New Kitten Introduction

Moggielady

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Happy NY everyone. I've been reading the threads and would really appreciate some advice.

We have an 8 year old female Audrey that we rescued 4 years ago. She is indoor only. A gentle cat, timid at times. We got a new kitten, a male, Elliot, 3 months old, a week ago (Christmas Eve!). We have kept them apart (no visual contact) since we brought Elliot home. He has his basecamp in a bedroom and Audrey still has the run of the whole house.

We have tried to feed them either side of Elliot's door, but Audrey is used to eating downstairs and can't be persuaded to come upstairs for her meals. We did try putting her food up there, in the hallway (as far away from the door as possible while still being in sight of it), but she didn't eat much of it, and definitely not when we were looking! Audrey used to sleep upstairs during the day, but she has retreated to the downstairs of the house now. She has generally not been quite as friendly towards us.

Today we brought Elliot downstairs in his crate and put him in the room adjacent to Audrey, with the door open. She watched from her perch but didn't come any closer. He was mad about being in the crate. There's a sliding glass door between these two rooms, so we shut it and let him come out and explore. After a few minutes of him happily exploring, Audrey came right up to the glass and hissed and growled at him. All her fur was standing up and her back was arched. Elliot froze and then he arched his back too and started to hiss in response.

We took him back upstairs and I admit I was pretty upset, but they both seemed to return to normal pretty quickly. Audrey then - for the first time in a couple days - went upstairs and lay down on our bed. Does she feel like she's asserted some dominance now?

Audrey is not at all a distractible cat. She will play when she wants to, but absolutely not at any other time. I cannot see us being able to distract them from each other with play. Or, apparently, with food. So how do we stop them staring at one another and creating another stand-off when they see each other again? They're both getting lots of strokes and reassurance and treats, but I'm confused about how to proceed. Should we bring Elliot downstairs for his meals, so we don't have to move Audrey's food station, and just feed them either side of a downstairs door? Or should we insist on putting her food upstairs and she just has to get used to it?

We have done some scent-swapping, and I tried to let Audrey go into Elliot's basecamp to explore, but she didn't want to go in the room. He has been exploring the upstairs when she is safely away downstairs and he seems happy and confident.

I know a week isn't long so perhaps we're going too fast. I was worried that she didn't realise he was just a kitten (since she'd only smelled him) and was getting herself all stressed about there being an adult cat in the house.

Sorry if this doesn't all make sense. We want both kitties to be happy and would love some advice on how to proceed.
 

ArtNJ

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Its nice that you have a room with a glass door. The hissing was good; that means you were getting work done. If the older cat just doesn't go upstairs, your not getting any work done. I wouldn't use the crate method -- it seems needlessly confining when you have a room with a glass door. In fact can you switch the kitten to that room, or at least do several hours a day there?

Think of it this way. You are terrified of spiders, so you are going to a therapist for desensitization therapy. The therapists starts with something super easy, playing Charlotte's Web. He sees you avoiding watching and playing on your phone. Thats bad, no work is getting done. So he takes away your phone and brings out the spider in a cage, insists you watch it eat a cricket! Therapist is happy your flushed and sweating. Work is being done. When you can watch the spider in a cage from 10 feet away, he'll bring it closer, much closer!!! Not a fun process, but apparently it works, and its the same idea for cats. Avoidance is bad - some hissing and growling is good. Got to work it out of the system.

I suggest not worrying about meal time at all. It doesn't seem useful for getting the older cat up there, so its not helping. You could feed them on opposite sides of the glass door. Just don't put the food to close to the door or they may not eat. Food can start as far away as it needs to be, moving closer over time. Or just skip this step. Its of uncertain value I find, as a truly stressed cat won't allow itself to have positive experiences -- they need to work through the stress first.
 
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Moggielady

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Its nice that you have a room with a glass door. The hissing was good; that means you were getting work done. If the older cat just doesn't go upstairs, your not getting any work done. I wouldn't use the crate method -- it seems needlessly confining when you have a room with a glass door. In fact can you switch the kitten to that room, or at least do several hours a day there?

Think of it this way. You are terrified of spiders, so you are going to a therapist for desensitization therapy. The therapists starts with something super easy, playing Charlotte's Web. He sees you avoiding watching and playing on your phone. Thats bad, no work is getting done. So he takes away your phone and brings out the spider in a cage, insists you watch it eat a cricket! Therapist is happy your flushed and sweating. Work is being done. When you can watch the spider in a cage from 10 feet away, he'll bring it closer, much closer!!! Not a fun process, but apparently it works, and its the same idea for cats. Avoidance is bad - some hissing and growling is good. Got to work it out of the system.

I suggest not worrying about meal time at all. It doesn't seem useful for getting the older cat up there, so its not helping. You could feed them on opposite sides of the glass door. Just don't put the food to close to the door or they may not eat. Food can start as far away as it needs to be, moving closer over time. Or just skip this step. Its of uncertain value I find, as a truly stressed cat won't allow itself to have positive experiences -- they need to work through the stress first.
ArtNJ, thank you so much! That makes total sense about 'work getting done'. We can't switch Elliot completely to that room, but we can certainly have him spend lots of time in there each day. Audrey might remove herself to the upstairs the whole time he is down, but hopefully she will work up the courage to come and watch him more. Right now she is fast asleep in our bedroom like she used to be. I'm glad she's been able to relax after this morning's adventures.

I'm also glad to hear what you think about the mealtime issue. Yes it just doesn't seem to work for her: she won't let herself eat. So it makes sense to work through the stress first. Probably I am just trying to save her from experiencing ANY stress at all, which is not realistic. We're going to bring Elliot down in the glass room (as I'll call it) today and just let him hang out there. Thank you for taking the time to reply.
 

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Yep, trying to manage a process so that there is no stress at all is common for dedicated compassionate folks, but it mostly just doesn't work. For example, the last step, mingling, is unavoidably always going to be more stressful than anything that came before it unless the cats just aren't bothered at all. So its common for there to be some stress left there at the end, some additional hissing and growling that they will need time to work through on their own. They can do that.

Since your resident cat isn't a youngin, it may not be easy or quick. One never knows, its fine to be hopeful, but sometimes its a long slow crawl to toleration when the adult cat is older. There isn't any magical introduction process that guarranties avoiding that though, and dilly dallying for months doesn't help anything. Adults don't attack kittens, so the worst case is that the adult is unhappy and stressed when your formal process is done, with the aforementioned long slow climb to toleration. Fingers crossed that you don't need to deal with that. Even if you do, its generally not so bad, proceeding relatively quickly to the older cat just grumbling when the kitten is actively bothering the older cat.
 
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Moggielady

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Toleration is the aim! If they can just peacefully co-exist that will be wonderful. I am hopeful for Audrey, she really is a sweet cat, and she wasn't sure of my partner for a while at first, but she has really come around to him. It's reassuring to know that adults won't attack kittens. The mention of wounds etc in other threads is pretty scary given how small he is still. I'll try not to be fazed by the hisses and growls when they come and just monitor the situation closely.
 
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Moggielady

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Well we kept Elliot in the glass room for about an hour last night and he was just zooming up and down chasing his ball and then eating his meal. Meanwhile Audrey sat in the room on the other side, about six feet from the glass door, up on the back of the sofa. She watched him for a long time and then she turned her back on him and looked out the window. I feel like it's a good thing that she felt safe to turn her back on the glass door? I did put her biscuits on the floor for her near the sofa, but she didn't come down and touch them while he was there. When we had put him away again upstairs, I went in to her and gave her a stroke and put her biscuits up in front of her on the back of the sofa and she ate some sitting there. Today I'm going to keep him with me in the glass room for a good few hours, wish me luck :) With this set up, I'm wondering how I will know when it's the right time to let them mingle? I don't want to rush it just curious what signs I should be watching for when I can't use 'happy eating near each other' as a clue.
 

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When Audrey isn't stressed by seeing the kitten, there won't be anything else to be gained. It went **really well** today, but I'm sure that she would not have allowed you to pet her, played with toys with you, or taken a treat from you, in range of the glass. Maybe you won't be able to get all the way to that level of chill, but give it some time an see how close you can get. You don't have to get all the way to totally chill necessarily, but if you get there your obviously ready. If your very lucky, you'll find them playing at the glass in a few days. Not saying to pester Audrey constantly trying that stuff, but you can test her now and then, see if she is too focused to allow petting or eat a treat.

I wouldn't be totally surprised if tomorrow the kitten is more active around the glass and Audrey hisses a bit, as I had a GF named Audrey in college and she was a ... um, wait, what was I saying? Anyway, I recall you had some hissing earlier, and today's session seemed to go a bit too well, so a "setback" would be normal and not really a setback.
 

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I think you are doing a great job, and getting great advice. I would continue feeding them downstairs by the glass doors. Your female is the limit setter, the manners teacher, like all females are, so she will be setting limits and teaching the young one who is boss. Swatting, hissing, growling and even pinning the kitten to the floor is all perfectly normal and the young one needs to be taught. He will be very annoying to her for a while, as all kittens are to their elders. Don't let the introduction get too long, kittens are not really injured by older cats, the older ones are genetically programmed to not want to eliminate kittens. so bring them together while your boy is still young, under 6 months. There may be some fur flying a couple of times to establish a hierarchy in the household, but that will soon end. as long as there are no deep bites and blood drawn, everything is good. You have to protect that young kitten from harm, but as he gets a little older and smarter, and your girl gets more used to his movements and constant activity, everything will work out. let her observe him as much as you can. It WILL work out, it just all takes time........
 
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Moggielady

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I had a GF named Audrey in college and she was a ... um, wait, what was I saying?
LOL, she's named after Audrey Hepburn, but sure, why not your college GF?! Hepburn isn't really appropriate anyway because our Audrey is an enormous fluff monster, not tiny and delicate at all. Does that sound familiar? :)
 
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Moggielady

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I think you are doing a great job, and getting great advice. I would continue feeding them downstairs by the glass doors. Your female is the limit setter, the manners teacher, like all females are, so she will be setting limits and teaching the young one who is boss. Swatting, hissing, growling and even pinning the kitten to the floor is all perfectly normal and the young one needs to be taught. He will be very annoying to her for a while, as all kittens are to their elders. Don't let the introduction get too long, kittens are not really injured by older cats, the older ones are genetically programmed to not want to eliminate kittens. so bring them together while your boy is still young, under 6 months. There may be some fur flying a couple of times to establish a hierarchy in the household, but that will soon end. as long as there are no deep bites and blood drawn, everything is good. You have to protect that young kitten from harm, but as he gets a little older and smarter, and your girl gets more used to his movements and constant activity, everything will work out. let her observe him as much as you can. It WILL work out, it just all takes time........
Thank you so much Di&Bob, yes, she is definitely setting the pace and the limits here. She came right up to the glass again and growled at him just now, but then she went away of her own accord, and they didn't hiss and arch their backs at each other this time, so that seems good.
 

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Thank you so much Di&Bob, yes, she is definitely setting the pace and the limits here. She came right up to the glass again and growled at him just now, but then she went away of her own accord, and they didn't hiss and arch their backs at each other this time, so that seems good.
Thats the whole purpose of the glass, to allow her to growl and hiss without anything bad happening. Sounds like its working, and she isn't fleeing upstairs. She'll calm down with time.

LOL, she's named after Audrey Hepburn, but sure, why not your college GF?! Hepburn isn't really appropriate anyway because our Audrey is an enormous fluff monster, not tiny and delicate at all. Does that sound familiar? :)
I like silly pet names, but my 5 y.o. is named Clyde for some reason. My Audrey was a royal pain, but I wouldn't call her an enormous fluff monster no, lol! I won't really hold the name against your fluffy - glad its going well so far. And it is. Give her as much time as you can, and you'll find that she gets tired of hissing and growling with nothing bad happening and just hangs out instead.
 
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Moggielady

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Clyde is a great name.

Very happy to report that Audrey growled and hissed at him through the glass this morning, went away with her tail between her legs, then came back about 15 minutes later and watched him from the sofa again, but closer this time, about 4 feet away. After half an hour or so I went round to see her and gave her a stroke. She growled a bit but she let me pet her. I put her biscuits down then and when I'd gone away again *she ate some*, about 6 feet from the glass, while Elliot was playing right on the other side. This is so wonderful!
 
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Moggielady

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Hello hello. We are persevering here and I have an update and a couple of questions if anyone can bear more questions about kitten intros!

Last night and this morning Audrey just wouldn't come anywhere near the glass - she basically just glanced at him from the opposite end of her room, and then slunk off to another part of the house. Wouldn't eat near the glass either. I was feeling a bit panicky that I wasn't going to be able to get her near the glass again, she was just going to avoid it, and avoid having to deal with him at all - and I do think she's inclined to do this, though she wandered back through a couple of hours ago and sat on her perch (4 ft) and watch him again, without growling, I think, this time (hard to hear through the glass!) Then she ate a few biscuits in sight of him.

But I'm curious about what might have caused this change of attitude from morning to afternoon since she unexpectedly 'encountered' Elliot in the hallway between the two 'glass sessions' today (i.e. sessions where he was in the glass room and visible to her if she bothered to come and look). He's desperate to spend time out of his basecamp with us, so when we pop him back in there to use the litter tray or have nap, he cries for a while, and he shoots out the door as soon as we open it. Normally am ready to catch him but today he wriggled past me and wandered over to the doorway of where Audrey was sleeping in her cat bed on the floor. He stood in the doorway and looked at her. She lifted her head and saw him, and she was very dopey so maybe this explains it, but she didn't look worried or anything, and in fact just blinked sleepily at him, like a slow blink - surely she didn't mean this in a friendly way?! I am wondering whether this a positive indication or if she was just slow to react to him!
 

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It sounds like there isn't a ton of stress there, which is very good. May as well keep at the glass at least a few more days since you did have some growling yesterday I believe, but you'll be ready to see how they do soon enough I think.
 
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Moggielady

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It sounds like there isn't a ton of stress there, which is very good. May as well keep at the glass at least a few more days since you did have some growling yesterday I believe, but you'll be ready to see how they do soon enough I think.
Thank you! I can't tell you how reassuring it is to be able to check in with you about this process. I really appreciate the time you're taking. Yes, we'll keep the glass method going a few more days. She did growl yesterday, and she growled a bit at me when I stroked her this morning (thanks Audrey!) presumably because I smelled like him and she didn't want to be bothered.
 

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Thats ok, its normal for her to still be a little stressed, hasn't been long. I interpret that to mean the glass is working.
 
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Moggielady

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Ah, it's a week since my first post :) Thank you to anyone still reading.

Audrey is still a bit avoidant, but she has eaten her biscuits about 3ft from the glass a few times now - not reliably every mealtime, I'd say about half the time she does it. She won't come right up to the glass but she will sit on the sofa and observe him. I caught her venturing into his room one time but she scurried away when she saw me coming. Most progress was Audrey scratching outside the glass room (not at the glass door, the other the normal door) to be let into the room where Elliot was playing. I opened the door for her and just held him on my lap, and she came a few steps into the room and watched him for a couple of minutes. No hisses or growls. They were about 7ft apart. He was watching her too. The she turned around and wandered away. I gave her a few treats afterwards. That was a good moment I think.

Less good was Elliot wriggling out of his basecamp door when I opened it and coming nose to nose with Audrey who was (unusually) sitting outside! She hissed and growled at him and then slunk off downstairs. But when I went down after her a minute later she seemed perfectly fine: wasn't hiding, just sitting out in the middle of the floor, and acting normally towards me. I was so relieved, was really worried that I'd messed everything up by stupidly letting him slip past me :(

I can carry Elliot past her no problem. She looks but she doesn't act scared or hostile. I just chatter to her - 'Excuse me Audrey! Silly kitten coming through!' - while I carry him past.

Thinking about how to let them encounter one another in a more controlled way (!) when the time comes, I think it would be ideal if she would scratch at the door again and I would just let her in. But there's no guarantee she will do that! - Of course, she's a cat, she will just be able to tell that I want her to do it, and saunter off... Is it better for me to hold him at a safe distance at first, and then set him down when she's had a couple of minutes to observe? I feel like he is just going to be super excited and rush towards her! I could try distracting him with toys (he really likes ribbons - so does she) but she is just going to seem like the best toy in the room...
 
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Moggielady

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Sorry, when I say 'venturing into his room' I mean his little basecamp room.
 

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Hi M Moggielady ...I just wanted to say that you have two adorable 'fluff balls' in those cats of yours.:blush:
and such an amazing set-up for kitten-to-cat introductions.
That sliding glass door, and the photo of Elliot near the glass while Audrey looks down from above is just great.

How are they doing today?
And though I read above how you named beautiful fluffy Audrey after Audrey Hepburn, ...where did Elliot's name come from?
 
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