Trouble introducing cats

Alldara

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Leave Abba's food where she can eat in peace. Just give treats at the door. The food might be making her more territorial whereas a special treat is distracting enough that it doesn't normally have that effect.
Abba needs to eat in peace to keep her stress low. Only when Jackson Galaxy started being big did all the intros begin to include the regular meal times. It works for many, but it sounds like it's not helpful for Abba so there's no point in doing it.

Strings are dangerous when left out, but I have used a large fabric ribbon to distract my resident cats during intros or a long peice of wool.

Sounds like it went smoothly though! Abba learned the gate (and you!) will hold the boundaries.
Whenever you can supervise, keep that gate open and be present there on Abba's side to get her used to the sight of him without threat.

Play with them during sighted time. Even a paper straw works for this. You want them to be able to watch and learn one another's play body language. The point isn't really for them to be focused on one another at this point but to get comfortable seeing one another doing things and become comfortable doing things around one another.
 
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dwengier

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Some updates after a while of not writing.

The hissing and growling didn't stop, but I think it might be coming from a place of fear based on Abba's behavior. Sometimes I'm peacefully petting her and she will start hissing if she hears him.

I had to extend Antonio's territory from just the bathroom to my bedroom too. He just doesn't want to stay locked anymore. He is pretty rambunctious and has been a challenge going to sleep. However, he is also very cuddly and affectionate. Naturally, my bedroom now smells like him (according to Abba) and Abba doesn't want to spend too much time in there when I lock Antonio. She doesn't even want to sleep in my bed when she used to.

Yesterday and this morning, I let Antonio wander into the living room to share space with Abba. I was trying to distract Abba as well as I could with a laser pointer and churu. Yesterday, they came really close to each other and smelled each other faces. Then Abba started a low hiss and growling, but much less aggressive than what I was expecting. There was an attempt of a chase, but no swatting. It seems Antonio understands the cues perfectly because he turned around and went back to my bedroom. He really wants to share the space though.

This morning, there was again some hissing and growling, but pretty civilized. Abba almost finished a churu in his presence. She only got pissed when Antonio was going into her bed, litter box, food or the ottoman that she claimed as hers since I adopted her. Luckily, Antonio seems to understand the word 'No'. I told him to get away from those things and he sort of listened. It didn't hurt that Abba was being assertive about it too :-).

I'm at a point where I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think I just need Abba to share more time with him on her terms and see that he is not a threat. Hopefully it happens soon because I feel as if I had newborns at home. This is tiring.

Thanks so much to everyone giving advice.
 

rubysmama

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That was a pretty positive update. You're making progress!
 
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dwengier

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Saturday morning shenanigans

There's a little bit of hissing and growling, but he is acting brave and she is being permissive. He is so curious about her.
The one in the center of the room in both cases is Abba.
 
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dwengier

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Hi again!

Cats have been sharing the space more and more. Abba still hisses and growls at Antonio, chases him and there's been some swatting. However, they haven't engaged in outright fights. It's as if Abba is trying to let him know she is pissed. Antonio never fights back, hisses or growls, but escapes or retreats. He is fearless though and comes back. He is also pushing the envelope. He pees in her litter box, plays with her toys and eats her food. I have to actually hide her food until he is not around, so she can eat. Antonio would eat non stop if I let him. (Abba is overweight, 14lb, and I'm trying to make her lose weight, so I need to now exactly how much she is eating. I really don't know how much I should let Antonio eat, either. I'm trying to keep both in less than 400 kcal daily. That doesn't seem to be enough for him).

There's been a separation of space where it seems that Abba knows that Antonio is mainly in the bedroom and she is in the living room. Abba used to sleep in the corner of my bed pretty frequently and it seems she is no longer comfortable to stay too long on my bed. It might be because Antonio sleeps in my bed when I'm not there or with me at night. His smell must be everywhere and sets her off, so she hisses at me if I try to pet her when she is there. She used to spend some time in the bathroom where the heating vent is closer to the floor and there's a rug where she would nap sometimes. Now she only goes into the bathroom to explore Antonio's litter box and things, but she doesn't stay.

As Antonio is getting more and more comfortable (he doesn't seem to have any problem with her aggression; maybe because he came from a house with 8 other cats), Abba is having a hard time accepting the new normal. She is always paying attention to where he is. When they share space, she is waiting to ambush him and swat at him. Even though there's this aggression coming from her, I realized that she is not putting 'everything' on the attack, because he is always able to escape, there's no biting, etc. Two nights ago she came 10 inches to his face and started hissing and growling while he was lounging on the floor. He straight up looked at her and didn't budge. She ended up stopping with her hissing, turned around and left.

Sometimes I'm hopeful that things will normalize, but other times I am afraid that I will always be on pins and needles. In my dreams, I wish that Abba could come back to sleep on my bed when she pleases and they have a good relationship. I know that it's been only less than 2 months, but this is an exercise on patience. I'm also spreading myself thin trying to give both of them some alone time with me. I wish I could play with both at the same time or have both of them playing with each other.

Thanks for reading my rants. I would appreciate your comments and suggestions.
 

rubysmama

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I don't really have anything to suggest, but I wanted to comment to say everything you're doing sounds good Hissing and growling isn't terrible, but letting him know she's not happy. As long as there's not straight out fighting, with fur flying, blood shed, or one of the cats being so stressed they start having behavioural issues, I'd say things are ok.

About their eating, maybe something in this TCS article might be helpful
How Much Food Should I Feed My Cat? [Answered] - TheCatSite
 
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dwengier

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Hi everyone! Abba and Antonio have been the same since last time. Abba is still hissing and growling at him and now she also swats at him sometimes, but I have never seen nails or a lot of intention. Antonio is still trying to engage her in playing, but she is not ready. I also noticed that he started swatting back at her. Also without nails.

Abba also hisses at me now. Not all the time. She still comes for petting, brushing and getting food. She also likes playing with me when he is locked up. But if he makes any noise or is around, her mood changes.

Abba also started going to the places that she used to like, to the bathroom, sitting on the rug, walking around there and using Antonio's litter box. She spends some time in my bedroom too, on the bed, for a few minutes. However, the smell of him is still unacceptable to her, it seems.

Antonio is a sweetheart. He likes sleeping every night with me, but he also spends part of the night in the same space as she does. During the night, sometimes I don't hear any hissing, so I am not sure if all the hissing happens when I'm there.

I know it's been a month and a half only since I adopted him, the process is slow though.

Have a nice weekend everyone!
 

Alldara

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That sounds like some good progress. That she is using the places she used to like is progress!

Swatting and batting can be normal play. or an attempt at building up to play, if claws are retracted. If you can catch a video, that is helpful for us to know.
 
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dwengier

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That sounds like some good progress. That she is using the places she used to like is progress!

Swatting and batting can be normal play. or an attempt at building up to play, if claws are retracted. If you can catch a video, that is helpful for us to know.
Sadly, I tried uploading videos, but it doesn't work for me.
 

Alldara

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I think if you upload them to Youtube or similar, you can post a link to them. This site you can only upload very very short, small videos to.
 
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dwengier

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Completely unrelated comment. Has anyone tried giving cats those Icelandic dry fish? I tried giving some to Abba and Antonio. She really liked the smell of it but he ignored it completely. This morning I woke up with Abba vomiting solids and clear liquid with some foam. I found the fish very close to the solid vomit, as if she was nibbling on it and that triggered her vomit.

Now she is low energy and doesn't want to eat. She walks around, but I notice that her energy is low.
 
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dwengier

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Today is one day where I second guess Antonio's adoption. Abba getting sick today, but also not coming to greet me at the door when I come home from work, not sleeping on my bed, rarely engaging in playing with me when he is around, her hissing and growling at him so frequently.

We had a good life Abba and I, but she was bored eating and pulling hair from her belly. I wanted to bring her some company... I feel like I failed to her. Sorry I'm being melodramatic.
 

Alldara

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My wife has a severe allergy so no fish treats here. However, if it made her vomit then set those aside. Each cat is an individual when it comes to what they can eat.

It sounds like everything wasn't all perfect before, but when introductions are hard some regret is normal to feel.

Have you brought her to the vet after the vomiting? Perhaps she's being to territorial because she's not feeling well.
 
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dwengier

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I took her to the vet two days ago for her vax booster. She behaved really well and they didn't notice anything strange.

When we came back and I let her loose, Abba and Antonio had a whole 'ceremony' of sniffing each other's noses, mouths, sides and butts. They were very friendly. When Abba saw me looking, she started hiding at him.

I'm starting to suspect that they have a completely different relationship when I'm not there.
 
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dwengier

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*hissing
 

Alldara

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Could be. Do you have a camera or spare phone you can set up?

Nobel would get REALLY jealous of Calcifer. All day, my wife works from home. There would be no hissing, no swatting. Immediately when I would get home from work, the cats would come to the door, Nobel would swat at and hiss at Cal. I wouldn't rule it out!
 
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