Welcome to The Cat Site
your cat community
Interact with our community

Need Advice On How To Progress Cat Introduction! New Cat, 2 Resident Cats

Discussion in 'Cat Behavior' started by radarlove413, Jan 15, 2019.

  1. radarlove413

    radarlove413 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

    107
    100
    Jul 13, 2015
    Hey, my husband and I are having a bit of a time with introducing our new cat to our two resident cats. I was wondering if anyone has gone through something similar and has some advice that could help!

    Background: We've had Dunlop for 4 years. Before hubby and I lived together, Dunlop was successfully introduced to a female Tortie and a female Siamese with no problems after about a week of introductions. We got Donatello after we bought our house, and have had him for 2 years. They're both around 5 years old. Donatello is alpha dominant. Their introduction took about 2 weeks, and they'd fight periodically to sort out the pecking order for a few months after that. Now they get along pretty great.

    Our new fur baby, Coca, is a 2 year old male, recently neutered. He's been isolated in his own room for a week and a half. We can let the cats into his safe room for supervised time without any issues. Don prefers to watch Cocoa from above. Dunlop will sometimes play with a toy in the room, but gets a bit anxious when Cocoa gets close. They're fine with his scent - when we've let Cocoa out to roam around the house with them locked up, there's no hissing or anything. Cocoa loves them and would just love to make friends ASAP, but he's also respectful of their body language and stays away when they ask.

    Now, we thought we were onto the step where we're letting Cocoa out into the house for bits at a time. Dunlop and Don are super scared and unsure of him. It doesn't seem to be getting much better. Donatello will keep his distance and sometimes try to hiss/growl him out of the room. (Puffy fur accompanied by warning growls). Dunlop gets scared and follows him a bit. They get overwhelmed after about 20 mins. Usually, Don will give an angry meow, puff up his fur. Sometimes Dunlop will walk by and he'll have some misdirected aggression and go after Dunlop. Of course, Cocoa goes back to his safe room after this. (We don't want Dunlop & Don's relationship to degrade due to misplaced aggression). The last time, Cocoa went to pounce on a toy, scared Dunlop, and Dunlop puffed up and went after him and ran him under a cabinet in the basement. After he calmed down and they were separated, he seems fine, but Cocoa was understandably a bit freaked out. (not wanting to leave the basement when he's out for solo roaming time now). I don't really feel like letting them "fight it out" will help the situation at all. They also don't react/care if he's in a carrier anywhere in the house. Just when he's out, not in the safe room. Cocoa isn't territorial either - he's honestly the most chill, least threatening cat I've helped out with in an introduction.

    Since we seem to be having a rough time with this next step, I was wondering if anyone has some tips or tricks they'd like to share! This is the first time I've been dealing with this much fear aggression at this step in an introduction, with the supervised safe room visits being pretty fine. We're very patient, and we don't want to do the wrong thing :) Our game plan is to keep trying a few short house visits a day, and lots of "Eat. Play. Love" supervised visits when the cats are into it. (By the way, how do you know the cats are 100% relaxed with each other? An hour of hanging out? 30 mins?)

    Since Donatello is the biggest problem, I was thinking of dialing it back with him. Putting Cocoa in his carrier, putting Don in the room, then letting Cocoa out when Don is completely relaxed around Cocoa.

    Cocoa is a siamese-tabby mix. We've been getting a bit worried about him in the isolation room. Even though he's getting 2-5 hours of attention in there a day, if he gets really frantic he throws himself against the door. He's going to the vet on Friday for booster shots, so I'm wondering if I should see about anti-anxiety meds for the three of them to get them through the short term.

    Thank you for reading this!
     
    rubysmama purraised this.

  2. rubysmama

    rubysmama Forum Helper Staff Member Forum Helper

    9,437
    12,690
    Nov 25, 2013
    Canada
    I've never introduced cats, so can't advise from personal experience, but have read many threads on introductions here on the site.

    I wonder if the fact that Coca is recently neutered is having any affect on the introductions. The hormones can take a few weeks to totally be gone from their systems.

    Otherwise you seem to be doing things right. It does take time, and no 2 cat introductions (or cats) are the same)

    Here are the TCS articles on cat introductions, which may have some tips for you.

    How To Fix An Unsuccessful Cat Introduction

    How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide (this one has pictures showing how to put baby gates up to a door so cats can see each other)

    Introducing Cats To Cats

    Are My Cats Fighting Or Playing? (this one has pictures and videos to help understand the body language of cats and to determine if it if aggression or just playing)

    Good luck with them. I hope eventually they'll all be best buds.
     

  3. FelisCatus

    FelisCatus RIP </3 Alpha Cat

    883
    1,141
    Dec 27, 2018
    After you do get them introduced and such I would highly recommend the Feliway pheromone diffuser that is tailored to a multicat home (not the original in this case). It’s a bit on the pricier side since you need refills monthly but it definitely keeps the peace in my home.
     
    rubysmama purraised this.

  4. radarlove413

    radarlove413 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

    107
    100
    Jul 13, 2015
    Thank you for the advice, I was wondering that too! He's been neutered for about 3 weeks now, so there's probably lots of kitty testosterone in his system still.

    I'll also invest in a Feliway diffuser for sure!

    I think the introductions were a bit too rushed for Donatello as he's avoiding the safe room a bit. So, we'll let Cocoa out and put Don in there tonight for an hour to let him see that the safe room is actually awesome, and there's lots of catnip and toys! And we'll go back to carrier safe room visits with him until his anxiety in the room eases up a bit.
     
    rubysmama purraised this.

  5. FelisCatus

    FelisCatus RIP </3 Alpha Cat

    883
    1,141
    Dec 27, 2018
    3 weeks is a bit short yes, I have read it can take up to 5-6 weeks so just hang in there :)!
     
    rubysmama purraised this.

  6. radarlove413

    radarlove413 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

    107
    100
    Jul 13, 2015
    Thank you! So we scaled it back and had a carrier session tonight. Don was tense, but we relaxed him with play. When we let Cocoa out, it was okay for a minute, but then Cocoa pounced too close to Don and scared him, ran him into a corner. So, instead of ending the session (didn’t want Don to think being a jerk would make Cocoa go away), I held Cocoa while Don calmed down. Then I played with him in the corner, making sure he didn’t go anywhere near Don, for another 5 mins while he watched. I hope I did the right thing!

    I’ve honestly been super lucky with cat introductions until now - with the others, they could be out in the house for a few hours at a time after two weeks!
     
    rubysmama purraised this.

  7. FelisCatus

    FelisCatus RIP </3 Alpha Cat

    883
    1,141
    Dec 27, 2018
    Don’t sell yourself (or kitties) short though! This is still great progress. Keep it up.

    Give them a couple extra treats in my name ;).
     
    rubysmama purraised this.

  8. radarlove413

    radarlove413 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

    107
    100
    Jul 13, 2015
    Thank you, I shall! :) they’re currently locked up in the safe room while Cocoa helps me with house work for a bit. Dunlop is fine, but Don is understandably a bit anxious
     
    rubysmama purraised this.

  9. radarlove413

    radarlove413 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

    107
    100
    Jul 13, 2015
    Hey, just wanted to give a little update and another question:

    Donatello is a bit more relaxed now. They can be in the safe room for about 5 mins at a time, on opposite ends with cocoa distracted, without Don getting bad body language! Dunlop would love to socialize more with him, but still some wet hissing/swats if Cocoa gets too close.

    Cocoa got his booster shots today. The vet gave me Biocalm for all 3 cats to help with the anxiety. Has anyone used this before? Has it helped?
     

  10. rubysmama

    rubysmama Forum Helper Staff Member Forum Helper

    9,437
    12,690
    Nov 25, 2013
    Canada
    I've never actually heard of it before. Let us know if it helps.
     

  11. radarlove413

    radarlove413 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

    107
    100
    Jul 13, 2015
    So far, it's helping so much! During the first visit, Donatello only did a wet hiss. Tonight, all three of them ate treats (carrier free) within a foot of each other. No hisses or bad body language. Then Don came in again to investigate the empty carrier. We ended the visits for tonight since we want him to stay curious. I also had the day off work, so I've spent at least 2 hours playing with all the cats, and letting Cocoa out for a bit, to get the energy out.
     
    rubysmama purraised this.

  12. rubysmama

    rubysmama Forum Helper Staff Member Forum Helper

    9,437
    12,690
    Nov 25, 2013
    Canada
    Sounds good. Fingers crossed it stays that way. :crossfingers:
     

  13. radarlove413

    radarlove413 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

    107
    100
    Jul 13, 2015
    Hey guys, I need your advice again. We thought the last supervised visit was going good... until Cocoa walked underneath Don. Which scared Don. Who attacked Dunlop. Which turned into a massive yowling fight with Cocoa in the corner terrified. My husband is getting to his wit's end... is there any chance Donatello will get over his fear aggression? Do I have to let them fight it out?

    After 5 minutes, I put each cat in the room with Cocoa safely in the carrier. They didn't attack him in the carrier, and they're not attacking each other.
     

  14. FelisCatus

    FelisCatus RIP </3 Alpha Cat

    883
    1,141
    Dec 27, 2018
    No, you’re never supposed to let cats just fight it out, that’s just asking for an expensive vet bill at an emergency hospital.

    Can you explain “walked underneath Don”... was he on a chair? Do they have adequate cat houses/trees for all of them or would they be fighting for the same spots?
     

  15. radarlove413

    radarlove413 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

    107
    100
    Jul 13, 2015
    For sure! Okay so there are two chairs in the safe room, two cabinets, and a basement wall ledge (it's a bilevel). We'd just fed them all a treat and body language was relaxed.

    He was on a chair, and Dunlop was beside the chair. Cocoa was on the floor, and just walked within half a foot of the chair. Immediately, Donatello growled and got puffy. Dunlop came around to see what the fuss was. Donatello then puffed, yowled once, and launched at Cocoa. Dunlop then launched at Cocoa/Don. Cocoa ran and wedged himself into a cabinet while Don and Dunlop had a yowling/fur flying fight. I opened the door and clapped to try and break them up. Didn't work, so I stomped my feet and Don ran out of the room. Immediately, Dunlop yowls and runs for Cocoa. Hubby wedges a cat bed and blanket between the two of them to block visual access. Dunlop gets a bit calmer, so we put him outside the room.

    After they calmed down, I put Cocoa in the carrier again and opened the door and just chilled there. They both came into the room and acted like normal, no hisses at the carrier but intense stares. I distracted them before they could stare too long with toys.

    I know that we're supposed to let them posture and hiss and stuff a bit to establish dominance. I also know I get scared with Don because the past two times I thought we were alright, he went from 0 to full on attack in a matter of seconds.

    It's the third time we've dialed it back now. The first two times, they were just one-on-one visits in the safe room. The barrier is fine, but if Cocoa gets too close Don just loses it.
     

  16. FelisCatus

    FelisCatus RIP </3 Alpha Cat

    883
    1,141
    Dec 27, 2018
    There are too many variables at play to make any definitive suggestions:

    -the hormones from neutering will probably still be around for another few weeks

    -might take some time for the biocalm to fully kick in

    -did the Feliway diffuser multicats get set up

    -are there enough litter boxes for everyone (3+1 in this case)

    -the meetings are happening in the ‘safe room’.... is this Cocoa’s safe room? That doesn’t seem right... it’s not safe room for him if ‘intruders’ keep coming in... it should be a safe neutral place wherein Cocoa has somewhere to escape to if needed (aka the safe room)

    -are they all bush cats or tree cats (do they like being down low or up high)... they could be out of their comfort zone if they are being forced to meet low on the ground/chairs

    I could literally keep going on for a very long time.
     

  17. radarlove413

    radarlove413 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

    107
    100
    Jul 13, 2015
    Yes, it did get set up. I thought after the visual barrier stage, supervised meetings were supposed to take place in the safe room not in their territory? That’s what the guides have said.

    Cocoa is honestly super chill. He isn’t showing any signs of fear or aggression when he sees the other two at all.

    Now I am extremely confused.
     

  18. FelisCatus

    FelisCatus RIP </3 Alpha Cat

    883
    1,141
    Dec 27, 2018
    Hmm, my apologies if I was confusing or wrote something wrong.

    Are all of then hanging out in a safe room that is independent of their own space?

    Does Cocoa still have his own separate room outside of this safe room?
     

  19. radarlove413

    radarlove413 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

    107
    100
    Jul 13, 2015
    Okay, so I may have read this wrong then:

    Cocoa has his own room in the basement that he spends his time in. The cats have the run of the rest of the house. We live in a bilevel, so there's an open living area on both floors, and two bedrooms.

    I thought when I was reading the guides that the face-to-face meetings had to happen in the safe room that Cocoa spends most of his time in. From my understanding now, interactions should be in a different area from this.

    When I've introduced cats before, we've had good results letting them out of the room and letting each resident cat follow them/interact with them at their own pace, and ending it when aggression happened. I haven't done this with Cocoa for the past week because I'm scared of Don thinking negatively of Cocoa whenever he's out in the territory. Not worried about Dunlop, but I also don't plan on having the three of them in a room together anytime soon again, until they both are at ease with Cocoa.

    I'd like to keep him out of the basement, since there's some areas where Cocoa could be chased into that we can't extract them.

    This would leave the upstairs living room to try an interaction. The dining room cabinet (with a cat bed on it) is a place where Don feels super secure, and it's a large area. So if I'm understanding it right, put Cocoa on the opposite end of the room and keep him occupied when Don is up there, and just let him watch for a bit?

    When I've been doing the site swaps, Don wants to come into Cocoa's room right away and just looks in the carrier. He stares at Cocoa for about ten seconds, does a small wet hiss, then goes to the door and stares cautiously. He'll come in for a treat or two, then I end the interaction and close the door.

    (Sorry for the long response, I hope this explains it better!)
     

  20. radarlove413

    radarlove413 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

    107
    100
    Jul 13, 2015
    Little update:

    Dunlop is pretty much ready to meet Cocoa. He comes right up and friendly paws him, and they play feet under the door.

    Donatello has only done a few wet hisses, no growls or puffy fur. We’re going at his pace, and working with both kitties one on one. Don will eat about 1 ft away from cocoa at the door. Tonight he ate treats by the doorcrack, but gave a warning hiss at the paw. He’s pretty play motivated, so lots of his favorite game by the safe room door too.

    I also got Don a Thunder Shirt, and it is also REALLY is helping the anxiety. With the shirt on, he hasn’t hissed at Cocoa, and backs away if he feels uncomfortable rather than postures. It restricts his movement a bit, so when he’s a bit more ready to be around cocoa without a carrier again, we’ll use it. It also soothes him into naps after the sessions end. (I attached a picture of our troublemaker and Cocoa)
     

    Attached Files:

    rubysmama purraised this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.