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Desperately need advice re: new feral

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
A little wordy, but please bear with me! I began working with Djinn last spring when he was a few months old, maybe a year. It took me weeks to get close to him...he's now been in the house since fall & has been tested, dewormed & neutered. He's a champion cuddler & I can easily pick him up, pet him, check him over, etc....he's also ok with other people petting him.

The problem I'm having is introducing him to our 4 other cats (all domesticated, none were feral). We started trying to introduce them in mid-December. They saw each other a few times & everything seemed ok, but we pushed it too far too early & he got aggressive with one of the other males (everyone is spayed/neutered). He also slipped by us one time & charged the same male, then one of our females.

Djinn stays in the basement (finished with a bedroom, so he's comfy!)and we keep two safety gates stacked on top of each other in the doorway from the kitchen to the basement so everyone can see each other. We also recently started moving the gates further into the house for short periods to allow Djinn to become more familiar with more of the house & allow for more interaction between the cats through the gate. That seemed to be working well & it looked like progress was being made. Then tonight Djinn knocked down the bottom gate & charged again....no one has been hurt, but now I'm wondering if I've made a mistake. I did not go through this much aggression when I introduced my last two cats (brought into the house about 2 years apart). Is it because Djinn is/was feral? Are we just not being patient enough or using the right techniques? We love Djinn very much...can anyone help? I was thinking of moving everyone's food in the vicinity of the gates to allow for more frequent contact. My fear is that because of the initial 'bad' interactions, that they may never get along.
post #2 of 7
To me, ferals have a total different mindset than non ferals. Everything they have been taught is to survive.

There are little tricks you can do to help things on their way. Put pure vanilla at the base of their tails and under their chin (of all cats) so that they all smell exactly the same and takes the territory fear our of the equation.

There is also a product called Feliaway that emulates friendly cat phermones, that will help calm them all.

Also Bachs rescue remedy placed either in their water, on their ear or on their paws.

I would recommend using all 3, but the vanilla and one of the others would help.

Feed them near the baby gates, so they can start to associte each other with pleasant things.

It can be done taking baby steps.

Thank you for getting this feral inside and showing him the good life
post #3 of 7
I second everything Pam said above. I was very lucky with my feral, she decided that she loved all of my other cats instantly, even if they weren't overly impressed with her being here.

Take it as slow as it needs to go, and try to get them to associate good things with each other, like feeding near the gates or rubbing a towel on the cat and placing their food bowls on the towel with the other cat's scent or putting it in their fave sleeping spot.

Vanilla definitely helps and I have had lots of luch with Bachs too. We are trying feliway at the shelter at the moment and it has calmed some of the cats down too.

And most of all with ferals, one step forward and two back no matter what you do.
post #4 of 7
I´m often saying shy semiferales are usually quite easy to get introduced with the residents. As an average, easier then bought homeraised cats. Usually they are submissive to the residents and there are seldom big issues - not from their direction, anyway.

But there IS a hole in my analysis, and here we do see an example.

Djinn is no nowcomer, and not shy to you any longer...
Thus, he does have own territory with you, and he feels safe with you.
Now he isnt forced to make friends with the others at all costs. He can choose, and by some struck of fate, he chooses fight...

Besides, being fosterd quite long, he was alone cat?? So he probably also lost much of his communications with other cats. Semiferales, fex these living in colonies, are much used to live together with others. Also other semiferales usually has some strategy of "live and let live". The big exception being territorial dominant fertile males.

So follow the others advices. Myself I would propose Feliway (giving the feel of safety and home-feeling) and the smells - both vanilla and natural smells.
You can also use your own smell. Feks your sweaty underskirt: you are Mom to them all!
But try also Bachs remedies. Cant hurt.
Take it slowly and stepwise.
When introducing, try with the friendliest of your residents first. These he had no issues with as yet. It will help to get him used with the smells of the group. Try if possible to get them playing near each other - and with time - together. Feks if you use a laser-penn.

Good luck!
post #5 of 7
Well, we just had to take in our 7th feral and we really didn't want to because of space issues. Our aggression problem is from the resident alpha, and the newcomer is just TOO submissive. Kind of the opposite problem.

In addition to all of the above advice, I'd add this. Take a bunch of rags or wash cloths (best if washed without fabric softener) and rub some of them all over the male your feral is attacking. Then take a bunch of rags and rub them all over the "new" feral. Put newbie smelling rags under the food dishes of your home gang. Put the rag with the smell of the kitty the feral is attacking under the newbie's food dish. This will help the two of them associate each other's smells with good things.

Then have play sessions daily with at least those two. When you're done, put treats down on the rags that smell like the other cat.

I'd consider feeding everyone near the gate. Whenever there's no negative interaction, praise everyone to high heaven. We're going for lots and lots and lots of positive reinforcement: when our alpha attacks Billy (the newcomer), we put Lazlo in the bathroom for a five minute time out, and when he's near Billy with no aggression, he gets praised like crazy, given treats, brushed, etc.

It's working - slowly but surely.

The longest introduction we had took one year. So it is NOT that you're doing something wrong!!!! It's just that cats have their own timetable, and we just have to work with it the best we can.

You're an angel for doing this!

Hang in there!

post #6 of 7
One other thing to consider? Put all the kitties in the feral's space for a day and let him explore their space.

Cats are all about territory, and doing this a number of times may help as well. Gets them used to other cat smells in their territory.

And just remember - at some point they're going to have to work out their alpha issues, so SOME hissing, swatting and fighting is to be expected. The idea is to do all we can to minimize the damage - and do keep a can of coins handy. That'll break up a fight (by startling them with the loud noise) that looks nasty without endangering you.

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for the advice. I've been trying the vanilla & that does seem to calm them a little & allow them to be a little more curious about each other. Still trying to work out how to better use our gates with how our house is configured, but I am going to start using scent crossing ASAP.

I'm so glad to know that I just need to be more patient when it comes to bringing everyone together! Thank you all again!!!!
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