New cat has put two resident cats at war

MomCatMomCat

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Hi! First post here.

I've had cats all my life, and never before had a failed introduction. That record is broken - we're in cat hell.

We have two cats, a mom and her boy. He's five, she's six months older. They've always had a very loving relationship.

Our third cat, a very elderly girl, passed away. We waited a few weeks then brought home a very good-natured, peaceful three year old.

We did everything by the book - gave him his own room, brought him in the back so they didn't see him, Feliway in three rooms, etc. As soon as she sensed the new smell in the house, the mom cat went nuts with redirected aggression. She growls, screams, and hisses at her boy. He chases her, she goes nuts. We've been keeping them separate at night, and a sharp eye on them in the daytime. They'll share treats, even get to the point of curling around each other to sleep, then they go ballistic again.

So I've been doing my research here and on other sites. What I've learned: we need to separate mom and son for at least a few days, not just at night, then gradually reintroduced them with supervision, play, and treats. We'll take this as slowly as necessary.

We also need to start over with the new boy - restricted to the family room, getting his scent into the two rooms with socks and fur, no glimpses of each other for at least a week. (Fortunately the family room is very large and bright, with a tall cat tree and toys - otherwise we'd feel even worse about all this.)

My question with all this - what order should we take this in? Get mom and boy together first, then once they can be together start reintroducing cat #3? Do all gradual introductions all at once? When do I introduce his scent in their rooms - while they're separated, or after they've rebonded?

I feel like I have the tools down, but I'm having trouble with timing and logistics. I appreciate any and all input!
 
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MomCatMomCat

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Oh, one other thing: before we reached this point, the two boys were gradually getting used to each other, including playing underneath the door (some gentle hissing at the same time), and allowed to look at each other through the narrowly-opened door. If it weren't for his mom, the introduction might well have been over by now.

With the house divided into three camps, should we allow the two boys to keep up their under-the-door play, or make the extra effort to keep the space under the door blocked? The mom will be locked up on the far end of the house, so she won't be part of this particular equation.
 

ArtNJ

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Under the door play is only a good thing, although not a guarranty they won't have problems at a later stage. I don't think that alone will get new cat's scent on the son like real wrestling would. If it turns out mom reacts to seeing under the door play when you get to that point, you can block the door, but that won't be for a few days at least.

Treat mom as a new cat and do scent swapping into her room. Blanket from new cat into that room for example, though maybe not right away since she is so strongly reacting to scent right now. Maybe then a room swap with just mom into the new cats room, try playing with her in there to see if she is stressed, just to make sure there is no sensitivity to scent alone. When she calms down from the scent, you can let her back with her kid and give that a few days before trying anything else. Thats how I'd roadmap your next week or so, depending on how she does. Could be longer, takes as long as it takes. You can test how stressed she is by trying to pet/play with her in the isolation room.

I wouldn't rush the new cat plus the son, because even if it goes well, getting the new cat's scent on the son is going to be a problem if it happens before the mom is no longer reacting so strongly to scent. So the whole thing might have to go slowly depending on how mom does.
 

rubysmama

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Hello and welcome to TCS. Sorry though for the circumstance that's brought you here.

And condolences on the loss of your elderly girl. 🤗 If you think it might be helpful, we have a Crossing the Bridge forum where you could post a tribute to her. RIP sweet girl. :angel:

About the re-directed aggression between mama kitty and her son, you could try the Ode to vanilla extract trick. This doesn't always work, but is worth a short. However, with the 3rd cat, and his scent, it might make it more complicated than usual.

About introductions with the new cat, I think getting your 2 resident cats back to being friends needs to happen first, as you can't keep mama locked in the far end of the house forever. In introductions with new cats, it's always best to let the resident(s) have normal run of the home, except for the room with the new cat.

You may have already seen these, but TCS has some articles on the topic that might be helpful. Here are the links:

Re-directed Aggression In Cats – TheCatSite Articles

How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – TheCatSite Articles
How To Fix An Unsuccessful Cat Introduction | TheCatSite
 
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MomCatMomCat

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Thank you both for your input - I'm so grateful.

ArtNJ, that timeline makes all kinds of sense. We did have one room-swap with the mom, but it seems the redirected aggression was too well-established at that point to help much. We'll give it a few days for them to be apart, working up to trying it again.

Rubysmama, those three articles were what brought here! I was so impressed with how thorough and informed they were. Thanks too for the vanilla tip. I'd seen passing reference to it elsewhere, but no instructions or real information. It's good to have one more thing in the toolbox for when we reintroduce them.

We've added another layer: hemp treats that I picked up today. The son walked away from his, but his mom gobbled hers up. Every four hours for the first couple days. Can't hurt, might help. I think he's taking his cues from her, so if we get her calmed down everything else could fall into place.

I'll report back! So many factors in play that if they do calm down, it won't be possible to figure out which ones made a difference. I don't care, really. I just want a peaceful cat family! Thanks again.
 

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Hi!

I'm going through a similar situation. For over three years, my two cats (Coco 7, Harry 3) have loved each other, been so playful and affectionate toward one another. It was nothing but love and they never had any aggression issues. Until two weeks ago. A stray cat started showing up in our yard. And Coco flipped out one night when she saw the stray cat outside our window sitting in our yard. Coco was howling and screaming with her tail poofed up in agitation. Harry couldn't have cared less and just sat in front of my bedroom door and calmly watched. Coco saw Harry and charged at him in redirected aggression and literally tried to kill him. He's much bigger than her but he doesn't know how to fight. I've had him since he was my three week old foster baby and he's never even seen cat aggression. They were fine for two days then he showed signs of nervousness and that triggered her to attack him again. They've been separated since then and he's still too afraid to even look at her from behind the pet gate and the tiny open door crack.

I've been doing tiny re-introductions everyday. I feed them treats several times a day while one of them in sitting behind a pet gate that's mostly covered up with a blanket. I learned the blanket trick from a foster mom which makes it so that the pet gate doesn't feel too open and exposed for them. They eat the same way too with the blanketed pet gate separating them with about 4 feet in between the two cats. I want them to remember positive experiences when they are together. I bring out the wand toy that Harry will play with while Coco watches. This distracts them from fixating on one another which can lead to an aggression match. They take turns coming out to the living area. I have two Feliways going, but honestly, it's not doing all that much (also, why does the plastic burn??). I turn on claiming meditation music throughout the house which seems to be a better calming agent for them. And I've ordered organic pet CBD oil from Well-Pet Dispensary which should arrive this week. I'm really hoping that it will sooth Harry's nervousness/fear and calm Coco's trigger response.

I'm sending you positive thoughts and keeping the hope strong for your cats! Last night after finishing their meals with the gate between them. Our cats did look at each other for a moment without Harry running away and Coco's tail poofing up, so I do see tiny amounts of progress each day. I am hopeful that patience and consistency will pay off for our cats and for yours too! :grouphug:

Hi! First post here.

I've had cats all my life, and never before had a failed introduction. That record is broken - we're in cat hell.

We have two cats, a mom and her boy. He's five, she's six months older. They've always had a very loving relationship.

Our third cat, a very elderly girl, passed away. We waited a few weeks then brought home a very good-natured, peaceful three year old.

We did everything by the book - gave him his own room, brought him in the back so they didn't see him, Feliway in three rooms, etc. As soon as she sensed the new smell in the house, the mom cat went nuts with redirected aggression. She growls, screams, and hisses at her boy. He chases her, she goes nuts. We've been keeping them separate at night, and a sharp eye on them in the daytime. They'll share treats, even get to the point of curling around each other to sleep, then they go ballistic again.

So I've been doing my research here and on other sites. What I've learned: we need to separate mom and son for at least a few days, not just at night, then gradually reintroduced them with supervision, play, and treats. We'll take this as slowly as necessary.

We also need to start over with the new boy - restricted to the family room, getting his scent into the two rooms with socks and fur, no glimpses of each other for at least a week. (Fortunately the family room is very large and bright, with a tall cat tree and toys - otherwise we'd feel even worse about all this.)

My question with all this - what order should we take this in? Get mom and boy together first, then once they can be together start reintroducing cat #3? Do all gradual introductions all at once? When do I introduce his scent in their rooms - while they're separated, or after they've rebonded?

I feel like I have the tools down, but I'm having trouble with timing and logistics. I appreciate any and all input!
 
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MomCatMomCat

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They're weird little animals, aren't they? :lol:

Thank you for all those thoughts. How do you prevent the cats from jumping over the baby gate? We've thought about getting one but couldn't figure that part out.
 

cocobutterfly

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:yess:
I got an extra tall pet gate (42” high) and I put it at the very top of the stairs which adds the extra height of the stair rise (7”) to that. I’ve seen our cats easily jump over the gate when set up on a flat entryway. But with the added stair height with the door partially closed behind it, they won’t attempt it. They would hit the door with their head, and they realize they better not be that daring.

If I were to set the gate up on the floor where there is no added stair rise height, I’d put down bricks on the floor and set up the gate on top of those bricks for the added height.

They're weird little animals, aren't they? :lol:

Thank you for all those thoughts. How do you prevent the cats from jumping over the baby gate? We've thought about getting one but couldn't figure that part out.
 
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MomCatMomCat

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Excellent ideas! Thanks. My guy and I are talking it over. We don't have that extra advantage of the stairway being right there, but the bricks could work.

I also bought hemp treats yesterday in hopes of calming the mom down. Her son walked away from them (snob!), but she gobbled hers down. She's the one who initiates the showdowns, so we're hoping that if it works for her, it doesn't matter if he takes them.

I'd love to know how the oil works out for you, cocobutterfly! Pet Food Express is excellent, and they'll refund my money if it doesn't work out. I decided the treats were a better idea, but I am curious about whether they'd willingly lick up the oil.

Rubysmama, I saw that picture with the article. We're in and out of that room all day - that looks like we'd have to take multiple baby gates down, and put them back up, every time we crossed the threshold. Or am I missing something? I can see that cats happily going in and out while I was taking gates down or putting them up.:lol:
 

rubysmama

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Rubysmama, I saw that picture with the article. We're in and out of that room all day - that looks like we'd have to take multiple baby gates down, and put them back up, every time we crossed the threshold. Or am I missing something? I can see that cats happily going in and out while I was taking gates down or putting them up.:lol:
Yeah, I can see that being inconvenient, since it's a room you use regularly. I wonder if something like this would be better?
How to Build a Free-Standing Cat, Dog, or Pet Gate Cheaply, Without Tools (note the site has a ton of annoying ads. :cringe: )
 
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MomCatMomCat

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It's kind of you to ask, thank you! And rubys, I'm sorry I didn't acknowledge your post. I did see and appreciate it!

This many weeks later, we've made some progress - not as much as we would have liked by now, but progress! The two boys, the new one and the son of the girl cat, are seeing each other for playdates daily. The son was less than keen at first, but minimal growling, so we kept it up. They've moved to snoozing near each other and actually playing a bit.

The mom is still a problem, but less so. The attacks on her son are down to almost nothing. She still growls under the door of the family room - where the new guy lives - and hisses.

But! We bought a very lightweight, used screen door, and yesterday we put it against the family room door, with the inner door open. Mom watched from a verrrry long way down the hall, but she did see him. After all that posturing and growling, now she seems afraid of him!

We'll have the screen up much of today, watching closely for signs to call a halt. It's taken forever, but we do see a light down this tunnel somewhere!
 

kaybee988

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I have the exact same problem except mine are two siblings! What helped me was bringing the new guy out in a playpen to let my girl see that the new smell wasn’t her brother but a brand new kitten. There’s still some redirected aggression happening but at least now they’ll sleep and eat next to each other.
 
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MomCatMomCat

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I'm going to laugh at the image of a cat in a playpen the rest of the day. :lol: :lol: :lol:
 

kaybee988

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He was not happy lol! And the older boy was trying to play and kept jumping on the top so the whole thing would cave in. It’s made gif pets so the whole thing is enclosed lol
 
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