Should I move the new cat introduction to neutral ground? - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:59 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Should I move the new cat introduction to neutral ground?

Hi everybody!

I look forward to your collective wisdom! The last time I had to introduce a new cat in my household was 12 years ago when Pumpkin met Boo. That was tough because Boo was very stressed out by it. However, they worked it out and Pumpkin pretty much deferred to Boo's seniority. They never curled up together but they never fought.

At the end of September, I lost Boo because of kidney failure which broke my heart. I was relieved to have Pumpkin for comfort and I hated the idea that she was getting older (13). So, I decided to adopt another cat.

Unlike the previous introduction, I have followed a lot of the advice I have found here and other places. Halle (the new cat who is a petite 1 year old) has her own room. I have swapped their scents with each other. Once or twice a day, I have them swap rooms (without seeing each other). Both seem pretty happy. They eat on either side of the door with no problem. However, I might have rushed it, because I let Pumpkin see Halle. There was quite a bit of growling and hissing by her. Halle was nonplussed.

Halle has been in our household 2 1/2 weeks and I know I should be patient. She jumped the gate last week and Pumpkin saw her. My sweet calico cat turned into a monster and made a beeline for Halle. She was so aggressive. No hesitation at all! I threw a pillow to break it up. No one was hurt and neither cat was upset for longer than a few seconds. They've gone back to strict separation (although I have let Pumpkin see her through a cracked door -- I was petting Pumpkin and her tail was straight up and happy but she was hissing and batting at he same time -- weird!).

Anyway, my question is this -- Next week for Thanksgiving, I will be driving to my mother's (about 5 1/2 hours away). Normally I would have a cat sitter but I thought of this plan. What if I took both of the cats with me there? My mother's house would be neutral ground with no cat scent. They'd have to spend the car ride looking at each other in separate carriers. Boo and Pumpkin, I think, had bonded when I took a much longer move across country.

What do you all think of this? Once I am there, how do I introduce them in the neutral space? I'd hate to put unneeded stress on my older cat especially.

Thanks so much for your help!

--Wendy
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Old 11-20-2012, 09:18 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi all:

Well, I am leaning toward taking my cats with me even though I am concerned about stressing them. I had hoped that this forum could help me. I appreciate all the reads. I would have thought somebody would have done something similar. My question wasn't stupid was it? I hope not.

Anyway, have a happy and wonderful Thanksgiving. May you have everything to be thankful for.

--Wendy
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:36 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi there,

I don't think it's a stupid question.

My thoughts on this are that it's best to continue at your home and do like you have been. Moving cats stresses them. Meeting strange cats stresses them. It seems more likely to me that you'll get an even more negative response in the stressful new environment than you would at home.

Hissing and spitting is pretty normal for new cats meeting each other. I foster constantly and each new cat has a hissy fit with my permanent cats. Sometimes it's as simple as one hiss and they're done. Sometimes it goes on for weeks. Eventually it all gets sorted out though. It just depends on the personalities of the cats involved. The mama kitty I'm fostering now is absolutely fine with my cats and I haven't heard her hiss even once in 9 weeks. She's very submissive and won't start anything. I had one mama though, who I had to put a blanket over the glass door I use for introductions, as she went absolutely mad with rage seeing my cats. She was sweet with people, but did not want anything to do with my cats. It took about 6-8 weeks to get her used to them (by which point her kittens were big enough to be adopted so everyone went back to the shelter to find homes).


Also, cats can take a little longer to adjust than kittens. My guys are much more patient with kittens than they are with other adult cats. Keep up the good work and they should come around. Catnip or calming sprays are other good tools for getting cats to calm and mellow out around each other.
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:56 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm no cat expert! But I agree that cats get stressed (or mad?) easily. They won't start spraying if too stressed, will they??? idk... It's just something I'd consider if it were me. My young cat got really mad at me a few days ago for shutting him in a room by himself overnight. He had food, water, litterbox, soft music, & nightlight- but he sprayed the wall!! Not fun!!! He's extremely social & used to sleeping with me, but I was feeling sick. But I won't do that again. Hopefully you will get lucky & all will go smooth. Anyhow, have a nice Thanksgiving!
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Old 11-20-2012, 03:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I wouldn't advise taking them for a trip when they aren't exactly 'used' to each other yet. Like the other poster said, travel stresses cats as much as introductions. Plus, with the hub-bub of the holidays there will be even more added stress for them to pick up on.

Just continue to be patient. Make sure to have the cat sitter keep them apart and then continue exposing them in small amounts after you return home. Eventually, they are going to have to spend time in a room together and get it over with. You have done a lot to ensure when the time comes, they will be prepared.

Of all the fosters I've had, none have escaped the hissing, batting wrath of the permanent feline resident in our home. She absolutely will NOT tolerate being around another cat at first, and then over time she gains interest, remembers that it's more fun to have a playmate than and enemy, and eventually befriends the foster.
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Old 11-20-2012, 06:26 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I must have missed your post the first time around, or I would have responded sooner. I went through a difficult introduction with my two girls. It took over 4 months before I could finally leave them together alone. About 2 months into things, I did what you are suggesting. I went to visit my parents and decided to take the two of them with me, figuring they might be ok on neutral ground.

When they were at my parents' place they were fine together. They certainly didn't become friends, but there was no growling, fighting, etc. They just sort of ignored each other and explored my parents' house. They were there from morning through early evening. When we got home later that night, they no longer liked each other again!

In short, they were fine together in my parents' house, but I saw absolutely no difference in their behavior once I brought them back to my house. So, I was able to enjoy a nice day with my parents and my cats, but it didn't help (or hinder) their introduction.
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Old 11-21-2012, 12:02 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Hi all:

Thank you very much for your advice. I am a firm believer that cats would rather be at home but I was willing to take the chance that neutral ground would help the relationship. Susan's post especially has given me pause. Thank you for your story. I have more to think about.

I know I have to be more patient but Halle is getting very tired of her room -- it has everything she needs except access to me and the rest of the house.

Have a wonderful holiday,

Wendy
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