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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-15-2010, 04:11 PM Thread Starter
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2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back

My husband and I adopted 2 cats in 2000 and lost one of the boys just this past August. After much thought, we recently adopted a 1.5 yr old female (Dec. 1). The introduction of the two seems to be a "2 steps forward, 1 step back" process.

We did the separate room, meeting at the door, letting them sniff through the door, watching each other through the screen door, exchanging spaces, etc., etc., etc. Everything seemed fine. So much so that Harley (male age 11) really didn't have much interest in Billie (female) so we finally opened up the house to let both of them meet and greet on a grander scale.

Harley mostly growled at Billie and hissed when she came a bit too close. For the most part she would leave him alone and go off on her explorations of the house. However, she always came back and "forced the issue" by wanting to stalk him to get closer...to get a sniff, etc. We were careful to try to distract her to avoid a "conflict". For the first few times they were together we limited the visitation hours to give each of them a break from the stress. Billie still spends the nights in her room.

It's been two weeks since Billie came home with us and it's evident that she wants to be the dominant one. I'm sure some of this thinking comes from her past experiences since she was saved from the pound by a rescue organization and has been fostered and shuttled around from adoption center to adoption center. Poor Harley who is such a sweet old man has taken the brunt of her thinking. She has on occasion stalked him and jumped him. No blood shed but hair was flying. If we can catch her in the act we can usually diffuse the situation by distracting Billie. Harley has taken to trying to avoid her by occasionally hiding (in plain sight, sort of).

So, my question to you mutliple cat owners...did we move too fast with the introductions? There are peaceful times (when Billie is not focused on Harley) and there are times when I know she causes him stress. They are never together unless we are home (evenings and weekends). Once he accepts her as dominant will she stop stalking him? Should we give them a time out when she gets a little bitchy toward him or just let them settle it if there's no real physical damage occuring?

Thanks in advance for your responses.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-15-2010, 04:36 PM
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So from the 2 you adopted, you "lost one" and still have the other boy? What is Charlie's relationship with the younger boy before you brought in the female Billie? Generally speaking, females tend to dominate a household, at least that's been my experience. Does Billie only dominate Billie or the other one as well? With Charlie's age, it sounds like he doesn't really want to stand up to her, so that at least they could tolerate each other without any fights. When fur is flying that's usually not good as it shows the claws are out! I would be concerned for Charlie's health in his senior years as stress can lead of other problems (usually urinary infections or inappropriate elimination). I think closely surpervising is good, but if Charlie starts showing signs of being stressed, such as fear or hesitationl of coming in same room as Billie, it would be best to keep them separate if they're alone together. Charlie should have a "safe" room, where he will not be disturbed and is off limits to Billie.

Last edited by catloverami; 12-15-2010 at 04:38 PM.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-15-2010, 04:40 PM
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Sorry, I called him "Charlie" and now see his name is "Harley".
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-15-2010, 07:54 PM Thread Starter
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Harley and the other boy Beemer (the one we lost) were fostered together and got along like best friends from the beginning.

Harley is not totally put off by Billie as he will sometimes sit at the entrance to "her" room and growl/hiss as she sidesteps her way in. I would guess that they are still testing each other but I don't see Harley ever escalating the "discussion".

I think we definitely need to give it some more time....
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-16-2010, 12:10 AM
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I also think you need to give it a bit more time. If you're still at the "fur flying" stage, you might consider keeping the two cats separated other than during times you're able to directly supervise their activities and able to distract one or the other to ensure things don't get too heated. When separating them, rather than putting one behind closed doors, you could consider using stacked baby gates at the door to Billie's safe room for a few weeks. That will allow them to interact and check each other out, but without allowing any stalking, chasing or fighting. You might find if they have a bit more time to interact in such a non-threatening way, they will come to tolerate or even like each other more. Quite a few members here have used the stacked baby gate approach with success.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-16-2010, 10:39 AM Thread Starter
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I do have a quasi screen door that I have rigged up for Billie's safe room. Last night when I got home from work I fed Harley (he insists it happen the minute we walk in the door) and then went to pet/feed Billie. Once I got the feeding over, mail read, clothes changed, etc. I set up Billie's screen door so she could see/smell the goings on while Harley roamed, we ate dinner, did dishes.

When we (myself, my husband, and Harley) were settled in the living room I went to go let Billie out but instead of just letting her run free I put her in a harness with a leash attached. Yes, it was a bit of a game/wrestling match trying to get her into the rig but once accomplished she was pretty much OK with it. Of course, the leash became a toy but we managed to get down the hall and Billie roamed the kitchen/living area for while in a much more subdued manner than her normal procedure.

Harley was settled next to my husband on the couch while Billie was exploring. I pretty much kept her attention away from him. I eventually picked Billie up and set her next to me on the love seat, forcing her to lay down while I kept petting her. She could see Harley but wasn't really all that interested (for the most part) in hopping down to go visit. Eventually Billie jumped on the back of the love seat (to assume a position higher than Harley I presume?) and just laid there. After about an hour I put Billie back in her safe room.

My husband left Harley on the couch and went to Billie's safe room to give her some attention while I did some chores. After about 10 min. he let Billie run free and she "calmly" explored the house while only passing Harley on the couch once. Harley hissed, my husband grabbed a pillow and held it between the two cats. Billie left and resumed her exploring in the basement. When she came back up about 20 min. later she did a loop of the living room passing Harley (with no hissing) and calmly walked back down the hall to her room and began eating. I followed her...gave her a pet, said goodnight, took down the screen door and closed the other door.

Any thoughts on the harness experiment? It sure seemed to mellow her out even after it was removed. Since it worked so well last night I think I'll do it again tonight
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-16-2010, 01:03 PM
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The only issue with using a harness arises when the cat resists, which doesn't seem to be the case for Billie. Since it worked so well the first time, I too would try it again tonight. It sounds like things are progressing pretty well.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-20-2010, 06:02 PM
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As someone who is currently trying to introduce two cats, let me say that it is not easy at all. It's been 4 weeks for me and Bella (the existing cat) will barely go near Lala's (the new cat) door. As everyone has said to me, it just takes time, and it seems like your cats are progressing well. If I let Lala out she goes straight for Bella, Bella hisses, Lala moves in closer, Bella swats, Lala doesn't care and comes closer... then Bella takes off running and Lala gives chase.

If your cats are going near each other sometimes without hissing or growling, then that's a very good sign, especially after only a couple weeks.
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