Need help introducing two cats

lmdisalle

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Also- I know how frustrating it is to not be able to “punish” them like a dog. When my cat lashes out at me, all I want to do it yell and spray her- but we have to remember that they are totally different. Instead of yelling, we have totally ignored her and it’s been really effective. She wants our attention to give her food or play with her so it gets to her.

I had a similar post yesterday, and someone recommended calming cat music to calm my oldest. She has serious anxiety issues so I was willing to try anything. It helped a lot.
Try feliway diffusers. Those are miracle workers!!
 
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GHsaltie

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Lulu&Finn Lulu&Finn I will try your idea with the cardboard, I am also going to try wearing shoes when I feed so that when she does swat it won't hurt. I have a very low pain tolerance.
@Imdisalle thank you for the kind words. It is very frustrating. I have always grown up with dogs and the punish or correct negative behaviors mentality, but I do enjoy cats so much more. I thought I understood how they think and react but I'm realizing I really don't, there's so much more that I need to gain an understanding of. I'm ashamed to admit that only a few years ago while living with my sisters and parents we had two males that over time grew to hate each other. We ended up euthanizing the aggressor, and although he had an underlying health issue contributing to his behavior I still wonder if things could have been different had we known more about cat behavior. I don't want a repeat of previous mistakes. My sisters are convinced Leaf and Summer will only ever be a bloodbath, but I can't give up without trying all the resources at my disposal. And thanks for the recommendation of the feliway, I know of them but hadn't considered it. I'll pick one up after work tomorrow.
 
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GHsaltie

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Lulu&Finn Lulu&Finn I'm not from Massachusetts, but my husband is from Ohio and did a lot of over-the-road trucking in the north. I think he was the first one who described her like that so maybe I picked it up from him?
 
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GHsaltie

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Figured I would come back with a sort of update and more questions 😆. So its been a couple months and we haven't really gotten anywhere. I will admit I've been lax on trying to proceed forward as I've been overwhelmed with schooling. This week I started introducing Leafs scent to Summer on a sock by placing it on the floor and leaving a treat with it. I do this while she isn't looking so she can kind of discover it on her own. So far she's had a neutral reaction, she'll take the treat and spend a minute sniffing the sock. I was expecting her to come away with the open mouth like cats do when they smell something they aren't necessarily fond of but she seemed okay with it and didn't have a negative reaction like she did when I tried to introduce the sock during mealtime. I haven't yet introduced Summer's smell to Leaf, I'll be doing that soon. The concern I'm having currently is that when Leaf is at her door either sticking her foot under or meowing what have you, Summer will run up to the door and smack under it. I haven't heard any growling or hissing from either and she doesn't seem angry, it's like she's just punching it I guess. Leaf seems okay too when it happens, I was in the room with her the other day when Summer did it and she just kind of gave the door a "what the heck" look and walked away while Summer continued to wiggle her paw around under the door. I don't know if I should be discouraging this behavior or if I should leave it be? I don't feel like it's creating a positive interaction but the only thing I can do is block the underside of the door. Can I get some thoughts on this? Also I almost forgot, feeding time is going a lot better with Summer. I started taking her food bowl to the food bucket, putting the food in and shaking it in front of me and it only took a couple days of that method before she stopped scratching my feet. Occasionally she will still give a little tap but it doesn't involve claws anymore.
 

di and bob

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Have you tried putting one in a wire dog cage and letting them see each other? They really should be at that point right now. But really, the longer the better. I can't believe you can keep them separated that long! :) The under the door thing is fine, they are curious and trying to interact. Sounds good so far, good luck!
 
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GHsaltie

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di and bob di and bob I've thought about doing that but I'm scared to, I don't want to mess up and create a catastrophe. Pun mildly intended. They catch glimpses of each other throughout the week since I use Leafs room as my office and Summer likes to sit near the door, so when I'm passing through they will spot each other for a moment. No hissing or growling that I've observed but I'm sure that's only because it's a passing glimpse.
 
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GHsaltie

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I'm also trying to figure out, when we get to the point of visual contact, would it be better to use a crate or to makeshift a see through door?
 

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A see through temporary door would be great. A crate is when you just can't do a door. Some people use stacked baby gates, but they are kinda a pain to get through. I got an inexpensive wood screen door and screwed it into the door frame. We patched it when we took it down. We also installed a door catch to lock it. If cats see each other long enough they get used to each other. Some of ours observed each other through a patio door for almost a year, and when let out together did fine.
Remember, hissing, growling, and swatting are perfectly normal, they are the cat's way of telling the other to stay out of their space. That will lessen in time.....
 
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GHsaltie

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I kind of felt like that was the better option, I just wanted to make sure. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to switch out the door but I've got time yet to do that. I don't think we are quite to the point of visual since I've taken so long just getting to scent.
 
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GHsaltie

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Not good update. I must have forgotten to double check Leafy's bedroom door last night. I woke up just before my alarm to a loud yowl scream Summer had made her way in there and had Leafy backed up in the closet. They were separated when I got to them but the damage is done. I took a few minutes with each after I got them separate to talk calmly, pet them and give treats. I had each of them go up to the door and then I gave a treat. After that was breakfast and now Leafy is pacing her room meowing and Summer is punching the door when she gets close. Summer has a nick on her ear but otherwise I didn't see any injuries. Summer is also a bit leery of me again and is smacking my feet if I get close to her so I'm just giving her some space right now. I'm so heartbroken. The one time I don't double check the door and now I've ruined what progress we may have had. I don't know whether I should just give up at this point.
 

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I just wonder if they need a little more sighting of each other after this long. Can they see each other? They need to see each other to get used to each other's presence and movements. It's not ruined, it's just a minor setback and if just a nick occurred instead of major clawing and biting, that is normal. don't give up, mine took a year to live together! I would still maybe put one, then the other in a large dog wire crate with a small box inside to let them hide if they need to. they need to see each other and be close more.
 
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GHsaltie

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Other than spotting each other while the door is open no they haven't seen each other. And thinking back on the event this morning it actually wasn't as bad as I initially thought. I was expecting if something like this happened that they would be in a full on brawl and I wouldn't be able to do anything except wait for them to stop, but when I got to them it seemed as though only one initial spat was had and Summer quickly backed off once I got there. If anything Leafy was being the aggressor because she went to chase after her but I stopped her in time and followed Summer out of the room. It did also get me wondering if maybe I'm holding them back more than needed because of my own fears. I had an idea to get a baby gate or something to put up that way I can have short sessions of them seeing each other with treats and I can still have some control over the situation.
 

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It has been going on 5 months, I really think they need more interaction at this point. Make sure you have a large like 3x3 foot square piece of stiff cardboard to stick between them if they ever start really fighting. Baby gates would be great for a while, a month at the most, maybe crating one and then the other (with a hiding place to feel safe) so they can be more interacting. Remember, cats are really on edge during introductions, so do not physically touch either one when they are intent on each other. If they seem to be OK with seeing each other, let them together for short periods with supervision. short, tussles are OK as long as they don't get really bit. slapping, growling, hissing are all normal.
 
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GHsaltie

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You are right, I suspect my own reservations have done more harm than good at this point. Thank you for the tip about the cardboard. I'm already brainstorming what to do and how best to go about it. I think I have a plan I just need to get the gate and whatever else is needed. I'm nervous but also cautiously optimistic that it may not be as bad as i think. I am keeping in mind not to get in the middle of a fight, that was my fear this morning that I wouldn't be able to separate them but thankfully Summer was calm enough that she let me step between them.
 

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You have NOT done more harm than good, with cats, really the longer the better. It took me a year to get mine to live together peacefully, and I know how much doubt and heartache it brings up when they fight. If you could do maybe what you did above, talk calmly to them (I wouldn't try to pet them) throw treats their way, and maybe even have a few small toys to distract them. Through a gate if necessary. There will be fights, cats need their hierarchy in a household, where they stand. with two girls it is especially bad, neither one wants to give up the top spot, sometimes they can be worse than tomcats! They WILL bond into sisters, it just takes a long time, 5 months seems like a long time to us, but really it isn't. Cats HATE change and this is a big one. That is why it is so important to get them used to the smell and the movements of each other. You might even look into treats on Amazon that have a calming effect, I gave my cat with a heart condition, just one treat instead of the 3 or 4 it stated on the pkg., and he was remarkably calmer during vet visits, the vet even said so. It may help. I know it's about impossible, but try to remain calm yourself, talk calmly and soothingly. A cat can pick up immediately when you are excited, upset, or scared because they are animals and have a much more heightened awareness of feelings. Your being scared can pass on to them. I rode horses that no one else could because I had an attitude that they were NOT going to mess with me, not being mean at all, but letting them know that I was boss through my actions and my feelings. It takes knowing animals and how they respond to let them know this. All the luck!
 
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GHsaltie

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Alright so I've got a baby gate up and I'm going to affix a sheet above it and attach that to the gate. Since I need to access the room daily this is the best I've been able to come up with at the moment. I rent so I can't really go drilling holes and stuff even though I'd rather do that. So tomorrow I have planned to let them see each other at length for the first time. In my mind I feel like it would go over best if I move Summer's food bowl to the other side of the living room in view of the door, then I can open the door during mealtime and they can see each other without having a direct interaction. The other idea I have is just opening the door for a few minutes and try to play with Summer, so they can see each and investigate but there's also a distraction. I feel like this could go badly very quick though. I would really appreciate some feedback, and maybe someone will have a different idea. I'm so nervous that it's going to go incredibly wrong, I don't really know what to expect.
 

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You can also stack two baby gates on top of each other. I don't know if that or the sheet would be easier to open. Try to remain calm, have the cardboard handy just in case. They definitely need to see each other. I wish you all the luck in the world , keep us posted!
 
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GHsaltie

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I've got a hard plastic lid that can block the whole door. I'm also going to tie some string around the door handle I have quick access to shut the door if need be. Wish me luck
 
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