Kitten Introduction to a Sassy Adult Cat - Help!

lily2021

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My husband and I have been trying to introduce our current cat who is about 4-5 years old to a 4 month old kitten. They are both females and we honestly feel like it has been getting worse. The first week or so we did not let them visually see each other, just be heard through the door. Our resident adult cat thought something was off since we started to shut the office door where the new kitten resides. I then started to drop treats near the door, began feeding them through the door, there were hisses from our resident cat but after a few days I was able to move her closer and even open the door a bit so they can see each other (before that I have been doing so much scent swapping with blankets/toys/etc and our cat just hisses/growls and swishes tail low and aggressively). It’s been about 2 weeks and we moved to feeding them In the same room but we have to hold the kitten since I get a sense that we should not trust her to roam around alone, I feel our cat would hurt the kitten (we are not able to clip her nails as she gets soooo aggressive and she bites, she is the type of cat that lets you know when she’s had enough and she huffs a lot). Our resident cat will also try to bang on the door the kitten is in so we have started to let her in while we hold the kitten and she watches, but our cat is just going in there for food and will full on aggressively hiss and today we tried to distract them by play but our cat cannot be distracted- they were about 6ft apart and our older cat tried to lunge with her teeth at the kitten. Since then they have been separated again and she remains to have access to the house while the kitten remains in her safe zone. We are becoming SO discouraged and stressed over this and feel we cannot trust our resident cat’s aggressive behavior at the end of the day. Any advise would be so appreciated. Thank you!!!
 

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I'm sorry you are going through this, and I feel your pain. We are two months into adding a 10 month old to our 7 year old. We adopted 2 months apart but our first, a girl, just isn't too receptive to adding the new guy despite only being her 2 months herself. The kitten, a boy, wants to play and be with her. It has been a LONG process and we still don't allow them together alone. She is pretty good with him until he starts to move and then she chases. We have been working to distract her from doing so, and she is getting better.... but it is a LONG process... I have no good advice (other than extreme patience), but some on hear are brilliant, so take notes from them. I just wanted to give you a shout of support and let you know you are not alone in this. You can do it... Hang in there...
 
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lily2021

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I'm sorry you are going through this, and I feel your pain. We are two months into adding a 10 month old to our 7 year old. We adopted 2 months apart but our first, a girl, just isn't too receptive to adding the new guy despite only being her 2 months herself. The kitten, a boy, wants to play and be with her. It has been a LONG process and we still don't allow them together alone. She is pretty good with him until he starts to move and then she chases. We have been working to distract her from doing so, and she is getting better.... but it is a LONG process... I have no good advice (other than extreme patience), but some on hear are brilliant, so take notes from them. I just wanted to give you a shout of support and let you know you are not alone in this. You can do it... Hang in there...
It feels so good to know I’m not alone!! We have been going a bit crazy and are starting to feel bad to keep the kitten cooped up in one room when she wants to explore around. Thanks for the support it means a lot!!
 

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Adult cats don't hurt kittens. A "get away" swat is common enough, and once in while, you'll get a "get away" style charge, which looks quite scary. But no injuries. Biological hard wiring of some sort.

All of that said, I'm not exactly clear of the details of your introduction process. Did you have the door cracked open with door jambs, or were you merely holding it open for small stretches? A visual introduction step is very useful, but it takes time. A minute or two of holding the door cracked a bit isn't sufficient.

Its fairly common for the older cat to STILL be a little hissy & growly after the introduction process is done. And thats ok, they can work that out of their system with time. But, as noted, it might be that you could go backwards a little and leave the door cracked for a bit. Or, some members have had success using double stacked baby gates, or a homemade contraption, for the visual step.
 
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lily2021

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Adult cats don't hurt kittens. A "get away" swat is common enough, and once in while, you'll get a "get away" style charge, which looks quite scary. But no injuries. Biological hard wiring of some sort.

All of that said, I'm not exactly clear of the details of your introduction process. Did you have the door cracked open with door jambs, or were you merely holding it open for small stretches? A visual introduction step is very useful, but it takes time. A minute or two of holding the door cracked a bit isn't sufficient.

Its fairly common for the older cat to STILL be a little hissy & growly after the introduction process is done. And thats ok, they can work that out of their system with time. But, as noted, it might be that you could go backwards a little and leave the door cracked for a bit. Or, some members have had success using double stacked baby gates, or a homemade contraption, for the visual step.
Just holding the door a bit while they eat, then our older cat normally hisses and growls while she eats but walks away. I close the door after this because I’m afraid for the kitten to run out and run by our older cat who may attack with her claws out (she won’t let us clip them so they are quite too long!) should we be concerned for that? I’m not sure what to do moving forward, I keep trying to feed them together and create positive associations but our older cat with increase growling and she is mostly just concerned for where the kitten food is at. A baby gate may be useful so we can keep the door open and observe the behaviors but my older cat gets sooo threatened if the kitten tries to get too close. I don’t want to make any mistakes in this!
 

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I'm sorry you're having so much trouble introducing your cats. I have never had problems introducing younger cats to my older cats and the only thing which strikes me from your report is that you seem to be favoring the new kitten. She is on your lap when you let the resident cat into her room. I may be wrong, but I would have done it the other way round. The resident cat must feel secure when a new cat is introduced otherwise she will feel she is being pushed out and will regard the newcomer as an enemy.

You will not be able to change this attitude overnight as she is already in a fighting mood. Somehow, you will have to start again, building up her confidence before introducing them. At the moment, I can only think of limiting their time together and always putting the kitten in a carrier (for her own safety) and letting the resident cat run free and speaking kindly to her. You will have to decide how long to leave the kitten imprisoned before putting her back in her safe room. Eventually, (after a few days, weeks, ..... please not months) the resident cat will simply ignore a harmless kitty in a carrier and it will be safe to let her out.

Sorry, I know it's hard not to try to protect the younger kitten but you can't expect the resident cat to share your enthusiasm for a newbie.
 

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A stressed cat doesn't want to eat, so the whole "positive experiences" model of introductions is a bit off in my opinion. This site's guide is more based on gradual desensitization, which means gradually getting the cats used to each other while slowly upping the ante from scent only, to visual, to face to face. How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – TheCatSite Articles

Its sort of like how some therapists get people with a phobia over it. For example, the therapist starts you out with Charlotte's Web and when you can watch that without throwing up, the next session is a spider in a cage 10 feet away. Eventually, the damn thing is crawling on you and your over it. The therapist asking you to eat ice cream while the spider crawls you would be more like the positive experiences attempt -- and obviously doomed to failure. Which is not to say that the whole feeding the cats near each other thing is necessarily useless, but it sure seems to cause folks a lot of problems given that a stressed cat doesn't want to eat. And if you back up far enough that the cats aren't that stressed, how much work is it really doing? Maybe some, you can bring the dishes gradually closer over time, session to session, but in your case with the adult cat wanting the kitten food, its likely more trouble than its worth.

Anyway, if you can find some way to do a visual step -- not for 5 minutes here and there, but a set up that stays up for hours -- that may be useful and is a part of our recommended process.
 

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My husband and I have been trying to introduce our current cat who is about 4-5 years old to a 4 month old kitten. They are both females and we honestly feel like it has been getting worse. The first week or so we did not let them visually see each other, just be heard through the door. Our resident adult cat thought something was off since we started to shut the office door where the new kitten resides. I then started to drop treats near the door, began feeding them through the door, there were hisses from our resident cat but after a few days I was able to move her closer and even open the door a bit so they can see each other
Hi L lily2021 ...I love your title. We will just have to find out how sassy this cat is.
Remember to keep your sense of humour, with the whole cat-to-kitten introduction process.
It really helps, especially all the times you want to say, "really,...argh...you're really acting this way again".

So I think you may be moving a tad too fast with these intros.

Here's a Cat Site Article that may help with tips:
How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – TheCatSite Articles

The reason I say this, is that you are doing all the steps correctly, but because your adult cat is still showing signs of hissing/growling and being aggressive...then she is still not ready to meet her 'new intruder' into her territory.
Think of the process like a 'slow repetitive routine'....that makes the older cat lessen their 'fight or flight' tendencies.
It lessens their fear.

(before that I have been doing so much scent swapping with blankets/toys/etc and our cat just hisses/growls and swishes tail low and aggressively).
Here your resident cat is telling you that she is not yet accepting of the 'new kitten's Scent'.
You'll have to wait until ...she becomes bored with her scent.
It’s been about 2 weeks and we moved to feeding them In the same room but we have to hold the kitten since I get a sense that we should not trust her to roam around alone, I feel our cat would hurt the kitten (we are not able to clip her nails as she gets soooo aggressive and she bites, she is the type of cat that lets you know when she’s had enough and she huffs a lot).
Again, two weeks is very, very short.

Usually it takes a new kitten a week, just to get used to her new place, and 'cheek and body mark and Scent' her new territory.
Not to mention, feel Confident enough to roam around.
Our resident cat will also try to bang on the door the kitten is in so we have started to let her in while we hold the kitten and she watches, but our cat is just going in there for food and will full on aggressively hiss and today we tried to distract them by play but our cat cannot be distracted- they were about 6ft apart and our older cat tried to lunge with her teeth at the kitten. Since then they have been separated again and she remains to have access to the house while the kitten remains in her safe zone. We are becoming SO discouraged and stressed over this and feel we cannot trust our resident cat’s aggressive behavior at the end of the day. Any advise would be so appreciated. Thank you!!!
What I would do is go back a few steps, and as ArtNJ mentioned above, use those baby gates, or set up wire shelving as a barricade, to allow the older cat to see the kitten play but to not be able to touch her just yet.

Try to remember the 5 Senses approach to cat intros.
  1. Hearing ...where the cats can hear each other, but not see each other.
  2. then Scent....and especially the 'swapping the scents, mingling the scents' and 'allowing all the new kitten's scents to be all over the home'...so much so...that your resident cat will recognize and accept the new cat as part of her territory. This is the part where "Scent swaps" and "Room Swaps" are practiced to get both cats' scents everywhere.
  3. Visual is next, but you are still doing Scent Exchange, and rewarding any good interactions with treats/food/praise.
  4. Taste is using food and treats to make positive associations and encourage more Acceptance.
  5. Finally, Touch,....is when you've observed that your resident cat is not longer bothered by the smells, or sight of the new kitten running around erratically, ..and you've noticed a huge decrease in your resident cat's fear responses.
 
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Moggielady

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Hello Lily. Thank you for posting on my thread & I wanted to come and reply here. I completely sympathise and really respond to the sense of discouragement and stress. I've had a few teary moments with Audrey and Elliot, just feeling terrible that neither of them have got things how they want them. I think Cat Nap is right to try and maintain a sense of humour, & I'd also say try to enjoy and be glad of the little moments that go well: playing with your kitten or getting some strokes with the resident cat. I don't have much practical advice because I am figuring all this out myself! ArtNJ's advice about finding a way to let the cats watch one another without meeting is something he also suggested to me and it's been good to see Audrey's hissing and growling reduce a bit over a few days of observation without the kitten being in any danger. Hang on in there. Everyone says that it can take a long time for cats to adjust so patience and I know it sounds stupid but it helps me to remember that they don't 'think' in the way that we do, i.e. Audrey is not up there in the bedroom meditating on how much she resents me for replacing her with a new kitten, she just instinctively wants to be sure that her food and water and litter tray are still hers, and eventually she will realise that and calm down. So I am trying to tell myself :)
 

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lily2021

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Thank you ALL so much for taking the time to respond to me, I feel a bit better about it all and will definitely get a gate so they can observe each other without fear of direct access to each other. My older cat can be a bit tough so hoping she does warm up eventually. I think we need to up the scent swapping maybe that will help but she is definitely agitated!
 

cat nap

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In the meantime, you can also let the kitten roam around the 'new home', ...while your older cat is sleeping in her room.
It does not have to be long, an hour or so, ..and if one person is able to stay in the room with your older cat, and keep her company and observe her,...then that would help, too.

Tell us their names, and if you can post some photos, too.
How To Add A Picture To Your Forum Post – TheCatSite Articles
I love kitten and cat photos, ..and then I'm able to keep a visual in my head.
(No pressure, though. I know how stressful introducing new animals to each other can be.)
Take a lot of photos, for yourself, too. They grow up quick.
 
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lily2021

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In the meantime, you can also let the kitten roam around the 'new home', ...while your older cat is sleeping in her room.
It does not have to be long, an hour or so, ..and if one person is able to stay in the room with your older cat, and keep her company and observe her,...then that would help, too.

Tell us their names, and if you can post some photos, too.
How To Add A Picture To Your Forum Post – TheCatSite Articles
I love kitten and cat photos, ..and then I'm able to keep a visual in my head.
(No pressure, though. I know how stressful introducing new animals to each other can be.)
Take a lot of photos, for yourself, too. They grow up quick.
 

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lily2021

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In the meantime, you can also let the kitten roam around the 'new home', ...while your older cat is sleeping in her room.
It does not have to be long, an hour or so, ..and if one person is able to stay in the room with your older cat, and keep her company and observe her,...then that would help, too.

Tell us their names, and if you can post some photos, too.
How To Add A Picture To Your Forum Post – TheCatSite Articles
I love kitten and cat photos, ..and then I'm able to keep a visual in my head.
(No pressure, though. I know how stressful introducing new animals to each other can be.)
Take a lot of photos, for yourself, too. They grow up quick.
Here they are!! The bigger one is obviously the sassy one haha! Names are Leia (older cat) and Nala for the kitten.
 

cat nap

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Here they are!! The bigger one is obviously the sassy one haha! Names are Leia (older cat) and Nala for the kitten.
Adorable! I love the photos. :blush:
Leia is so fluffy, too. (like Audrey over on the other thread. haha.)
I hope she likes to be brushed. :bluepaw:

Did you happen to name her after 'Princess Leia'...from Star wars?
(...because if I recall...princess Leia was pretty tough, and did some fighting of her own? Or at least she did not back down to the Empire.)

How did you choose their names?

Nala is cute, too.
In that photo it looks like she has huge paws...but maybe it's just the angle. :greenpaw:
 
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lily2021

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Haha yes we did name her after Princess Leia!! We thought the name was fitting for her for sure!! Both are rescue babies :)
 

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You have tons of great advice and I'm just adding that I've used both stacked baby gates and the Free Standing Dog Cat or Pet Gate Without Tools with success.
The baby gates (and the closet shelving) I've hung a towel over and safety pinned it so it wouldn't fall off and so I could have the room door open and raise the visual from the bottom according to how much was appropriate for viewing, and so one cat or the other couldn't go under the towel before I felt they were ready to have full-on visual.
And as above, step by step and patience are a key. I've done a 4 year old to a kitten, then adults to adults with above techniques and have had it work, so we are cheering you on! :dancingblackcat: :purr: :cheerleader:
 
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lily2021

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You have tons of great advice and I'm just adding that I've used both stacked baby gates and the Free Standing Dog Cat or Pet Gate Without Tools with success.
The baby gates (and the closet shelving) I've hung a towel over and safety pinned it so it wouldn't fall off and so I could have the room door open and raise the visual from the bottom according to how much was appropriate for viewing, and so one cat or the other couldn't go under the towel before I felt they were ready to have full-on visual.
And as above, step by step and patience are a key. I've done a 4 year old to a kitten, then adults to adults with above techniques and have had it work, so we are cheering you on! :dancingblackcat: :purr: :cheerleader:
thank you so much!! We are going to try the baby gate and hope it helps, should we limit the visuals at first with a blanket and how often should we do that? The kitten seems very curious and not afraid despite alll warning signs our older cat is giving her. I’m not sure if feeding them together has been working because now our older cat has been jetting into the kitten room JUST to eat the kitten food and she hisses and growls aggressively when we try to take it away from her (and she has her food bowls in the kitchen so I think this is odd behavior?) she also completely disregards the kitten through this process and will bang at the door consistently just to get at the food in the kitten’s safe room. As far as the scent swapping with other toys and blankets, sometimes she disregards it or won’t even smell it, other times she will hiss so she has been so hard to read. I really hope we are doing all of this right but it’s so hard to tell!
 

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You have such gorgeous cats! Just popping in to say I introduced a new kitten to my VERY grumpy and territorial resident six months ago so just know you're not alone. It's stressful to watch your beloved cat be so angry and aggressive, so remember to take care of yourself too and not internalize everything :redheartpump: Like a lot of people have said, all is absolutely not lost! Sometimes you just need to take the plunge and start desensitizing your cat to the smell/sight of the newcomer even though she's going to be sassy, let her get it all out. The baby gates are a great idea and really worked for me. I'd have periods of the day where I'd set up the baby gate and let the kitten be in the kitchen while the resident cats had the rest of the house. For the first bit there'd be hissing, swatting, lots of staring, but gradually my resident would head off to do his own thing. Just keep the routine normal and your stress levels as low as possible, it's a big adjustment for a cat and you being calm about the whole situation will help them too! :heartshape:

In regards to your question, your four month is so young that it's really the perfect age to introduction them, even to a sassy resident! Imo you could limit viewing if she's really aggressive or if it makes you feel better, but I don't think there's any harm in letting them see each other. At this point the kitten's been with you for a while so Leia should be familiar with her scent and obviously she knows she's there! The kitten's no longer a stranger, it's time for her to start adjusting to having this new face around. You're doing everything right, cats are just... well, cats! Even after my resident and newcomer were fine in the same room together, there was still SO much boundary-keeping, hissing, and smacking. It's all cat lingo, they have a lot of things to sort out by themselves that doesn't involve you, but Nala being such an unthreatening kitten really helps.
 
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lily2021

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Adult cats don't hurt kittens. A "get away" swat is common enough, and once in while, you'll get a "get away" style charge, which looks quite scary. But no injuries. Biological hard wiring of some sort.

All of that said, I'm not exactly clear of the details of your introduction process. Did you have the door cracked open with door jambs, or were you merely holding it open for small stretches? A visual introduction step is very useful, but it takes time. A minute or two of holding the door cracked a bit isn't sufficient.

Its fairly common for the older cat to STILL be a little hissy & growly after the introduction process is done. And thats ok, they can work that out of their system with time. But, as noted, it might be that you could go backwards a little and leave the door cracked for a bit. Or, some members have had success using double stacked baby gates, or a homemade contraption, for the visual step.
hi ArtNJ! Do you have any recommendations for when or how to start the visual process? we have been just holding the kitten in her safe room while our older cat has free roam, but now she has ignored all scent swapping - she won’t even smell them. Instead our older cat has just been sitting outside the room the kitten is in and if you try to get her she huffs/growls and hisses. I’m thinking she just wants to get into the room for the kitten food. Kind of unsure of how to proceed from here without causing issues during the intro process. :/
 
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