New cat mom introducing new kitten to shy resident cat

Misha's Mom

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Hi all, I'm glad to be part of the forum and hope you can help. My fiance and I are in the introduction process and not quite sure where to go from here.

A little bit of background: I never had a pet of my own until my fiance and I adopted a cat in 2018, so I'm relatively new to being a cat mom. My fiance on the other hand grew up around dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, etc his whole life. In fact, his mom worked for an animal shelter for many years and she still has several dogs and cats (and birds!) at his parents' house.

In Sept 2018 we adopted a male kitty named Misha who was about 4 or 5 months old at the time (he's just under 2 years old now). Misha was shy from the beginning and is not aggressive, and he gradually got used to us (though he still runs to hide any time someone comes to the house). A few weeks ago we adopted Lois who is estimated to be about 7 months old. Lois seems much more outgoing than Misha. They both love to play.

Lois has been in our guest bedroom, and she and Misha regularly play tag under the door. We've also been doing side by side feedings with baby gates stacked in the doorway for several days with no issues (no hissing or growling to this point). We also did scent swapping with socks and blankets early on (but it was discovered that Lois had ear mites, so we had to wash everything and restrict contact for a bit).

Lois has been out of her room and in the rest of the house twice (one of the times was when she escaped the room. When we found them, Misha was standing a few feet from her by his scratching post and she was under the couch, but it did not look like a confrontation. She came running out as soon as we got to the room.).

Misha is very happy to play with Lois under the door, but when he can actually see her, he gets very shy and skittish. My fiance has tried moving forward by holding Lois in his arms with Misha nearby, but Misha always moves away to somewhere he feels safe. There are times when Misha and I are outside her room and he'll "ask" me to open the door. I haven't done this, but I have wondered what would happen if I did. Lois really wants to get out of the room, and my fiance wants the same. He's saying Misha may have to deal with her being out because he doesn't want her to stay in the room for "months". But I really don't want to rush Misha and I want him to feel comfortable. They seem like they're on their way to being friends but I'm not sure that I'm reading the situation entirely right and don't want to ruin the introduction.

Can anyone please offer advice on how to move forward in the introduction process and move closer to Lois being out of her room without freaking Misha out?
 

doomsdave

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M Misha's Mom welcome!

I now have six cats but I’ve had many many more.

It sounds like you and husband are on the right track.

One of my mature kitties took MONTHS to get used to my other cats, and they’re still a bit skittish around each other.

Unless one our resident kitty gurus says otherwise I’d suggest leaving Misha and the new kitten with each other to do as they will while you or husband hover in the background.
 
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Misha's Mom

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Thank you for the welcome and your reply doomsdave doomsdave !

Six cats? Wow! Can you tell me a little bit about how you introduce new cats and integrate them into the family? How long did you keep the mature kitty you mentioned separated from the other cats?

We did a short site swap with Misha and Lois at breakfast this morning. Lois had a few minutes to roam the house (she was sniffing everywhere and spent a bit of time Misha's litter box, according to fiance). Misha was a bit scared to go into Lois' room at first. But he ate his breakfast in there, and since she was on the other side of the gate outside of the room, he relaxed and checked out her scent in the carrier, her litter box, her water bowl and around the room. After we wrapped up, he seemed to want to go back into the room and was trying to get her to come to the door, but after a while he gave up and went downstairs. As soon as he left, she came to the door and tried to get him to come back! But he was sunning himself in a window and just wanted to relax, I guess! She was still crying and wanting to get out of there, so fiance and I think we should try to get them together in a room tonight after work to "fast-track" her being able to come out for longer periods of time. I'll try to post pictures of them later if I have a chance.
 

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Hi! Just remember the 'golden rule' - you can only go as fast with introductions as the slowest adapting cat. So, if you should put them in a room together, they should be supervised and if you have a negative reaction from Misha or Lois, the get together should be stopped. It isn't going to hurt your fiancé to be more patient - if you rush this and things don't go well, then you have to back up in the intro steps and ultimately lose more time. More site swapping is good for Lois - and MIsha. And, supervised time while the gates are up and the door is not closed. One of you can be on each side of the gate with one of the cats, and even do some play time where they can see each other in play. I don't think things are going badly at this point at all, and perhaps after a few more site swaps and gate interactions, the get togethers will not make Misha so shy and skittish around her and by then, hopefully she won't retreat to hiding under a couch.
 

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Thank you for the welcome and your reply doomsdave doomsdave !

Six cats? Wow! Can you tell me a little bit about how you introduce new cats and integrate them into the family? How long did you keep the mature kitty you mentioned separated from the other cats?

We did a short site swap with Misha and Lois at breakfast this morning. Lois had a few minutes to roam the house (she was sniffing everywhere and spent a bit of time Misha's litter box, according to fiance). Misha was a bit scared to go into Lois' room at first. But he ate his breakfast in there, and since she was on the other side of the gate outside of the room, he relaxed and checked out her scent in the carrier, her litter box, her water bowl and around the room. After we wrapped up, he seemed to want to go back into the room and was trying to get her to come to the door, but after a while he gave up and went downstairs. As soon as he left, she came to the door and tried to get him to come back! But he was sunning himself in a window and just wanted to relax, I guess! She was still crying and wanting to get out of there, so fiance and I think we should try to get them together in a room tonight after work to "fast-track" her being able to come out for longer periods of time. I'll try to post pictures of them later if I have a chance.
Intro time depends on how old the new cat is, mostly. Kittens and young adult cats tend to get in the swing pretty quickly. Sounds like you're making good progress. I can't really think of anything further to say.

The mature kitty, Big Boy, I think was traumatized at some point, and he's probably a special case. He's a half-breed Maine Coon, and big, probably one of the biggest and strongest kitties I've had. He's pictured below, next to Der Baron. He's an easy 20+ pounds, and fills my arms when I lift him up.

The reason I think Big Boy is a bit messed up (maybe this is kind of a public service in case you or someone else encounters a problem kitty like him) is that: (a) he acts in some ways like a feral; but (b) I'm pretty sure he isn't. If one of our feral experts says otherwise, I'll defer.

Big Boy lived in Rancho Palos Verdes, one of those hyper rich cities here, and a friend of mine was doing a kitchen remodel (he's a handyman, helps me, too) and he's a bit of a cat person, even though he bitches about the odor of cat poop. The people he did the work for had another cat, who liked to bully Big Boy, who sometimes was allowed in the house to eat and was also fed on the patio and drank from the jacuzzi. Big Boy appeared to be a kitty that someone dumped, but who'd had a happy home. After my friend did the work, the family moved to Florida, and took their other kitty but not Big Boy.

I'd met Big Boy a couple times, and couldn't bear the thought of him getting eaten, starving, etc., so my friend the handy helper brought him to me, in 2015 or 2016 and I've had him since.

When Big Boy hides, he squeezes into the tightest corner he can; most cats don't except ferals, in my experience. Ferals are exposed to predation from big dogs and coyotes, so hiding is a matter of life and death. My other kitties don't hide like Big Boy. On the other hand, ferals also eat all they can get, in my experience, including wild critters like lizards and grasshoppers; again, it's a matter of survival. I fed Big Boy a big grasshopper one day, and when it hopped and flashed its wings, Big Boy just freaked in fear; looked like his eyes would pop out of their sockets. It would have been funny if it wasn't so sad.

Big Boy is still a bit of a sad sack, but he's come to love me as much as I 'wove him. Every night he climbs into bed with me, and lays alongside like a furry purring pillow. By day, he hides, though sometimes he sits in the sun in the lower living room, which is under construction now.

Baron's kind of spoiled and needy in his own way, and I 'wove him, too, and they both climb into bed at night with me, especially when it gets cold.

baron und big boy.jpg
 

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My then 2 year old boys accepted our new kitten relatively quickly, but at first they were really perplexed by her - they just didn't know what to do. One of them hissed and ran away. The other one just laid down and watched her.

Just keep them visiting each [supervised] other for longer and longer periods of time. At some point (1) you'll get the feeling that they are OK with each other and (2) they will start playing and wrestling and it will freak you out. Check out the thousands of threads about "are my cats fighting?"
 
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Misha's Mom

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Hi FeebysOwner FeebysOwner ! Thanks for replying!

supervised time while the gates are up and the door is not closed. One of you can be on each side of the gate with one of the cats, and even do some play time where they can see each other in play
Yes, we've done this, and we did it for a bit this morning after feeding them. :)

It isn't going to hurt your fiancé to be more patient - if you rush this and things don't go well, then you have to back up in the intro steps and ultimately lose more time.
I think he understands this on some level, because even though he's visibly impatient about moving forward, we still haven't put them together in a room unsupervised yet. But I think he's trying to push because Lois very much wants out of the room. She makes sad sounding meows often, along with scratching under the door (like digging) and standing up on her back legs trying to reach the door knob. We know she's unhappy, so we're concerned about leaving her in there for a long time. What can we do so that she's not as unhappy while she's in the room?
 
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Misha's Mom

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Intro time depends on how old the new cat is, mostly. Kittens and young adult cats tend to get in the swing pretty quickly. Sounds like you're making good progress. I can't really think of anything further to say.

The mature kitty, Big Boy, I think was traumatized at some point, and he's probably a special case. He's a half-breed Maine Coon, and big, probably one of the biggest and strongest kitties I've had. He's pictured below, next to Der Baron. He's an easy 20+ pounds, and fills my arms when I lift him up.

The reason I think Big Boy is a bit messed up (maybe this is kind of a public service in case you or someone else encounters a problem kitty like him) is that: (a) he acts in some ways like a feral; but (b) I'm pretty sure he isn't. If one of our feral experts says otherwise, I'll defer.

Big Boy lived in Rancho Palos Verdes, one of those hyper rich cities here, and a friend of mine was doing a kitchen remodel (he's a handyman, helps me, too) and he's a bit of a cat person, even though he bitches about the odor of cat poop. The people he did the work for had another cat, who liked to bully Big Boy, who sometimes was allowed in the house to eat and was also fed on the patio and drank from the jacuzzi. Big Boy appeared to be a kitty that someone dumped, but who'd had a happy home. After my friend did the work, the family moved to Florida, and took their other kitty but not Big Boy.

I'd met Big Boy a couple times, and couldn't bear the thought of him getting eaten, starving, etc., so my friend the handy helper brought him to me, in 2015 or 2016 and I've had him since.

When Big Boy hides, he squeezes into the tightest corner he can; most cats don't except ferals, in my experience. Ferals are exposed to predation from big dogs and coyotes, so hiding is a matter of life and death. My other kitties don't hide like Big Boy. On the other hand, ferals also eat all they can get, in my experience, including wild critters like lizards and grasshoppers; again, it's a matter of survival. I fed Big Boy a big grasshopper one day, and when it hopped and flashed its wings, Big Boy just freaked in fear; looked like his eyes would pop out of their sockets. It would have been funny if it wasn't so sad.

Big Boy is still a bit of a sad sack, but he's come to love me as much as I 'wove him. Every night he climbs into bed with me, and lays alongside like a furry purring pillow. By day, he hides, though sometimes he sits in the sun in the lower living room, which is under construction now.

Baron's kind of spoiled and needy in his own way, and I 'wove him, too, and they both climb into bed at night with me, especially when it gets cold.

View attachment 324196
Oh my goodness! Big Boy is definitely a big bundle of love! It's awful that he had a rough time of it, but I'm sure he's glad to have you. :)

Misha always runs and hides in the corner by our couch where there are curtains, or on the other end of that same wall behind the curtains and one of our stereo speakers, or as a last resort under the dining table. His mother had her kittens in someone's garage, so he and his siblings were rescued early in his life. I'm not sure if his mom was feral or not -- I wonder if he somehow learned how to hide from her.

I love Baron's expression in the picture! Misha is not super cuddly, but he does sleep by my feet on the bed if my fiance isn't there. Lois on the other hand will get right up close to me. One night I kept waking up to make sure I didn't roll over on her! :lol:
 
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Misha's Mom

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Hi D duncanmac !

My then 2 year old boys accepted our new kitten relatively quickly, but at first they were really perplexed by her - they just didn't know what to do. One of them hissed and ran away. The other one just laid down and watched her.
I think Misha is a little unsure also. He watches Lois play a lot, especially if it's with a toy he really loves. Sometimes he sticks his paw under the door as she's playing and grabs it for himself! So then I take it from him and explain that he already has plenty of toys and this one is for Lois. :lol:

Just keep them visiting each [supervised] other for longer and longer periods of time. At some point (1) you'll get the feeling that they are OK with each other
This morning before breakfast we tried another short visit with my fiance holding Lois and Misha nearby. I bribed with a few treats in the beginning, but at one point, Misha walked behind my fiance and sat about a foot from him. Misha was definitely the calm one in this situation. Lois was antsy, trying to get out of my fiance's arms (which is understandable). When it seemed like she really couldn't take being held any more, we put her back in the room and gave them both lots of praise. I was proud of Misha for being so relaxed with Lois there!
 

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She makes sad sounding meows often, along with scratching under the door (like digging) and standing up on her back legs trying to reach the door knob. We know she's unhappy, so we're concerned about leaving her in there for a long time. What can we do so that she's not as unhappy while she's in the room?
I don't know how often you are doing site swapping but if not very much, increase the number and duration of time that Lois is allowed out of that room. One of you probably should spend time with each cat in each location as well. And, how often are you leaving the door open with gates up? Lois might not feel as bad about being in there if she can actually see out.

Is there anyway to expand her territory so she has more space, but that they are still separated?
 
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Misha's Mom

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I don't know how often you are doing site swapping but if not very much, increase the number and duration of time that Lois is allowed out of that room. One of you probably should spend time with each cat in each location as well.
We have not done the site swapping much but we definitely want to do it more often. Usually when we do, one of us is with each cat (is that what you meant ?).

And, how often are you leaving the door open with gates up? Lois might not feel as bad about being in there if she can actually see out.
This is tricky, because we use two old baby gates that don't fit into the doorway well. We stand the bottom one up against the outside of the room and stand laundry detergent bottles on each side to reinforce it. Then when we stand the second one on top of it, one of us has to support it so it doesn't fall over. So I have to admit it's a rickety setup. Lois has also tried to climb up the gates, so even they were secure in the doorway, the two gates would not keep her inside. It would be nice to be able to have gates up so she can see out, but I'm not sure how to go about it with what we have.

Is there anyway to expand her territory so she has more space, but that they are still separated?
I have been thinking about this since I read another poster's thread about her situation. Unfortunately this is also tricky. Fiance and I live in a 3 story townhouse/condo. The master and guest (Lois') bedrooms are on the 3rd floor. The kitchen, dining room and living room (where we spend the most time) are on the 2nd floor. The garage and office are on the first floor. It would be nice to let her come out of her room and at least let her roam the 3rd floor up to the landing, but the 2 baby gates wouldn't hold up. Misha also comes to the 3rd floor (usually he hangs out wherever we are or follows me around), so we'd have to stop him from doing that if Lois is allowed to roam. Plus I'd have to convince fiance that doing this isn't "adding steps" to the intro process. :rolleyes3:

FeebysOwner FeebysOwner leaving the door open with gates up and expanding Lois' territory are great suggestions and I don't want you to think that I'm trying to pooh pooh them. I'm really not, I do appreciate the feedback. I'm just not sure how to execute them with the old baby gates and the layout of the house. :(
 

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We have not done the site swapping much but we definitely want to do it more often. Usually when we do, one of us is with each cat (is that what you meant ?).
Doing this more often is crucial to the process - and, yes I meant someone being with each cat during the swap process.
It would be nice to let her come out of her room and at least let her roam the 3rd floor up to the landing, but the 2 baby gates wouldn't hold up. Misha also comes to the 3rd floor (usually he hangs out wherever we are or follows me around), so we'd have to stop him from doing that if Lois is allowed to roam. Plus I'd have to convince fiance that doing this isn't "adding steps" to the intro process.
Slow steps now will prevent backing up and repeating steps later - might be something to point out to your fiancé. Also, see below about some ideas for gates that would be easy to do in multiple locations if need be.
leaving the door open with gates up and expanding Lois' territory are great suggestions and I don't want you to think that I'm trying to pooh pooh them. I'm really not, I do appreciate the feedback. I'm just not sure how to execute them with the old baby gates and the layout of the house.
There are more secure gates you can make yourself that could be 'custom' fit in different locations, even one to allow Lois to roam a larger area, and at the same time restrict Misha to a room where you are on the same floor as where you allow Lois to roam - and, without having to deny Misha space on that level.
I recommend buying wire shelving from a home improvement store, set them on their sides and affix them together with zip ties which makes for a 'hinge' so they can be folded open and closed as needed (see pic below for an example). These make-shift gates can even be secured to the walls/doorways with hook and clasps, which when finally removed are easily repaired with a bit of spackling and paint.
Shelving blockade.png
 
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