Introductions and dealing with the first 24 hours+

Sophia_

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Hello everyone. Today I took in a 6 month old female kitten. I plan to do everything by the book, though that plan was slightly undermined by an accidental sighting when the kitten escaped base camp for a brief moment.

The new kitten is AFFECTIONATE, I guess out of anxiety. Constant following, rubbing, purring, clinging, and incessant howling when I leave the base camp (my bedroom).

My resident cat (10.5 years old) has hissed at me but has not been aggressive.

I want to do things right. Do I ignore the yowling? Do I pet her as constantly as she wants? I don’t want her to feel abandoned, but I don’t want to reward her anxieties.

I’ve read all the articles on cat introductions and watched every Jackson Galaxy video multiple times, but I’m still a ball of anxiety myself. I’m worried I’ve messed up the dynamic of my house.
 

Meowmee

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Just take it slowly, it is always stressful to introduce a new kitty. I would give them both as much tlc as possible. If you can let them see each other through a screen that is great. Do scent exchanges with towels etc. & rub their scents on each other, pheromone sprays and so on. Make sure each cat has its own space even when they are together and do supervised time together when you think the time is right.
 

ArtNJ

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Do not make yourself the slave of the kitten. Rule of reason in how much time you spend in there. Its neither needed nor helpful to teach the kitten that you will drop everything when it howls. Go in when you have time and want to play with the kitten, but do try to make sure thats a fairly generous amount of time. But people go to work with a new kitten and such, and the kittens turn out happy well adjusted and fine.
 
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Sophia_

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Thanks for the replies. Night 1 was exhausting. She is so clingy it made sleeping extremely difficult. She is very pushy and will stand on me to put her face on mine, or knead and suck on my hair. My other cat is a lap cat… this new one is a full-body cat.

A few times just to get some sleep I gave her a gentle toss to the other side of the bed. She’d meow and complain for a moment but ultimately would stay there for maybe an hour before returning. I just don’t want to reject her too much if it will harm us, but I also cannot exist with a kitten glued to my face.
 
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ArtNJ

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My first two cats, I would chuck off the bed when they were kittens so I could sleep. They stopped going on the bed. Ever. Even during the day. Not ideal. But they still loved us very much, were happy and lived long good lives. All subsequent cats have slept in a finished basement. And they have also loved us and lived long good lives.

Rule of reason -- you need sleep, do what you need too to get it. The kitten will be fine.
 

vince

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Sometimes, it's difficult to deal with a cat in the bed. It's been my experience, however, that it takes one or two occurrences of your rolling over at night and the cats won't sleep that close to you. Don't be afraid to unceremoniously push them off if they misbehave.

Mine have a spot at the northeast corner of the bed. That's where they stay and we're all happy (although once in a while one will "ask" to come under the covers).
 
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Sophia_

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I’ve spent my time awake in the living room trying to not ignore my resident cat. She’s wary of me but is laying near me on the couch and allowed some pets.

Meanwhile new kitten has been yowling the better part of several hours. It’s pitiful. I don’t want to stress her further, but I can’t stay in my bedroom all day. I know it’s early, but I feel so much immense regret for everyone involved: for the new kitten for being locked away, for my resident cat’s life being disrupted, and for myself for possibly making the wrong decision.

I know a slow introduction process is the best, but I feel so horribly guilty keeping the kitten locked away when she’s clearly ready to explore. I’m not sure what to do.
 

ArtNJ

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I wouldn't rush the process when your resident cat is 10. 10 year olds don't necessarily adapt easily or fully. Sometimes its a long slow adjustment even after an intro process. If you have that without having done a full process you'll really be second guessing yourself and worried that you caused your resident a lot of stress.

Kittens, on the other hand, are very adaptible. The howling won't last forever.

So the intro process has to get ranked above the kitten. Which probably isn't the best way to put it, since the kitten will be just fine, but you get what I mean.
 
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Sophia_

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New kitten’s history:
- rescued off the street with her siblings at a young age then with a single foster for several months
- taken to a second foster 15 minutes before meeting me 11/30. Second foster immediately had her in a room with 2-3 other adult cats, another kitten her age, a free-roaming bunny, and a 5 week old kitten. She was understandably growling and hissing but no aggression.
- she was closed off in a separate room at the foster for acclimation 11/30 where she yowled all night
- foster could no longer take the yowling and let her free-roam the house. She hissed at other residents but no aggression.
- I met her a second time 12/3, where I took her home and put her in a separate room (my bedroom) from the rest of the house.
- I have been dealing with HOURS of yowling and crying from her any time I’m out of the bedroom.

I originally didn’t know about the incessant yowling at the foster until today when I texted her asking for advice. Her advice is to just let her free into the house and speed up introductions? I feel so conflicted.

My plan for tonight is to let them see each other from the door crack and feed my resident cat directly in front of the crack. She absolutely knows about the bedroom occupant and actually gave me an “are you kidding?” look several hours into the yowling today. Any hisses she has given to me or the door have had upright ears and tail.
 

ArtNJ

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The most probable result of speeding introductions is that the 10 y.o. will hiss, growl, maybe swat, and/or seek to avoid the kitten. The 10 y.o. will be stressed, not want to bet pet or play, and may even scream if the kitten tries to play by jumping on him. Assuming the 10 y.o. is eating and using the box normally, your basically on what I call the long slow road to toleration. Things improve to where the older cat is only really stressed if actively being bothered in a semi-reasonable time frame (ish, it can take weeks or longer) but further progress can be SLOW. On the one hand, that is what your probably going to get even if you do a 2-3 week introduction process. Its the most common result when you add 10 y.o. + kitten. However, better and worse results are possible, and skipping the introduction process may skew the odds.

I'm not one of those folks that thinks its always terrible to rush an intro. I only did 2 days with my most recent intro. That, however, was introducing a kitten to a chill 4 year old. A 10 year old is harder -- cats get less accepting and adaptiable as they age -- and generally this is not an intro to rush. Your basically negatively skewing the odds of what was already likely going to be a dificult and stressful thing.

To the extent your in a bad spot, I guess you could give it a go. A 6 month old is too young for an adult cat to want to fight for real. At some point that changes, but 6 months seems to still be safe. And generally the issue with senior cats isn't that they want to fight anyways -- rather its a super high stress level. So the odds of a total disaster are very low. The odds of a good result aren't that great either, unless you define getting on the long slow road to toleration as good. And maybe it is. TBH, thats likely where you would end up anyway. We do have an active post where a 10 y.o. is playing some with the new kitten, and in the past I've seen some where they actually become good friends, so better results are possible, but as far as I've seen, the long slow road to toleration is pretty normal at this age.
 
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Sophia_

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Thanks for your advice, A ArtNJ . I had my partner, who has introduced 5+ cats before, come overnight. She stood in the bedroom with the kitten and I stood in the hall with the resident. We fed them simultaneously and let them make slight eye contact through the door.

Sophia growled and hissed a few times but ate half of her food. She lunged twice, but her ears were upright and she didn’t commit to going into the room. The kitten hissed back a little too. After a while they both settled into grumbling and eating with occasional glances.

When Sophia had enough, I brought the bowl several feet from the door and she finished it. She is now displaying completely calm body language, is silent, and walking up to the door every now and again.

I consider this a success, but would like to know if you think this was too fast.
 

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ArtNJ

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I consider this a success, but would like to know if you think this was too fast.
Good so far, but senior cat to a kitten can be a little different because there are two trouble spots. The usual initial stuff, and then once the the kitten gains the confidence to jump all over the older cat, trying to initiate play. The kittens usually don't take no for an answer, and can be quite remorseless about it. I don't know how much a lengthy intro helps with that, but I just don't want folks to be upset with themselves becuase they didn't try to do a more fullsome process when the older cat still seems very stressed in a month.

I'd at least try to put up a gate for a few days so there is visual access. There are some pictures and guidance on gates in our guide: How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – TheCatSite Articles
 
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