Please help me introduce two kittens!

TobyTims

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Hi! I have been reading all the threads about cat introduction on here, and am hoping to get some advice and reassurance from the lovey people on this forum :)

I have a beautiful 11 month old kitten, Lola. She is incredibly confident around humans and sociable, she loves to play non-stop which is why we wanted to get her a friend.

Yesterday, we adopted another beautiful 7 month old kitten, Snowy. We were told Snowy was also very playful and loves other cats, so that seemed promising.

We brought her home to our small 1 bedroom apartment. When we arrived we isolated Snowy in the bedroom. Snowy was really confident immediately and out playing within minutes - she settled immediate. Lola, on the other hand, is not used to having the door closed and was very distressed - she didn’t know there was a cat inside, she just wanted the door open, as cats do!

I know this was a mistake, but we opened the door to let them meet. Lola didn’t realise there was a cat inside for a few minutes but when she did, there was hissing and growling and noises I’ve never seen her :( We let them interact quite a few times over a few hours - snowy seemed very eager to say hello but stayed back as Lola hissed. There was never any fighting.

I realise now that introduction was too quick. Snowy is happily living in the bedroom alone, while Lola is unhappy in the main room. It’s really distressing to see Lola so upset - this usually sweet confident girl, who runs the house is largely staying in her cat tower, and looks too nervous to go over near the bedroom. When she does, she hisses. She also sometimes hisses at me out of general stress.

I’ve already tried a bit of scent swapping as advised on here. I’m also going to try and get to eat on the other side of the bedroom door, but unfortunately that’s a long way from her usual eating spot and she seems very reluctant to go anywhere near the door.

I’m just so worried that I’ve ruined their first interaction, and that they’ll never bond. We have a small apartment so they will need to be able to live in close quarters. I hope I haven’t done the wrong thing by adopting a second cat - all I want is to make Lola happy, and give Snowy a great life too.

Any tips or words of reassurance would be much appreciated. I know it’s super early days, it’s just so hard to watch our beloved Lola be so unhappy.

thank you all!
 

BellaGooch

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Welcome to TCS! :hithere:We are so happy you're here. New Here? I Have A Few Suggestions For You! – TheCatSite Articles
I am here to give you reassurance- we get these questions so often. Please do not despair!
These articles might be helpful: How To Fix An Unsuccessful Cat Introduction – TheCatSite Articles
Introducing Cats To Cats – TheCatSite Articles
How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – TheCatSite Articles
Stress in Cats – The Ultimate Guide – TheCatSite Articles
Feel free to ask any other questions you might have, as well as post pictures of Snowy and Lola, we'd love to see them! :)
 

ArtNJ

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Two cats this young are most likely going to end up friends despite the start. I'm not remotely troubled by a little growling and hissing, even some yowling or screaming (the sounds you never heard come out of a cat before). Noises are routine, and as long as there is no fighting, they can work through that stuff on their own. That said, it probably is prudent to backup and do an introduction process consistent with the links BellaGooch BellaGooch provided. See how it goes, but don't go too crazy with it -- a week or two should be sufficient with cats of this age unless you are still seeing signs of high stress.
 
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TobyTims

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Thank you both so much for your quick replies - it’s so reassuring. I’m quite an experienced cat owner but never had more than one, so this is a whole new experience for me and honesty quite traumatic. I know I just need to trust in the process and see how things develop over the next few weeks.

Is it okay for me to do a “room swap” at this early stage, so lola goes into stormy’s room and vice versa to explore and sniff? Or is that too much at this stage (given Lola is still so nervous / stressed)

Thank you again.
 

ArtNJ

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Thank you both so much for your quick replies - it’s so reassuring. I’m quite an experienced cat owner but never had more than one, so this is a whole new experience for me and honesty quite traumatic. I know I just need to trust in the process and see how things develop over the next few weeks.

Is it okay for me to do a “room swap” at this early stage, so lola goes into stormy’s room and vice versa to explore and sniff? Or is that too much at this stage (given Lola is still so nervous / stressed)

Thank you again.
I'd let them get comfortable with you and the current rooms they are in first. In a day or two once the are comfy with you, you can scent swap with blankets as a first step.
 

rubysmama

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Hello and welcome to TCS. :wave2: Sorry things have gotten off to a bit of a rough start between Lola and Snowy, but I think except for Lola seeming stressed, things aren't going too badly. They're both young, so should get over the introduction stage more quickly than if one of them was older.

Some hissing and growling is normal, and not too much of a concern. The things we always say to watch for is fur flying, blood, or one cat seeming really scared of the other, or appearing stressed. So, again, Lola seeming stressed, is something to keep an eye on. Make sure you give her lots of attention and love. Tell her she's not being replaced. And watch to ensure she's eating and using the litter box normally. But it's only been one day, and I think there's a good chance you'll be posting again, sooner than you think, to tell us they've become best buds.

Good luck. Do keep us posted.
 

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hissing and growling is ... very normal ( it is their way to say " back off - I am scared" - if the other cat accepts that and backs off ... that is a GOOD sign) and no worries ...kittens and very young cats are usually eager to meet and have someone to play with .... I doubt that Lola did not realize there was another cat ... it is more likely she wants to see that new cat and investigate rather than just have the door open ... don't give into temptation ... keep the door closed - contact under the door ( like a paw peeking through is ideal ) ... I let my resident cats explore our quarantine room once a day and swap cats when we have fosters for a little while ... it helps get the scents mingled ... I don't usually draw out introductions between young cats longer than a few weeks ... once the new cat has gotten rid of the " stranger" scent - I do let them see each other ... so they can learn to communicate ... they will be very leery of each other and need to figure out communications- young cats want to play .. that can involve play fighting and with cats that are strangers that can sound quite scary ... they bite until someone squeaks or hisses and growls ... it is however important that they do sort this out ... well socialized cats will learn each others cues and language in a few months and then ... play much better ...
 
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TobyTims

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Thanks everyone! An update - We’ve continued to keep the cats in separate rooms, and giving Lola lots of attention (my partner is sleeping in the living room with her at night so she doesn’t feel abandoned). Snowy (new cat) is totally settled in to the bedroom. Lola (resident cat) is still eating and using her tray perfectly, and will have a little play with us. But she’s still much more subdued than her usual self, and is generally sticking to the half of the apartment away from the Snowy’s bedroom and staring at the bedroom door from afar. We have caught Lola exploring near the door a few times (without hissing) and managed to feed her much closer to the bedroom door today which seems good. But stil an occasional hiss and general nervousness.

I’m still very nervous Lola won’t adjust - but giving it time!! I might try room swap in 12-24 hours.

thank you all and if you have any more tips for me, please let me know!!
 

flybear

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you are doing great! Cat's are not fond of change period ... and her exploring by the door is a good sign ... don't worry ... it will take time and som hissing and growling and possibly even some smaller spats along the road but ... young cats almost always learn to coexist - I ha dozens of fosters and ALL of them managed to integrate -some faster and some slower - cats are more social than we give them credit...I have the theory that cats from different social groups don't speak the same language and recognize each other by scent and body language ... strange cats will be met with fear but after a while once scents mingle and they learn to read their individual language ... they will be MUCH more comfortable and often form very close bonds ... keep us updated ! Once you are in the " they can see each other but not touch " phase ... you can try to start playing close to the door/ barrier with wand toys ... I find that a good way to get the cats close and distracted ... they learn to have " fun" encounters ...
 

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I'd try a blanket with each cat's scent first. Maybe there is no reaction and you can move forward, and maybe they hiss at the blanket and you take another day or two to room swap.
 
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TobyTims

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Thank you! I forgot to mention we have already done a blanket swap. Lola has sniffed it a lot and seems okay. She also had a sniff of Snowy’s litter when I brought it out to change her - that got her a bit worked up, but not too much. I’ll try another swap before I do anything else ☺
 
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TobyTims

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Further update - before I did anything else, they had their first proper interaction through the closed door. Snowy was on one side of the door meowing, and Lola was swiping her paw under the door. Lola gave some big hisses and growls - a lot of them - but she didn’t seem overly upset. I distracted her with some treats and after a few mins I got her to go back to eating her breakfast only a few feet from the door where Snowy was.

Is that a good interaction? I’m not sure!! Now Lola is back in her cat tower, her safe space.
 
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TobyTims

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An update on these two, for anyone who is interested!

It has now been just over 48 hours of having Snowy. Still keeping the two cats separate. Lola (Resident Cat) has relaxed a lot more, is more back to her old self, playing and sleeping and being the sassy girl she is. She is still quite wary of the bedroom door where kitten Snowy is living, but has made big progress. She will now eat right up against the bedroom door, and even slept in front of it for awhile. However, she is still a bit tense and does hiss at the door occasionally, particularly if she is startled.

I've tried scent swapping blanket socks etc, but it seems to have no impact on Lola - she either doesn't notice or doesn't care. And Snowy is still perfectly happy.

My issue now is - how do I get them to 'room swap'? I put Snowy in the bathroom yesterday and tried to give Lola the opportunity to explore the bedroom, but Lola was not having it. She did a few big hisses at the bedroom door, then walked away and flopped down in her safe zone. Do you think she just needs more time? I assume I shouldn't force her to go in there...

Please let me know if you have any tips! :)
 

rubysmama

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No need for Lola to go into the kitten's room to scent swap, as Lola's scent is everywhere else in the home. It's Snowy's scent you want to introduce to the rest of the home, so the best way to do that would be to put Lola in another room (with the door closed) for a little while and let Smokey out to run about. Course once Smokey gets a taste of outside his own room, he may want to get out more, but that's a risk you have to take in order to scent swap.

It sounds like Lola is adjusting quickly, though, so just continue to watch her and go at her pace. It's better to go slowly and get it right the first time, than to rush and have to start over again. Though even the best introductions can have setbacks, it's way early on, so no worries about that yet.
 
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TobyTims

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Thank you! Thats good to know. Practically, given the layout and size of our 1 bedroom apartment, we really need them to swap rooms to allow Snowy to explore. We could put Lola in the bathroom but it's directly off the main room and the door has quite a large gap, and I think Lola would be quite distressed being left in there for long which might cause a setback. So as you say, I will be patient and let Lola go at her own pace, and maybe wait another day to see if she is more eager to explore the bedroom :)
 
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TobyTims

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An update on Lola and Snowy, for those interested!
It’s been 3 days. We have started feeding them with the door open and a towel secured to block their view / access. Both very happy with this, no hissing while eating or sitting - but sometimes Snowy tries to bat her paw through, and Lola will hiss. Today it was Lola batting her paw which seemed slightly positive! (Still some hissing though, and Lola will still do an occasional hiss at the closed door when she is feeling sassy)

We still haven’t figured out the best way to progress to letting them see each other - we don’t have a baby gate or anything like that and finding it difficult to locate affordable options. If anyone has ideas on this, please let me know!

Today snowy had to go to the vet, which gave Lola the opportunity to safely explore snowy’s “base camp” bedroom. She enjoyed having a big sniff and was very comfortable. When snowy got back, we locked Lola in the bedroom and snowy got to explore the main room for about 10 minutes. Unfortunately Lola was very unhappy in the bedroom and I had to get to work so we had to swap them back into their normal rooms after that. Lola was a bit put out afterwards and has had a hiss or two at the door, but it seemed more like a temper tantrum than anything haha she is fine now.

Do you think we should keep room swapping for a bit longer before we let them see each other? Unfortunately Lola just hates being locked in the bedroom (always has!) which makes it hard.

Thanks for your advice and support. I am feeling slightly more optimistic now:)
 

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Someone has a picture of a contraption built from cheap home depot supplies re: visual separation. Its in several of these threads, you could search "baby gates". I believe Jackson Galaxy has this idea that full visual is bad and he prefers a door opened with cracked door jambs? Not too sure about that, think I heard that second hand. Anyway, that would be a low cost, low effort way for them to see each other a little. I think its silly to think its *better* (not a huge JG fan although he is clearly right about some things) but I suspect it would do the trick. You don't likely need more more process with cats this young -- they will get past any remaining hissing on their own most likely.
 
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TobyTims

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Thanks ArtNJ. When you say “you likely don’t need more princess with cats this young” - do you mean you think we are about ready to let them in the same room and just let them sort it out? Would appreciate any advice you have on how best to move things forward!
 
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TobyTims

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Woops - by “princess” I mean “process”. Sorry, not sure how to edit my posts.
 

ArtNJ

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Thanks ArtNJ. When you say “you likely don’t need more princess with cats this young” - do you mean you think we are about ready to let them in the same room and just let them sort it out? Would appreciate any advice you have on how best to move things forward!
Yep, but there isn't any great rush either, so see how they do with some visual. If constructing something like baby gates turns out to be too hard, try the cracked door with double door jambs method I mentioned. If it turns out to be a non event you can try face-to-face in a few days. If seeing each other seems to get one worked up, you can give it a little longer.

My recommendation once you do pull the trigger is that you do it when you have at least a couple hours. If they don't seem to want to fight, just ignore the hissing. Hissing and growling is ok, they can work through that. After a few hours, you'll have a good sense that they wont fight and you can let them be as long as your listening in the other room. Or if your not sure, you can do a couple of shorter sessions too, when you can actually watch. But it takes time together, so ultimately the goal is to get confidence they won't fight and let them sort things out.
 
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