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Problems introducing two old cats

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi everybody! This is the first time I post here.

My name is Gonzalo and I am from Spain.

My wife and I own a female siberian cat since 1 year ago. Her name is Sasha. She is 16 months now and extremely affectionate and well behaved. We have done a big effort to give her a healthy education.

She spents many hours alone while we are at work so we decided to buy a siberian kitten. We read it would be easier to make the adaptation. But something unexpected happened. We used to go to a pet shop in our neighborhood where they had this gorgeous male siberian cat that they weren´t able to sell. Apparently the cat was too expensive at the beggining and when they lowered the price it was already too late, so nobody bought him. We felt extremely sorry for him. And when we found out he was already 16 months old (4 days older than our Sasha) we couldn´t help it, we brought him home.

After 8 days he is much more calm and is behaving extremely well. He scratched us a little bit at the beggining but he stopped after one day. We think it is normal, he was freaked out.

In these 8 days we have tried to follow all the usual recommendations for the introduction of a new cat. We have been using Feliway. We left Yuri (that´s his name) in a separate room for the first 4 days. Our apartment is not big (70 square meters) so pretty much the whole place is "owned" by Sasha, I mean, she spends time in all 4 rooms on a daily basis. We had to choose the room where she has her big scratcher. We swapped their sleeping blankets and toys everyday, and allowed them to spend time (both of them) in the aisle, where both of them had previously spent several hours a day. Sasha felt his scent right away and changed her behaviour. She became more nervous and stopped paying attention to us. At first she slept on his blanket, but later, she didn´t want to. Then we put Yuri in another room and allowed Sasha to enter "his" room. We did this 3 times, in 3 consecutive days.

In our opinion we were doing all the right things (were we?). Then, following our vet´s advice, we put Yuri in his carrier and allowed Sasha to see him. She of course hissed many times and just stared at him from the distance. We did this on wednesday (90 minutes) and thursday (2 hours). On friday she reacted in the same way, although she hissed a little bit less, so we opened the door. They smelled each other but from a safe distance, and started following each other around the house, always keeping that distance. She hissed every now and then. He didn´t, he seemed to just accept her "authority". They both were very curious about smelling each other and being close to each other.

On saturday morning (yesterday) they did the same thing for 2 hours, but they started to menace each other with their paws. We separated them for 3 hours at midday. And when we left them together again in the afternoon, we were surprised because Sasha was NOT hissing anymore. They were quite calmed, both of them. Just "menacing" each other with the paw, and keeping distance (just the occasional nose and butt smell).

We were confident that the process was going very well.

But today, everything changed.

This morning Sasha attacked him. And then she tried to impose her authority again, but Yuri didn´t accept it. So he basically chased after her, and they started fighting. We separated them for 3 hours and this afternoon, when they saw each other again, they repeated the same scene. She gets soooo mad when she sees him, and she sends him a million signals for him not to come close, but he doesn´t care, he chases after her anyway. So they fought again. We separated them again (that is how they are now, in separate rooms).

Sorry for the looooong explanation, but I think it is important to explain the actual facts.

We are concerned about not having done it properly. We want them to get along fine. They are both lovely cats, extremely nice. It is true that Yuri was reluctant to have physical contact with her at the beggining because he still lacks confidence (he spent one year in a cage, it is normal) but he has shown more signs of "common sense" than Sasha so far. It is obvious that they are both scared of each other, plus Sasha is trying to show him who the boss is here.

The question is: what do we do now? We are clueless. Each vet and each website tells a different story, and most talk about bringing home a kitten, not a grown tomcat.

Suggestions and comments will be HIGHLY appreciated.
Gonzalo Diaz
post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 
I read all the information on this website about introducing two cats. I was just hoping that anybody could give me some particular advice about my specific case ... about how to handle it from now on ...
post #3 of 9
Sounds like you did everything right but they still fight.
I would remove your email addy.
It is not allowed in posts.
You can pm to people though.
post #4 of 9
Are they truly hurting each other when they fight, or is it more of a power struggle? Are the cats spayed and neutered?

I don't know what is available in Spain, but you might try Feliway if you can get it, or something similar. It should act as a calming agent for both cats.
post #5 of 9
Hello Gonzolo and welcome. (and do take your email out of your post, you will get tons of spam from bots)
Have your cats been spayed and neutered? If not I would do that ASAP, especially having a male and female togethor, the agression will turn really fast into, well, you know, if she goes into heat.
How are they fighting when they attack eachother? Are the claws out, or are they just swatting? Neck biting is common, it is trying to be the alpha cat, and sometimes, if the fighting is not to severe and no one is drawing any blood, you just have to let them work it out on their own. From what you wrote it sound like they are very curious about eachother, but afraid, and that is normal. Keep those nails trimmed, so no one does any accidental damage to the other, or to you and your wife trying to seperate them. Cat claws are like razor blades. ( I and many others have the battle scars to prove that)
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your welcome and your feedback guys!

It´s difficult for me to explain this in english because I lack all the "cat vocabulary" :-)

We´ve been using Feliway from day one, but it doesn´t seem to help much. We spray it twice a day in all rooms.

Sasha is neutered, but Yuri isn´t. My vet told me that it wouldn´t be a problem, but maybe it is. That is one of the main problems, you know, vets aren´t experters in this kind of things, but they are the only source available. Each vet told me a different story (it is a veterinary hospital and every time I go, they give me a different advice - not their fault, each person has a different viewpoint/experience).

The problem now is that Sasha keeps harrasing him ALL the time. On saturday she was not violent, she was just cautious, but now it is like she hates him.

They are just swatting when they are about to begin a fight. But Sasha corners herself looking for a safe place and Yuri comes towards her (showing no fear at all) and corners her even more. And then they start fighting. When they don´t fight, he "cries" because he is not allowed to touch her.

Now, our doubt is if maybe we did all this too quickly, maybe we should have waited for one more week. And we wonder if it is too late, and keeping them together is going to be more negative than starting again from scratch. Several websites have information like this:

Avoid any interactions between your pets that result in either fearful or aggressive behavior. If these responses are allowed to become a habit, they can be difficult to change. It's better to introduce your pets to each other so gradually that neither animal becomes afraid or aggressive. You can expect a mild protest from either cat from time to time, but don't allow these behaviors to intensify. If either animal becomes fearful or aggressive, separate them, and start the introduction process once again with a series of very small, gradual steps, as outlined above.

Should we start from scratch? Or just leave them together and not separate them unless they really hurt each other? I guess we will have to make up our minds by ourselves and try and make the best decision.

Thanks again for dedicating us a little bit of your time! ;-)

post #7 of 9
I would get Yuri fixed. It will calm him down and prevent health problems down the road. I know its difficult for a guy to get the "chop" done on a male pet, but it is in his best interest, and Sashas if he is terrorizing her.
I would not start back from scratch, I think that would be a set back for them, they may feel punished by it.
A cornered cat will fight, its flight or fight and with no way out, she will attack.
post #8 of 9
You did everything right in introductions. But if your boy is NOT neutered - there is your main problem. Tom cats can get pretty aggressive at times. Get him neutered as soon as possible and then redo the introductions.

Also he will smell different when he comes home from the vets. I'd try sprinkling them both with cornstarch baby powder and rub it in their coats or put a dab of vanilla extract on their chins and at the base of the tail.

Because they are both adults, it can take longer to adjust to things. Be sure both cats have their nails clipped and keep them clipped at least once a week or two.

I will tell you that it can take up to 2 months before all the hormones are out of his system and he won't get females pregnant. Please do not let him outside during this time. So you are looking at some longer adjustments as he will still think he's a tom cat for awhile.
post #9 of 9
I misspoke (typed) about redoing the intro. I would if you do take him to be nuetered. As Golderkitty said, when he comes home from the vet "descent" them both, he will have "vet smell" and this will no doubt upset Sasha who is now used to his scent, even though the are not getting along so well.
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