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Introducing new kitten to existing cat

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by bobsy852, Nov 24, 2018.


  1. bobsy852

    bobsy852 PetForums Newbie

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    So we’ve had our current cat (Annikka - female) for about 4yrs now. My wife has said for ages that she’d like another cat so last week I surprised her with a new kitten (‘Handsome’ - male).
    I read everything I could about how to introduce them safely.
    I bought all new trees, food bowls, toys, blankets, water bowls and set Handsome up in his own room in the house (a spare bedroom). My wife has been sleeping with him each night while I sleep with Annikka so not as to change routines for her too much.

    Once Handsome had settled in, We then encouraged them closer to the other side of the door from eachother and that went well for a couple of days.
    We then opened the door slightly so they could smell eachother. Again. No aggression at all.
    We then put either Annikka or Handsome in a cage and put it in a different room that the other cat was used to (e.g Annikka locked in cage in Handsome’s room).
    Again, they’d smell eachother & Eat next to eachother with no aggression at all.
    We then started putting Annikka into Handsome’s room & him into rooms she was familiar with but shut the doors to keep them apart. This way they could get used to the scent of other cats in eachothers places. Again, no bad effects.

    We thought this seemed perfect and everything I’d read online then seems to go a bit blank as to when they’re ready to meet. So we just tried them in a room together. Handsome just wants to play and would even barge Annikka out of her food bowl when she was eating. But then after a while, whatever room they’re in, annikka just starts chasing him around and backs the poor guy into a corner and trys swatting at him (no claws i dont think).
    She had a good go at biting him once though.
    When it gets like this we’ve separated them again as we dont want either of them getting hurt!!

    Yet put some treats out and they’ll BOTH happily come eat them right next to eachother!! (Nose to nose)! So i dont know if they’re just trying to sort out who is boss or whether we need to go back to putting them in the cage around eachother?

    or is there anything else we could try?

    Thanks in advance
     
    #1 bobsy852, Nov 24, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2018
  2. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Hi @bobsy852 -

    Your cats are not actually trying to sort out who's "boss" because cats as a species do not have a hierarchy.

    Cats are highly protective of their resources (they are solitary hunters) and Annikka is anxious to protect her resources (food, water, litter trays, scratch posts, cat beds, toys etc + human attention) from Handsome. He is an intruder into Annikka's territory and when she chases him, backs him into a corner, swats him or bites him she is trying to get him to leave the home, so she has her territory and resources to herself. This is what would happen in the cat world if they were feral or wild.

    The fact there were no negative reactions from Annikka when you were introducing the two of them suggests to me she did not fully understand that Handsome was there to stay. Now it is dawning on her she is not so laid back about it all.

    Handsome being a kitten (how old is he btw?) just wants to play with Annikka but it is too soon for Annikka to play with him, she does not yet accept him well enough to play with him. Please don't let her chase Handsome and bully him, it could damage his confidence and might make him grow up into a bully himself (cats copy each other) if the bullying goes on every day.

    I don't see there is much to be gained from reinstating the cage. I have never used that method for introductions. I always use the mesh screen door method and find it has a high rate of success. Least stress for the cats and least stress for the humans.:)

    The screen door is fitted to the newcomer's safe room, and opens the opposite way to the room door, so both doors can be used independently. The object is for both cats to be able to see each other and smell each other's scent but not have direct contact. It is a gradual desensitising process. Can take anything from a week to several months. My last introductions were two 4 mth old kittens to my 3 adult cats. It took 4 months before I could leave them all together in the same space unsupervised. They get on brilliantly now. :)

    A screen door is much better than closing a solid door between the cats. If they can't see each other the desensitising process can't progress.

    A screen door needs to be full height so neither cat can jump over it. Needs to be hinged and have a catch fitted to keep it safely closed. This kind of thing:

    https://www.streme.co.uk/product/valoro-hinged-fly-screen-for-single-doors-regular/

    (My OH made our screen door using white wood (deal) for the frame and used industrial staples to fix bird cage wire to the frame..)

    Handsome would be better even now, having his safe room with a mesh screen, so you can put him in there when you are not able to supervise the 2 cats together. Also if Annikka is getting stroppy with H you can put him in his room then for safety. But spend lots of time with him so he doesn't feel shut away.

    Food resources are a major source of competition between cats and therefore both your two should have separate feeding spots out of sight of each other. Ideally Annikka should have her own microchipped feeder so that Handsome can't steal her food.

    Water bowls are best duplicated or triplicated around the home.

    Litter trays are another major resource and 3 trays are the minimum for 2 cats to share, but I always provide 4 trays for 2 cats to share. Spread them around the house, so there are 4 distinct toilet areas for the cats.

    EDIT : it will best to have Handsome neutered around 4 months before he reaches sexual maturity. Annikka is less likely to accept him if he has a scent of entire male hormones.
     
    #2 chillminx, Nov 25, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2018
  3. bobsy852

    bobsy852 PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks chillminx!

    Handsome is 13 weeks old now. We got him at 12 weeks.

    I'll look at creating a partition over Handsomes safe room door to keep them separate.

    We've continued to try integrate them and after a while we feel progress is made as Annikka seems to accept him more and more and just leaves him to it, although she does burst into his safe room at every opportunity and hides under the spare bed in there and just lies there for ages! She seems happy with him running around in there though.
    She only gets defensive and swats at him or chases him away when he goes near somewhere she often sits (her tree, a specific spot at the top of the stairs and her favourite chair).
    She seems very happy to eat next to him or drink next to him, and I even watched the other day as she was eating her food, Handsome came right in, forced her out of the way and started eating it himself. Annikka just looked at him, gave him a little lick on the head and then wandered off.

    We have three water bowls, they have separate food bowls and a litter tray each. But I admit I need to get them a third litter tray as although Handsome has his own (with a flap on, as Annikka never learnt how to use a flap so I thought that would keep her away from his litter tray) he has been to use Annikka's tray a couple of times which didn't seem to bother her but she hasn't been using it as regularly since (I did clean it after Handsome used it).

    So although they seem to get along better, my wife and I don't feel comfortable yet leaving them to their own devices while we're out or asleep so we separate them again when we can't supervise. However, I'm concerned that this just resets everything every time as Annikka then thinks he's left her space again.
     
  4. SaneDaysAreMad

    SaneDaysAreMad PetForums Member

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    hi @bobsy852 just want to commiserate with you. I'm also in process of introducing two cats. Like you, everything was going smoothly in the first stages (feeding on opposite sides of the door, scent swap, site swap, etc). Getting them together has been a whole other story! Hissing and swatting and a new side of our resident cat that we've never seem before! Just want to say that you're not alone and that I hope your cats will get on well in time. Keep us updated.
     
  5. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    @bobsy852 - I am concerned to hear Handsome has been permitted to force Annikka off her food! She may back down and not appear to mind but it is probably causing her stress. Cats are very good at hiding the outward signs of stress, but they internalise stress and it can start to show in indirect ways such as over-grooming themselves or soiling the floor with urine or faeces.

    Can Annikka not have her own microchipped feeder to protect her food resources? And a spot to eat where Handsome does not bother her e.g. a work top or table?

    With litter trays, there are already problems, as you have described. If Annikka has stopped using one of the trays because Handsome uses it, the next stage might be she stops using the other tray too, if Handsome uses it. Instead as she has no access to the 3rd tray (because it has a flap) she may start to use the floor, or the bath or sink etc.

    She may even try to use the toilet as little as possible by concentrating her urine as a cat's kidneys are able to do. But it is unhealthy for her to do that all the time, and can lead to urinary tract problems if urine sits in the bladder for too long. .

    Either of the above outcomes are very real possibilities if the litter tray provision is not sorted out.

    There needs to be 4 trays provided and both cats should have equal access to all 4 trays. By giving Handsome his own tray which Annikka can't access you are giving Handsome access to more of the toilet resources than you are giving Annikka. If anything it should be the other way round, i.e. Annikka, as the original cat, should have access to more toilet facilities than the newcomer.

    Annikka will probably use the covered tray if you remove the door flap. Door flaps on litter trays are a bad design as they are not cat-friendly. Cats don't like being fully enclosed when toiletting; they instinctively like to be able to see out, for their own security. I always remove door flaps off litter trays permanently and bin them.

    Annikka evidently needs your help to protect her resources for her. Cats being willing to share the resources in the same household is good. Many cats are able to do this providing there is a multiplicity of resources and the newcomer is not permitted by the humans to be pushy and take over.
     
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