Introductions and Normal Body Language

hybriseris

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Hi all! I'm here to ask for the wisdom of people more experienced than myself by posting yet another introduction thread.

I have had cats growing up, but usually just one. I have read a TON about introductions, but I'm not super savvy about cat body language between two cats.

My resident cat is Shadow, a 9 year old Maine Coon mix with previous history of socializing well as an indoor/outdoor cat. (I have adopted him from my Gramdmother, and he is now strictly indoor with me.)

I have adopted Ghost, an estimated 2 year old Domestic Shorthair.

They are both neutered.

I brought Ghost home about 4 days ago, and he's gotten very confident in his home base in my guest room. He will have to be isolated for another 14 days per the recommendation of my vet, due to symptoms of a URI while in the shelter. Obviously because of that I haven't been able to scent swap as I want to protect Shadow.

My question (at least at this stage, I'm sure I'll have more) is about their habit of hissing and sometimes growling through the door. Many of their interactions start with growling and hissing, and end with the two either laying quietly on either side of the door, or even sometimes chirping at each other. Ghost will eat happily on his side of the door, Shadow is not yet so sure about eating near the door! The hissing doesn't seem particularly angry most of the time, though Shadow has spit at the gate once or twice.

Is this expected this early in the process? Does this appear as behavior of two cats who might eventually get along, or am I in trouble?

I have linked a video w/ sound, and a picture, both from today (Day 4).

Thanks in advance!

 
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hybriseris

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And of course just as I post this, Ghost tried sticking his paws under the door for the first time and Shadow growled and spit/swiped at them. Besides avoiding any unintended escapes, that is why I have the bavy gate there since the gap under the door is fairly high and I don't want them to be able to swipe at each other under the door.

Ugh, I find myself riding this rollercoaster of worry and it's only been 4 days!
 

rubysmama

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Hi. Just seeing your message now, so sorry for the delay replying.

I think with only being 4 days, hissing and growling is to be expected. That's how cats communicate, and Shadow is reacting to the "intruder" in his home.

It's unfortunate that Ghost needs to kept isolated, as scent swapping is an early step in the introduction process. But there's nothing you can do about that, but wait, and get to that step once the isolation is over.

You've probably read our article on cat introductions, but in case you haven't here's the link:
How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide | TheCatSite

Good luck. Post again, if you have any more questions, and especially once Ghost's isolation is over, and you get move along with the introductions.
 
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hybriseris

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hybriseris hybriseris : How are things going now?
Funny you should ask!

Yesterday I was putting down an area rug in the room Ghost is in, because he gets the zoomies around 10:30pm and I have downstairs neighbors! Lol. So while I can usually get in and out over the baby gate pretty quick, I had stuff in my arms and lo and behold, Shadow came trotting up as I was leaving and spotted Ghost. I said oh no...ooooh no.... but actually, it seems to have REALLY helped. I held the door ready to close it if something went wrong, but Shadow chirped and rubbed his cheeks on the gate before poking a paw through trying to touch Ghost. Ghost wasn't quite as brave, but he was curious and stayed back a little hit. I closed the door on that note, and the mood from both of them - especially Shadow - has been much more relaxed and interested. No hissing, no growling, and instead they just seem curious OR disinterested depending on the moment.

Obviously they can't interact until next Saturday which is probably for the best anyway, and it's certainly outside the usual order of introductions, but in their case taking away the unknown of "whats behind the door" seems to have really helped things along.
 

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It sounds like its going pretty well to me so far. A real test will be when they are allowed to mingle. 2 y.o.'s are often still at the obnoxious age, trying to force playing and not taking no for an answer.

Hissing is not necessarily anything. Probably 80% of cat besties hissed at each other for a few days.
 
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hybriseris

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It sounds like its going pretty well to me so far. A real test will be when they are allowed to mingle. 2 y.o.'s are often still at the obnoxious age, trying to force playing and not taking no for an answer.
So the funny thing is, Shadow despite being 9 years old, is quite obnoxious himself LOL. So I purposely wanted to pick a younger cat to match his energy level. I have never been around a cat his age who just LOVES to play as much as he does! He definitely enjoys a good sleep, but when he's up he's always looking for something to do. Ghost is super playful but actually seems to be the more mellow of the pair so I'm hoping they'll be well matched in that sense. Thanks for your comment - I've seen your contributions to other intro threads and they helped me learn a lot, so I'm glad you think this sounds good so far.
 
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hybriseris

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Counting down until Saturday when I'm going to leave the baby gates up and let the boys interact at will and get used to seeing each other. Still letting them catch peeks of each other which sometimes end very well in either interest or completely neutral reaction, OR sometimes hissing on Shadow's end. Ghost generally just looks like "woah, what did I do!?" Either way, nothing that feels abnormal or a bad sign, even if I wish the occasional hissing didn't happen.

Attached some pictures. Shadow loves potstickers...or at least he likes the idea of me giving him one...
 

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hybriseris

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Decided to switch their spaces today! Would love more experienced cat introduction thoughts on whether this sounds good.

Ghost got some time to explore the apartment and very quickly got over his anxiety and ran around checking everything out while Shadow was shut in my room. After about 20 minutes I put Ghost in the bathroom and let Shadow explore Ghost's home base. He sniffed EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING LOL! He was cautious, but there was no hissing at the scent and eventually he walked out of the guest room and went to check if there was any lunch out for him yet.

Ghost is now back in his room and Shadow has the run of the apartment again, and I plan on doing it again later.
 

rubysmama

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I actually don't have any personal experience with introducing cats, however, what you're described is exactly what is recommended in the "how to introduce cats" articles.
 
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hybriseris

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I actually don't have any personal experience with introducing cats, however, what you're described is exactly what is recommended in the "how to introduce cats" articles.
Yes, I think I'm just hesitant because I'm so much less familiar with two cars interacting than any other animal and I'm not sure what's okay and what's REALLY not okay. 😅

This afternoon they've graduated to having the baby gates stacked so they can see each other but not physically interact. They touched noses quietly and I just about died! But then Shadow hissed which I'm slowly coming to see as less discouraging. Ghost is good and just backs up a little. Shadow likes to lay down and watch Ghost walk around, and meows if he comes to the gate and can't see him. The hissing seems to happen if Ghost gets too close for too long, which I assume at this stage is normal because Shadow isn't too sure about him yet. There was one short instance of growling, but otherwise they've been going back and forth between napping and checking on each other.
 
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hybriseris

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Two cats*. Not cars lol. I've had dogs and horses my whole life, but their dynamic is much different.
 
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hybriseris

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Well I have to say it's been mostly discouraging here this afternoon. I ended up closing the door because Shadow was happy to lay by the gate and watch Ghost, but the hissing was becoming growling and swatting the gate if Ghost came over. Ugh.
 

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Well I have to say it's been mostly discouraging here this afternoon. I ended up closing the door because Shadow was happy to lay by the gate and watch Ghost, but the hissing was becoming growling and swatting the gate if Ghost came over. Ugh.
I guess tomorrow is your tell all. If it were me I wouldn't delay the enviable meeting any longer. They will either kiss and make up or be standoffish.
 

rubysmama

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Try not to get too discouraged, and remember most cats don't become besties right away. That's why it's recommended to do the slow intro, with site swapping, and visuals (like you're doing), etc. But knowing when to give them a break too, is good. Which you did. Just take it at their pace, and remember, you can only go as quickly as the most hesitant cat. It's better to go slow, than too fast, and then have to start back at square one.

BTW, once you hit 20 posts, you'll be able to edit your posts for 120 minutes after submission.
 
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hybriseris

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rubysmama rubysmama Good to know, thanks! And I hear that. If it's not already brutally obvious, I do have an anxiety disorder that's making me overthink and go worse case scenario on the behavior I'm seeing. I'll keep doing what I'm doing, and try not to fret too much over whether Ghost feels like he's in kitty prison with a scary jailor outside lol
 

rubysmama

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I'm an overthinker too, so I totally understand. But even though I've never actually introduced cats, I've reads tons of posts on the topic, and I'm confident that you're doing the right thing. Just resist the urge to go too fast. As for Ghost feeling like he's in kitty prison, do put Shadow in another room from time to time to let Ghost roam outside of his "cell".
 
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hybriseris

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Not a great day. Visual access to each other when I'm home just kind of becoming a hissing and posturing fest from Shadow, and Ghost is getting restless in his room and is figuring out climbing the baby gate. Going to take a step back. Shadow is unfortunately not food motivated, but loves treats, so maybe open the door a few times a day to give them each a treat if they interact well. Shadow hisses immediately when he sees him now for the most part. Pretty miserable.
 
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