Trouble getting new cat to be confined during introduction phase

mtngrl02

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We have an 11 year old cat, Jezebel, that we adopted about 7 months ago, and she's a little on the shy/nervous side when it comes to change. We adopted a new 3 year old cat, Minka, about 10 days ago with the intent of keeping her in a spare room for a few days/weeks while everyone was settling in. It turns out Minka didn't need much adjustment to the new house, and coming from a foster home with 10 cats, she seemed ready to go and play right from the get-go. Almost from the minute she got here, if we left her in her designated room, she would cry incessantly to be let out, scratch at the door, and seem very upset. If someone was in with her, or if she was let out, she was totally fine, playful and totally relaxed.

Because our resident, older cat is nervous with change, she retreated to our bedroom and initially spent a good amount of time hiding under our bed. My husband and I were splitting up and each sleeping with one cat for the first week since Minka would cry outside of our door all night if no one slept in her room with her, and I wanted Jezebel to be able to sleep with me as she was used to since she seemed nervous about the whole situation.

Because Minka is having so much anxiety about being shut away from people and hasn't had any issues on her end with Jezebel, we tried to rush the introductions a little bit too fast for our old Jezebel. Initially Jezebel was just doing the staredown growling, but it did turn into one chase situation where Jez chased Minka down the steps, but stopped short of an actual altercation, and the two cats have been separated since to give Jezebel some more time to adjust. I've been feeding them on opposite sides of the door, and the feedings are going well enough, sometimes no hissing at all from Jezebel, even with the door cracked and the bowls 2 feet apart (Minka for her part doesn't seem bothered by Jezebel's antics and eats and plays as if nothing is going on).

Unfortunately, because Minka gets so anxious getting locked away, this means that Jezebel is now the one being locked away from the rest of the house on a more regular basis. I do put Minka in a room and let Jez out for an hour or so each morning (the last few days), but Minka cries loudly the whole time she is confined, and started scratching up the carpet under the door trying to get out. Does anyone have any thoughts on what to do about this type of separation anxiety? I've tried leaving the TV on, I play with her for 20 minutes or so beforehand to tire her out, put extra food in with her (that works for about 2-5 minutes). I don't know how to manage keeping these two cats apart when one just wants to be wherever either my husband or I am (or sleeping on the couch unconfined).

Jezebel seems tired of being stuck in our room, and seems more ready to get back on a more normal routine - she's not cowering under the bed anymore and wants to be out maintaining her territory. When I do let her out, she approaches the bedroom door where Minka is and stares at it and sometimes growls. She started even lunging at the door this morning and pawing under it while growling, so I'm thinking she's getting more agitated rather than less, and I think some of the issue is anger at her territory being taken over and her being couped up in our room too much. It hasn't been that long (I know introductions can take several weeks), but I'm worried because I can't tell if Jezebel is progressing or regressing in her attitude towards Minka, and I want to get Jezebel out of our bedroom for more exercise, easier socialization with us, less jealously, etc. but I can't find a good way to get Minka out of the common areas of our house for any prolonged amount of time without undue agitation. Is it ok to keep Jezebel more confined during this transition or is it making it worse for her as the resident cat?

Any tips for getting Minka to handle being alone and in a bedroom for a few hours without freaking out? Or how to help Jezebel accept Minka a little faster?

Thanks all!
 

Furballsmom

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Hi
I think trying to keep them separated is, as you're thinking, causing more problems. What if you let them interact? From what I've read in your post, they may do better than you anticipate.
 

susanm9006

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I would try to give each equal time out. I suspect Minka isn’t really freaking out but rather just communicating her displeasure at being shut in. If the result is that she is let out then she is going to continue to pitch a fit. I would make sure when she goes in her room she gets a yummy meal and maybe a bit of catnip. This may make her want to take a nap and help her calm down some.

You may also want to try to put together a barrier where they can see and smell each other. A couple of stacked baby gates, a piece of garden gate, or a door cracked and braced open so they can get close but not out.
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi. Do you have a way to cordon off segments of the home instead of just one room? That way you'd be giving each of them more area to move about, and then swap their locations as well. A DIY blockade might be the answer to that, as they can be made as large as you want to make them to cover larger openings in the home. It is essentially shelving that you can buy at most home improvement stores, that you set on their sides and connect pieces together with zip ties - which makes an accordion sort of door that is easy to 'open/close'. In many cases, the shelving can be cut to proper length - in this case height - so you can have them as tall as you need them to be. See pic below for an example.

10 days is nothing to a 11 yo cat; so yes, I would say the introductions were likely rushed due to the Minka's behavior. This has probably created additional anxiety for Jez and while she is slowly getting over it by not hiding underneath the bed, her current behavior is not all that unusual as part of the process overall.

Now that you are where you are in the introductions, you might have to tweak the steps to fit your circumstances. And, I think the DIY blockade, if possible, might help you do so. Here are some TCS articles in case they would be of any help.
How To Introduce A Kitten To An Older Cat – TheCatSite Articles
How To Fix An Unsuccessful Cat Introduction – TheCatSite Articles
How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – TheCatSite Articles


Shelving blockade.png
 
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