Next step in adult cat introductions?

corvidae

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Feb 17, 2018
Messages
88
Purraise
199
Location
Saskatchewan, Canada
Hi all!
Almost a month ago we brought an older cat (her owners said 7, her vet records say 9.5) into our home because her previous owners were unable to bring her to the seniors home they moved to. Mindy is spayed, and has never lived with other cats before. Our resident cats are two adult neutered males, Jem (7) and Merle (2-3). The boys get along incredibly well, and are often grooming one another, racing around the house together, playing, etc.
Over the past month we have slowly moved through stages of introduction including scent and site swapping, visuals with barriers and treats, and meeting without barriers (but while distracting the boys with treats).
As of right now, Mindy spends most of her time in her safe room but we try to give them some intro time together every day. During intros, Jem especially is very curious and seems to really want to be friends- he approaches her slowly, slow blinking and trilling the whole time. She is initially okay with this- they’ve touched noses every time we’ve had them out together, and the other day she even let Jem give her a few friendly licks on the forehead! Merle is much more neutral towards her, but they’ve also touched noses.
A couple minutes into sharing space, Mindy starts to get overstimulated - if either of the boys comes close to her for a 2nd or 3rd time before she’s ready, she will hiss and growl, and maybe even swat. The boys are getting much better at listening to her signals and keeping away when she’s hissing, which is great to see. We tend to keep the boys away from her for as long as she’s comfortable, letting them say hi intermittently, and then when she expresses desire to return to her safe room we close her back up in there.
I guess my question is where do we go from here? My hope is that she will become more comfortable with the boys and they’ll be able to hang out in the same room with us, even if Mindy won’t join in on the epic cuddle and groom sessions anytime soon. Is seeing the boys daily for 5-20 minutes enough to move this goal along? Should we be giving them more access? Less? Advice would be greatly appreciated. I’ve read the intro guide from this site but there’s not really information on what to do after the cats have met, so any thoughts are welcome!
 

FeebysOwner

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
12,507
Purraise
16,488
Location
Central FL (Born in OH)
Hi. Did you say that you site swap by letting Mindy have other parts of the house to check out while the boys are confined to another space - just so she can investigate and spend time with you without having to be around them? If not, I would start doing that.
The only other thing right now would be to increase the interaction sessions to multiple times a day, if you are only doing it once. Perhaps, at first just make it twice a day, then 3 times a day and see if that helps bring her around a bit more. It might be that initially each interaction session might decrease in duration, but that's OK. The multiple exposures, even if each is less time, should be helpful.

For her age and background, I'd say she is doing rather well, but I wouldn't change too much too yet - it's only been a month! The introduction does say you can only go as fast as the slowest adapting cat and that appears to be Mindy. The step that you are at right now might last awhile.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #3

corvidae

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Feb 17, 2018
Messages
88
Purraise
199
Location
Saskatchewan, Canada
Hi FeebysOwner FeebysOwner ! Thanks for your reply :) we have indeed been letting Mindy get some time wandering the house with just us, while the boys hang out in our office. Admittedly though as we’ve upped their time together we haven’t been letting her out on her own as much- maybe we will try one session of her exploring the house and one session of her meeting the boys per day until we see her getting more comfortable.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #4

corvidae

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Feb 17, 2018
Messages
88
Purraise
199
Location
Saskatchewan, Canada
We've been site swapping every morning (9:30-12:30 or so) for a couple days now, and Mindy is noticably gaining confidence! She's hanging out upstairs more when she's out, and today she even laid next to me on my bed on the very top floor, totally relaxed and in sharp contrast to her "exploring" mode of walking around constantly.

I'm really hoping that these sessions out on her own will improve her attitude towards the boys. We give them some time together every evening (5-20 minutes), distracting everyone with treats as needed (toys are not interesting enough to pull them away from one another). Jem is getting less focused on approaching her, which is good (he's respecting her boundaries!) but also kind of makes me sad, because he so badly wants to be friends and she isn't having it. We've had some more hissing from Mindy and even some swatting (at which point we've distracted everyone and ended the socialization session early) but nothing too scary - no fur flying, no blood, no bites.

Mindy's safe room has a Feliway diffuser we bought to ease her transition to our home - since it's been a month, it's basically empty so we will have to buy a refill of some kind. Do you think it'd be worth trying the Feliway Friends version?
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #5

corvidae

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Feb 17, 2018
Messages
88
Purraise
199
Location
Saskatchewan, Canada
I ordered the Feliway Friends and they should be here this weekend- one refill for Mindys diffuser in the basement and one new diffuser and refill for the main floor. Even if it takes 3 weeks to take full effect, it feels worth a shot!
Tonight we had (what I’m hoping) is a really good sign of progress. I took Mindy upstairs and put her on my lap on the couch, while the boys were also in the living room. She wasn’t purring, like she does when I hold her without the boys around, but she wasn’t trying to lash out at me or the boys or run. For about 25-30 minutes we sat with her on my lap, and my roommates distracting the boys with toys and treats every time they got close enough or stared at her long enough that she started to growl. I gave her a couple treats, but she was too focused on the boys to eat them initially- so I took what I know about dog training and brought out the highest value treat we have! Mindy ate a couple spoonfuls of tuna off a plate while she sat with me, and I’m hoping that is helping her little cat brain build those positive associations with the boys.
In addition to not putting, I did find Mindy was getting pretty overstimulated by the time we decided to escort her back to her safe room. At one point I went to readjust her on my lap so I could position my leg more comfortably, and she growled and hissed at me. Once I got her resettled though she stayed there until my roommates brought the boys to the second floor, and then went down to her room in the basement where I gave her another treat and closed her safe room door. Do you see any warning signs in this interaction? Help/input/good vibes are appreciated!
 

Babypinkweeb

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Feb 24, 2021
Messages
87
Purraise
82
I don't have much advice but found your thread while looking into a very similar situation for myself! I'm introducing a 6yr old female with my 10 yr old boy. My boy is very friendly and has never hissed/growled, just wants to sniff/watch her and maybe play. She is tolerating him but hisses when he is within a certain distance from her, even if she is the one who is approaching his space. She has become more eager to explore so we are upping the shared space time more. Today, even though there was hissing, both cats were able to nap in the same living room, my boy in his fav cat cave as usual and new cat is on our lap.

A bit later on, I think my boy who isn't good at reading cat etiquette thought she was going to play in the bathtub, so followed her (not chase nor stalk), but she was startled he was right behind her so yelled at him and swatted. He was shocked and ran off. I thought I messed up royally but soon after that, dinner time was no issue between them, and they even spend some more time being in the same space for an hour or 2 until I put her back in her room for bed time.There was about a good 20 mins where they were both just loafing with sleepy eyes facing each other.

I think them being able to "confront" aka hiss and growl is already better than going at it or lunging at each other. You're even better than my progress as my new girl still does not like my boy to approach her at all, so forget nose touches or grooming!
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #7

corvidae

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Feb 17, 2018
Messages
88
Purraise
199
Location
Saskatchewan, Canada
Babypinkweeb Babypinkweeb its so great to hear from someone in a similar situation! We are carrying on with two introduction sessions a day for now - it feels like things aren’t really moving forward to me, but my partner has noticed that Mindy has a smaller “personal bubble” and lets the boys pass by her closer without hissing. Maybe I need to let our cats have longer periods of time together - do you watch yours like a hawk while they interact? I’m worried if I don’t, something will happen, but at the same time I can’t spend huge swaths of time monitoring them because I have my own work to do.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #8

corvidae

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Feb 17, 2018
Messages
88
Purraise
199
Location
Saskatchewan, Canada
I don’t know if anyone except me is keeping up with this thread, but I wanted to attach this picture from yesterday!
D5607216-16D9-4C88-8C07-6254767C8267.jpeg
They all shared space like this for a while... until Merle decided he wanted to approach Mindy. He got smacked- just once, no blood or fur flying or anything. I’m hoping allowing him to experience the consequences of his actions will help him learn- I guess we will see!
 

Babypinkweeb

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Feb 24, 2021
Messages
87
Purraise
82
I don’t know if anyone except me is keeping up with this thread, but I wanted to attach this picture from yesterday!
View attachment 372534They all shared space like this for a while... until Merle decided he wanted to approach Mindy. He got smacked- just once, no blood or fur flying or anything. I’m hoping allowing him to experience the consequences of his actions will help him learn- I guess we will see!
I'm around the same pace as you and often question if I'm taking one step forward and one step back. You're not alone but I think we are both making progress!! My girl is able to walk by my boy without hissing every time. She is learning that he isn't as scary as she thinks! Earlier they both played with feather toy at the same time and she was able to watch and join.
 

danteshuman

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Mar 27, 2017
Messages
3,937
Purraise
4,289
Location
California
Hi it sounds like things are going great. Might I suggest you start seeing how she interacts with just the calmer of your boys? If it is a win, start letting them spend more time with each other. Then she can try 1 on 1 time with the other brother in a month.

Part of it may not be an introduction issue but a boy/girl problem. We fostered 3 kittens. I adopted one, the other 2 were adopted by my mom (& my boy visits each weekend for a day.) Now we noticed from the beginning that the boys played differently then Cami (& when bored the play chase her ..... against her will. 🤦🏻‍♀️) Cami wants to hunt and catch things & she loves to hide then jump out and tap her brother’s tail. She calls that play. Her brothers? Well it is thunder dome time when they want to play. The boys want to wrestle and rough house. So her hissing and batting at them is perfectly normal even after they all get along well. Giving Cami space from her brothers sometimes, telling them to leave her alone & playing with the boys extra helps. Interactive toys when they can’t go outside like hexabugs helps to! The little mice are a hit plus the remote controlled mouse is everyone’s favorite!
The boys playing: 6DCADAB0-0B45-48B4-95D2-E7940A8DDE59.jpeg
 

KavKit

TCS Member
Kitten
Joined
Jul 1, 2020
Messages
9
Purraise
6
Location
Alexandria, Virginia
I am so glad I found this thread! I have been having similar concerns. I originally had my 2 year old male kitty- Kavax. But a few months ago my grandmother passed away and I adopted her 12 year old female cat- Callie.

My boy is an easy going social cat. But Callie has always been in just a small quiet apartment her whole life with only my grandmother. So I knew taking her in would not be easy. Emotionally we both are mourning a loss. And Callie now lives in a new house with another younger animal and two humans. For her age, transition will always be more stressful and take longer.

I am concerned about the long term effects of this transitional time will actually have on my boy Kavax. They don't fight really. But she is very unpredictable. Sometimes they can relax less than a foot apart. They can play on the same sofa and regularly eat with their food bowls next to each other. However, she will seemingly randomly not want to deal with Kavax and will beat him up. No bites. And she is declawed (not my choice my grandmother did it a decade ago). So she never really hurts him. But it's a clear sign that she is not in the mood or he did something to upset her.

As I said he is a sweet and social younger boy. I don't want him to get to a point where he avoids her, and other animals altogether because he doesn't know from one day to the next if he is going to get affection or abuse. He has already started giving her a wider birth when walking around her and avoids our bed because that is where she sleeps.

I'm also wondering why or at what point she will stop lashing out. I know its probably a comfort level thing. New house, New cat, new people. She seems great with me (although a little clingy) it's really just our other cat that seems to be undecided in her mind.

Any advice?
 

Attachments

FeebysOwner

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
12,507
Purraise
16,488
Location
Central FL (Born in OH)
Hi KavKit KavKit ! I suspect since Callie already does well with Kavax at times, that they will eventually work things out between themselves. Kavax is probably a bit much for her energy-wise and so he probably overwhelms her occasionally.

Plus, as you already know, she is still dealing with all of the changes she has had to go through in recent months. At her age, the adaptation takes much longer - not to mention she is mourning the loss of what was her 'best friend'.

More time, and even Kavax maturing a bit more, may very well result in them getting along just fine. Since they can spend time together, I doubt that Kavax will begin to avoid her altogether - he is still learning how to 'read' her cues - which is to be expected.
 

danteshuman

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Mar 27, 2017
Messages
3,937
Purraise
4,289
Location
California
KavKit it sounds like things are going great. Since she is a Senior (& declawed 😢) can you have thd vet check her for pain, especially joint pain? Oh & her teeth. A cat in pain gets cranky...... come to think of it people get cranky when they are hurting to.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #14

corvidae

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Feb 17, 2018
Messages
88
Purraise
199
Location
Saskatchewan, Canada
I don’t have more to add re: your situation KavKit, I hope the advice of other members is helpful! Just wanted to update on our situation.
We had a couple really good days where Mindy was out for larger blocks at a time, with very minimal growling or hissing. She’s able to pass right by Jem on the stairs now without any aggression, which is amazing. She and Jem are actually doing well generally - here’s a picture of them lounging near each other the other day. Jem moved to lay parallel to her but gave her lots of space and moved slowly, and they ended up both napping on the floor!
9ABD2D6F-02F4-440D-BE1B-ED1CF24537DF.jpeg

The main issue right now is Merle. He hadn’t been super interested in Mindy before which suited her just fine, but for the past couple days he’s been following her around CONSTANTLY and not leaving her alone even when he gets growled at or she smacks him. It’s incredibly frustrating, especially because Merle is the cat of ours who responds most poorly to being confined to a room- so if we lock him away and let Mindy and Jem hang out, we get the soundtrack of Merle nonstop howling. I’ve also noticed that when Mindy has had enough and we let her back into the basement to get away from Merle, Merle will go tearing around the house and roughly play with Jem after- I’m wondering if he maybe needs more interactive playtime than he’s getting right now so I’m going to try that and hope it helps. It’s really disheartening to see Mindy becoming less tolerant because Merle won’t leave her alone!
 

danteshuman

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Mar 27, 2017
Messages
3,937
Purraise
4,289
Location
California
I would suggest letting it play out with Merle after you tucker him out with play. Get him running up and down furniture & jumping with things like the cat dancer or toys on a fishing pole. When it comes time to let them all be together have you tried 3-5 small hexabugs (some with tails) so there is lots of more interesting distracting stuff besides the girls. (At least for the first week) Be sure to step in distract him with wand toys if he starts to hunt one of the girls.

I pull these out when it rains, for my hyper cat. 1 is a remote controlled mouse.
6EAEDF54-EF32-4B29-BB89-12A3F77C5ADD.jpeg
 

KavKit

TCS Member
Kitten
Joined
Jul 1, 2020
Messages
9
Purraise
6
Location
Alexandria, Virginia
KavKit it sounds like things are going great. Since she is a Senior (& declawed 😢) can you have thd vet check her for pain, especially joint pain? Oh & her teeth. A cat in pain gets cranky...... come to think of it people get cranky when they are hurting to.
Oh she definitely has tooth pain. She has three fractured teeth but we already have a dental surgery scheduled in a couple weeks 😅. She was declawed probably 11 years ago. She has been her whole life really. I was sad that she had it done as I don't believe in it. But my grandmother wanted it done for safety reasons for herself. Which I guess I understand. And a decade ago, it wasn't as widely frowned upon as it is now.

I think the teeth removal will help with both her attitude and her appetite.
 

danteshuman

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Mar 27, 2017
Messages
3,937
Purraise
4,289
Location
California
I meant the declaw is sad because it often causes arthritis due to the fact that it changes how they walk. I wasn’t judging you on it. About 20 years ago i declawed my 2 cats because I was told it was the only way I could rent an apartment. Now I do think the vet was wrong to declaw my kitties! Since it was your Grandma (& I get why she did it) you are not responsible. Btw bless you for adopting her!

Hopefully after her mouth heals she will be feeling better. Just keep her separate for a couple days afterward (loopy/aggressive after anesthesia) & dab a drop of pure vanilla extract to the back of each cat’s neck (so they recognize her despite the evil vet scents.)
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #19

corvidae

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Feb 17, 2018
Messages
88
Purraise
199
Location
Saskatchewan, Canada
I figured it’s time for another update! Our little robot mouse arrived yesterday and Merle finds it very enticing, which is great. Generally I feel like we are taking one step forward and two steps back- Mindy has been spending more time with the boys but she’s also definitely growling more. I’d love some input on that- she can be lounging in the sun, body language fully relaxed, but still growling at the boys. My sense is if she was really distressed she would leave instead of staying there, but the growling is still kind of concerning.
Merle continues to want to play. Mindy tolerates him getting closer (sort of- she’ll still be growling but not swatting at him), and when he gets close enough it becomes clear his goal is to play- he does that slow motion reach out to gently touch her like he does to instigate play with Jem.
I’m wondering if some of what we are seeing from her is truly aggression or misplaced play drive that she doesn’t know how to express? Yesterday she charged at Jem while growling twice while he was fully in another room. She didn’t swat/bite, and Jem used his masterful cat social skills to appease her by being non threatening and calmly walking away. I’m going to see if I can get this pattern on video so you folks can take a look.
Despite the worrying increase in growling and new charging thing, we did have a lovely moment yesterday where both the boys fully relaxed in her presence, and even Merle went to nap on the couch, fully ignoring her. There was also a lovely moment two days ago where Mindy sat in my lap and Merle was on the floor nearby and she was not only relaxed but actually purring!! I need to remind myself of those positive signs when this all feels too overwhelming.
I’m attaching a picture of Mindy and Merle- they hung out like this for a while but she was growling the whole time. I’m not sure if her growling would even be noticeable if I didn’t tell you, because to me her body language looks fine!
 

Attachments

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #20

corvidae

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Feb 17, 2018
Messages
88
Purraise
199
Location
Saskatchewan, Canada
Just wanted to drop by with an update- things seem pretty stable at the moment, more progress but it feels very slow.
Mindy is still occasionally charging the boys, unfortunately. I’d say there has been a slight slow decrease in swatting behaviour, but she still growls a lot. Jem is often doing appeasing behaviour when she’s around- slinking away, giving her space, and lots of slow blinks. Merle is bothering her slightly less, I think, but still gets swatted 1-2x a day when he gets in her face.
At this point, the cats are together most of the day. Everyone gets breakfast at 7, and then Mindy gets brought upstairs at 9. She stays upstairs from 9 until around 1, when she’s usually wanting a break. She gets a while in her room by herself, and then back out until 5, which is dinner time for the cats. We bring Mindy back up from 7 until 9/9:30, and then “tuck her in” in her safe room for the night.

We used to be able to give Mindy the range of the whole basement when she needed a break, but she’s back to being closed in a single room because Merle, our resident Houdini, found a way to get in the basement through removing the screen from a missing panel in a glass door. I discovered this when Jem led me to the basement and I found Merle eating Mindy’s food. On the bright side, she was just watching him from her cat tree- I’m pretty impressed she didn’t attack him in defence of her dinner!
As always, let me know if you have auggestions
 
Top