Negative Progress in Introduction

Mishaxhi

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Hey all - in the last few months I've gotten a new cat (Marble) and been working on getting her introduced to the resident (Ishra). Ishra is maybe a year and a half old now and is very cautious - I mean, he practically looks down every step he takes to make sure he's on solid ground. Marble, on the other hand, is an estimated nine months now and the polar opposite. She blunders around like a toddler learning to walk, unafraid of anything. Ishra has been more curious/scared of Marble from the start, while she's more the aggressor. Both are neutered, vacced, etc.

I had been making great progress and hand them eating side by side for a while. Ishra would always break away before Marble finished eating but at least for a time they were coexisting without a barrier. I got lazy, however (not to mention busy) and coming home from late nights/going to work in a rush I allowed a few fights to happen. By now all trust has been broken between them, and while at the very start they ate right next to each other under the door, Ishra won't even come near the door for food now.

They swap rooms twice daily - a good practice from what I've read, but also a necessity thanks to my one-bedroom apartment. Marble screams our ears off if she's stuck in the bedroom for long. I've been working on feeding Ishra closer and closer to the door again - always meal feeding, always simultaneously. My concern is that, after so many fights, I don't know if the relationship can be repaired anymore... Ishra seems nervous at all times, even if in he's the living room and Marble is being quiet. We've had two more even since totally separating them as it's just so difficult in such a small space to keep Marble from bolting through the bedroom door (the only door between the two spaces). I'm working on, well, working less so that I can be home and exercise them more - I'm sure that if they're both happier and healthier this process will be smoother - but I'm really worried that the way things are going my introduction efforts may be fruitless. I know there are countless threads and articles about introductions already but I am hoping that by explaining the situation fully I can find someone with a similar experience and maybe get a first-hand opinion as I am quickly losing hope.

Obligatory pictures of each. See if you can tell which one is the troublemaker...
 

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Mishaxhi

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It's pretty hard nowadays to get Ishra to play but when he's in the mood he can really go nuts. Music, though!? Unless he's into thrash metal I haven't tried anything like that for him...

I play with marble more (she's still a kitten after all) but my time has been so limited lately. I'm talking six days a week working, oftentimes over twelve hours. That's salary for you... I could vent for days but ultimately I don't know when or if that's going to change. Between my limited time and the limited space here I wonder if I'm really in a position to provide for two cats. It would be a lot easier if they cohabitate, though, that's for sure, and rehoming Marble is a very last resort. Plus, the way it's gone so far I think she would murder every cat in a shelter. Like I said, she will bolt through the bedroom door just for a chance to get a swipe in. I love the s*** out of both of them but if it comes to it, Ishra is my first love.
 

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There's Relax My Cat, Musicforcats . com and also low volume classical harp music has been shown to help cats be more calm and at ease :).

Hang in there, - they are beautiful by the way!!
 

ArtNJ

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As far as I've seen, once they start fighting more than once and actually hurting each other, the introduction process is toast and needs to be reset, started essentially from scratch. They can get over anything short of actual fighting on their own. Maybe a single fight isn't necessarily a big deal, but multiple fights if they are hurting each other means there is no way forward without going back.

My concern with starting over is that you said you've been at this for months. How much of that was a well ordered introduction process pre-fighting? How long were they interacting freely before the fighting?

I'm assuming that you are correct that they are actually fighting because of the backwards progress, but sometimes people do mistake rough play for fighting. So maybe describe what is happening. Any injuries?

Cats that get along can have a problem sometimes requiring a reintroduction. A glass platter shatters and scares the heck out of them, they fight. They are playing and a stray nail hurts the other. Stuff like that. But it kind of sounds more like they never really got to where they were safe with each other and you had them together anyway hoping for the best? Just trying to understand the process.

The reason I'm asking these questions is that at some point, one does need to admit that it is beyond their ability to make two particular cats tolerate each other. We aren't gods, or master hypnotists, and not every single pair of cats is ever going to coexist in a one bedroom. Since you haven't tried a full reintroduction process, you probably aren't there yet, but I'd like to understand what has happened more. Good luck!
 
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di and bob

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Males are usually buddies, females and males coexist but have their spats. Females have a role in life, to keep the boys in line, so swats, hissing, rolling around the floor in a tussle, and yowling are perfectly normal. Do these 'fights' produce blood and injury? If not they are two cats getting to know where they stand in the household. Marble is still a kitten, she is going to rush Ishra and be a pain because that is what kittens do. Being a tortoiseshell calico she is even more 'prima donna', calicos just seem to have 'attitude'! Make sure Ishra has a high place that he can defend to get away from her, tell Marble NO loudly when she gets too aggressive. Get a kickeroo on Amazon and throw it towards her when she is stalking, she needs to get rid of excess energy. I think things will calm down when she gets older, for now distract her from Ishra, and make sure she has more toys and things to do.
 

calicosrspecial

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They are ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!!!

Is the trouble maker the one on the right? Even though the cat on the left looks awfully confident.

There are ALWAYS setbacks in intros. What I would like to do is keep them separated and really work on build Ishra's confidence. Lots of play (when he is in the mood). Feed after play. Get him up in the world (cat trees, cat shelving if possible). Give him places to own like scratching posts, bedding. Give love (if you can safely). Stay calm and confident around them. Work really hard to keep them separated (I know the bolt risk is high but do your best). Try to make every encounter as positive as possible. Feed as near as possible and move closer when possible. Distract Marble to avoid negativity. Anytime a negative encounter is avoided it is a positive as it builds trust.

What you experienced happens all the time and is not a real worry. We just need to work on Ishra's confidence (though the pictures show two confident cats to me) through Play, Food, Height and Love and make positive associations and positive encounters. A confident cat is less likely to attack or be attacked. Though it sounds like Marble just wants to play but I do need to here more. The existing/resident cat always has the most difficult adjustment since it is "their" territory being "invaded". I would love to learn more and will follow this but I don;t see any reason why we can't get them together. We'll get them together.

Please share as much info as possible and e can help you through this. Ask anything anytime. We are here for you. We can solve this.
 
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Mishaxhi

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My concern with starting over is that you said you've been at this for months. How much of that was a well ordered introduction process pre-fighting? How long were they interacting freely before the fighting?
I had them eating under the door for a few weeks, then through a screen, then on either side of my leg, then side-by-side. When they heard the pantry door open, excitement overcame tension easily and I could let them paw at me desperately together. This was maybe for two weeks or more. The problems arose when I got overconfident and started leaving them alone after putting the food out.

I'm assuming that you are correct that they are actually fighting because of the backwards progress, but sometimes people do mistake rough play for fighting. So maybe describe what is happening. Any injuries?
Ever heard a cat scream like a human? They've only drawn blood once (just a small scratch on Ishra's nose, thankfully... it'll be a cool scar to show off later in his life) but it definitely sounds aggressive. Since this started Ishra will hiss if I try to feed them through a screen.

But it kind of sounds more like they never really got to where they were safe with each other and you had them together anyway hoping for the best? Just trying to understand the process.
I never got to the point where they could mingle without food around. Like I mentioned, Ishra isn't inclined to just play at the sight of a toy nowadays, so if I tried to play with them in the same room I could never pull his attention from Marble. Marble, on the other hand, forgets Ishra exists the moment something feathery flys in her face - until he creeps up behind her, trying to cop a sniff, and freaks her out.

Since you haven't tried a full reintroduction process, you probably aren't there yet, but I'd like to understand what has happened more. Good luck!
Right, when you say reintroduction, does that mean forgoing room swapping? Feeding them totally separately? How do I start from scratch? Thank you so much for your detailed queries.

They are ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!!!

Is the trouble maker the one on the right? Even though the cat on the left looks awfully confident.
Ishra calms down now if I have him in my lap far from the door... that's an older picture, though, he's a lot more tense lately. Since this started to get bad, he defaults to that huddled up, paws underneath, tail wrapped around pose that I hate. That is Marble on the right though... funny that it's the little one starting the fights.

There are ALWAYS setbacks in intros. What I would like to do is keep them separated and really work on build Ishra's confidence. Lots of play (when he is in the mood). Feed after play. Get him up in the world (cat trees, cat shelving if possible). Give him places to own like scratching posts, bedding.
Sounds like a good opportunity to show off my setup! I made these cats shelves pictured below long ago. Ishra doesn't use them much anymore, but I've taken to hiding treats all over (especially up there) to encourage him to explore more. Because my crappy phone can doesn't show it well, the big black thing is 8" drainage pipe which they both crawl through. I have a tall cat tree in each room plus an additional scratching post, a few beds, and a litter box in each room.

What you experienced happens all the time and is not a real worry. We just need to work on Ishra's confidence (though the pictures show two confident cats to me) through Play, Food, Height and Love and make positive associations and positive encounters. A confident cat is less likely to attack or be attacked. Though it sounds like Marble just wants to play but I do need to here more. The existing/resident cat always has the most difficult adjustment since it is "their" territory being "invaded". I would love to learn more and will follow this but I don;t see any reason why we can't get them together. We'll get them together.

Please share as much info as possible and e can help you through this. Ask anything anytime. We are here for you. We can solve this.
Thank you so much for your words of confidence. At this point, I don't know if I should keep trying to feed them as close as possible or scrap that until Ishra calms down... he will nibble for a little while but not really eat close to the door at this point. For safety, I did go out and buy a screen door to put in the bedroom for when we get back to that stage - previously I was using a window screen which they could jump over if they were determined enough. Which is to say, I'm all ready to inch them closer when they are...
 

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ArtNJ

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Yes, cat screaming is a pretty good indication of serious distress and possibly fighting.

You asked how to do the reintroduction. Here is a guide:

How To Fix An Unsuccessful Cat Introduction – Cat Articles

It links back to this guide:

How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – Cat Articles

The basic idea is that you back up far enough that they can forget that the other cat is a cat that has hurt them. So we don't want them seeing each other for a bit.

Since you have had problems, I would not rush back to side-by-side feedings this time around. Instead, after isolating em for a bit, but before you get back to any actual interaction without a barrier, separate them by something like double stacked baby gates (you mentioned a screen) so they can see each other. I mean full time, not just when eating. Let them see and get used to the concept of the other cat.
 

calicosrspecial

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"I had them eating under the door for a few weeks, then through a screen, then on either side of my leg, then side-by-side. When they heard the pantry door open, excitement overcame tension easily and I could let them paw at me desperately together. This was maybe for two weeks or more." - This is exactly the right thing to do. Making a positive association using something good (food) and trying to have them together focused on something other than each other. Keep doing this. Feeding as close as they allow. If you have to go back to a closed door that is fine. But with visual (through a screen or something) then that is good. Anything that gets them to enjoy good things (making positive associations) and having a positive encounter.

"The problems arose when I got overconfident and started leaving them alone after putting the food out." - happens all the time. It is best to take it slower and reinforce the trust between them. I know it is a pain but it pays off with a faster intro.

"They've only drawn blood once (just a small scratch on Ishra's nose" - Very good, that shows they don;t really want to hurt the other one and the fear is';t that great. The scratch was probably an accident.

"but it definitely sounds aggressive" - Yes it will but have to watch for injuries and how they act after (hiding, avoiding, etc).

"Since this started Ishra will hiss if I try to feed them through a screen" - Hissing is communication. Ishra is warning Marble not to try things. That is part of the communication. As we work on things the cats actually are working on it as well. If the hiss happens and nothing negative happens after (fight, chase, etc) then it is a positive. The communication was acknowledged.

"I never got to the point where they could mingle without food around" - very common. They will though.

"Ishra isn't inclined to just play at the sight of a toy nowadays, so if I tried to play with them in the same room I could never pull his attention from Marble." - Resident cats always have a more difficult transition because it is THEIR territory being "invaded". So Ishra is making sure that this potential "threat" isn't going to harm him. So even if we can;t get Ishra to play if he sees Marble not paying attention to him it will be a positive.

"Marble, on the other hand, forgets Ishra exists the moment something feathery flys in her face " - This is great and we can use this. Anything to distract Marble from paying attention/bothering Ishra is great and will build Ishra's confidence.

"until he creeps up behind her, trying to cop a sniff, and freaks her out." - Totally normal BUT that tells me that Marble does not want to eliminate/hurt him. This will be a non-issue as Ishra learns Marble is not a threat.

"Ishra calms down now if I have him in my lap far from the door" - Great, anything that makes him feel happy and secure is great. It is just one step at a time. Keep doing this and giving him that confidence.

"That is Marble on the right though... funny that it's the little one starting the fights" - I think it is more misunderstanding that "fight". It is normal for them to get into it if it is a bit rushed or too early. We just have to get them to build that trust and reinforce it. The more we get Marble to not chase etc Ishra (anything negative) the more trust Ishra will get. It is totally normal in intros what you are seeing.

AWESOME setup!!! PERFECT!!

"At this point, I don't know if I should keep trying to feed them as close as possible or scrap that until Ishra calms down... he will nibble for a little while but not really eat close to the door at this point." - Just have it at whatever point Ishra will comfortably eat. Then each day or few move it a touch closer. If he doesn't like it just move it back a bit. Just watch how he responds. And keep Marble's attention on the food or anything but Ishra.

"For safety, I did go out and buy a screen door to put in the bedroom for when we get back to that stage" - Great.

Are you currently feeding them with the door closed or is it open while they are eating?

Don't worry, we will get them together. I don't hear anything that is worrying so far. It is all normal intro things.

Please feel free to ask for any clarifications or if you have any questions.
 

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You are definitely doing the right things! I suggest some confidence building in Ishra as well. I have had success with using tricks to help a cat feel "I've got this!". My favorite ones are "tail whips" and "circles" but I have had cats "high 5" and "give me your paw" . Having a special stool or small table for them to get up on seems to speed things up, especially when you get to the point of having the other cat(s) watch. The "audience" cat(s) often admire or are amused by the performing cat. The performing cat thoroughly enjoys the lavish praise and treats.
 
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Mishaxhi

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GUYS IT HAPPENED AGAIN
Not to ignore all of your wonderful advice but I am at work and here's what happened: on the way here I saw a kitten on the highway. I veered over and cut someone off to block oncoming traffic while I grabbed him and continued on my way to work. He's a long-haired tabby, can't be more than two months old, fur all matted down and gross, and all of the surrounding shelters are full. I've got him at a hospital today where he got washed up, combo tested, and exam'd (all good). I really don't have room but LOOK AT THIS GUY! Who here could honestly put him back out?

So I've heard that adult cats are usually more accepting of kittens. I would like to not have to stick him in the bathroom all night (my bathroom is so small, the door doesn't open all the way because the toilet blocks it) so if anyone has any personal experience/advice as to how he'll fit in with the others, if I should even try, etc. I would really appreciate it.

(Side-note, he crawled out of the box I used as an impromptu carrier and jumped on my shoulder to rub my face while I was driving. That's when my heart broke.)
 

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I too am trying to join 2 adult cats-it's been frustrating because BOTH cats are extremely friendly with humans but sure HATE each other-I would definately install the screen door. I use baby gates-2 then the box it came in-I stick on top=so far the trouble maker who is my profile pic-hasn't tried to break down the door-she sits on the other side wanting to sniff the resident cat then yes that blood curdling scream...it is scary if you aren't used to it-it's just them communicating.

Keep the introductions short term=then no eye contact. YES SCENT SWAPPING WORKS.

I am on week 10...we threw them together and by day 5 they were fighting all the time-so we did 7 days ZERO eye contact...then slowly let each other see each other-my resident cat is PETRIFIED of new kitty..but new kitty keeps howling and swatting at her=of course she's scared...so for now my boyfriend puts them together for an hour then back to their seperate spaces-he has them sleeping on the bed but he's sitting on each side then feeds treats..sometimes there's a hiss and growl but they so far seem to be ok-but I was told it could take a year.Sigh.

In your case, they are young..my girls are 7 and 9 so very set in their ways...the weird thing is older kitty new kitty has a TON of energy and i think she just wants to chase my Bee because Bee acts like prey..so we slowly building up confidence..the other day my cat ate her wet food in sight of the bedroom door closed=she hasn't done that in WEEKS...so just slow down and keep doing what you are doing..it's like people-we have bad memories then need new memories to erase the bad ones..keep playing with the one who loves to play-it will show the other cat that they can trust them...and gives them something to watch...cat TV.

I LOVE the shelves and drain pipe=gonna show this to the bf and see if he wants to build something like this..the new cat LOVES To climb-I moved one of our cat trees into the bedroom and she roosts in it every night-then put a doghouse ontop of a book case..she too loves it..I am not ready to take down the baby gates yet but so far it seems to build trust. New cat is still skittish in other parts of the house-we also swap cats every evening..I put my cat in master bedroom on her blanket in Lilahs room-and she sniffs the new cat scents..and usually goes to sleep...she didn't in the beginning..she would sit there pissed off pouting-we started with just 15 minutes then swap...we are up to 90 minutes to 3 hours now...the other cat sits at the door staring in the vent-sometimes we cover it but lately been letting them see each other...no hissing or growling..but the pouty face on my girl is often...She used to live with 2 other cats=we been catless since dec last year and new kitty came to us end of september=so for those few months my cat loved being the only cat.

We have one person who expressed interest in Lilah=I still haven't decided-hoping to set up a meet and greet-I want to keep Lilah-but at least I will see how the house is set up=they have dogs-which I don't think will be a good fit=but my gf told me to meet and see what my gut says...so if you want to put out feelers-maybe you know someone who may adopt one of them if it doesnt work? Just know it takes MONTHS and patience..I have ZERO patience but this lesson has really instilled patience for time..cause I get so frustrated..but when I have the gates up-new kitty spends most of her time in the master bedroom anyways and Bee stays in the living room or hides in her bedroom-she's always slept in hidy holes=that's nothing new...

Keep up the good work!!!!!


EDIT OMG kitty is ADORABLE...yes kittens are easier to get integrated...
 

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Make sure to deworm and deflea the cutie pie-I couldn't give up the kitten either=believe it or not, the more hostile cat will come around..my Floey was such a crab to other cats and I got a kitten-she hissed at her for 3 straight days-kitten stayed in the cat carrier-made a litter box out of beer can box and food/water-she purred all night in her cage--while my Floey hissed over and over...by a week Floey was still hissing but pretty much left kitten alone-kitten was a submissive scaredy little cat and never pushed boundaries...If nothing else you can work with kitten to learn the personality and work to rehome-in my town there's at least 10 posts a day in our town page of people looking for kittens...once you get settled-I am sure kitten will fit right in...you will need one more litter pan though..when I had 3 cats they seemed to fill the boxes up faster...
 

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Wow, he is ADORABLE!!! Good for you for saving his life!!!

I would keep him isolated for a few reasons. Medical and Behavioral. Make sure you de-worm and do any test you can afford to make sure he doesn't have anything that could be transmitted to the cats. Cats don't like change so they will sense his presence and will be a bit more uneasy. Just reassure them that all is good and use food to make a positive association. Basically it is another intro process.I will say, I tend to me more cautious and "by the book" then others. But a kitten doesn't often too much of a threat so they tend to be intro'd pretty easily.

Let's see how it goes and we can respond to how they are. Just take it slow, don't rush it and keep an eye on the resident cats and make sure you play and use food to help them be confident through this.

Thanks for saving him!!! HE IS GORGEOUS!!!
 
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Houston, we have liftoff...

Been real busy week but these two are made fast friends. Ishra continues to be afraid of everything but we're working on it and he's at least calmer having had no visual contact with the others for a while. I'm working on training him for a harness, because of these three he's the only one begging to be outside and I feel like that might be really good for him.

In any case, seeing how it looks when this process really works has given me a pretty good idea of how to move forward with Ishra and both of these kids. It turns out that just like a bad marriage, all I needed to fix this was another baby...
 

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Just make sure that the cats view the interactions as positive. Often times we see it start off ok but then some caution builds up and the relationship becomes more difficult.The black kitty in the video was a little "forceful". The good news is the new kitty held their own. The ears did go back it looked like BUT the new kitty looked down after this and other positives were the black kitty wasn't trying to hurt the new kitty and the black kitty retreated and laid down on the ground.

Watching how they behave after an encounter like this tells us a lot.

The only thing I am a little worried about is that it could escalate. So try to make those positive associations between them (using food and maybe play and maybe some love - if you can do it safely). Anything to make a positive association and build that trust between them. Show them that the other cat is good and doesn't mean any harm. And watch how they act (walk, hiding, avoiding, etc) after an encounter like this. If they act normal great but if they act "different" then try to increase positive association and build confidence through Play, Food, Height and Love.

I LOVE that new kitty is going high.

We are here for you anytime. Keep up the great work and keep working on building confidence, making positive associations, and trying to make every encounter as positive as possible.
 
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