New cat introduction... Weird

chigusa

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Hi everyone,

and first of all thanks in advance to whoever will offer advice.

I have two cats, both male and both around 4 years old. They are both used to other cats' companionship due to previous fostering. They're very affectionate with each other.

Recently I decided to adopt a third cat. The newcomer is a 12 years old female, former cat colony member but already adjusted to the luxuries of a house (she was fostered before coming to my house).

So che arrived Friday evening. My cats did not see her but smelled the blanket covering her kennel and were chill.

After that the start has been rocky on her part, she hissed and growled. Then I mixed scents, had Feliway on and for two days she ate by the closed door no problem with my resident cats on the other side. She started rubbing on objects, Yesterday she even came close to the door, paws folded under body with her back towards it, not moving at all as I briefly opened to get out and one of the residents meowed upon seeing her.

All the while my two residents are calm. They act almost normally.

Everyone uses the litter box, no vomiting, only one of my kitties sometimes calls me for cuddles as I leave the newcomer's area.

I thought things were on the good track until this morning. At meal time the newcomer refused eating at all, hissed once at the door and went to hide under the closest furniture while low growling. Then she proceeded to enter the litter box, which is basically on the opposite side of the house.

I should mention that a. Yesterday I went to work and was absent all day for the First time b. Yesterday a storm hit my area hard, it rained half the night too.

However it feels to me that the newcomer took a step back instead of getting more comfortable. I wanted to try and have them see each other though a screen but not if this causes her stress.

Is that so or should I blame it on the weather?
 

Kris107

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Sometimes intros aren't linear. I'd keep at encouraging positive door interactions and taking things slow. The new cat has been through a lot of changes and might just need a bit more time to adjust to everything.
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi and welcome to TCS! I agree that the new cat needs more time to adapt to her new home - before being introduced to your other cats. She’s only been in your home a few days and it can take a lot longer than that to get used to a new place, much less new cats. She probably seemed fine at first because she was still somewhat 'in shock' about being in a new place, and more focused on that than anything else. Now, all the changes are piling up on her, probably including the storm, and you could view her as more or less being on overload. I’d stop any sort of introductions and let her settle in first. Maybe these TCS articles will help you devise a plan going forward.
How To Help A New Cat Adjust To Your Home - TheCatSite
How To Successfully Introduce Cats [The Ultimate Guide] - TheCatSite
 

di and bob

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Females are usually more hissy than males, they are the manners teachers, the limit setters. So hissing and even growling is not unusual on her part. It's only been 4 days, and older cats take longer to get used to each other. The storm, even you being gone for the first time may have upset her too. I would let her settle down and then let them have sight of each other though not having contact, like through a screen door, gate, etc. Your cats will not have a problem with her, she will have the problem, she is stressed. Make sure you give her high up places to go, it would let her feel more comfortable. It WILL happen it all just takes time. Please keep us informed!
 
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chigusa

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More time is not a problem.
However sometimes I get a bit worried because I am afraid my two residents might get stressed too if being prevented for roaming half the house for a too long time. The newcomer has access to the kitchen (chair to watch outside included), the entry corridor and the bathroom. My two resident cats stay with me in the living room and the bedroom, sleeping with me and so on.
That said, I do understand that some patience is needed and she needs to sort herself, and all new things, out.

At times however I may be more anxious than any of the felines are, I guess.

Just... After the quick change in attitude she had shown I was being a bit too optimistic maybe.

I am heading home now and we'll see how she feels about eating by the door again.
I was also thinking about mixing smells a bit more.
 

di and bob

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Everything you are doing sounds good. She actually may be getting more comfortable and is trying to set limits for the boys. Since your two boys are not aggressive, it will be fine in time. I don’t think your boys really want to go into that part of the house, with her there right now! :)
 
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chigusa

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They do try to get in with me sometimes but only when I walk into the kitchen or I am getting out. So they probably try to follow me mostly.

And yeah neither of them hissed at her. One of the boys actually laid down near her kennel the day she arrived. The other kept a respectful, cautious distance. Definitely not aggressive. One of them may be curious maybe.

Thank you all! I will keep you updated.
 

Tigger's Mum

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I take a completely different view when introducing a new cat and it's probably one some will disagree with. I have a multi-cat household, anything up to 11 cats although old age has taken it's toll and I now have 8. I've found that the quickest way is just to let the cats themselves sort things out, under supervision of course. There is the usual hissing, growling and occasional fight - but no-one gets hurt. I feed them together and I've found that within a week to 10 days, they're all getting along.

I've had cats from all different backgrounds, some have been abused or neglected but I think the least human interference is best. Cats (and also dogs) pick up on how we feel so if we are apprehensive or nervous, they know and it makes them apprehensive and nervous too.

This way might not be everyone's choice and flies in the face of the "experts" (by experts I mean those in the media) but I've found it works well. Cats do have a heirarchy and the hissing and growling etc., is part of their ritual. Feral colonies always have a "top cat".
 
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chigusa

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Honestly I'd be too scared for them to get hurt to let them figure it out. Not much of fights, which I know are rarely dangerous and are announced by clear warning signs so can be avoided. More of causing them discomfort. My boys are so cute and nice together, the newcomer is clearly not at ease, I want them to be happy and relaxed.

Anyway, maybe today there's been a little improvement.
After two days of "bad Mood" the newcomer this morning walked into the chicken, stretched a bit then sat under the chair, paws folded under her body, overall apparently relaxed... Also occasionaly low growling and she also hissed once. Yesterday I left her a piece of cloth smelling of the boys. Perhaps she did not like that much.

I am a bit confused on this. I don't understand while she would growl (even though in a very low tone) if sitting relaxed.
 

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You may have started with too big an area for her. (Leave it now though). It's best to start with one safe room for a new cat.

I would ditch the eating by the door regular meals and only do treats in this way. Adding regular meals to introductions does not work well for senior cats, or for many cats really.
Meal times should not be made stressful, especially for seniors and this addition JG's intro guide and subsequently other guides can honestly just make things more difficult.

I never added meal times to my intros. I do use high reward treats. Especially if the doorway has a little gap, you can rub the treats on your RCs cheeks and then put it under the door to NC as she is the hissy one.



Tips:
- hissing is not aggression. Hissing means, "back off!" Or "too fast!" Its actually very polite cat speak and another polite cat will provide space after a cat hisses. Some young cats can also do this at toys.

- take some dry clothes and rub it on your RC cats cheeks and place them in NC's space to explore. Put some treats on top. Next day, pet her with them and place for RCs to explore. If you have some on both sides you are daily brushing and switching, you will be helping to build a family scent. Family scent helps bonding. Keep this up even a few weeks past full integration though by that time you can do this with a single cloth or brush.

- i personally also skip the closed door. I think not being able to see causes more anxiety. I would be so frightened if i just heard a strange human suddenly living in a locked room in my home. Rather than seeing their body language and getting a proper introduction. My cats have been the same.

I double gate the door and settle in for my free time during intros. I put myself at the gate. I am a second gate. I have toys and treats and any cat can walk away and not get visuals whenever they want. I put on some music and read my book. I play with whatever cat comes by. If one gets agitated and begins staring or hissing, i do a treat toss to get them to walk away. I want to teach them to disengage when overwhelmed.

For continuing with closed door, i recommend just treats, play and scent swapping activities like changing toys and blankets. Ensure you keep some things that are fully your new cats items like a bed and a cardboard scratcher. They'll likely share these later and you can switch out a blanket thats atop the bed, but she needs a few scent soaker items that remain hers to build confidence in her new home.
 
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chigusa

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I think I'll try the gate trick tomorrow. This way I can also check some reactions without anyone getting hurt. And if any of them gets really stressed, the door is there to be closed.
 

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I just went through this myself recently, when I brought my 17 year old girl from my hometown to my apartment with my partner's young cats (both 5 year old males). She is normally a friendly cat who doesn't mind new animals, but with all the added stress of moving to a new place, it took some time for her to get comfortable. We went with the closed door (she was kept to one room at first), but within a week we were able to open it and let them eat/play near each other without hissing, and keeping them separate when unsupervised. I probably would have gone with a gate instead if we had one. When they were separated we would scent swap with brushing, swapping blankets, beds, toys, etc. When together, we would encourage positive interactions between them frequently with treats and toys. As said above, these things aren't always linear though! Our biggest issue was that, while all seemed well at first, my old girl eventually started to purposely block doorways to keep the boys from moving around the house to show dominance. She also started growling at them whenever they got curious and approached to sniff at her, and I was really nervous it would get worse for a while. But after some weeks they are all perfectly fine to free roam without any supervision. I'm confident that in time all your babies will get along! I also wanna note that, in my opinion, you shouldn't try to grab or pick up or separate any cats if there is hissing/growling (or in my case, light bapping); as Alldara said, you can de-escalate by distracting them with treats/toys and letting them disengage if you're worried.
 
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chigusa

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So first afternoon of gate.
I think all well, everything considered.

The NC passed by, hissed a couple of times, very softly, then proceeded to hide under the hallway closet. Almost no growling and even growling was very low.
I moved her bed farther from the gate, to allow her to feel safe while sleeping.
She accepted some food too.


My boys are curious, one especially, but there is no hissing nor growling on their side so far. Good body language I think. She has not approached the gate though. We'll see how it goes once she does.

Honestly I expected worse.
 

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Alldara

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How excellent! Putting a face to the smell has done them well. Cant wait to hear how it progresses.
 
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chigusa

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7h day, so I keep track of time too.

In the morning, door closed, NC came looking for cuddles, purring and so on, ate her food.
Coming home from work and hour ago I found her in the bathroom, out of light from the door. She's up for cuddles but a bit more to herself. She did not leave the bathroom but ate some kibbles.

My guess is she needs time to get used to the gate, she may be a bit stressed for a couple of days but if she makes progress it's all within the norm. Am I right?
 

Alldara

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She needs time to get uses to everything! Its hard because we always want to fix things quickly, bit sometimes time plays the biggest part.
Remember, she's only been home with you a week now. And there's no way to tell her it's her new home and she won't be moved again except for time.

Taking some time for independance could be a sign of nerves or a sign of confidence building. Depends on the cat. No way to know except learning her over time.
 
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chigusa

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So, today I gathetered by courage, plus my dad, and opened the door for both the boys.

Well, I believe it went quite well. The NC did, as expected, hissed and growl softly a bit, but she never moved from the bed she was laying in. Her ears were mostly upright, not flat at all, and her eye seemed almost "normal" to. There was no staring.

One of my boys took a few looks at her, then kept his distance. The other came around her a bit her, tried to smell her back but I stopped him, afraid it would be too much. Around the fifth time he neared her, he laid on the floor, watching her. No hissing, no growling, relaxed body language on their part. He stayed beside her for a bit, still and quiet, and, hear hear, she even stopped growling for a bit.

Now I closed the door again. She did seem a bit tense and I don't want her to get stressed.
I will have her meet them some more later, or tomorrow.
Of course they won't be alone without supervision for a while.

But it seems to me it went great.
 

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chigusa

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Hi all,
I am here looking for advice again because I am not sure everything is progressing as It should.

I opened the doors on Tuesday, late afternoon, and it went as I showed you. So, fine.

Trouble is since then I notice little progress. The NC now rarely walks to corridor and kitchen, even when doors are closed.

The boys go visit her and she behaves almost as she did on Tuesday, maybe she hiss and growl a bit less but if so there is so little progress. That said though yesterday she fell asleep in her bed peacefully, while the boys were resting too in another part of the house while all doors were open. I suppose that's a good sign...?
However she also seems a bit nervous even without the boys near. This morning she ate, stretched, hissed and growl before going back into her bed, even though she purred when I pet her.

Overall however so far the NC has not been interested in exploring the house, seems to tollerate her brothers as long as they keep a certain distance inside the same room, but I am afraid she could be stuck in the bathroom.

I should mention on Wednesday I brought her to the vet and she seemed a bit stressed.

Does she just need time?
Or, can I do something to make her more comfortable?
 

Alldara

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It's really only been a couple of weeks and yes a vet visit can disturb a cat's settling in progress.

She needs time. Keep playing with her and building her confidence by bonding with her.
 
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chigusa

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I thought so.
Unfortunately I will need to bring her again to the vet because she needs to do a blood test.
I have yet to make the appointment.

However if it is a matter of time, and of course care, it's ok. I was afraid the introduction was going badly.

Is it ok if I keep letting the boys socialize? They're not intrusive, on the contrary very calm.
 
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