Please help me introduce two kittens!

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #21

TobyTims

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Dec 4, 2020
Messages
48
Reaction score
59
Thank you - that’s super helpful, I will follow that advice and maybe try the door jam approach to start and see how that goes.

I am not overly worried they will fight, because they were allowed to free roam the house together for several hours the first night we got Snowy (before I read up about properly introducing cats) and there was no fighting - just hissing and growling from resident care Lola every time she saw her. So hopefully things will only improve when we finally re-introduce :)
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #22

TobyTims

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Dec 4, 2020
Messages
48
Reaction score
59
So, my boyfriend managed to create a baby gate type contraption over the bedroom door, and we draped a towel over it so the cats can just barely see each other under the gate. They are both fine on either side when eating/ playing on their own, but once they started peeping noses and paws underneath there was quite a bit of hissing/growling from resident cat. At one point they touched and they both freaked out and ran away from gate, but came back near the gate within 1 minute. It was a bit upsetting to watch, but I am sensitive seeing the cats upset :(

Does this sound concerning?

It seems to me we should definitely stick with this stage a bit longer. I am wondering how long I should leave the baby-gate setup like this before I close the door again. So I should be leaving it like this as long as possible to get them desensitised? Or should we be doing short sessions and closing it off again after mealtimes etc?

Thanks again for any advice you can give. I’m feeling a bit stressed about the whole thing.
 

Jcatbird

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
7,766
Reaction score
40,512
Location
Southern U.S.
Close it off if the stress levels rise. For you or them. They will pick up your tension and you don’t need to rush. Trust your instincts. You’re doing great. With young cats it’s usually just giving them time to understand what is going on and that the creature on the other side is another kitty and might be fun to have around. One thing I often do is to brush both kitties with the same brush if they do not object to the scent. It just kind of blends things a little. If you reach a point where you want more visual but are not ready to leave them fully together all the time, this is what I used. It is simply a piece of plastic lattice. If kitties are very small they may be able to get through the openings so maybe a piece of screen would be needed but it is simple and inexpensive. Since I cut it to fit my doors, the leftovers could be used to close the openings a bit. All that was needed was lattice, screws and hinges. A bungee cord to close. It is slightly flexible if the framing is not used but the nice thing is that it can fit the entire door. I kind of doubt you will need this though. The kittens are just going through a natural process of learning about each other. A little hissing, growling or even a swat or two are normal. They are still learning about each other. Kittens learn boundaries by a little bit of rough play. It should pass and you will be there to give assurance. Every cat adjusts at their own pace. Trust your instincts. If you get nervous, back it off a bit until you feel it’s all calm again. They are making progress thanks to your patience! Bravo!
392AE04B-C01A-462A-B4CD-B1FDEA54F2CC.jpeg
DACD08D7-E322-41B8-9693-31B2030F0B16.jpeg
283222E4-35C8-46A9-B3F6-78498A53CA8E.jpeg
A9F488BB-50F9-4C53-932C-7B95824E112E.jpeg
9FFC5908-F692-40BF-9934-BBA4945AD02C.jpeg
0B1D1E55-BDD6-4AE3-B786-A60D445CC4AA.jpeg
CB63D0F0-1150-4354-B9B9-03D5A410E485.jpeg
04A23CCC-8294-4314-9157-79F0CF905377.jpeg
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #24

TobyTims

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Dec 4, 2020
Messages
48
Reaction score
59
Wow you have beautiful cats! :)

Thank you for the advice! My boyfriend has managed to create something similar out of chicken wire fencing type material with a towel over it, so no risk of cats getting through. It is only about 1 metre high so some risk they may try to jump over but we have monitored it closely.

We have decided to leave the gate and towel there until we go to bed tonight, then we will close the door. Both cats are still happy in their own rooms (resident cat is a little wary and keeping a close eye on the gate, but can be distracted) and the hissing is only occurring when they both try to engage in the gap under towel, which has happened about 3 times in 3 hours.

I know I just need to be patient. It’s only be about 4 days now. I just feel so defeated everytime the resident cat hisses, I keep thinking she will have adjusted. I will continue to take it slow! :)
 

pmv

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Jun 24, 2020
Messages
59
Reaction score
72
The biggest thing is to realize this is totally normal, it's actually going quite well as such things go, and try to reset your expectations. Hissing is completely normal, and it would be extremely weird if it wasn't occurring, especially after only a few days.

And hissing is never going to go away entirely - it's simply part of cat-to-cat communication. Expecting two cats to never growl or hiss at each other is like having two children and expecting them to never shout at each other or fight with each other - if that's your expectation, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Even cats that are fast friends will sometimes have their disagreements, and these cats are still mostly strangers. My two youngest are littermates and best friends, they've never been apart from each other since they were born, and they will still sometimes hiss or growl at each other. The two of them were fully integrated with my older resident cat a few months ago, and the resident cat hisses at least once a day at something or other that bothers him.

More than the sounds they make, I'd pay attention to their overall body language and stress levels. There's a lot of variety in hissing, and a lot of it is much more akin to an "hey, that irritates me, knock it off" and not an "I hate you".
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #26

TobyTims

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Dec 4, 2020
Messages
48
Reaction score
59
Thank you! You are exactly right of course, and I know this from everything I’ve read - it’s just harder than I expected emotionally! My boyfriend is much more relaxed about the whole thing which is good for me.

Thanks for the tip about body language. It’s funny. I was so horrified by my resident cat hissing the first day, but it’s become more and more clear that it’s just a bit of a temper tantrum about the new kitten😆after she hisses she will often immediately relax and flop to the ground, which suggests to be she can’t be that upset.
 

ArtNJ

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jun 1, 2017
Messages
3,634
Reaction score
4,113
A little hissing means your contraption is doing work. When it stops doing work with the towel on it, take the towel off.

If you had a cat not eating or using the box, or throwing itself at the gate while screaming bloody murder, you might have to go backwards a bit, but hissing and growling means its working.

The analogy would be desensitization therapy for humans, where they gradually get you used to something like spiders. If the spider in a cage 10 feet away is still making you sweat, its doing work and they will keep at it. When it stops making you sweat bullets, they will move it closer. If it makes you vomit, constantly scream and pull out your hair, they will start with something easier, maybe show you Charlottes Web or something lol. This analogy is why I say there is almost always going to be some hissing and growling when they get face to face without anything in between -- its the final level, a higher difficulty. The goal of the prior work is just so that a little hissing and growling is all you get.
 

rubysmama

Forum Helper
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Nov 25, 2013
Messages
17,185
Reaction score
36,479
Location
Canada
Sounds like things are going well, and you're getting lots of advice. :)

Wow you have beautiful cats! :)
She most certainly does. And they are all former ferals that she's brought inside and socialized.
She has her own, albeit super long now, thread about her cats, if you want to check it out:
My Feral And Rescued Cats

Sorry, not sure how to edit my posts.
Once you've been a member for 5 days, and reach 20 posts, you'll be able to edit your posts for 120 minutes after submission.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #29

TobyTims

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Dec 4, 2020
Messages
48
Reaction score
59
Thank you everyone. Both cats are definitely still eating, using their litter tray and playing and living happily - except for the moments when they see/sense each other!

We have put the gate/towel contraption back up today, with the towel slightly higher.

Resident Cat is not too happy about this - lots of hisses and some growling every time she sees new kitten. :( She recovers fairly quickly though, and even goes back to eating her food at the gate between hisses - apparently hissing takes a lot of energy! Haha.

And as you say, this is the point, to let the hissing occur and the adjustment to occur. It’s just hard when I’ve never seen my sweet cat like this. And she doesn’t seem to be any hissing “less” yet - but it’s only our second session with the towel/gate, so I need much more patience! I am the problem, not her!

New kitten seems appropriately scared and backs off each time, but is such a sweetie and just wants to meet and play with her big sister.

As an aside, I haven’t told any of my friends or family about new kitten which makes me sad. I planned to right when I first got her home, but after the shock of the introduction not going so well (due to my own lack of knowledge and naivety, not their fault!) I felt discouraged and convinced I would have to return the new kitten to the shelter which would be the worst thing ever.

I feel much better now, but I’m really looking forward to telling everyone once I see a few more positive signs and feel confident this match with work. My cats are such a big part of my life!

I would be lost without the advice and reassurance from all of you, so thank you!
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #30

TobyTims

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Dec 4, 2020
Messages
48
Reaction score
59
Sorry to be back again so soon, but I have another question / update.

We’ve had the the gate/towel contraption up all day today (about 8 hours now). The towel is raised about 15cm so they have a pretty decent view of each other.

Lola, resident cat, has developed a habit today where she is running up to the gate and swatting at Snowy, putting her paws through the gaps. It looks quite intimidating and generally scares Snowy away. Both recover fairly quickly and go back to what they were doing, but it looks a bit scary to me. Lola is still doing a lot of hissing when she sees Snowy, but she has gone a few stretches (maybe up to 2 mins) of just staring at her, no hissing, which is new

When they aren’t at the gate interacting they both seem normal and fine.

Does this sound normal or should I be concerned? Is there anything else I should be doing to make this better?

Thank you and sorry to ask so many questions ❤
 

ArtNJ

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jun 1, 2017
Messages
3,634
Reaction score
4,113
Is Lola hissing while putting her paw through? Maybe its not impossible she is trying to play even if not all the hissing is out...

If Lola is truly seeing the other cat, and running up to and "attacking" at the gate, thats a sign your going to need more time. As long as there is no actual mutual physical hostile exchange (paws and nails on each other), I would interpret this as the gate doing its job. Less than ideal though, as far as a signal about how much more needs to be done.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #32

TobyTims

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Dec 4, 2020
Messages
48
Reaction score
59
I am pretty sure she has not been hissing when actually swiping (but she has let out a hiss shortly after the swipes, at least one one occasion). I don’t know much about cat behaviour but I would interpret as sort of, half playful and half aggressive.

Do you think we just keep doing what we are doing, and leave the gate as is? Or do we need to take a step back?
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #33

TobyTims

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Dec 4, 2020
Messages
48
Reaction score
59
After yesterday (which continued to be a combo of hissing, swiping and periods and no hissing), we had an escape over the gate today. :(

The two cats were in the room with each other for about 5 minutes. Lola did the same run up and swiping behaviours she did behind the gate twice - safe to say it didn’t look friendly and was accompanied by noise this time. Thankfully Snowy remaining quite calm and doesn’t appear injured all. Now they are back in their separate rooms

I’m feeling absolutely devastated and like I can’t continue with this. It feels like a huge mistake to have brought snowy home, who is such a beautiful kind kitten and has had nothing but bullying from my once sweet Lola.

It feels like things are getting worse each day, not better. I know I need to be patient but I just wanted to see a small sign of things improving and all I seem to get is the opposite :( both these cats deserve better.
 

ArtNJ

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jun 1, 2017
Messages
3,634
Reaction score
4,113
Ah, the dreaded swipe charge. Not uncommon, but problematic, because even if we are pretty sure its a "get away your scaring me" kind of charge, its hard to have 100% confidence that it won't turn into a fight. But if you can make the gate higher, she'll get it out of her system. So what if it takes a bit longer? This is all range of normal stuff, no need for you to feel like you failed or any such wrongheaded thing. You are like forum visitor #11,379 that didn't initially make the gate high enough. They didn't actually fight, so its not even a setback.

I **still** think they will end up actual friends. A swipe-charger is not a great starting point, but these are both very young cats, and that is hugely important. It just might take a little longer than we were hoping.
 

rubysmama

Forum Helper
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Nov 25, 2013
Messages
17,185
Reaction score
36,479
Location
Canada
I've never actually introduced cats, so can only share the general info about it, and offer support. It does sound like aggression, unfortunately, but there was no actual contact, was there? And Snowy didn't run away and hide, right.

Here's a TCS article on Are My Cats Fighting Or Playing? – TheCatSite Articles that includes pics and videos showing the difference, which you might find helpful.

Remember, it's only been a few days, right. So still very early on.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #36

TobyTims

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Dec 4, 2020
Messages
48
Reaction score
59
Thank you both. Honestly I feel dreadful but I appreciate your kind words. It’s day 6 today and it feels like I’ve just been going backwards.

My boyfriend, who was closer to the whole incident, says they didn’t actually touch, it just looked bad. And no snowy didn’t run and hide, they both stayed in fairly close proximity to each other afterwards until we separated them. They both seem perfectly happy now in their own rooms. We’re going to have the door between them closed today, because we both have to go to work - my sister is going to come over and spend time with each gate in their respective rooms. We will set up the gate again tonight.

Is there anything in particular I should do when the gate goes back up? Should I lower the towel back so they can only see a crack? Should I still be trying to “site swap” with the gate there as the week goes on?

Thank you again. I don’t know what id do without this forum to turn to, I’m so grateful for your time and experience.
 

ArtNJ

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jun 1, 2017
Messages
3,634
Reaction score
4,113
I wouldn't worry about site swapping at this point. Thats an earlier step. Some cats react to the mere smell of the other cat, so you scent swap and/or site swap to get them used to that. At this point, mere scent doesn't seem to be a problem, but your still having a strong reaction from one cat to seeing the other. Thats ok, let her attack the gate. As long as there is no fighting through the gate, or no jumping over it, it should help calm her down.

As far as using the towel to partially block the gate, I dunno if its necessary unless you are concerned they might fight through the gate, but its not going to hurt anything to go slower either. And it might not be a bad idea if you are going to be in another room distracted, and as long as the "attacks" on the gate are continuing. Just in case there is some small chance that attacks on the gate could morph into actual hostilities.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #38

TobyTims

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Dec 4, 2020
Messages
48
Reaction score
59
Thanks. You are right, scent is not an issue - it’s the visual.

I’m not overly concerned they will fight through the gate and the apartment is so small, we basically are supervising them 24/7. But I’ll see how we go tonight and will let you know. Thank you again :)
 

pmv

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Jun 24, 2020
Messages
59
Reaction score
72
I’m feeling absolutely devastated and like I can’t continue with this. It feels like a huge mistake to have brought snowy home, who is such a beautiful kind kitten and has had nothing but bullying from my once sweet Lola.

It feels like things are getting worse each day, not better. I know I need to be patient but I just wanted to see a small sign of things improving and all I seem to get is the opposite :( both these cats deserve better.
I think you're more upset about this than either of the cats are. Sure, it'll be great when the process is done and they'll be the good friends they are likely to become, but as long as you're giving them the love and attention they need, a few weeks of introduction are just going to be a small inconvenience as a prelude to many good years together.

And it's still only day six. For my own kittens, I spent almost three months before I had fully introduced them to my adult cat (although that long of an intro wasn't required because of behavioral problems, but because the kittens had lice and it takes F.O.R.E.V.E.R. to eradicate them completely, and then I didn't want to introduce them right before they got spayed/neutered and have to re-sequester them during recovery)
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #40

TobyTims

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Dec 4, 2020
Messages
48
Reaction score
59
You are absolutely right! Both cats are perfectly happy in their own rooms (although kitten is increasingly keen to get out and see the room/the resident cat), and it is me who is upset! It is the unknown that scares me, and the fear they won't ever get along, but all the reassurance I'm getting on this forum is that it will work out in time. I just love them both so much, and want to do what is best for both of them. I will try and be more calm and logical about it!!
 
Top