Introduction - General questions

chickpea616

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Hi there. I was on this site a few years ago when we got a 2nd cat, and this forum helped immensely in my introduction problems with the 2 cats. Fast forward to now, and I have some general intro question because (drumroll please) we are considering adopting again, lol.

First, I would like to know your opinion on how many introductions actually fail vs how many succeed. I don't know why, but the possibility of the cats not getting along (long term) terrifies me. It's the only thing holding me back right now....the shelter we would adopt from (and we also volunteer at) has a policy that you can bring the cat back with no questions if something happens like they simply don't get along with your existing cat(s), but that to me would be on the bottom of my list of possibilities!

Second, how long (on average, I know it really depends on the situation) should it take to at least get the cats together after the initial time we bring them home? I think my first case was unusual, because it took about 4-5 months of having them separated until we could get them in the same room with each other. Of course now, they get along just fine and I wonder why we ever had the problem...but still, any ideas on the average time it takes?

I'm obviously looking for realistic (but also hopefully positive) answers! Not sure if it matters, but we would be adopting 2 bonded kittens and bringing them here with 2 existing cats (Breezy, 4 yrs; and Tundra, 3 yrs)
 

ArtNJ

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Resident cats over 2 years old, fairly often you will have some degree of trouble introducing a kitten, but its usually not so bad when the resident is still fairly young like yours. The process is a little different from an adult to adult intro because adult cats almost never intentionally hurt kittens, so one would never let an introduction go months, wasting precious kitten time when true fighting isn't a risk. So one would take anywhere from a few days to three weeks based on how the resident cats are reacting and your comfort level, then put them together and let them work it out. Very often there is still some hissing and the resident might even swat some. From there, it would diverge to rapid improvement, sometimes all the way to friendship and playing, or very slow improvement never getting past distaste.

Odds are super difficult. It depends on a lot of things, including the kittens personality. Some kittens insist on jumping all over big cats, ignoring all warning signs, and that makes it harder for the big cats to warm to them. Another factor is the resident cats activity level & playfulness. Sometimes its easy!

I had a fairly easy intro recently. My 4 year old hissed some, but seemed mostly curious. So I let them interact after just 3 days with the kitten in a safe room. There was some hissing for like a week or so, but he was interested. Sometimes he would go see what she was doing, only to hiss. At some point, it quickly faded away and they started playing *very* nicely. Sometimes the play seems way too rough if the kittens are young, sometimes they squeal. But I got lucky this time. I've also had it the other way, where a big cat never really warms up to the kitten. Avoidance slowly fades away, mild distaste dims, and the big cat is only really unhappy and hissing if the kitten gets in his face. That process can take months though, sometimes many months. Sometimes there is meaningful stress for a fairly long while. Its enough that I would never tell anyone with two elder cats to adopt two kittens, and would also suggest that no one in a small apartment do it either. But with your cats being young, you having the space to do a slow intro if needed, I don't forsee any bring problems. Should be easier than you went through last time, although remember, distaste and some stress can linger if you get unlucky.
 
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chickpea616

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Resident cats over 2 years old, fairly often you will have some degree of trouble introducing a kitten, but its usually not so bad when the resident is still fairly young like yours. The process is a little different from an adult to adult intro because adult cats almost never intentionally hurt kittens, so one would never let an introduction go months, wasting precious kitten time when true fighting isn't a risk. So one would take anywhere from a few days to three weeks based on how the resident cats are reacting and your comfort level, then put them together and let them work it out. Very often there is still some hissing and the resident might even swat some. From there, it would diverge to rapid improvement, sometimes all the way to friendship and playing, or very slow improvement never getting past distaste.

Odds are super difficult. It depends on a lot of things, including the kittens personality. Some kittens insist on jumping all over big cats, ignoring all warning signs, and that makes it harder for the big cats to warm to them. Another factor is the resident cats activity level & playfulness. Sometimes its easy!

I had a fairly easy intro recently. My 4 year old hissed some, but seemed mostly curious. So I let them interact after just 3 days with the kitten in a safe room. There was some hissing for like a week or so, but he was interested. Sometimes he would go see what she was doing, only to hiss. At some point, it quickly faded away and they started playing *very* nicely. Sometimes the play seems way too rough if the kittens are young, sometimes they squeal. But I got lucky this time. I've also had it the other way, where a big cat never really warms up to the kitten. Avoidance slowly fades away, mild distaste dims, and the big cat is only really unhappy and hissing if the kitten gets in his face. That process can take months though, sometimes many months. Sometimes there is meaningful stress for a fairly long while. Its enough that I would never tell anyone with two elder cats to adopt two kittens, and would also suggest that no one in a small apartment do it either. But with your cats being young, you having the space to do a slow intro if needed, I don't forsee any bring problems. Should be easier than you went through last time, although remember, distaste and some stress can linger if you get unlucky.
Thanks!! And yeah, I get it...I honestly keep going back and forth. I know I would feel sad if we found out tomorrow that they were adopted (as would my kids), but at the same time sometimes I think we should just stay with what we have, since it's really so good right now. But then the ability to help out more cats (kittens), and to get an actual playmate (or 2) for Tundra seems like such a nice possibility.

I'm glad to hear you had a relatively easy intro recently.! Thanks again for the answer.
 

ArtNJ

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Why do you say it that way, a playmate for only one of the two? Is there one active and playful and one inactive? That does increase the chance of a problem some (with the inactive one) but its not exactly an unusual situation.

I once adopted two kittens at once with an 8 year old resident cat. One kitten was called Tigger for personality reasons, but Blackie was chill. The resident cat didn't especially like Tigger as a kitten, but there were no serious problems until the kittens became adults which is a mostly separate thing (although you could predict that if there was a problem, it would be with Tigger, which it was.) Even when there were problems, the resident always tolerated chill Blackie.

So when you hear people say that personality/activity level matching matters, yeah, it certainly does. Unfortunately, personality matching is *really hard* with kittens since what the shelter/family tells you about the kittens doesn't necessarily correlate that well with how they will act once they have a house to roam in.
 
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chickpea616

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Breezy is not exactly "inactive", she just sleeps more during the day than Tundra; and then Tundra is awake looking for something to do (someone to play with) while Breezy is sleeping. But Breezy can certainly hold her own in the play category when she's in the mood. Personality wise, Tundra is definitely more chill than Breezy (funny, that works out with their names, too, and we didn't even plan it that way) - I think she'll take to the kittens sooner, while Breezy will have more difficulty warming up.

It's not a done deal, anyway. I spoke to my husband last night, who certainly liked the idea - but we need to go that extra step and actually consider logistics, etc. Liking the "idea" of something and actually doing it are worlds apart, lol. So we shall see.....thanks for your response.
 

rubysmama

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Hello and welcome back. :wave2: I've never introduced cats myself, so don't have any personal experience to offer. And since you've introduced cats before, you probably already know the procedures to follow. As A ArtNJ mentioned it is a bit different when introducing kittens to adult cats, so I'll post the link to the TCS article How To Introduce A Kitten To An Older Cat – Cat Articles which may have some tips for you.

There's also The Multi-cat Household | TheCatSite

And Kitten Proofing Your Home: 13 Practical Tips | TheCatSite

Good luck. Let us know if you decide to adopt the kittens.
 

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I've only had 1 introduction with my 9+ year old, Isabelle, and 2 kittens, Persia and Katrina. Isabelle did live with another cat until about a year ago and introduced when she was about 6 months, although I didn't really know official introduction guidelines and just placed them together, so that doesn't count, haha.

Mine took about a week of scent swapping between Isabelle and the kittens. I could tell Isabelle was interested in seeing the kittens and getting in the bedroom where they were kept. She did spend a lot of time growling/hissing the first couple of weeks of full contact while watching the kittens race around. Luckily, the kittens respect her enough to not chase or play with her, unless she is playful and they may cautiously creep up to her until Isabelle growls at them when she notices. There were a couple times when Isabelle had energy and raced from room to room and the kittens chased after her, but did not try to pounce on her. Having 2 kittens, they kept each other busy and may have helped reduce their need to pester Isabelle.

It has been about 3 months and Isabelle still growls, but reduced intensity and frequency. (She has always been a growler and hisser to communicate when she is unhappy with something!) Persia is extremely laid back, which is why I chose her, and Isabelle is most comfortable with her. Persia would test her limits and slither slowly like a snake towards Isabelle while they were both cuddling with me on the couch, until Persia would barely have a paw on Isabelle or some other way touching her. Persia will also just lay there and take it if Isabelle climbs on my lap when Persia is there and Isabelle smacks or lunges at Persia. Isabelle normally jumps down after or is just okay with Persia being there and stays calmly. Katrina is a bit more energetic and Isabelle is a bit more reactive around her, but still improvement with each day.

I stopped giving treats for a while and was worried about progress at times, but when I started giving treats to Isabelle for jumping up on the couch to see me when the kittens were up there already, it helped her adjust and she progressed to being much calmer around the kittens. She even jumped up on my lap this week without hesitating when Persia was already on me, no growling, and licked Persia before settling down in my lap with her body in contact with Persia. :angelcat:

So like others have mentioned, personalities of the cats can be super important. I knew Isabelle does well around calm dogs and enjoys saying hi to them, but if they are anxious or a bundle of energy she gets nervous. That's why I choose Persia for her calm attitude of being like "whatever" and not being reactive and for Katrina because she was very confident and curious. They were also roommates at the shelter so I knew they got along. Both did not hide under a chair when I saw them, which there is nothing wrong with that, just I knew that Isabelle would do better with more curious and bold kittens than scared as she may react to their fear.

I can relate to your worry about them never getting along. This happened to me, especially every time Isabelle growled, hissed, or seemed annoyed at the kittens. My anxiety was really bad sometimes because I wondered if I made a mistake, and I worried my emotions would affect the cat intros... But 3 months in, I am so thankful I adopted the kittens and Isabelle seems less bored having company around, and maybe even enjoy them. All of the stress was worth it for me.
 
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chickpea616

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Thanks for all the responses! Well, this morning we did it - went and submitted our application for the 2 energetic but sweet; ) furballs. I told them we wouldn't be able to take possession yet (the shelter is very nice and keeps them until we are ready) because I need to get the room ready for them.

Anything I can do ahead of time either in the room specifically, or with the resident cats to start out smoothly? I'm in a unique position in that I have at least a week to get things ready and prepare - which is something we didn't really have with the other cats.

WillowMarie - thanks so much for your last paragraph. I remember things being super stressful with Tundra, but afterwards it was totally worth it (and to be honest, the stress was mostly being caused by ME because I separated them and freaked out with every little hiss or growl, until I got on this wonderful site and people talked me through what was NORMAL behavior). Anyway, you put my mind at ease.

I also feel a tiny bit guilty for getting kittens when there are just SO many adult cats there who have been waiting a lot longer!! But I need to take into account our own personal situation (and temperament of current cats) and realize that this is probably the best match for us right now...
 

WillowMarie

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Thanks for all the responses! Well, this morning we did it - went and submitted our application for the 2 energetic but sweet; ) furballs. I told them we wouldn't be able to take possession yet (the shelter is very nice and keeps them until we are ready) because I need to get the room ready for them.

Anything I can do ahead of time either in the room specifically, or with the resident cats to start out smoothly? I'm in a unique position in that I have at least a week to get things ready and prepare - which is something we didn't really have with the other cats.

WillowMarie - thanks so much for your last paragraph. I remember things being super stressful with Tundra, but afterwards it was totally worth it (and to be honest, the stress was mostly being caused by ME because I separated them and freaked out with every little hiss or growl, until I got on this wonderful site and people talked me through what was NORMAL behavior). Anyway, you put my mind at ease.

I also feel a tiny bit guilty for getting kittens when there are just SO many adult cats there who have been waiting a lot longer!! But I need to take into account our own personal situation (and temperament of current cats) and realize that this is probably the best match for us right now...
How exciting! Others will probably have some great tips for prepping. This one is probably obvious, but it would be good to have the area the kittens will be in ready with all supplies before they arrive. Having beds and/or towels in the room with the kittens would be helpful because you can swap these with the resident cats beds and towels to help with scent swapping once they arrive. When this is done, I also put treats for the resident cats on these items to have them associate it with something positive.

Hopefully this time intros will be a little less stressful on you, since you've been through it once and know that hissing and growling can be normal. It's hard not to tense up when hearing it, but you will be better equipped this time to handle it because of past experience.

I also had a bit of guilt about adopting kittens and not adult cats. Although, with my Isabelle I knew kittens should be easier to introduce to her. I did look at a few older kittens and adult size cats based on the shelter website saying they are more easy going, but they also seemed a little timid and not as bold as I wanted. And to further rationalize, I'm sure some kittens are not adopted and grow to adult size in the shelter, too. You are still giving a home to an animal that needs it.

You'll have to share pictures once the kittens come home!
 
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chickpea616

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You got it! (Once I figure out how to post pics, lol). Now that it's a done deal (but they aren't here yet), I'm all over the board with emotions. I'm really glad we did it, and at the same time now wondering "What did we just do?" :oops: My almost 16 year old daughter (who honestly drove this decision) has said she'll help with everything so that's putting my mind more at ease. Also, my husband is like the "Cat Whisperer" around here, so with that kinda support, I'm hoping everything goes off with as few bumps as possible. It'll be at least a week so I can prepare....
 

ArtNJ

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Here is a guide on kitten proofing your home:

Kitten Proofing Your Home: 13 Practical Tips – Cat Articles

Lot of good tips in here, although not all of the issues addressed are equally likely to actually be problems, and not every single tip a new owner should get is here. For example, if you leave a plastic shopping bag out often enough, you will highly likely discover that when cats get partially caught in them they get scared, run with them attached and trailing like a parachute, and might knock stuff over. Its super funny, but not from the cat's perspective, and stuff can get broken. I've had multiple cats get caught this way over the years (we do try to be careful of course, but it happens.) My brother's cat actually died from a reason that isn't on any list I've seen -- some home renovation products are so dangerous that even if the can of whatever is closed, a cat can die from licking the stuff that drips down the sides of the can. Presumably this also applies to some cleaning products, although I've not heard of a similar tragedy. So I always mention that when this topic comes up to avoid a similar tragedy :(
 
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