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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-13-2009, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
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Introducing a new cat

Hi all! My SO and I decided that we wanted a second cat, so we brought one home from foster care yesterday. I have never introduced cats before, so please allow me to tell you a little about our two kitties and ask whether we are handling the introductions correctly! Thanks in advance for your feedback.

Our resident cat is Quinn, a 4 yo neutered male orange tabby who just adores people and is very easy-going. Quinn grew up in foster care living with other kitties and dogs, and has always done well with other animals. When I first adopted him, I lived with a roommate who had a Cairn terrier -- the terrier constantly chased Quinn and never learned to respect his space, but Quinn tolerated it rather well. They never got to be friends, exactly, but I think they did keep each other company. But I moved in with my SO about a year ago, and since then Quinn has been the only pet, the King around here. Quinn did go through a brief urine-marking phase a few months ago in response to feral intact cats marking outside our home, but we seem to have that spraying stuff under control now, thanks in part to Feliway.

New kitty, Minerva, is a 3 yo Russian Blue female and is fixed as well. Until yesterday, she had always lived with her sister, but welcomed other cats coming in and out in her foster home. Very laid-back girl, and like Quinn she's a real people-cat.

We closed Quinn in our bedroom just long enough to bring Minerva into the study, her "safe room," and close the door without him noticing. (She is set up with food, litter box, scratching post, toys, bed, etc.) It took Quinn about an hour to stumble across the closed door and learn that there was someone behind it, but he didn't express much interest... until they accidentally caught a glimpse of one another through the door as I was coming out! (oops) Min hissed a few times and then settled down, but Quinn had a lot of growling and hissing to do. He didn't try to approach the door or swipe at Minerva, but he was very vocal, which I expected from the King of the Castle. He spent the evening camped out snoozing in front of the door, occasionally waking up to growl if Min got too close to the door. But at night, he came and slept on our bed like he always does, so it doesn't seem like he was too shaken up, just a little confused. As I type from Min's safe room, she is sleeping on my foot, purring

So, how am I doing so far? The face-to-face interaction was an accident, but we gave both cats lots of cuddles and treats afterwards and no one seemed too upset. Over the next few days I plan to do some scent-swapping, and then allow them to trade places in the house for a few hours at a time. But I don't really have a sense of the timing for these introductions; how will I know when the cats are ready to switch spaces for a day, or meet face-to-face again? Should I be worried about instigating another round of Quinn's urine-marking, and if so, what can I do to minimize the chances? Any other suggestions to help the kitties become good roommates, and possibly even friends?

Thanks in advance from all 4 of us here!
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-13-2009, 12:45 PM
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Re: Introducing a new cat

It sounds like you're doing great. The timing of each phase is unique to the cats, so it's hard to advise. I guess I would say that the time to move to the next step is when you see acceptance of the previous step...and I emphasize acceptance rather than comfort or being happy about it. They don't have to be happy to accept. Curiosity is another way to judge. A cat can be a bit growly or hissy, but still be curious...that's a positive sign.

There is going to be growling and hissing along the way. One thing I always tell people...the introduction process is done to gain tolerance and avoid all out war. The goal of the process is not 'friends'. That will take a lot longer, especially with 2 adult cats.


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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-13-2009, 01:46 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Introducing a new cat

That's good to hear! Quinn was definitely growly and hissy for a while after the face-to-face incident yesterday, but is still very curious and will lay down for hours about 3 feet away from her door, just lounging.

We are putting a lot of effort into keeping his routine normal -- we're trying to make sure he gets just as much love and playtime as ever, so he learns as quickly as possible that although there is a new cat in town, he is not being replaced and she is not here to harm. I think that is helping. At first, he wouldn't "talk" to me when I came out of her safe room with her smell on me, but now he'll rub on my legs and meow like he usually does -- and I was encouraged when he slept on the bed last night instead of giving us the cold shoulder! Minerva is quite needy whenever we enter her room, but I expected that too, and she doesn't act fearful or anything, even if Quinn is sitting on the other side of the door.

So we're playing it by ear and everyone seems ok. But it can get a little intimidating since I'm new at the introductions... I've always adopted cats in pairs in the past!
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-20-2009, 02:02 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Introducing a new cat

One week update:
Starting this weekend, the cats both have free reign of the house whenever one of us is home to supervise. We waited a week based on Minerva's recovery from her wasp-eating episode, and based on the signals we got from each cat as we scent- and territory-swapped them.

At first, Quinn would posture and growl whenever he saw her out and about. Minerva would find a corner or a safe spot under the bed, and lay on her tummy, hissing occasionally. This went on for about a day. But last night, I noticed that Quinn had given up growling almost entirely... instead, he started approaching her without bristled fur, and would chirp and trill at her. Of course, now she is on the defensive and growls at him anyway, lol, but I take all of this as a positive sign after one week. He has also returned 100% to his old cuddle-monster personality towards my SO and me, even when Minnie is in the room.

Progress is good!
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-20-2009, 02:09 PM
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Re: Introducing a new cat

Sounds like it's going great! It's all about reading their signals.

We've talked about the book Cat vs Cat here recently. It's a great read for understanding how cats interact with each other and reading their signals. The author is Pam Johnson Bennett. Might be some good reading for you.


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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-20-2009, 11:05 PM
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Re: Introducing a new cat

I definitely agree that cat vs cat is great read. I am reading it again with the addition of the new kitten. It has great info in it.

Leslie
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-02-2009, 03:32 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Introducing a new cat

3 week update:

Well, I picked up Cat vs Cat and have been doing some reading. The cats are still in a sort of tense limbo. Once in a while, they will get face to face and sniff noses without acting hissy, or will share space on opposite sides of me on the couch. Quinn still approaches Minerva often, making chirp sounds, but most often he is greeted with a hiss and sometimes a swat. There haven't been any serious scuffles, but they've traded blows 2 or 3 times in total.

What worries me is that lately, I occasionally catch Quinn "hunting" Minerva. She'll be idly playing with a toy (or worse, minding her business in the litterbox), and he will be flat on his belly looking ready to pounce. When possible I do give him a squirt with the water bottle or try to distract him, but every now and then he does manage to seriously startle her with a pounce. I'm not sure if he's looking to play, or if he's trying to assert his dominance, or what. But after one of their altercations, Minerva usually heads to her "base" under the guest bed.

I'm not really sure what my next move should be. The nervous-cat-mommy voice in my head tells me to start the introductions over, but I do get hopeful when I see them sharing space and sniffing without acting hostile. I maintain 2 litterboxes, so they hopefully aren't competing in that regard. I try to give them treats and playtime when they're in the same room, but often it's hard to distract them from one another. My next thought is that I might try a change in the feeding locations... currently, since they're on different diets, I separate them to give meals. I wonder if I ought to use mealtime as another positive thing they can associate with one another?

In general, I'm just very confused. Are they just working out the kinks, or is there a very real dominance conflict happening? Have I botched the introduction in some obvious way, or is this relative progress, as adult cat introductions go? Thoughts welcome, thanks for reading
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