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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-11-2011, 04:33 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy hello and help

About a month ago, I adopted a 1-2 year old male bobtail cat from my local animal shelter. Since I have another male cat and two dogs, I did the research and have been keeping him separated from the other animals during this time. Now that he's comfortable, and my older cat seems interested to see what's behind the door, I've been trying to introduce my new cat to the other animals. Everyone says I should start with the cat introduction first, so the dogs have been outside while the introductions take place.

I've noticed that my new cat, Webley, is extremely aggressive, but I'm not sure if it's fear aggression or territorial aggression when seeing my older cat. My older cat, Clyde, is really big but extremely docile and is interested in Webley, but also terrified. (We noticed this after seemingly successful introductions with Webley safely in the cat carrier).

Long story kind of short, I wanted to know if anyone had any suggestions about introducing an aggressive/scared new cat to a docile/scared older cat. Everything I've found on line has to do with the older cat being aggressive or the new cat being a kitten, and friends have been telling me to "let them fight it out". I don't know what to do and we're worried about having to rehome him already. Please help =(
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-12-2011, 10:17 PM
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Hi and welcome! I'm not sure what, if anything, you did during the time you had them separated. But, it's best to introduce cats "one sense at a time"...so first smell, then sound, then sight, then finally touch (allowing them to be together). So, if you haven't already (and before you let the cats actually interact together), you should do scent exchanges and room exchanges. For a scent exchange, simply give each cat something that has the other cat's scent on it...such as a toy or a blanket, which lets them get accustomed to the other's scent in a non-threatening manner. As for the room exchange, let Webley out of his safe room and let Clyde go in to explore. While Clyde is in there, let Webley explore the rest of the house (with the dogs safely locked up in another room). It's best if Webley and Clyde don't meet when their rooms are being exchanged. By allowing the cats to wander in each other's areas, they will each be depositing their scents, creating a sort of communal scent, which helps in making both cats feel like they belong.

Also (and again if you haven't already), you should feed Webley and Clyde on opposite sides of the door to Webley's safe room. After a few days, open the door a crack (use a door stopper to hold it open...and again make sure the dogs aren't around or are restrained). The more good things you can have happen either side of the door (food, treats, play, etc.) the better. That way, the cats will learn to associate each other with good things.

If you've done all of the above already, but are still having problems, then post again. If you haven't done any of the above, then I suggest you give it a try before allowing the cats to be together in the same room/area. Good luck!
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-13-2011, 02:35 AM Thread Starter
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thank you so much for your reply! we have tried those things-but maybe we didn't give it enough time? it's only been about a month-i'm just worried because Webley's previous owners were very irresponsible and did a horrible job socializing him with other animals (they also kept him outside...un-altered...)
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-13-2011, 08:54 AM
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It can often take a long time to introduce two cats, especially when one or more are past the kitten stage. When I adopted my two, they were both kittens and it still took 3 months before I could leave them alone together in the same room. That's not to say it will take you 3 months, just that the time required will vary with the cat.

A few points. First, has Webley now been neutered? If not, that would be a good first step. Second, I'm not sure who told you to introduce the cats first (rather than the dogs), but cat-to-dog introductions are often much easier than cat-to-cat introductions, provided the dogs are well trained and are used to being around cats (as yours presumably are). So, you might start with the dogs. If you can successfully introduce them, it would avoid the need to constantly lock up the dogs or put them outside when you're trying to deal with the cats. I wish you the best of luck!

As for the cats, whenever members here face a difficult introduction between two cats (meaning longer than a month) they usually use baby gates or the equivalent. What that means is keeping Webley in a safe room and putting baby gates on the entrance, so the cats can see/smell each other and interract a bit, but in a non-threatening way, since neither cat can get to the other. You will need to stack several gates on top of the other to cover the entire entrance (so the cats can't climb over), or use something similar that will allow the cats to interact without physically being together (I used screens). If you use gates, then one of the gates needs to be affixed so it can open (so you can get in and out!).

Have all "good things" happen on either side of the gate (feeding, all treats, all play time, cat grass, catnip and anything else the cats enjoy). So, the cats start to learn that good things only happen when they're in each others company. Continue to exchange rooms once a day for about a half hour to an hour, but don't let the cats be together in the same room until they seem to be interacting well on either side of the gate/screen. Once they seem ok on either side of the gate, you can then put them together for short, supervised sessions, increasing the length of those sessions over time.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-13-2011, 12:16 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Susan View Post
It can often take a long time to introduce two cats, especially when one or more are past the kitten stage. When I adopted my two, they were both kittens and it still took 3 months before I could leave them alone together in the same room. That's not to say it will take you 3 months, just that the time required will vary with the cat.

A few points. First, has Webley now been neutered? If not, that would be a good first step. Second, I'm not sure who told you to introduce the cats first (rather than the dogs), but cat-to-dog introductions are often much easier than cat-to-cat introductions, provided the dogs are well trained and are used to being around cats (as yours presumably are). So, you might start with the dogs. If you can successfully introduce them, it would avoid the need to constantly lock up the dogs or put them outside when you're trying to deal with the cats. I wish you the best of luck!

As for the cats, whenever members here face a difficult introduction between two cats (meaning longer than a month) they usually use baby gates or the equivalent. What that means is keeping Webley in a safe room and putting baby gates on the entrance, so the cats can see/smell each other and interract a bit, but in a non-threatening way, since neither cat can get to the other. You will need to stack several gates on top of the other to cover the entire entrance (so the cats can't climb over), or use something similar that will allow the cats to interact without physically being together (I used screens). If you use gates, then one of the gates needs to be affixed so it can open (so you can get in and out!).

Have all "good things" happen on either side of the gate (feeding, all treats, all play time, cat grass, catnip and anything else the cats enjoy). So, the cats start to learn that good things only happen when they're in each others company. Continue to exchange rooms once a day for about a half hour to an hour, but don't let the cats be together in the same room until they seem to be interacting well on either side of the gate/screen. Once they seem ok on either side of the gate, you can then put them together for short, supervised sessions, increasing the length of those sessions over time.
Yes, Webley was neutered at the shelter before I took him home and all of my pets are neutered. As for who to introduce who first, we found a bunch of websites on line with varying ideas and opinions and that's why we introduced the cats first. I will try to introduce with the dogs.

We read about the baby gates and the only problem with that is that Webley's safe room is my bedroom and there is nowhere to set up the gates. We did invest in an outdoor cat playpen (which we use indoors) and have been putting Webley inside while playing with both cats at the same time. There was some hissing when they saw each other, but after a few times meeting that way, Webley stopped trying to attack to screen.

When my bedroom door is closed, there is a tiny space where they can smell each other (it isn't big enough for their paws to go under though...) and every time each cat is by the door, they chirp and investigate. I havent let them switch rooms yet and that is something I want to try next. Thanks so much again for all your help. I'm so just determined to make this work.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-18-2011, 04:44 PM Thread Starter
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after everything i've tried do you think it's possible that my new cat might never get along with my existing cat? today, i came home and the first thing i did was receive a cuddle from my existing cat, clyde. when i went upstairs with clyde's scent on me, webley started attacking my arm and trying to bite my leg. i tried to switch their positions in the house today, but once i put clyde in my room, he was so freaked out i felt like i couldnt leave him in there.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-18-2011, 11:26 PM
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It is possible that two cats will never get along or that Webley would be better off as an only cat, given his prior lack of socialization. However, it's really too soon for you to tell one way or another. It often takes months for two cats to get along.

As I earlier noted, it took my girls 3 months to get along, and I often thought things would never work out. Muffs also didn't like it when Abby's scent was on me. So, when I went in to see Abby, I put a robe over my clothes, so her scent didn't get on my clothes and I washed my hands when I came out of her room before going to see Muffs. Also, Muffs freaked out the first few times I put her in Abby's room. It took almost a week before she seemed comfortable going in there. Yet, nowadays, my girls are best friends...you never see one without the other and they cuddle and groom each other. I never would have believed they would be so close.

So, I don't have an easy answer for you. Despite where your two are now, it's only been a month, and a lot could change a few months from now. On the other hand, it's also possible it won't work. It's just too soon to tell.

Because I had such a hard time introducing my girls, I hired a professional animal behaviorist to help with their introduction. He told me to do what I've explained to you (scent exchanges, room exchanges and "good things" by the gate). He also said that, if things didn't improve by the end of 3 months, chances were they never would and Muffs would be better off as an only cat. As luck would have it, after 3 months my girls got along. So, if you really want this to work, I'd give it a bit more time before getting too discouraged.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-19-2011, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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thanks again for your help susan-i will try it out.
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