Introductions. I'm at my wit's end - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-08-2011, 09:31 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Ohio
Posts: 237
Introductions. I'm at my wit's end

I have been at the introductions since the first of the year. I know very slowly, but I am at my wit's end here.
First encounters where very nasty. Encounter and intros have gotten less vicious lately. As an example. Old cat was shut up stairs and new kitty had the run of the down stairs. My grandson went upstairs leaving the door open. The new kitty ventured upstairs. My grandson came running downsaying the cats were into it. I ran upstairs and by the time I got up to the top step the old cat was coming down and the new cat was hiding. A few minutes later the new kitty emerged. That was the first time that I didn't have the opportuniy to break them up.
Don't know how to make the final step. I am almost ready to let them figure it out amongst thierselves.
Things started going a lot better after I bought Good Behavior collars for both cats. The collars are like flea collars but have cat pheromones in them.
I have Rescue Remendy comming from a et supply house and should be here in a day or two. The rescue Remendy is suppose to ease stress. When it gets here I will see what happens.
I have left the saferoom door blocked and ajarred so the can sniff eachother. I have also put the new cat in a large dog cage in the house for meetings.
If meetings continue to get less tramatic, I am ready to let them work it out. WIll they work it out if I let nature take its course? I am confident in the bonding I have with both cats.
Comments on the final step of introductions please.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-09-2011, 12:31 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Cobourg, Ontario, Canada
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Try a baby gate next across the "saferoom" doorway. Give them treats on each side of the door. Let them eat their food there. Play with them there with an interactive toy like "Da Bird", flicking it on each side of the gate, or use a laser pointer. Also, engage them in play while your new cat is in the dog crate. If you can engage the cats in play near each other, they will forget about hissing and being nasty. When they stop hissing, growling at each other and are at the point where they are concentrating on the interactive play, you can try an let them be together. If you're really not sure about one or the other you can always put a harness and leash on the one you think will be aggressive (likely the old cat). Good luck, and let us know how it goes.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-09-2011, 07:58 AM
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I agree with catloverami's suggestions. The more good things (food, treats, play) they experience in each other's company on either side of the gates or wedged-open door, the more they will learn to tolerate each other.

As for "will they work it out if I let nature take its course". Some will, some won't...and if a serious fight ensues by following that approach, you could take a huge step backwards and/or the cats might never get along. When two cats are at the stage of a bit of hissing/pawing/etc. when in each other's company, chances are they'll get over that. But if your two are still at a point of real fighting when together, then "letting them work it out" will likely only make things worse.

You speak of their first encounters being very nasty...and in all likelihood, it's those nasty first encounters that have led to your long introduction, since it can take a long time to recover from such encounters. The same will be true if any future nasty encounters arise.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-09-2011, 01:36 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Pacific Northwest
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Letting them work it out in my opinion is not an appropriate or responsible approach. Cats are territorial creatures, and by doing the slow introduction you are not only allowing the new cat to adjust to the home, but you are allowing the two cats the chance to accept that both live in the territory and peacefully co exist. By tossing two cats together to work it out a situation is created where, naturally, the first cat sees and intruder on his/her territory that they must fight off and the new cat sees that it must claim it's own new territory and will fight who it must to obtain one. This is going to create chaos and mistrust from the start between your two cats. By doing the slow introduction you are instead creating a mindset that allows the cats to accept each other on a littermate/bonding level, thus removing a lot of disputes. You also open yourself up to several possibilities allowing them to fight it out. One is medical, they can seriously hurt each other and your wallet by letting them just go at it. The other is behavioral, by doing this your are creating a violent existence for the two cats which is extremely stressful. You open yourself up to the possibility of spraying (males and females do this), scratching of furniture in a display of territory claims, and other unpleasant things.

Calm down, Since the beginning of the year isn't really that long for some cats especially since they have had the encounters that they have had which will set them back. I agree with the baby gate suggestion. Take it slow and as along as it takes. This truly is the most loving thing you can do even though it sucks to have to be patient. I can totally sympathize.

My mother's cat wasn't even willing to explore anything past her safety room for 9 months! In the middle of that time my mother got impatient with waiting and forced the cat out of the room. She pushed her cat too far too fast, and out of fear the cat somehow got outside and went missing for 2 weeks. We were lucky to find her, but my mom learned the lesson the hard way and had to start over. That time she gave her new cat the time it needed. And by giving her cat that time their bond was strengthened. 2 years later, she is queen of her house and my mother will tell you that it was worth every bit of the wait.

Doing things the right way will make a world of difference.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-09-2011, 02:31 PM
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Extremely well put, including the "and"s and "the"s! I couldn't agree with you more. My Snowball took five months with a baby gate between her in her safe room and Blizzy before the gate came down. Even then, she was still very wary of him. It has now been a year, and only in the last three weeks has she started moving up and down the stairs several times a day, usually with my encouragement.

That is an excruciatingly long time, and if anyone had told me it would take this long, I would not have done it. But that is the time she has needed, plus I now realize that by moving too fast at the outset, on my time rather than theirs, I set things back. Snowby is now a very loving and increasingly confident cat, relatively speaking. So it is indeed worth it--but as lots of folks on this Forum told me, it's step by step, incremental, baby steps, and on their time schedule, not yours. What is that time schedule? You will be able to sense it, just by carefully observing your cats.

The second best piece of advice I was given was to be conservative about taking the next step, meaning that when I felt they were ready for closer contact, don't do it then, but wait a couple of days, so that they are really ready, not just barely so.

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