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Introducing a kitten to a cat with a "history"...

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I am SO GLAD to find this forum!!! I have a feeling I will be here quite a bit...

Let me give a little info to start. We have two cats: Gabby, who's 8, and a brand new kitten named Zappa (just arrived on Saturday). We haven't introduced them yet. We are keeping Zappa in a separate room and giving Gabby the run of the house, and are going to try the "washcloth trick" tonight. I've done some digging, both here and on other sites, and think we're on the right track. I have a couple of questions, still.

First one is straightforward – when we introduce them for the first time, should we bring Gabby into Zappa’s room? Or should we bring Zappa out to meet her? Which would be less threatening to Gabby?

Second is a bit more involved, and requires some background on Gabby. She’s 8 years old, and has lived with me and various others she was four weeks old. Way too young, I know – she was the runt and was abandoned by her mom. She was a friendly kitten who loved to be held until an incident with a houseguest. (Short version – she got thrown against a wall in the middle of the night. And yes, I did nearly kill him.) After that, she was pretty high strung for about 4-5 years. I don’t blame her – she got shuffled around as I changed roommates, has lived in five different apartments and two houses, and basically just didn’t have a stable life. Over the last few years, however, she’s had a boring life with my boring self and husband, and has blossomed into a cat who is curious, friendly, and fairly laid back. She still isn’t a lap cat, but I’ve been treated to her napping on me a few times, and she will frequently climb my husband’s leg in the morning to be picked up.

During the more crazy years, we tried twice to introduce a second cat to the household. Looking back, I know now that we did everything wrong. We got another adult female; we put Gabby in a room and gave the new cat the run of the place; the new cat was very outgoing; etc. etc. Needless to say, things did Not Go Well. Now that Gabby has matured and she’s lived in the same place with the same people for several years, we wanted to try again.

Zappa is a nine week old neutered male. He is playful but somewhat shy until he gets to know you, and he’ll still go hang out under the bed in “his” room sometimes. We’ve had him since Saturday, and I was honestly expecting Gabs to be upset, but she hasn’t been. I know she can hear and smell him, and I’ve seen her sniffing outside his room and just laying outside the door watching. But she hasn’t displayed any aggression, or been acting strangely other than being a little distant. (IE, she can smell him on my hands so she disdains a head rub, etc.) When we first brought him home, we let her in the room while he was still in his box. She couldn’t see him but could hear and smell him, and her only response was curiosity. I’m trying to give her extra attention, but Gabs likes attention on her terms when she wants it, so that’s not always successful. Still, I try to at least be where she can see me and come hang out if she wants when I’m not playing with Zappa.

I am hopeful that these two may get along – Zappa’s personality makes me think he will let Gabby be the alpha cat. However, because of past mistakes I DO NOT want to screw up this introduction. Considering how calm Gabby has been about the whole thing, I was considering introducing the two of them for about 5 minutes tonight. Is that too soon? I don’t want Gabby to get so used to the new smells/sounds that the new kitten itself is a complete shock. If anyone has any advice about things to watch for, pitfalls to avoid, or ways I can make this easier on Gabby, I would be so appreciative. As much as I love Zappa and want this to go well for him, I’m most concerned with making sure Gabby still knows that she’s number one.

Thanks in advance, everyone!!

~Steph, Gabby, and Zappa
post #2 of 9
We got a Kitten last Nov and I showed her to Coco first my old Cat. They became friends the same day. I found her nursing on Coco who is 16 now. Sasha I got as a Kitten and she tried to Nurse on Coco . Meeko was ok with both. Sasha hissed at Oreo at first. All my Cats get along real well. I am getting another getting maybe this year. When you get the new Kitten put him in a carrier first and let them sniff each other. Do it slowly. I didnt with Coco and Meeko because I knew there would not be a problem. Oreo also came from my brothers Cat Shadow so I knew there were no germs. You can put him in the bathroom at night.
post #3 of 9
A veterinarian neutered Zappa before he was 9 wks old??? They usually won't do it to males until 6 mos... or did someone tell you a fast one? In any case, let Zappa into the common territory, but only with your close supervision. Gabby is likely to either run and hide, or attack like mad, so one way or the other it's important that you're in control (wear long gloves!).
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Larke View Post
A veterinarian neutered Zappa before he was 9 wks old??? They usually won't do it to males until 6 mos... or did someone tell you a fast one? In any case, let Zappa into the common territory, but only with your close supervision. Gabby is likely to either run and hide, or attack like mad, so one way or the other it's important that you're in control (wear long gloves!).
Yep - we got him on Saturday, and the surgery had been done on all the kittens in his litter (boys and girls) on the previous Wednesday. I don't think he noticed. We got him from a rescue group.
post #5 of 9
Before you do the introductions, you need to bring Zappa to the vet for his initial examination, if you haven't already done so. It's good that you've separated Zappa from Gabby not only for introduction purposes, but also because you wouldn't want him to transmit anything unpleasant to her.

Once he's vetted I think the intros can begin, assuming he gets a clean bill of health. Watch them carefully and if things start to get too tense (a little hissing and posturing is normal and is to be expected), separate them again. Keep supervising their subsequent interactions until you're confident that they will, at the very least, tolerate each other without constantly fighting. Presumably, at least for the next few months Gabby will have a size advantage, so you want to make sure that she doesn't get too rough with him.

I don't think it really matters whether you bring Gabby to Zappa's room, or vice versa. Others may disagree though.

As an aside, bear in mind that Zappa is still so young that giving him full run of the house too soon may be overwhelming for him. I'd also invest in several more litter boxes and put them in as many places as your house/apartment layout permits. Kittens often get so involved with play or other activities that by the time they realize that it's time to go, it's too late to make it to a litter box unless the box is conveniently located. He may also be one of those cats who prefers to urinate and defecate in separate boxes. And multiple boxes spread around will give him and Gabby one less potential source of conflict.

Good luck and congratulations!
post #6 of 9
My cat Mary is 3 and very Alpha.
But she loves kittens. All of my cats seem to see kittens as they are. Non threatening. I lavish the resident cats with extra treats, extra play, favorite foods and extra cuddles. I always let my resident cat be in charge. I let them check out the new cat's room. I mix smells and I use Feliway.
post #7 of 9
Gabby is female and is the queen of the house. Let HER invade the baby's territory.

What I would do is this.

1. Sprinkle both with cornstarch baby powder and rub it in their coats.

2. Put a dab of vanilla extract on their chins.

3. Put Zappa in a carrier and put Gabby in Zappa's room. She can explore the room and when she wants, will check out Zappa in the carrier. Expect more hissing on her part or ignoring. If things are relatively calm, then while Gabby is in the room, let Zappa out of the carrier.

Supervise their meeting. Do NOT interfere when they hiss, swat or growl. As long as one is not really being bullied or hurt they have to sort things out.

It will take time. Allow them together no more then 1/2 hour at first. Then separate them and let Gabby out of the room, keeping the kitten in there. Wait a few hours and do it again (without the kitten in the carrier) - just put Gabby in the room with him.

Within a few days you should be able to allow them both to play whenever you are there. But I would separate them when not there to supervise until you feel that they will be ok.

With a young kitten, you may need a few litter pans around so he knows he can get there in time.

BTW you can neuter/spay kittens as young as 8 weeks and 2 lbs in weight. Personally I'd get them done between 3-4 months old (that's what most breeders now will do). Its the shelters the do them younger.
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for the advice, everyone! We're planning to keep Zappa in "his" room for at least another week or two - we live in a fairly good-sized house, so he could easily get lost. The grand introduction will be sometime next week, so all of this information is really helpful. I hope I will be able to offer some helpful advice in turn sometime. Many thanks again!
post #9 of 9
I would also suggest that you make sure there are places to hide or scoot away if either feels overwhelmed. My older cats have usually reacted two ways to new babies, either they become very maternal/paternal and immediately take them under their wing (so to speak) or they completely ignore them. My cats have a pretty good system already in place and I let them set the boundaries, although I intervene if I feel its getting too stressful. I have 6 cats and everyone of them has mommy time so I don't become a reason to fight. Remember that although the first couple of meetings might be rough on them, they will eventually set their boundaries with each other. It will probably be more stressful on you. lol
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