New cat mixed messages?

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Susanna72

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Finn doesn’t seem to want to leave the basement anymore. Today I put up the baby gate and Finn was curious on the basement stairs, but Oliver wouldn’t come over. He’s really scared. So I put Oliver in the spare room and lured Finn up with the brush. He played with piece of cardboard! Haven’t seen him play before. So he’s been exploring and he’s lying in my bed purring. I’m thinking at dinner time we will try the baby gate again and feed them on either side.
Oh and I got Jackson Galaxy Peacemaker and put on both of them. Trying to attach a pic of Finn relaxing.
 
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Susanna72

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I wish I had bought this baby gate weeks ago. They eat on either side and no hissing so far.
 
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Finn does this weird meow where he doesn’t hiss, but you get the sense that he means “go away, I’m not happy with you.” It’s hard to read him because his ears are crumpled.
 
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Susanna72

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FeebysOwner FeebysOwner I'm still doing the eating meals twice a day on either side of the baby gate (Oliver is really scared, but getting better), but once they are done, Finn calmly goes back downstairs. I try to get him to come upstairs, but he's suddenly not interested. Is he depressed down there? I go down and pet and brush him. Sometimes if I carry him, he'll sit with me in my bedroom. I just feel like he's not as interested in exploring and hides down there. He's been down there for almost two months.
 

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Again, for many cats, especially older ones, 2 months is nothing. Is Ollie allowed to roam about the house when Finn is in the basement? Do you ever have Finn kept in Ollie's main room? Have you fed Finn in Ollie's room and have Ollie on the other side of the gate?

I know it was easier to keep Finn in the basement when you first got him, but he really considers that his home base now. All of this introducing was kind of done backward, IMO. Ollie being the resident cat should have been the one to be allowed to roam the house as he did before Finn showed up, and Finn should have been in a single safe room. Swapping the locations (sans basement), would have been the next step - Finn in the main part of the house and Ollie in Finn's safe room, for brief periods of time. Feeding them on each side of the gate, swapping their locations on each side of the gate during feedings would have been next.

It's good that Ollie is getting better about eating on the other side of the gate from Finn. And, it is good that Finn is being cooperative about eating on the other side of the gate from Ollie. But, what is happening here - again, IMO, is that Finn still considers the basement his safe zone and he is not ready to feel more comfortable in other locations.

Your answers to my questions above in the first paragraph might be some help in determining how to proceed from here.
 
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Susanna72

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Again, for many cats, especially older ones, 2 months is nothing. Is Ollie allowed to roam about the house when Finn is in the basement? Do you ever have Finn kept in Ollie's main room? Have you fed Finn in Ollie's room and have Ollie on the other side of the gate?

I know it was easier to keep Finn in the basement when you first got him, but he really considers that his home base now. All of this introducing was kind of done backward, IMO. Ollie being the resident cat should have been the one to be allowed to roam the house as he did before Finn showed up, and Finn should have been in a single safe room. Swapping the locations (sans basement), would have been the next step - Finn in the main part of the house and Ollie in Finn's safe room, for brief periods of time. Feeding them on each side of the gate, swapping their locations on each side of the gate during feedings would have been next.

It's good that Ollie is getting better about eating on the other side of the gate from Finn. And, it is good that Finn is being cooperative about eating on the other side of the gate from Ollie. But, what is happening here - again, IMO, is that Finn still considers the basement his safe zone and he is not ready to feel more comfortable in other locations.

Your answers to my questions above in the first paragraph might be some help in determining how to proceed from here.
Thank you. Ollie roams around the house all the time. When Finn comes out of the basement to hang out in other rooms, I put Ollie in a separate room and close the door. They see each other while eating and if I happen to carry Ollie in the room Finn is in and he just sits in my lap. Finn looks at him and leaves, usually. No hissing, though.
 

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So, from what I gather the only time Ollie is roaming free and Finn is nearby is when they eat? Otherwise, Ollie is in a room with the door closed, or you are holding Ollie? Any chance of setting up a situation a few times a day when they can both roam free on opposite sides of the gate - not just while eating? Since you made Finn's safe zone in the basement, it would be ideal if they both spend time down there too - assuming Ollie is comfortable with being down there. If so, I would recommend that you set up a division in the basement that allows Ollie to 'share' that space with Finn a few times a day.

I just really think you are going to have a harder time with getting past the point where they are since Finn has a whole basement to retreat to in order to avoid Ollie. So, hopefully you can come up with some ideas on how to expose them to each other more than what it sounds like is happening now.
 
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WOW. Big breakthrough. Took your advice FeebysOwner FeebysOwner and started to take some risks. Letting Finn run around the house while Oliver is with me in my office. Keeping my office door open WITH the baby gate. Well, Finn just came up to the gate and he and Oliver were nose to nose with NO hissing or growling. Oliver got scared and ran away, but Finn just turned and it LOOKED like he sort of rubbed against the gate as he swished his tail. Then he jumped over the gate into the room. I stood up and startled him, so he jumped back. He's still up here in my bedroom, though. Not hiding in the basement. Yay!
 
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I’m still supervising, but whenever Finn and Oliver meet, Finn goes after him. Just now he chased Oliver and Oliver was on his back like “don’t hurt me! I am not a fighter!” And Finn mewled and was poised to attack. I stood there and watched the standoff to see how it would play out and then Oliver bolted. Finn went back to basement. Does he just really hate Oliver? Does he need to be the only cat in the house? This seems like beyond your regular cat tiffs. Jack and Stella hated Oliver and would hiss and swat at him, but never chased and tried to pin him.
 
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FeebysOwner FeebysOwner I was telling a friend about what happened and I feel like this is a better explanation of what happened last night (I don't see the option to edit previous posts):

I let Finn out to see Oliver and he went after him again. Oliver got away from me (this is hard to coordinate by yourself) and ran to the stairs. Finn got ahead of him and stopped on the first step and turned around to corner him on the landing. Oliver went on his back and just laid there, still and scared. Finn just froze on the step and mewled at him. I didn't yell and stood there by them to see what he would do. I want to know if he's bluffing or really going after him. It was a standoff. Then Oliver bolted to the kitchen. Finn didn't chase him to the kitchen, he went to the basement very nonchalantly.
 

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It's only been about 2 months, correct? Some cats can take months and months to acclimate, so not much time has really passed. However, I would make more effort to ensure they are kept separated, at least with the gate so that Finn can't actually get to Oliver. But, tbh, this encounter wasn't horrible. I am not 100% sure, but it could be that Oliver was placing himself in a stance to protect himself by laying on the floor on his back - that allows him to be prepared to use his paws/claws to fight off Finn if necessary. That being the case, Finn got the message. And, even if Oliver was really more 'succumbing' to Finn in that position, Finn didn't act on it.

As more time passes, and Finn seems better adjusted to his new home, there will come a time when you will start having to teach Finn that it is not OK to try to attack Oliver. Usually, the best way to do this is to pick up Finn, hiss or say 'NO' to his face, and put him in another room for a 2 minute time-out. There are distractions options as well - like interrupting Finn with toys when he zeroes in on Oliver. But, you are not there yet, IMO. More time being exposed to one another on opposite sides of gate is needed.

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It's only been about 2 months, correct? Some cats can take months and months to acclimate, so not much time has really passed. However, I would make more effort to ensure they are kept separated, at least with the gate so that Finn can't actually get to Oliver. But, tbh, this encounter wasn't horrible. I am not 100% sure, but it could be that Oliver was placing himself in a stance to protect himself by laying on the floor on his back - that allows him to be prepared to use his paws/claws to fight off Finn if necessary. That being the case, Finn got the message. And, even if Oliver was really more 'succumbing' to Finn in that position, Finn didn't act on it.

As more time passes, and Finn seems better adjusted to his new home, there will come a time when you will start having to teach Finn that it is not OK to try to attack Oliver. Usually, the best way to do this is to pick up Finn, hiss or say 'NO' to his face, and put him in another room for a 2 minute time-out. There are distractions options as well - like interrupting Finn with toys when he zeroes in on Oliver. But, you are not there yet, IMO. More time being exposed to one another on opposite sides of gate is needed.

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Thank you. That makes me feel better. I appreciate and respect your perspective. I contacted the shelter for advice and they told me to bring him back. I'm attached to him! I asked them how he managed in a cat room full of cats if he's so dominant and they said he seemed scared and kept to himself. When I went there, he came right up to me. I can't stand the thought of leaving him there. That said, I don't want Oliver to live in fear. I feel like it was a good sign that he didn't chase him into the kitchen AND he didn't bite or scratch Oliver. Oliver ran away and then Finn just calmly walked back to the basement steps and went down. I can't stress enough about what a nice cat he is, that's why this behavior is so confusing to me.
 

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While Oliver's disabilities might be a factor in Finn's behavior, I really think that will subside over time. And, the fact that Finn was so quiet at the shelter around other cats just tells me he might be kind of 'making up' for that since he only has one other cat to deal with now. Sort of like asserting some 'power' that he didn't feel comfortable doing at the shelter. That too should subside over time, IMO.

The big issue is to just make sure that you don't see signs of stress in Ollie all the time. If he is eating/drinking/using the litterbox just fine and seems OK when not being confronted by Finn, those are all good signs that Ollie is handling the situation with his new found 'meanie' buddy!
 
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While Oliver's disabilities might be a factor in Finn's behavior, I really think that will subside over time. And, the fact that Finn was so quiet at the shelter around other cats just tells me he might be kind of 'making up' for that since he only has one other cat to deal with now. Sort of like asserting some 'power' that he didn't feel comfortable doing at the shelter. That too should subside over time, IMO.

The big issue is to just make sure that you don't see signs of stress in Ollie all the time. If he is eating/drinking/using the litterbox just fine and seems OK when not being confronted by Finn, those are all good signs that Ollie is handling the situation with his new found 'meanie' buddy!
Definitely keeping an eye on Oliver. He's my baby boy. I will say that I have never even heard him hiss. I'm not sure he knows how or is able to. Jack and Stella would hiss and swat and he took it in stride and just ran away. He is the most laid back cat I have ever met. He is definitely afraid of Finn, but he isn't sneaking around the house in fear or not using the litter box.
 
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FeebysOwner FeebysOwner Quick update. Finn hasn't been interested in leaving the basement. I'm worried he's unhappy. He and Oliver don't meet at the gate. They avoid each other. He came out a little more today and hung out in my bedroom. He just walked into my office this afternoon where Oliver is asleep on a bed. He didn't jump up or attack..just walked back out. He went after Oliver this morning, but after Oliver ran and hid under kitchen table, he just walked over to window....and then went to the basement. After he chases Oliver, he always retreats to the basement. It's so weird. And when I say "went after," it's like he starts to chase him and of course Oliver runs.
 

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Thanks for the update. I know I sound like a broken record, but I still think you should consider re-configuring how you are doing things, at least for a portion of the day, by having a place upstairs that Finn should spend time in so he doesn't always feel the need to automatically retreat to his 'home base', aka basement. It almost sounds like he is living a solitary life in that basement, and that will probably lengthen the time it takes for him to become a sincere part of the family.

I also would imagine that your demeanor changes and your anxiety level rises when Finn comes near Oliver without a gate between them - Finn can sense that. That can be a hard thing to change, but just be mindful of it. It is likely a turn off to Finn - probably not endearing to say the least!!

Also, another possible 'broken record' with the question about how much interaction are you having with Finn. You have got to build time in your day to interact with him, be that play, or petting, etc.
 
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