Struggling With Cat Intro

Jayskalo

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Hi there!

So my husband and I have been going through introductions for about 3.5 weeks now with my 10F cat and our new 6mo. F kitten.

We have steadily been inching along progress wise this entire time, but have hit a wall the past few days that we can't seem to move past. I am hoping someone may be able to offer advice or insight.


The cats have been separated on opposite sides of the apartment, and we started with feeding on opposite sides of the door on scheduled feeding times. We then progressed to visual through a 4ft tall pet gate set up. We site swap every day for several hours and have left each cat's scent soakers in the other’s rooms. Once we started feeding with the pet gate instead of the door, we were able to get them to eat little over a foot on each side of the gate with visual contact, but we haven't been able to progress past there. Our 10F cat doesn't hiss, but the second we move food closer than thdistance she walks away.

Overall there isn't much aggression, our 10F will watch the kitten play on the other side of the gate, she is curious, will sit out with us during site swap vs hiding the whole time. She only hisses when the kitten hops the gate and starts sticking her paws under the door relentlessly. Even then her body language isn't aggressive, no dilated eyes, puffed fur, or lip licking, just warning hisses.

At this point should we just try throwing them together so they can actually start establishing boundaries? Or is there any advice to start making progress again on feeding them closer?
 

Furballsmom

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Hi, if you let them together with supervision, --which I think would be worth testing out at the stage you're at, you might want to separate them at times so that the older cat gets a break from that incredible kitten intensity.
 

di and bob

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Hissing, growling, swatting are all perfectly normal behaviors. You might try to let tehm together, keep the kitten occupied so she doesn't immediately run up to the cat. Have a stiff piece of cardboard ready to stick between them if they start fighting. Your older one swatting would be normal, as long as the kitten comes back for more and doesn't hide when she sees the older cat and stays hidden, everything is normal. Make sure your older cat has a high up place to get away too!
 

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Its likely going to take a while once you put them together. Kitten plus senior is often hard.

Six months old is right on the boundary of kitten vs adulthood. While adults dont attack kittens with intent to injure, we cant be sure your little one still has this biological protection. True fighting, not just "get away" swats, might already be possible. So I agree with all above the above, and suggest taking it slow at first. A little hissing, growling and even some "get away" swats are one thing, but you want to be sure they wont fight. So monitored time together for a bit, until you get a sense its basically just noise, with maybe some swats, but wont lead to actual violence.

Even "get away" swats, while very different from a true fight with intent to injure, are less than ideal. My 7 year old cat has some very mild cauliflower ear from me letting my senior cat and then kitten (now 7 year old) work through that.
 

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I would try without the barrier, but with some distractions for them.

Nobel was 14 when we brought 5 month old Magnus home and they did end up playing, though with very slow progress. You're really doing great at 3.5 weeks! Excellent work!

We would play with Magnus and while playing with Magnus we would drag a string along the couch for Nobel. He would be up higher which provides some security. But also having that string to play with to get out some tension energy. Sometimes he would just watch Magnus.

We also kept some different dry food on hand as a treat. When Nobel would let Magnus approach or would look at Magnus we would reward with a treat. If Nobel hissed and both backed off, we would also reward with a treat for the good communication.

We followed the same protocol with Calcifer and just had one human always stay near to Nobel to guide the younger two away if needed. (Just keeping a firm hand stopping them going forward but allowing them to back up).
 
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Jayskalo

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Hissing, growling, swatting are all perfectly normal behaviors. You might try to let tehm together, keep the kitten occupied so she doesn't immediately run up to the cat. Have a stiff piece of cardboard ready to stick between them if they start fighting. Your older one swatting would be normal, as long as the kitten comes back for more and doesn't hide when she sees the older cat and stays hidden, everything is normal. Make sure your older cat has a high up place to get away too!
They had two brief opportunities to meet today and they went relatively well! First time my 10F hissed once and swatter at the kitten, and then the kitten backed off back into the other room, and the second time, the older cat saw her coming and decided to go elsewhere So I think we are off to a good-ish start! Thank you and everyone else for the advice!
 

Alldara

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They had two brief opportunities to meet today and they went relatively well! First time my 10F hissed once and swatter at the kitten, and then the kitten backed off back into the other room, and the second time, the older cat saw her coming and decided to go elsewhere So I think we are off to a good-ish start! Thank you and everyone else for the advice!
Wonderful start really. Older cat communicated, you get cat listened. Older cat gave self time out, younger cat didn't stalk and follow!

Beautiful.
 
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Jayskalo

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Wonderful start really. Older cat communicated, you get cat listened. Older cat gave self time out, younger cat didn't stalk and follow!

Beautiful.
Unfortunately today didn't go quite as well! We tried to play kitten out a bit before letting them meet, but the second we let the gates down - she ran right at our 10F. Our older cat hissed but was mostly watching her explore the room, until she ran at her (it seemed in a kitten kind of way vs aggressive way). Older cat went under the bed and then kitten kept trying to follow her under there, and after the one time we barely caught her in time, we saw the swipe our older cat made had claws out, so it doesn't look like we are in that biological protection phase here.

Any advice on how to tackle this? No harm was done today, and I feel like our older cat tried to remove herself but kept having her boundaries pushed.
 

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You'll have to hang in there with things like this until the baby gets a little more mature, --which won't take very long, (don't forget to take lots of pictures and video, because time really will fly).
 

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This was actually my first support question I had when I first joined tcs over 20 years ago! I didn't know how to introduce a new cat to an existing family. And tcs members wasted no time to offer me suggestions! Hang in there.
 

Alldara

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Unfortunately today didn't go quite as well! We tried to play kitten out a bit before letting them meet, but the second we let the gates down - she ran right at our 10F. Our older cat hissed but was mostly watching her explore the room, until she ran at her (it seemed in a kitten kind of way vs aggressive way). Older cat went under the bed and then kitten kept trying to follow her under there, and after the one time we barely caught her in time, we saw the swipe our older cat made had claws out, so it doesn't look like we are in that biological protection phase here.

Any advice on how to tackle this? No harm was done today, and I feel like our older cat tried to remove herself but kept having her boundaries pushed.
What are you currently doing to distract kitten upon release?

Let us know what's working and what's not and we can 100% offer some suggestions.

Many people don't realize that the ungated meetings require a distraction. But it's very important at first.

(Nobel swipped at kittens as young as two months. A swipe is not aim-to-fight, just a warning. Since it's a kitten, your young cat got off with a warning swipe!)

I recommend before releasing the younger cat, the other person go near the older cat. Then, keep older cat occupied with a game that doesn't take a lot of human attention, and keeps the older cat on a smaller area such as the couch. (This is why I suggest a string or similar, just ensure that it's out away in a drawer afterwards so no accidents happen).

The person playing with the older cat, is the barrier to the younger cat. They should try to stop the young cat from completely approaching just by scooping up kitten or putting their hand on their chest to stop forward movement. (This worked better for me because Nobel was older and slowed by arthritis. If the older cat takes off, the human won't be able to keep up). You can also use a price of cardboard to redirect. It's a bigger area to stop kitten.

Meanwhile the other human is trying to keep kitten distracted with various toys and things.

Having lots of boxes, craft paper, tunnels or tents around is helpful. It encourages more play but also gives more escape routes and hiding places.
 
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Jayskalo

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What are you currently doing to distract kitten upon release?

Let us know what's working and what's not and we can 100% offer some suggestions.

Many people don't realize that the ungated meetings require a distraction. But it's very important at first.

(Nobel swipped at kittens as young as two months. A swipe is not aim-to-fight, just a warning. Since it's a kitten, your young cat got off with a warning swipe!)

I recommend before releasing the younger cat, the other person go near the older cat. Then, keep older cat occupied with a game that doesn't take a lot of human attention, and keeps the older cat on a smaller area such as the couch. (This is why I suggest a string or similar, just ensure that it's out away in a drawer afterwards so no accidents happen).

The person playing with the older cat, is the barrier to the younger cat. They should try to stop the young cat from completely approaching just by scooping up kitten or putting their hand on their chest to stop forward movement. (This worked better for me because Nobel was older and slowed by arthritis. If the older cat takes off, the human won't be able to keep up). You can also use a price of cardboard to redirect. It's a bigger area to stop kitten.

Meanwhile the other human is trying to keep kitten distracted with various toys and things.

Having lots of boxes, craft paper, tunnels or tents around is helpful. It encourages more play but also gives more escape routes and hiding places.
This is great advice! We were focused on distracting younger cat with a wand toy she likes, but all of her attention was on our older cat. We didn't have anyone with the older cat though so it was harder to get in eye line of either cat when we were behind both of them to start with.

We're going to try in the living room today which has more space and escape routes and distractions for the kitten.

We'll try some of these ideas, they seem like they could definitely be helpful and make a difference this time around!
 

Alldara

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This is great advice! We were focused on distracting younger cat with a wand toy she likes, but all of her attention was on our older cat. We didn't have anyone with the older cat though so it was harder to get in eye line of either cat when we were behind both of them to start with.

We're going to try in the living room today which has more space and escape routes and distractions for the kitten.

We'll try some of these ideas, they seem like they could definitely be helpful and make a difference this time around!
Good luck! Can't wait to hear what works and what doesn't. We can help brainstorm some more if needed.
 
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Jayskalo

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Good luck! Can't wait to hear what works and what doesn't. We can help brainstorm some more if needed.
Husband and I haven’t been home much at the same time this past weekend so we’ve been letting them see each other on the otherside of two pet gates stacked on top of each other and it’s been going pretty well since the kitten can’t directly tackle our older cat!

Gouda (10F) has been coming up to the gate separating our railroad style apt in half, all on her own to check out Pistachio (kitten) while she plays. Pistachio will sometimes get distracted by her and run to the gate and Gouda will hiss, growl a little, and sometimes swat if she doesn’t get the message. Most of the time though, Pistachio has gottenthe hint and left her alone, or got the idea after the swat. We let this happen while playing with the kitten for an hour and by the last 20 minutes,Gouda was casually watching by the gate and Pistachio was aware of her, but generally ignoring her presence.

obviously we still need to work on getting them together without a boundary but with this being the case the past two days I think we are making some real progress!
 
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Jayskalo

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We’ve made great strides recently with getting a playpen and incorporating more play by the pet gates. This started with some hissing, growling and swatting, but our older cat Gouda (the black blob) is now just kind of staring at Pistachio (in the tent sleeping) and huffing here and there.

i still haven’t been vale to get Gouda to play with pistachio anywhere in her eyeline. Pistachio definitely gets distracted by toys though,is that enough to start introducing them face to face?
 
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Jayskalo

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Post meal time mingling and it seems to be going well! No hissing, some watchful eyes at first but now Gouda isn’t even watching her while Pistchio is literally behind her. I think we are finally getting to a good spot :)
 
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