New Cat Introductions: Breaking All the Rules

new-cat-introductions

When I brought Ruby home last Sunday, I had no way of knowing how introducing a new kitten to Allegra was going to go. Allegra had been an only cat for the past eleven months. Even though she had been in a foster home with other cats before I adopted her at seven months of age, I had no way of knowing how she was going to react to another cat. Ruby shared her foster home with two big adult male cats, so at least I knew that she was used to being around cats.

Slow and gradual introductions

Feline behavior experts advise introducing a new kitten to your home and your resident cat slowly, and in stages. For even the friendliest kittens, coming into a new home can be a big, scary venture. Experts recommend setting up a safe room for the new arrival, complete with litter box, access to food and water, toys, scratching posts and a comfortable place to sleep.

Scent is important for cats. You can let the new kitten and the resident cat smell each other indirectly by rubbing a towel on one cat, and rubbing the other cat with it, and vice versa. This “scent exchange” can help them accept the new smell as something that is part of them. After a day or two, let the two cats sniff each other through a baby-gate or a barely opened door.

When you think they’re ready, let them mingle under your supervision. There will be hissing and growling – try to ignore it, but be ready to intervene if a physical battle breaks out. It’s important to take this step slowly. If they do seem to tolerate each other, praise both cats effusively.

Gradually increase the time they spend together. Make initial joint activities fun so they will learn to associate being together with something pleasurable. Play with both cats, pet them both, and share treats. Always praise them when things go well. If things don’t go well, separate the cats, and start again at the point where you previously left off.  Introducing a new cat can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks or even months.

Breaking the rules

I knew all of these things. And yet, I made a conscious decision to forego the traditional protocol – not in defiance of what every feline behaviorist and every feline rescue group recommends, but rather, based on my gut instinct, which told me that with these two cats and their respective personalities, it was going to work. Had I seen any signs along the way that things were going south, I would have reverted to traditional protocol.

Even trusting my intuition, I was amazed at how well things went. The first couple of hours were a bit rough. There was lots of hissing and growling, and Allegra was clearly very upset with me. She growled more at me than at our new arrival. I knew all of this was to be expected and normal, but it’s still not fun to go through. Ruby, on the other hand, just went about the business of exploring her new home. Having Allegra “yell” at her was only a minor distraction for her. Nothing seemed to bother her. She was having fun!

After about five hours, the two cats were hanging out together in my living room. By the second day, they shared space on my loveseat. The hissing and growling became less frequent. By the third day, the two of them exchanged nosetaps for the first time.

Since I lead a somewhat “public” life when it comes to my cats, and people come to me for advice on all things cat, I was concerned that my unorthodox approach to introducing Ruby would be construed as expert advice on how to do it.

I want to be clear that I don’t recommend this method for everyone. It certainly flies in the face of conventional wisdom. But sometimes, rules are there to be broken. For some cats, traditional introductions may work best. For others, it may be more stressful for both the resident and the new cat to keep the two separated. It becomes an individual decision that needs to take into account how well you know the cats involved, and how comfortable you are with new cat introductions.

new-cat-introductions

As of this writing, only ten days later, the girls have become good friends. They play together, chase each other through the house, and hang out together. They even sleep in the bed with me, one cat on each side. I couldn’t be happier, and I think Allegra and Ruby are pretty happy, too.

Editor’s note: Due to the high volume of questions left in the comments in this post, I am no longer able to answer questions about individual situations. You may find a lot of good advice by reading through the comments. If you need additional assistance with your introductions, you may want to consider consider working with a feline behaviorist. If you can’t find anyone local to you, I can recommend Mikel Delgado and Dr. Marci Koski.  Both offer remote consultations.

471 Comments on New Cat Introductions: Breaking All the Rules

  1. Amanda Truong
    December 10, 2018 at 8:05 pm (7 months ago)

    I would like some tips/advice on how I can make my younger cat accept a new, older cat into the household.

    My younger cat is a female named Bao Bao, who is around 6 months, and my new cat is also a female named Ukiyo, who is 10 months. I accidentally introduced my cats to each other a little too soon and Bao hisses at Ukiyo and sometimes tries to smack her, but Ukiyo seems to be very unbothered by it. I also have a dog named Shinji and Ukiyo’s reaction towards Bao is the same behavior towards Shinji. I recently adopted Ukiyo so she is shy and most likely nervous around the house, and I don’t know if that reason is why she’s unbothered by Bao because Ukiyo is very calm by everyone and everything.

    I believe that Bao and Ukiyo will get along since Ukiyo is fine with Bao but it’s not fine the other way around. Bao is the only one hissing between the two cats. For a moment, Bao seems to tolerate Ukiyo but once she sniffs her, she starts hissing and backing away and sometimes initiates the smack. I don’t know if it’s just natural cat behavior or because I got Ukiyo from a shelter and she has that specific shelter smell attached on her coat. The smell made me assume that Bao wasn’t pleased with that at all, so I gave them both a bath. The relationship is still the same, so that didn’t work out and my assumption was wrong.

    Should I do the basics and just make them get used to each other’s scent for a couple of weeks or should I do something else? If it helps with anything, I got Bao from a breeder and obviously Ukiyo from a shelter. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 11, 2018 at 6:15 am (7 months ago)

      Separate the cats and start over with slow and gradual introductions – that’s the best way to ensure that cats will get along.

      Reply
  2. Stephanie
    December 8, 2018 at 1:39 pm (7 months ago)

    Hi, I was wondering if you would share your opinion on my cat situation. I’m trying a fast introduction and we’re on day 2. Right now our 1.5 year old cat has run of the house, except one bedroom where the new kitten has her safe place. Kitten naps in her safe room, but otherwise roams around with my supervision. They usually hang out at a distance, but in the same room.

    The older cat doesn’t want to play when the younger cat is close. She’s hissed, batted at the kitten, and let out some very quiet growls when she gets close. The kitten doesn’t appear to have an aggressive bone in her body, and just wants to play. Older cat is normally high energy, playful but gentle, so they seem like they’d make a great match.

    Our older cat is otherwise behaving normally and seems happy enough, eating and playing one-on-one and sitting out in the open in her usual spots. The kitten seems happy as a clam and is still exploring her new home. There’s just the odd run-in where the older girl growls and hisses, and that’s usually the end of it. She has followed the kitten though, which makes me nervous because it looks like she’s stalking prey when she does this. Is following okay? Is it likely to get better if I keep doing what I’m doing or do I need to back off and do a slow introduction? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 9, 2018 at 6:19 am (7 months ago)

      The older cat following the kitten can be curiosity or stalking – if you feel that it’s the latter, I’d slow things down a bit.

      Reply
      • Stephanie
        December 9, 2018 at 2:09 pm (7 months ago)

        I’m happy to report that on day 3 there has been a nose boop, and my older cat seems to be taking on a motherly role cleaning the kitten. The hisses and growls are far less frequent today, and they’re even taking turns playing tag gently and batting each others’ tails playfully. I’m pretty sure they’re on track to becoming friends. Thank you!

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          December 9, 2018 at 6:07 pm (7 months ago)

          That definitely sounds like things are going well, thanks for the update!

          Reply
  3. Lori
    November 13, 2018 at 9:46 am (7 months ago)

    Thank you for all of your support and reassurance. I think it is going quite well. Last night we did another thru the screen “sighting”. I was on one side with the new cats and my old cat came down, she is so cautious it took some time for her to get up nerve to come down the hall to the door, she sat for a long time at the end of the hall, with just her head out so she could see into the room. The two new cats saw her and at first were curious, but then they just went about their business. I had the female at the door when she finally came down and they almost nosed each other thru the screen, my old cat came right up and the new cat, had a low growl for a few seconds but then was eating her treats, my old cat ate her snacks. then the new cat went away. Question: how many more thru the screen intros should happen? or are we ready to let them just mingle supervised.

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 14, 2018 at 5:50 am (7 months ago)

      It sounds like you could try supervised mingling, but be prepared to separate the cats if things don’t go well. Some growling or hissing is normal, but if you see anything beyond that I’d back up a step.

      Reply
      • Lori
        November 21, 2018 at 11:55 am (7 months ago)

        Hi,

        Me again.

        We tried letting them out to mingle and it didn’t go so well. Old cat has started chasing new cats off, running them downstairs to their safe place. They don’t actually physically get in a fight, she just chases them, they don’t stand ground so no touching.

        She seemed ok with male cat, but then a few days ago he was upstairs, she was too, she watched him, he was careful not to get too close, he got off couch, ate some food from food bowl, then he wanted to go downstairs, he started for the door and she bolted towards him and chased him downstairs.

        I didn’t think she would do this given she has always been timid.

        So we went back a step, not letting them in each others space, using the screen, keeping door a jar with a blocker.

        This morning new cat was on stairs putting paw thru door, old cat saw it and ran toward door batting it.

        Here’s the thing, old cat never makes any hissing, growling or hair up, just chases.

        New cats, female will growl if approached, but no hair up or ears back, male cat doesn’t do anything just wants to get closer to her.

        Do we keep them apart and keep thru the door stuff going on.

        Is she trying to play or establish dominance. idk she has been alone for 10 years, the new ones have always had each other.

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          November 21, 2018 at 4:10 pm (7 months ago)

          I’m guessing the female does feel that her territory is threatened. I’d probably keep them apart a bit longer and continue to create positive associations (treats, feed them on either side of the screen, etc.) before letting them out together again.

          Reply
          • Lori
            November 21, 2018 at 4:16 pm (7 months ago)

            Thank you Ingrid, i’m glad that it’s not hopeless, it has only been about 10 days since they arrived, so will just give it more time and create positive associations.

          • Lori
            November 30, 2018 at 5:26 pm (7 months ago)

            Hi, it’s been another week. We stepped back a bit, keeping them separated. We then opened doors to let cats freely roam with someone always home to supervise. It’s weird, old cat will go downstairs and sniff all around, going in the new cats safe room exploring. New cats would stay on couch or on perch and not act aggressive. Old cat will sometimes attack male new cat, but again it’s random. Yesterday new male cat was asleep in chair, old female cat on back of couch, all day they slept in same room didn’t even care about each other, then later the old cat went downstairs and when male cat came towards her she attacked him. I’m not understanding this and need some help. thank you

          • Ingrid
            December 2, 2018 at 3:26 pm (7 months ago)

            I’m not sure I understand this either. The key would be to try to figure out whether, from the cats’ perspective, there is a trigger for the seemingly random attacks (because from their perspective, there’s always a reason!) It’s always challenging to determine when to just let the cats work things out, and when to back up a step. I think at this point, a feline behaviorist might be able to help you more than I can. I can highly recommend Mikel Delgado http://www.felineminds.com/ and Dr. Marci Koski http://www.felinebehaviorsolutions.com/ Both offer remote consultations.

          • Lori
            December 2, 2018 at 6:39 pm (7 months ago)

            Ingrid, The one common thing i can think of is food, both times the male cat ate some food upstairs and then she ran at him and downstairs she was eating their food and he came out from the bedroom and she ran at him. The two new cats do not act aggressive or afraid, our old cat is the one who chases, they don’t really know why i think. We got her 12 years ago from humane society, she had been out on the streets with a little friend when they found her. When we brought her home she stayed under the bed for months, would come out at night only, she still if a stranger comes will hide under bed and not come out until they leave, with the two cats here she seems more brave and is not as skiddish. Again, they have not actually gotten in a fight, it’s more chasing and the new cats run and go under the bed and then she comes back upstairs and i think she feels proud of herself. None of them seem fearful of the other. I’ll see how this week goes, it’s just weird that they can be in the same space and then she acts like she wants to defend it. If it doesn’t resolve i’ll reach out to some behaviorist, thanks for the names you gave.

          • Ingrid
            December 3, 2018 at 6:28 am (7 months ago)

            It is weird! Keep me posted on how things are going, Lori.

    • Brandon Persons
      November 14, 2018 at 10:37 am (7 months ago)

      I’m actually disappointed to see a response to this while mine is completely ignored 🙁

      Reply
      • Ingrid
        November 14, 2018 at 11:57 am (7 months ago)

        There are over 400 comments on this post, and while I try to answer as many comments as I can I can’t possibly answer them all. Please repost your question, and I’ll do my best to answer. I can only answer simple, straightforward questions. For more complex issues, please consider working with a feline behaviorist. If you can’t find anyone local to you, I can recommend Mikel Delgado http://www.felineminds.com/ and Dr. Marci Koski http://www.felinebehaviorsolutions.com/ Both offer remote consultations.

        Reply
  4. Lori
    November 12, 2018 at 10:38 am (8 months ago)

    Need advice. I have just inherited my sons two cats, one male and one female. they are about 5 yrs. We have a timid cat that is 10 and has been the only cat since we’ve had her. We have two floors so it is easy to keep them apart, but we are starting intros. I made a divider with a screen insert and the two are in their safe room and my cat is out in the living area. The female sat and stared, with a low growl, my cat just stared and walked towards slowly. The male cat wandered off. After a bit the female cat got on the bed and started grooming, wasn’t interested in my cat. Not sure what this means, how should i introduce two cats to one existing. I’m scared to let her with them or them with her, it’s two against one. Help!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm (8 months ago)

      The same rules of slow introduction apply to introducing two bonded cats to your resident cat as they would for introducing a single cat. Based on what you’re describing, it will probably go well, but I’d still go slow, and follow this process: https://consciouscat.net/2011/08/15/cat-to-cat-introductions/ If at any point, things don’t go well, back up a step and go even slower.

      Reply
      • Lori
        November 12, 2018 at 1:16 pm (8 months ago)

        Great, we’ve been doing alot of transferring of blankets and toys to each of them, getting the smells integrated.

        They are all sleeping on each others items and playing with each others toys, so i guess that is good too.

        Our lone cat crawled right onto the blanket and went to sleep, as did the other two. Good??

        Can you resend the link, it wasn’t to the introduction process.

        Thanks,

        Reply
          • Lori
            November 12, 2018 at 8:10 pm (8 months ago)

            One more question, the two bonded cats are using the downstairs, but will they get territorial and think that our old cat can’t go down in there space. We keep the door closed to the downstairs and when we let our old cat go down we put them back in their original bedroom space. They have not been upstairs yet either, but i don’t want either of them to think that one owns the upstairs and one owns the downstairs. Maybe i’m overthinking this, but the two new cats are very comfortable down there and our old cat is like the new cat that needs to get accepted.

          • Ingrid
            November 13, 2018 at 7:15 am (7 months ago)

            Once you get to the site swapping part of the introduction process, everyone should be okay using the entire house. Just make sure you go slow!

          • Lori
            November 15, 2018 at 7:49 am (7 months ago)

            Ok, so today we had a nose to nose with both females. They were upstairs and there was a little his from the new female, but they touched noses and then both retreated, one to the bedroom and the new cat downstairs. Then the old cat came downstairs and the new female gave her low growl and the old cat ran back up. Not sure what that means, i guess for first intro went pretty well, male and female have not met face to face yet, but have been doing alot of intro thru the door. Next steps? Just keep going. we have opened up the doors now and are letting them decide. someone is always home and at night we will separate. Thanks for all your responses and help. Much appreciated.

          • Lori
            November 18, 2018 at 6:10 pm (7 months ago)

            Good afternoon, so things have been going well, except for the new female. She has been the agressive one, and so we had been taking it slow. Friday they had a slight altercation, but i don’t know if it was on purpose, the new cat was under the chair and the old cat ran behind it, so i think she thought she was coming after her, they tumbled, both ran off. Gave it a couple days break, letting them each in the others space when the other was closed off, today they met again, face to face, old cat was in her safe place, new cat came in and old cat ran at her, they both ran off, new cat used old cat’s litter box? So do we start over? male cat is fine, no issue with him and old cat.

            thank you

          • Ingrid
            November 19, 2018 at 6:07 am (7 months ago)

            I’d back up a step and shorten the time the cats are out together.

  5. Brandon
    October 28, 2018 at 8:12 pm (8 months ago)

    Must be nice having cats that get along. We haven’t been able to introduce the cats for 9 months because the newer one still hisses, growls and attacks anything that smells like the other cat. Can’t move on to step 3 if you can’t complete step 2.

    Reply
  6. Barbara
    August 27, 2018 at 11:14 am (10 months ago)

    We lost our 16+year old female Maine Coon 3 weeks ago. Her 4 yr old Tortie sister seemed lost w/o Holly. We came across a situation w/a niece who is losing her home and her adolescent indoor female cat needed a home or it would become a barn cat. So we took her in 3 days ago. We do not have any spot in our house that can be a safe room closed off to become a cat room. Our resident cat, “Murphy” is a non- aggressive timid cat ever since as a young cat she was intimidated by a neighbor’s cat while in our back yard. As soon as Murphy saw the new cat she hissed and ran away. She has since stayed upstairs by choice or outside hanging out on our front porch and she has stopped eating. The new cat stayed on top of the book shelf for the first day but now is down and roaming the house. She runs up to Murphy every time she hears her but both growl and spit and Murphy puffs herself up and begs to be let outside. The new young cat does not walk away just stays there hissing back at our cat. The new cat is also not eating. We are thinking we need to give this cat back to our niece. We thought a kitten or younger cat would be good for Murph as she used to like to play w/Holly until Holly got too old to want to play anymore. Maybe it is too soon for us and for Murphy to bring a new cat in? This adolescent is definitely still a feisty kitten personality and Murphy had gotten used to our Holly gradually getting older and not playing anymore or them chasing each other. We don’t know what to do but this AM Murphy ran away from me when I tried to pick her up and we think it is because she thinks I am bringing her to see the new cat. We are concerned she will just give up on the house and wander off. Do resident cats ever do that? We’ve never had this problem before introducing a new cat. Murphy came to us as an abandoned 4 week old and although Holly hissed at the baby for a few days she never hid or ran off or stopped eating. When Holly male kitten to her and she was also fine and an adult male who was more scared of her than she of him. All 3 became friends but Holly was a different cat than our Murphy. Any ideas? We took her on a trial basis and need to decide by weeks end because we are going away on vacation in 2 weeks and do not want to leave this to the pet sitter. Like I said maybe us wanting to help our niece out with her cat was premature on our part as all 3 of us are still adjusting to not having our Holly?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 27, 2018 at 11:51 am (10 months ago)

      Unless you can find a way to create a safe space for the new cat that is closed off from the rest of the house (maybe a bathroom?), I don’t think you’re going to be able to introduce a new cat into your home – it sounds like Murphy will need time to accept a newcomer, and slow and gradual introductions are the only way that can happen. If you can find a way to create a safe room, then I’d start from scratch with introducing the new cat as if the two had never met.

      Reply
  7. Jason and Ruth
    August 4, 2018 at 3:53 pm (11 months ago)

    Iintroduced two 3 month old kittens (one male and one female) into our house one week ago, we already have one 11 year old female cat (Misty). Misty has lived with another cat all her life until about 2 months ago when her brother passed away. Wth the new male kitten Misty will nose rub with and very very rarely hiss at. However, when it comes to the female kitten Misty will hiss and growl at nearly every meet. Any suggests why Misty will hiss and growl at one kitten but not the other? Many thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • Kristyn
      September 23, 2018 at 12:17 pm (9 months ago)

      Misty probably doesn’t hiss and growl as much to the male kitten because of her brother being with her, her whole life. Misty will need some time to adjust to the female kitten because she hasn’t been around female cats as much. Use the safe room for the kittens at night, exchange scents with Misty and the kitten and see how much progress you make with that. Play with them together and feed them side by side so they can see and smell each other without being completely focused on each other. But remember, Misty might be jealous and lashing out because you are spending more time with the new kittens. The kittens are also invading her territory, it just takes time. It is not one, but TWO different smells. Once the kittens lose the smell of the shelter, or wherever you got the from, and start smelling like your home, it will be less threatening.

      Reply
  8. Karen
    July 22, 2018 at 2:19 am (11 months ago)

    I have a two year old female cat who is quite aggressive by nature (not so cuddly, bites and scratches, gets into fights with neighbourhood cats). A dear friend is begging me to adopt her 1 year old male cat (a sweetheart) that until now has always lived indoors. Would it make sense to have them meet on neutral ground like at a cat pension, with neighbouring pens and some ‘together time before attempting the more traditional process of confined spaces in the home? Thanks for your advice

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 22, 2018 at 5:47 am (11 months ago)

      Given your resident cat’s temperament, I would think carefully about bringing another cat into your home, Karen. If you decide to move forward, your best approach is the traditional slow and gradual introduction in your home. I don’t think your neutral ground idea would work, it would simply add more stress for both cats to the situation.

      Reply
  9. Justin
    July 11, 2018 at 8:22 pm (12 months ago)

    We adopted a 9 week old kitten from someone down the street yesterday. We had zero knowledge of doing what all these safe room techniques say to do and just let her into the house to explore. We have 2 older cats, black female 6 years and grey male 10 years, and the one we knew would be an issue immediately, the black female, growled and hissed and scared the poor kitten and she growls back. That first day was rough, poor kitty was trembling and we had to hold her. She was just uprooted from her home because the neighbor had to move into an apartment and couldnt take her. She was also exhausted so we put in her in a cat cave so she could get sleep. Now today shes exploring ever so curiously, playing with toys, eating drinking etc. Our oldest cat, the grey male, has approached her curiously a few times and he just gets growled at, but he comes back later. I feel they will become friends first, he loves to sit nearby and watch her play and everything goes well until the kitten bumps into him, then there are growls and they back away, no fights though. The kitten has been able to smell things around the house our other cats like to lay on so she should be familiar with their scents.
    As far as doing the safe room approach we actually cannot do that as its too hot to close any room door, we only have window AC units and have to keep doors open to get the rooms cooled.
    Do you think they will all get along at some point?

    Reply
    • Justin
      July 16, 2018 at 12:45 am (12 months ago)

      3 days later they are all playing together. Our 2 older cats just couldnt stand how much fun she was having without them, they got over it and joined her.

      Reply
  10. Elizabeth
    June 21, 2018 at 11:51 pm (1 year ago)

    We just brought our 2 month old kitten home. We have an 11 month cat that we’ve had for almost 6 months and are hoping that a kitten will be a welcome playmate. Both were fostered with multiple other animals. I’m currently debating the introduction approach. As soon as I put the carrier down the current cat was jumping all over it, both purring, nose taps and running around. We put the kitten in a bathroom, cat is trying to dig through the door and they are both yelling for each other. They have only had 2 hisses so far. I keep reminding myself to go slow but I am also debating their signs that they want to be with each other.

    Reply
  11. Kayla
    June 8, 2018 at 6:38 am (1 year ago)

    Please i need help.
    I adopted an 8 week old kitten a week and a half ago and my 3 year old residential cat is scared of her. Whenever i let them out together my cat hides and growls if the kitten comes near her. However, the cat is curious of her and follows her from room to room only to hide under the bed and growl. My kitten just wants to play and meows when she sees the cat and tries to get close to her and then the growling starts.

    My residential cat has been the only cat for 3 years and we have many other cats that come into my house and fight with her. I need to know if she is going to get used to the kitten or if Im fighting a losing battle.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 8, 2018 at 7:25 am (1 year ago)

      “We have many other cats that come into my house and fight with her” – I’m not sure what this means and where these cats are coming from, but if this is the case, it’s no wonder your cat is not accepting the kitten. She’s in a permanent state of stress, feeling like her territory is constantly being threatened. First step would be to not have these other cats come into your house. Then separate the new kitten from your resident cat and keep the kitten in a separate room, and follow a slow and gradual introduction process.

      Reply
  12. Kris
    June 7, 2018 at 5:05 pm (1 year ago)

    I found a 5 week old Calico kitten. I’ve been slowly introducing her to my 2 year old Bengal mix female cat. We are on the stage of them being in a room together. It’s not going too bad, then again it doesn’t seem to be progressing. They exchanged nose touches, but there is still a lot of hissing and growling from my older cat. Is that normal or should a take a step back.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 8, 2018 at 5:37 am (1 year ago)

      It sounds like they’re okay when they’re first in a room together if they’re touching noses. You may want to shorten the time they’re together and separate them before things progress to hissing and growling. Some of that is normal, but you want to try and keep interactions positive as much as you can.

      Reply
      • Kris
        June 8, 2018 at 4:15 pm (1 year ago)

        Thank you for responding. I’ve been really overthinking the situation. I’ll give that a try.

        Reply
  13. Norah
    June 2, 2018 at 8:44 pm (1 year ago)

    I was thinking of adopting another cat who is 1 year and 7 months old, I already have a cat which I have only had for just over a month who is 7 months old, I am quite worried about how I will introduce them, both of the cats are really cuddly and friendly to humans, but as I haven’t seen them act around other cats I don’t know how it will go. And I was wondering if there are any signs to look for in cats that show that they would be fine around other cats.

    Reply
  14. Magdalena
    June 1, 2018 at 2:59 am (1 year ago)

    So I’m in the middle of the classic introduction and I think that is not going well neither for my resident male Felix nor for the newcomer Ava. They are relatively same age, 2-3 years old. I keep her in the bathroom but she really wants to get out and explore, she’s not scared or timid at all. Felix on the other hand is really stressed out, growling and hissing under the bathroom door all the time, not eating. Ava is getting more and more nervous because of his focalization. I decided to let them meet together. It went like this: he was hissing and growling but in the same time he lay on his side. She hissed at him and went back to the bathroom by herself. I think the more I separate them the more tense it’ll be. Your article gave me hope that maybe I should try the unorthodox approach. What this behavior (laying on the side) can mean? Is it submission?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 1, 2018 at 5:55 am (1 year ago)

      Felix is sending a mixed message with his behavior. Rolling over can be a sign of submission, especially when the belly is exposed, but since he’s hissing and growling at the same time, I think he’s probably feeling stressed and defensive. I’d worry that it could escalate into him attacking Ava.

      Reply
      • Magdalena
        June 1, 2018 at 6:19 am (1 year ago)

        Thank you for your answer! Yes, he’s belly was partially exposed and he let her walk away from the room without moving himself. If it’s mixed signals then I definitely should slow things down a bit.

        Reply
  15. Richard
    May 29, 2018 at 5:39 pm (1 year ago)

    We have a 7 month old neutered tom called Dj, he’s been with us 2 months, he’s a lovely natured cat and is very bright. We introduced an 11 week old girl to the house last week and we made the mistake of letting them meet pretty much straight away as they showed a lot of interest and no aggression. Its not gone well, he has now become obsessed by her and has become withdrawn, uninterested and moody.
    We have removed her from the situation and given her the bathroom, he has the conservatory as his sanctaurand we’re now giving him as much attention as we can to make him feel like he isn’t having his territory taken away.
    My question is, can this situation be rectified or has he become transfixed by her, can we get them to a friends situation or have we cocked up?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 30, 2018 at 5:43 am (1 year ago)

      With a lot of patience, and starting over with the proper introduction process, you should be okay, Richard. Just go through the steps very slowly. Back up a step and go even slower if things don’t go well.

      Reply
      • Richard
        May 30, 2018 at 7:38 am (1 year ago)

        Thanks for your reply, I’m hoping separating them will give her confidence and break his obsession with her, he’s beyond distraction right now but hopefully that will change.

        Reply
        • Richard
          June 11, 2018 at 12:41 pm (1 year ago)

          Well it seems that separating them hasn’t worked at all, we’ve gone slowly with all the advice about introducing and it’s not worked, they just fight, she chases him and he chases her, I’m completely and utterly sick of both of them and am considering selling both. I can’t see therebeing any change and it’s gone past being a nice experience if I’m honest.

          Reply
          • Ingrid
            June 11, 2018 at 4:46 pm (1 year ago)

            Please consider working with a feline behaviorist before you give up on them, Richard. If you can’t find anyone local to you, I can recommend Mikel Delgado http://www.felineminds.com/ and Daniel Quagliozzi https://gocatgosf.com/ Both offer remote consultations.

      • Richard
        July 12, 2018 at 6:30 am (12 months ago)

        It’s now 7-8 weeks on from my initial message and through determination and slowly going through the steps of introductions I can happily say we have 2 bonded kittens, they rough and tumble but are very comfortable with each and our eldest DJ grooms Coco, she copies him and they sleep together. Never lose hope.

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          July 12, 2018 at 3:47 pm (12 months ago)

          Thank you for the update, Richard! So happy to hear they’re all getting along.

          Reply
  16. Matt
    February 21, 2018 at 6:38 pm (1 year ago)

    OK, I have a introduction problem that’s gone on way too long. We brought in 2 new kittens in Jun 2017 and our resident cat didn’t take kindly to them at all despite me closing them away as to make the introduction a smooth one. Sadly as soon as the resident cat went out she refused to come inside. Spent 3-4 months out there as we just couldn’t get her close enough to get her in. We put food outside so she wouldn’t starve or run off somewhere in the hope we could coax her back in.

    Eventually we managed to get her in (there was a nasty scratch involved), first two days she spent either whining at the window to go outside or hiding under the bed. Since then the older cat been camped out in my bedroom with the two new cats having the run of the place. With the older cats extended time outside the dynamic changed completely in the house with the two younger cats now becoming the resident cats so to speak.

    I have tried doing the whole introduction thing and gradual meeting but I’m stuck at this point as the older cat keeps growling, hissing and swiping at the younger ones. There’s no aggression from the younger two at all, just the a bit of trilling and curiosity.

    The older cat was once 1 of 5 so she’s been living with other cats before (she actually had a sibling when she arrived but she sadly passed away) and had only spent about a year as the sole cat after our previous one passed away. It’s not even the first time that a kitten has been introduced to her. She took to a new kitten straight away previously (2011) slept in the same chair most of the first night and there were no issues at all ever, played constantly.

    I’m am totally at a loss as to how we move forward. We’re pretty much constantly at square one at this point with the older cat refusing to move forward for whatever reason and I’m getting tired of it. She’s fine with me, same old fussy thing she’s always been but with them it’s hissing, growling and swiping nearly constantly.

    Am I at the point where I just have to leave them to it or is there anything else I can do? I’ve tried defused, calming treats, and so many other things I’m at my wits end.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 22, 2018 at 6:44 am (1 year ago)

      What a challenging situation. Leaving them to it usually doesn’t go well. I would consider working with a feline behaviorist. If you can’t find anyone local to you, I can recommend Mikel Delgado http://www.felineminds.com/ and Daniel Quagliozzi https://gocatgosf.com/ Both offer remote consultations.

      Reply
  17. Sophia
    February 1, 2018 at 7:38 pm (1 year ago)

    This is great news! My calico is 15 months old. I brought in a new cat (male 13 months old) on Saturday. He was locked away for 24 hrs only. It seemed ok because she smelled him and didn’t react. Monday night she started to hiss at her tail, chase it and growl. He was no where in sight. Is she going crazy or is it stress. She still does it but not as frequent. She still hisses at him when he walks by. During the day they are not together as much. He has found his hiding place and only comes out when curious or hungry. should I start all over with them. Locking him in another room? I really like him and don’t want to send him back. I’m fostering him to possibly adopt him.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 2, 2018 at 6:39 am (1 year ago)

      You may want to consider starting over and introducing them more slowly and gradually. Even though things aren’t “awful,” it doesn’t sound like either cat is happy, and your female is clearly very stressed. I think you have a better chance of them becoming friends if you do slow introductions.

      Reply
      • Sophia
        February 2, 2018 at 9:28 am (1 year ago)

        Thanks Ingrid.

        Reply
  18. Dannii Brock
    November 7, 2017 at 11:37 am (2 years ago)

    I’m worried about my female of 2 years not eating as for my male of 2 years there isn’t a issue.

    It’s been ever since for brought an 8month old female into our home.

    We kept her away from the older cats and mingled her smell by letting the 8month old wonder through the house why the older cats for in a room up stairs?

    We tried the feeding possess.
    But ever since my 2 year old female cat will not eat ?
    Help?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 7, 2017 at 12:54 pm (2 years ago)

      If you haven’t already done so, please take your cat to your vet as soon as possible. While it’s possible that the stress of the newcomer is causing her not to eat, you want to rule out medical issues. A cat who doesn’t eat for 24-48 hours is at risk of developing hepatic lipidosis, which can be life-threatening.

      Reply

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