forever home (I have a serious soft spot for strays and otherwise unwanted animals). I'm not giving up yet. I just don't know how to make it better and if it does not get better, then we may be a foster home rather than a forever home.
 
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Janie834

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There are some members who have decided to permanently keep their cats separated. I don't know if that might be an option for you?
Unfortunately that is probably not realistic for us. He is in our bedroom right now.

He is fortunate to have you 🙏❣
Thank you. :) I have had and loved cats my whole life, but this guy is pretty special. He was also living outside when we met him.

I'll keep trying with supervised interactions for now, but I'm going to try to change how I handle them a bit after reading up on cat aggression (although he seems to be playing, I think it is still a form of aggression, and it could have some territorial or hormonal roots too since he was only neutered 3 weeks ago). I'll be sure to reward positive interactions and will distract/intervene as soon as he shows aggression, putting him back in his room when this happens. Maybe it will get better. If not, he will still be far better off than if he had not come to us. Our winters are very cold. We'll still make sure he has an indoor home.
 

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If you can take and post some videos that will help us help you as well! ❣
 
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Janie834

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Today my older boy got up and walked around in the newcomer's presence - I had to restrain the newcomer and it was not easy to do. Every muscle in his little body tensed and he was laser-focused on my older boy, desperate to get at him. He could not be distracted or deterred. *sigh*

It's strange, they can easily be in the same room for up to an hour under the right conditions, with no problems at all. My resident boy will sit in his squishmallow bed and watch the newcomer. Occasionally he even goes to sleep. My resident boy needs to not try to move during that time though because once he tries to move, the new guy turns into a hunter. Also the new guy does approach him and sniff him and sometimes that is fine, they sniff, eat treats within a foot of each other, all good. But at some point, the new guy inevitably approaches him intently and tries to bite him.
71sxW6HTliL._AC_SX679_.jpg
And that chase instinct. These are the issues I need to find a way to address.

I ordered this thing on amazon. I'm going to go back to basics and keep them separated and have them eating on the other side of this for a while before I give them a chance to interact without a barrier again., Hopefully this will desensitize the new guy to seeing my boy move around so he doesn't try to chase him. It will also give the new guy time for the hormones to leave him completely. It's been three weeks, they are probably gone, but I'm holding out a bit of hope that they might not be, and that this will get better once they are. It SEEMS like something that would be an instinctive intact male thing to do, right?
 

Alldara

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11 months is still a busy time for a young male too, neutered or otherwise. And I do find neutered males to be very social with one another.
 
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Janie834

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11 months is still a busy time for a young male too, neutered or otherwise. And I do find neutered males to be very social with one another.
That is very true.

Hopefully I can desensitize him to the older guy's movements and presence a bit more. I'll also have the kids spend extra time playing with him so he has an outlet (which playtime he of course needs anyway). I'll take the reintroductions slowly. I can't think of much else to try. My kids are super attached to him (as am I), so I'm willing to play the long game here. I'll let you guys know how it goes.
 
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