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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-01-2011, 11:18 PM Thread Starter
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Cat intro woes

Almost two weeks ago I adopted Bianca. I had read a number of articles and posts from cat owners, so I thought I was fairly familiar with the task at hand: put new kitty in a safe room with own litter box, toys, food/water bowls; integrate smells; keep cats apart until they are used to each other's scents; etc. After a week, I let my old cat Lay come into the room to see Bianca. There was some growling and hissing (mostly from B) but nothing too aggressive. The cats didn't even get close to one another, with B related to my bed and Lay sniffing around the room. That day I allowed Lay to come into the room when I was there, and the same thing happened: hissing and growling, but no real physical aggression.
A few nights later, I left the door to my room open so that Lay could wander in and out. B sleeps on the bed with me, so I figured that if there was an altercation, I'd be ready to break it up. It was a pretty quiet night - although there was a point when I awoke to an altercation under the bed which quickly ceased.
I let Lay wander in and out of the room for the next few days, since the interactions between the two had been "normal" meaning hissing, growling, and some swatting, but no bites/no blood. A few times I heard altercations, ending in B in the defensive position and Lay on the offensive, but again, no bites/no blood. I've been careful to keep nails clipped, too.
I thought perhaps this was all normal behavior until a few nights ago. B wet the bed. My bed. While I was out of the room. Now, I know that urination is a sign of something being wrong - first thing to do would be to call the vet, but I thought I'd give it a day. Lay had used her litter box so I scratched it up to a territorial thing. In fact, Lay frequently uses B's box when she has the opportunity.
Yesterday, I came into the room to another altercation. Lay was on the bed, B was on her back scared. Then, she just started peeing (while on her back...it wasn't pretty). I thought, Lay must have scared the pee out of her...though my concern was growing. Then, before I climbed into bed I realized that B peed the bed again. After this last incident, I decided to start again at square one with the intros and will call the vet on Monday.
Today, I've kept Lay out of the room and B in. She's clearly afraid of Lay. Every time she jumps down from the bed (her safe zone in the safe room), she looks under the bed and hisses. She won't stay on the floor for more than a couple seconds at a time...impeding her eating, drinking, and...other...business. I've spent a lot of time with her in the room, trying to show her that the big bad other kitty is not around hiding in the safe room. B is more apt to jump down on the ground, after today, but she's only peed once and no poop. In fact, I have a feeling she's been constipated or willingly holding it in out of fear of Lay. She hasn't pooped in a few days. I actually think this may be a trend because her last poop was gargantuan...after two days of not going.
Now, I've integrated Lay with other kitties before. She's not a biter, just a swatter at most, and then chills out. However, Lay has always been the 'newcomer' in the household, not the alpha cat. I suppose this power dynamic is a factor in kitty relations as well...
My next step is the vet to see if there are any medical reasons for this behavior. However, I would be very grateful to hear if any fellow kitty moms or dads out there have experienced this with their own kitty integration. I'm terrified that it's not going to work out with the two. I'm horrified that I may have scared B to the point of not being comfortable doing the things that all animals must do! If anyone has any words of wisdom for me, I would sincerely appreciate it.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-02-2011, 06:43 PM Thread Starter
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Update: I cleaned out her old litter box, added another, changed litter brands, removed Lay from the equation and, magic!, she used them (a lot)! I'm not sure what helped (probably removing her stressor), but I going to keep at all of it. I'm still apprehensive about re-introducing them when the time comes, but I'm hopeful that one day Bianca will learn to tolerate Lay's presence. Next step...buy a couple baby gates.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-02-2011, 06:55 PM
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I went through a difficult integration because my resident cat (Muffin) was terrified of the newcomer (Abby), although thankfully it didn't lead to litter box issues. I had to keep them separated behind screen doors (baby gates will work just as well) for almost three months and retained an animal behaviorist to assist in the introduction. Thankfully, they're now best friends.

I'd let Bianca have a break from Lay for a few days until you buy and install the gates. Thereafter, try to have as many "good things" as possible happen by the gates -- food, playtime, treats, and anything else they enjoy -- so that Bianca learns to associate Lay with the good things. It's also a good idea to do a daily "room exchange" for an hour or so each day. So, let Bianca out to roam around in the house and put Lay in Bianca's room. That way, they each be depositing their scents in the other's area, creating a communal or "family" scent, which is important to each of them feeling like they both belong. That said, I wouldn't start the room exchange until you think Bianca is ready. Good luck!
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-02-2011, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Susan! Three months sounds like a long time, but I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get these two to live together peacefully one day. I will do the space trade, too. The last time I did it, Lay ended up banging on the door to get out of the safe room. It sounded like I had a poltergeist. B ended up cowering underneath the Christmas tree because of the noise and being in a new environment. I think something like a towel to firmly secure the safe room door should do the trick.

I so appreciate your input! Slow and steady Love your signature line!
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-02-2011, 07:19 PM
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On the plus side, at least your scaredy-cat is the newcomer who's locked up. When I adopted Abby, she was the one banging on the door to the safe room, because she wanted OUT! I felt so badly having to keep her locked up for the most part, but had no choice. When I did let her out for the nightly room exchange, she ran around all over the place...she was so happy to be free.

If Bianca is nervous when you do the room exchange, you can try just getting her accustomed to one new room at a time, so she's not too overwhelmed.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-02-2011, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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It's hard when you know you're upsetting one or both kitties! Going between safe room and the rest of the apartment is emotionally trying for me, as cheesy as that must sound. All my time at home is spent with either Lay or B, and I feel like I'm being a bad mom to both of them (almost like I'm cheating on Lay). The amount of time I spend with Lay has been significantly reduced because of the newcomer. Worst of all, Lay can't sleep with me anymore, which she used to do every night. I am thankful, though, that she hasn't been acting depressed because of the change in routine. The guilt I felt, along with the feeling of failure because of Bianca's "accidents", was really weighing on me.

I'm so happy to have a plan in place! Thanks for the support!
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-04-2011, 08:25 PM Thread Starter
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Another update: No peeing in my bed for a few days! Whew. I am pretty sure I've successfully identified the problem as Bianca being scared to get off the bed. I'm currently on day two of space trade. Baby gates ordered and on their way.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-05-2011, 12:02 AM
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Good news! Yes, it certainly does appear that Bianca let her stress/fear get the better of her. Let's hope she soon realizes she has nothing to be afraid off.
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