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I hope we're on track with kitty introductions (very long)

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Cast of characters-
Meow- 14 year old male red tabby
Midnight- 7 year old black female
Penny- 5 1/2 month old torbie female
Fae- 4 1/2 month old grey female
(all fixed, all indoor)

We've been following the posted suggestions consistently in introducing our two new kittens to the household. Meow seems pretty cool with the new inhabitants. Midnight however, doesn't seem to be adjusting as well as Meow at the moment.

It's been about two weeks so far so my husband & I are trying to remain hopeful that things will eventually work out. But I have to admit, it was rather simple to introduce Midnight & Bailey to Meow so Midnight's attitude makes me somewhat stressed out. Though in retrospect I seem to recall Meow seemed much more accepting of Bailey & Midnight than they were of him. There was very little hissing and no fighting but they both rebuffed any friendly overtures by Meow other than a bit of friendly play.

During the first or second day Midnight walked up to the door of the room where we kept the kittens. She hissed and then avoided that area of the house (she never really goes to that area of the house anyway). We first did some of the swapping of bedding & toys, she seemed to become quickly adjusted to their smell. She did hiss when we allowed her some time to roam through that room while my husband took the kittens to a check up at the vet.

So far now we've mostly been allowing the kittens some free time to roam around the house while Midnight stays in her favorite area (our master bedroom). Midnight does not seem to mind this, she'll hop up on our new cat tree in our living room that the kittens were on earlier. She notices their smell but doesn't seem to object to it.

We do allow the kittens & Meow to be out in our house together now, they seem to be ok with each other now. There are times where Meow has briefly hissed, yowled and swatted them, but it was only times where they were in his personal space without his permission. He seems to be doing a great job of teaching them some kitty manners. 98% of the time he likes to sit nearby and watch them play and be silly. This morning I caught him touching noses with Penny, which we along with thinking it was very sweet we also considered it to be good progress.

The problems we've had were in the brief times we've had Midnight out among them over the last couple days. Midnight seems to be adjusting as long as she can remain well out of reach of them. She likes to watch them from the upper stairway landing. Penny walked toward her once, and when Midnight hissed at her Penny turned and walked away. She's been giving Midnight a wide berth since.

Fae however seems to be the stubborn child. I think she's done the most damage to Midnight's adjustment by trying to force herself into Midnight's personal space. Thursday Fae pulled an escape and ran down the hall right into our bedroom. Midnight hissed a bit but didn't seem to be too phased by it until Fae insisted on checking out the area underneath our bed (definitely Midnight's domain). Midnight hissed loudly, yowled, pulled Fae out from under the bed by the scruff of her neck and smacked her on the muzzle before we had a chance to grab Fae. No blood, no scratches. Then yesterday while Midnight was hanging out on the top perch of the cat tree Fae got out again, jumped up on the lower area and pretty much seemed to scare the crud out of Midnight. Probably because Midnight felt she had no escape route. She yowled really loudly at Fae (similar to what we've heard from our neighbors outdoor cats), hissed and ran upstairs to hide in her room again.

That's what makes me think that Midnight isn't being aggressive as if it were part of her personality, this is more aggression born out of fear. She hasn't shown aggression at Meow (because he doesn't force himself on her) and she doesn't show aggression at the neighbor cats she sees in the window sometimes. I think it may have been because Fae did not respect Midnight's personal space. Midnight has always been a rather timid sort. It takes her a while to warm up to a person, sometimes even if my husband or I move too fast we'll startle her and she'll dart off to go hide under the bed.

So we've moved back to giving Midnight a break from this. When she's happy to remain in our room for a while Fae & Penny get some time out here. Then later we allow Midnight run of the house again. Fae & Penny won't be permitted in our bedroom for a long time, as long as it takes for Midnight to be ok with it. In a few days we're thinking perhaps we should see if Midnight is ready to watch them from a distance again? We'll be even more diligent this time about keeping Fae from going up to Midnight, going so far as to correct her ourselves by hissing at Fae and putting her on a bit of time out back in their room.

Both my husband & I have read up a bit on Feliway and other natural treatments. We have a home with a large, open floorplan (two story ceilings in the main area) so we're not sure if the Feliway plugins would work effectively. We're thinking of ordering some Rescue Remedy but until it gets here we've been trying the only thing we could find at our local Petsmart, something called Calm Down. We've been putting it in Midnight's wet food and she laps it up. Many of the ingredients in it seem similar to Rescue Remedy.

Does it seem like we're covering all the bases? I apologize by rambling your ears off but I'm a bit of an anxious kittymom and I just want to make sure I'm doing the best thing for all the furry family members. Both my husband and I were a bit appalled and concerned by Midnight's reaction yesterday but my husband keeps reminding me today it's only been a couple of weeks (we adopted Fae & Penny February 21st), he thinks given some more time Midnight will adjust, especially once Fae learns some manners. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
post #2 of 4
Personally, I think that you and your husband are doing fine.

It is often said that females tend to be more territorial than males and this might be a very good illustration of that. The problem is that, while Midnight obviously does not approve of Fae trespassing on her territory, Midnight is a bit timid so she tends to choose flight instead of fight (the under-the-bed incident notwithstanding).

Fae needs to be taught what is and isn't acceptable to Midnight, but unfortunately that teaching can really only come from Midnight. And regrettably, I have no idea how you can influence Midnight to do this. I suppose that if you witness Fae's "bad behavior" you can hiss at her as well (blow a short puff of air in her face, like a mother cat would do), and put her in a time-out room by herself for 5-10 minutes, and hope that in time she will learn that her actions result in isolation -- and what kitten wants to be all alone in a boring room? But who knows how well Fae would even recognize "cause and effect", and besides, what about when you're not around to monitor things?

I guess the only other things that come to mind are:

1) Make sure that you are still spending as much one-on-one time with Midnight as you were before you brought the kittens home. Whatever Midnight likes, whether it's playing or just sitting in your lap. Midnight needs to not feel threatened by these kittens and needs to know that she's as important in your eyes as she always has been.

2) You said that Midnight notices the kittens' smell and doesn't seem to be bothered by it. Good. Take a towel and rub the kittens all over with it. Then put Midnight's food bowl on top of the towel. Or put treats for Midnight on the towel --- preferably ones that you know she likes (obviously) but that you haven't given her in awhile. You want Midnight to associate good things like food and treats with the kittens.

3) Get a few of the Feliway diffusers. I don't think that your house's open floor plan will impede the effectiveness of Feliway. Mind you, it might not really work for your particular cats, but that's always a possibility. I don't think that any failure can be attributed to your house's layout.

4) Do try to go slowly and "give Midnight a break" as you mentioned. But be aware that, with the introduction of the kittens, the pecking order in your house is now up in the air. And at some point it will have to be settled, and the only way for that to occur is for you and your husband to let the cats work things out for themselves. Growling, hissing, etc. is perfectly normal and is to be expected. My feeling is, as long as fur isn't flying and there are no injuries, things are pretty much OK, even though sometimes it might not seem that way! And your husband is right --- two weeks is not a very long time at all. There is one member on this site whose cat routinely takes 6 months to stop hissing at a newcomer, and a year to fully accept him/her. Now, that's probably an extreme case and chances are Midnight will come around much more quickly. But just keep in mind that the cats are the ones who set the timetables in situations like this.

I hope that some of this is helpful, and that others will also chime in.
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
What you've said is very helpful RobertM, thank you so much. I'll be sharing it with my husband when he's home from work.
post #4 of 4
Sounds like you are pretty much doing things right. Females tend to take longer to adjust to newcomers then males. Ling hated Charlie for months and tolerates him for the most part. She's sometimes in a good mood and sleeps with him or washes him, but that is rare. She likes the dog better.

BTW Ling will be 3 yrs old this May; Charlie will be 2 yrs old in August. We got Charlie when he was 4 months old.
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