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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-09-2015, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
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please help with introduction setback :(

Hi everyone,

I am new to the forum, and I am a new cat mom. I am feeling very discouraged and hoping for advice. I have been doing a slow introduction with my two cats, Marvin and Milo. They have been separated for two weeks today. I have been doing site switching and switching them back and forth. One cat will be in my fairly large bedroom, and the other will have the rest of the house. They have been eating 2 times a day on opposite sides of a closed door. For the last week and a half they have been doing so with no problems (right up to the edge of the door, no hissing, growling, both eating their typical amount). For the last couple of days the cats have been playing with each other under the door, or what I thought was play. There was no hissing/growling, just some chirpy meows and paws going under back and forth. At 3:15am this morning, they would not stop doing this (loudly), so I went out to the rest of the house and put that cat in the bathroom so they wouldn't have contact with each other to make noise.

I got up at 6:00 to get ready for work. Long story short, as I went to grab the cat in the bathroom to switch him out with the other cat, he slipped past me. The two cats were face to face and instantly attacked each other. When the cats first started fighting before I separated them, it seemed Milo was the aggressor, but this time there was no clear bully. They rolled around on the floor clawing for about 5 seconds. Finally I had the sense to clap, and one cat ran down the stairs. The other I put back in the bedroom I feel like a total failure. I've been doing all the standard things for 2 weeks and then this happened so quickly! Of course when I fed them before leaving for work, Milo still ate right up at the door, but Marvin would not come near the door and had to eat in the bathroom.

I have already had to take Marvin to the vet last week for an abscess that formed from their last fight before I separated them. He had an antibiotic shot, so I'm hoping that will prevent anything else from forming for him. Milo already had an abscess that I believe must have already been partly in place when I adopted him (since it formed only 2-3 days after I brought him home). But now I'm worried he could get another one. I am a young professional just starting out, so I of course don't have unlimited funds for vet trips, etc. Of course I can and will take him if he has been hurt, but I'm just discouraged. Right now I am living at home in my parents house, but I am moving into my own apartment April 1st. However, I am planning on moving furniture, etc. gradually and the cats last, so they won't have to deal with the stress of setting up the new place. I would be able to separate them at the new apartment if I had to, but they won't have as much space. I also won't have the help of my parents with switching, checking how they are doing with eating, etc. I had planned to try using a baby gate today to see how they did eating with that, but now that obviously doesn't seem like the appropriate "next step."

Both cats are indoor only.

Feliway diffuser was actually ordered yesterday so that will be on the way in a few days.

I was not educated at the shelter about how slow of a process this might be, and did not know about the standard way of introducing adult cats until the problem started, so please don't think I mean to be uninformed. Thanks for any advice and encouragement.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-09-2015, 04:22 PM
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Not easy for you. Introductions can vary so much - and can succeed or fail. The longest introduction I ever did was a failure. The last three introductions were quite long (Sheba and Jake) and very short (Eve) - both really worked. You have to read the cats and go with them.

I would suggest shifting bedding between them and even litter trays so they absorb smells from each other.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-09-2015, 05:10 PM
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Please don't be too disheartened. It does not sound really serious from how you described it. Just go back a step. Work them back up to eating on opposite sides from the door. Be patient as the process could take some time. They may or may not be done by the time you move but you have to give up on worrying about whether or not they will. The cats are the ones who dictate the rate of introduction and even if their spaces are smaller in the new place I promise you a tiny bathroom is not so bad as a temporary spot compared to the surface area of a typical cage/ condo.

How old are the two kitties? Was there any serious hissing or yowling when they were wrestling? I can't even remember how my two behaved when they first ran into each other. But they were playing with each other from opposite sides of the door exactly how you described for weeks before I let them meet. They adore each other now and will still roll around batting at each other but it's pretty quiet with only minor hissing. It's playful.

Just don't give up hope. It's way too early to panic and patience usually does win out in situations like this.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-09-2015, 05:33 PM
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Whenever two cats don't get along it can be very frustrating, but try to have patience and keep trying. Continue to try and get them back to eating on the opposite sides of the door and what not again. In time they'll get used to each other. I wish you good luck!
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-09-2015, 09:45 PM
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Hi Alisha,
Hang in there!
It really is pretty rare, that two cats will hate each other so bad, that you might have to think about re-homing one!
Usually worst case scenario, is they'll ignore each other, best case scenario, they become cat buddies!
I would suggest a cat tree condo for your apartment, and make sure there will be different areas, either one can go to, for peace and quiet.
I will also recommend a Care Credit card, if you're in the States, this card is accepted by almost ALL vets now, it's a Great backup plan for any cat emergencies!
Good Luck!
Sharon

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An everyday family name; A particular name;
And the name but the Cat Himself Knows, and will never confess." T.S. Eliot

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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-10-2015, 07:17 AM
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I'm wondering if it might also simply be one of those things where it was only a simple scrap to establish dominance. If the bullying is persistent and doesn't ease up, it's an issue. But if it's more of a "I'm the boss cat" thing, it's not as harmful of a thing. Obviously you don't want them fighting, but I know with some animals, preventing them from forming a hierarchy often just delays the inevitable. I agree with continue to switch their smells. I'm not sure what the theory on switching toys is, in one way you want the smells of the other cat to be associated with good things like play, but on the other hand, you don't want each cat perceiving the smell of the other cat as something to chase.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-10-2015, 07:36 AM
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I would have liked to have seen the scraping first hand. My gut tells me that if they were interacting under the door all will be fine in time. It was the surprise of meeting face to face that startled them and caused the commotion. I'm willing to bet it's not as big a failure as you might think.

Give it a couple days of swapping and then let the door open. If they are both desexed there won't be any hormones to get in the way of a meet and greet. Let nature take it's course and see if they won't come to some sort of agreement - maybe an "agree to disagree". I really don't think it will be that horrible. May be loud, may be some hissing, groaning, growling, posturing but I don't think an all out fur fight with damage will result. More likely one or the other will find a place to hide for a bit but will come back out and explore in time. They need time to get used to each other in the new norm of the open house.

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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-10-2015, 11:27 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your kind replies! I was feeling down but I won't give up hope. I would have to try every single last option before I gave up!

Here are the answers to a few questions:

1) Milo is a 2 year old Siamese mix, Marvin is a 5 year old tabby. Both are neutered, but Milo was neutered right before I adopted him, and I have read that it can take 6-8 weeks for hormones to completely disappear after neutering?

2) Initially (because I didn't know about proper introductions), the cats were just supervised together in the same room, and they were doing fine. They were even sitting on my bed together within about 2 feet of each other with no problem. It was about 2 days later that Milo started getting more aggressive, usually at night. One time I was petting Marvin and Milo ran out and attacked him. Then another time, Marvin was meowing at the front door and Milo went into the kitchen and attacked again. It doesn't seem much like play, Milo has shed claws and also loses little tufts of hair in the process (plus it resulted in an abscess for Marvin). It seems like Milo was getting aggravated by Marvin's whining and went after him.

3) There have been a few yowls (during the initial fights) and some definite hissing (during the latest incident). It does make sense that the cats might have been surprised by each other.

4) You're right, I don't think the interacting under the door was vicious. It seemed playful and it went on all night, with no growling or hissing that I could hear.

A happy update, Marvin is now willing to eat on the opposite side of the door from Milo again!!

I will have to look in to a cat tree. Right now I do have a window seat and some cozy cat beds in a couple different places, but it would be good to expand the vertical height for sure.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-10-2015, 12:00 PM
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That's a great sign, for Marvin to be willing to eat by the door again, yay!

Keep the introduction pace at their level (probably Marvin's pace), and always remember it's going to be those 2 kitties that will have to get along in the end, so a slower pace is always better than going too fast and risk having too many negative experiences. I'd also try to wait out for the hormones to die down before allowing them together in the same room. I know how stressing it is to keep them seperated, but if he just got neutered, you want to play safe!

Using Feliway diffusers or calming cat collars may also help, as will investing in the biggest and tallest cat tree you can find. The more vertical space, the better each may be able to handle or tolerate the other. Think about shelving, too, if you simply don't have enough floor space. I also have a window bed which my cats love.

More tips from JG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZrwcoiy_gY

Keep up the great work, you're doing fine! And let us know how things go! Peaceful vibes to your kitties!
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-10-2015, 09:58 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you everyone! Here are the kitties in question for visual sake.
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