Getting discouraged - new kitten, resident cat introductions

Jonelle SalmeierJonelle Salmeier Member Posts: 29
edited 30 October, 2013 in Behavior & Training
I'm starting to get a bit discouraged. I know it's only been a week, but I really thought James (kitten) and Jack (cat) were stating to get along. We had to go away for a few days, so I put James back in his room for the two days that we were gone. My mom came to check in on them and to let James out of his room. She said they were angels, playing and stuff, and getting along. When we got home the next day, they were great, but started wrestling/fighting within 20 minutes of our arrival. The next day they were fighting...a lot. Nothing really harsh, not at all like hearing street cats fight. But James (kitten) would vocalize a bit, Jack (cat) would hiss. I separated both to cool off. I put James in his room to eat, which left Jack able to sleep. One thing that I've noticed is that James is territorial with his toys. Jack is territoral with food...all food. He won't even let James eat his own food, in his own room. I've had to close the door to the room James is in just so he can eat. I'm trying to engage them both in play, but once James joins in, Jack has no interest in playing anymore. James takes over and growls at Jack with the toy in his mouth. Also, was it okay to give James toys Jack has never touched or played with? I think what I'm concerned with is Jack thinking that I've "betrayed" him, or that I favor the new kitten over him. Twice he's attacked me because he thought I was interfering during a wrestling session with James (I was just following the noise. I wasn't even attempting to get near them.) Please help me. This meowma is discouraged.

Comments

  • Topaz TopazTopaz Topaz Member Posts: 139 ✭✭
    edited 28 February, 2012
    I have introduced a few cats in my time as a kitty owner. The most recent accomplishment is my cat Pieces. We aren't sure how old pieces is- maybe three years when we got her almost 2 years ago. She was the fifth and final cat in our crew and our most challenging. Not only did she need to be introduced, she also needed to gain our trust. We were only able to go into the room with food or else she would attack us. After about a month or so, she trusted us more and we started to let her out of the room but only a short distance (down the hallway). We blocked off using gates. Once she was more comfortable, we let one of our other cats out (the one who gets along with everyone, others in basement) and let them meet with a kitty gate between them. When there was a hiss or growl, pieces went back to the room and Goo back to the basement. We had pieces toys and other cat toys. Every now and then we would switch a few toys to let them get used to one another smells. When we would do feedings we would also put goo on the other side of the door and pieces in the room. Soon they were able to become comfortable with one another. We did this with some of the others as well and two of them still do not get along with pieces but they keep their distance. Every now and then we have kitty fights but they arent that bad. I would keep specific toys for Jack and James. I would try to have some one on one play with Jack and with James and then try to play with them together. Find something that is really fun for Jack and try to encourage him to play. If he chooses not to, then just give him some time. During feedings, I would put one cat on one side of the door and close it and the other on the other side. That way they can get used to the scent of one another but still be separated to prevent kitty battles over food. As they become less fighty during feedings, try to get a baby gate to separate them. This way they can see one another but will still feel safe. Once they seem okay with this, feed them in the same room but with a few feet between them- maybe 10' to start and move closer when you feel they are doing okay. I'll try to remember some of the other things I did to introduce them. We've had pieces for almost two years and she is finally feeling comfortable and accepting her new forever home.
  • Jonelle SalmeierJonelle Salmeier Member Posts: 29
    edited 2 March, 2012
    Thanks, Pieces. Jack and James both seem to have their good days and bad days. But there is never a day when they are not fighting/wrestling and it is always in a room that I'm not in. Like I said before, the fighting isn't bad, it just happens a lot and its always James the kitten that starts it, though Jack is the one to finish it. Jack has about 8lbs on him and really tackles him to the ground. James will squeal, the fight will break up and they'll be circling each other like wolves. James eventually backs down, but then comes back within minutes ready for more. How much fighting is too much? Also, where do I draw the line? I know there will be times that I will need for them to "wrestle' it out, but othertimes I feel bad for Jack and I end up separating them. James just doesn't seem to get it sometimes. Also, with the food - they both are on dry food only and Jack is a grazer (with limited portions) and so is James. So I don't know if what you suggested with the food will work.
  • Ralphie RandyRalphie Randy Member Posts: 399
    edited 3 March, 2012
    Ralphie and Randy are about 7 months apart in age and Randy was sick as a kitten, so there was quite a difference in their sizes when Randy came home from the animal hospital. They also like to wrestle and fight, and like yours, it was usually the little one that started it. We watched them closely until we were sure that Randy could get away if he wanted to, and that Ralphie didn't pin him down to where he couldn't move and get away. The only time we would break up a fight and separate them was when one of them would try to run away and the other wouldn't let him, which wasn't very often. We weren't too worried because there always seemed to be a fondness and affection for one another, and they would often nap together after a snarling fight, so we knew it was all in fun. It's been interesting to watch them over the past few months, and the evolution of their playfights and wrestling matches. They're the same size now, and they both enjoy starting a tussle. They're especially fond of sneak-and-ambush attacks. They seem to have established "safe zones" when one of them is finished with a fight. They'll chase each other all over the house, around and over things, but if one of them goes under a bed or sofa, the other one doesn't follow. Same with the staircase banister for some reason. Human laps are also safe, which is sort of terrifying when a flying cat lands in your lap, even if it is declared off-limits to the other at the time. LOL! I hope Jack and James work things out as they continue to get to know each other, and that they will soon become best buds!
  • Jonelle SalmeierJonelle Salmeier Member Posts: 29
    edited 3 March, 2012
    I can't really picture Jack and James being best buds right now. Hopefully in time they will be. They don't nap together yet and rarely sit together in the same place without a tussle starting. We have restricted them from fighting in our bedroom. Part of me feels bad about restricting Jack from that room, because it is his safe place away from James, but my husband doesn't want them fighting in that room. Also I've noticed that whenever Jack attemps to groom James, James pulls away and swats at Jack (which in turn starts a fight). Is that unusual, that a kitten doesn't want to be groomed by an older cat?
  • Ralphie RandyRalphie Randy Member Posts: 399
    edited 3 March, 2012
    I'm sorry they seem to be having such a hard time adjusting to one another. Ralphie has groomed Randy from the beginning, and Randy has happily submitted and still does. But it doesn't work in reverse. If Randy ever tries to groom Ralphie, it rarely goes past a few swipes of the tongue before Ralphie gets up and leaves or rolls Randy over and starts a wrestling match. I don't know if it has to do with dominance and submission, or what. I do know that cats establish their own hierarchy and social rules, and that sometimes it can take time for them to learn to communicate with one another and establish their societal order. Have you tried playing interactive games with them, like Da Bird or another wand toy? Ralphie and Randy both love their wand toys, whether with feathers or leather or whatever. They used to play separately, but now they play together and it seems like kind of a hunting competition for them. Maybe something like that would help Jack and James work out their territorial issues? Hopefully someone with more experience in successful introductions will chime in with some advice. Best of luck to you, and to Jack and James!
  • Jonelle SalmeierJonelle Salmeier Member Posts: 29
    edited 3 March, 2012
    Thanks Ralphie and Randy (nice names by the way - A Christmas Story, right?) Thanks for the reassurance. I will try to play with a wand toy with them again. I tried it once a few days ago and James totally took over and whenever he had it in his mouth after he caught it, he would purposefully walk in front of Jack and growl. Little brat. We got another Feliway diffuser today and plugged it in our bedroom (the other one is in our living room). I'm not sure if this is just a coincidence, or because of a second diffuser, but just an hour ago Jack was grooming James in the bedroom and James was letting him. He just laid there, closed his eyes, purred and let Jack lick his head...and after a few minutes Jack walked away as if to say "I'm done. And then they started wrestling. Oh well, progess is progress :)
  • Ralphie RandyRalphie Randy Member Posts: 399
    edited 3 March, 2012
    Oh YAY, progress! A short bit of grooming is better than nothing! A step forward, for sure. Randy did the same thing with the wand toys at first, which is why they had to play separately. He would just take over the game, and Ralphie would sit back and let him. We would have to put one of them in the utility room while the other played, and they would be forced to take turns. It's progressed, probably just in the past couple of months, to them being able to stay in the same room and watch each other play, and take turns by choice or race to see who can catch it first. It took months to get to that point, but they've worked it out. To this day each of them occasionally growl over their toys, especially the ones with real fur or feathers, but it has never escalated into a fight. We've always figured it was just their predator instinct, along with their "fur or feathers equals food" training leftover from their feral kitten days. It sounds like little James is just full of excitement and curiosity, while Jack is more "been there, done that" about the whole thing and wants to settle back into a routine. Randy was also a little energy bundle who probably wanted to play and explore more than Ralphie, but Ralphie took on the caretaker role and kind of played "mother" to Randy. Now they're more evenly matched in size and energy level so their relationship has evolved, but Ralphie still the caretaker. I'm sure Jack and James will also figure out their relationship, and it will be fun for you to watch them learn and develop - after these initial growing pains are over, of course. Yep, names are from A Christmas Story. :- )
  • Topaz TopazTopaz Topaz Member Posts: 139 ✭✭
    edited 4 March, 2012
    I would maybe get a couple of toy wands and use one in each hand. Maybe that will start to get Jack and James comfortable with playing near one another. And use only the wands when playing together. Just a thought!
  • Debra HoffmannDebra Hoffmann RidgewoodMember Posts: 1,174
    edited 5 March, 2012
    This isn't fighting so much, in my little opinion as testing. This goes on all the time here with CK...and he picks the bad boy cat...Smokie. Now Smokie is patient with him. But the last couple times he tested Smokie Smokie knocked the legs out from under CK, and held him down. There was alot of noise. I always think that the wrassling is a form of aggressive play. There can only be one Clowder leader, maybe, and the new guy has to try the old guy? I don't know. I would feed them fairly close together...it's what we do here. Ironically, the kitten will sometimes eat off the others plates...if Smokie doesn't want him to, he growls and the kitten stops immediately. So apparently there is order in their world! But I know feeding together forms a bond. It sounds pretty normal to me.
  • Jonelle SalmeierJonelle Salmeier Member Posts: 29
    edited 5 March, 2012
    Thank you CK :) (I've been reading your posts too) Again, like I told Ralphie and Randy, I'm not sure how I can do the food thing since they are both on dry food and are grazers (on limited portions,of course), and eat at different times. Question? How important is it that I have them eat together? I can't really have James eat off Jack's food as Jack's food is prescription. And I can't have Jack eating James's food as its a kitten formula and Jack needs his own food for urinary health. I've tried putting their food dishes side by side, but James gravitates to Jack's dish, and doens't "see" his food. And Jack won't go near either dish. If I leave James' food out in the 2nd bedroom (where we had kept him separated.) Jack will either eat all his food or hiss at James while James is eating. For the time being Jack's food dish is on top of the fridge. James' food is in the closet and when he gets hungry I take it out, put it near his water dish and close the door to the room (not the closet) so Jack can't go in that room while James is eating. Is that wrong? Advice is much appreciated.
  • Ralphie RandyRalphie Randy Member Posts: 399
    edited 5 March, 2012
    Hi J&J. We don't want to take credit for the previous food advice given by Pieces. :- ) Both Pieces and CK have more experience with introductions than we do, but I'll tell you what worked with Ralphie and Randy. They started out being fed in separate rooms at different times, with Randy eating several times a day because he was so small. As his feedings gradually became less frequent and were down to 3 times per day, same as Ralphie, we fed them both at the same times but still in separate rooms. This did NOT work for long, as they would both worry about what the other was doing and neither of them would eat. Even if both my husband and I were home and each of us could supervise one cat, they still wanted to get out of their rooms and go visit the other one. So we started feeding them in the same room, but they each wanted to eat the other's food. Little monsters! I did some research, and formed the opinion that it is not important for kittens to be on food that specifically says "kitten" on the label. There are many available foods that have comparable protein and fat content, and are appropriate for cats or kittens. I also developed the opinion that it would be better for them to be on a diet of all-canned food, rather than the mixed diet of wet and dry that Ralphie had been on for most of his time with us. After making these choices, we adjusted the diet for both of them to be the same. Strangely, they still wanted to eat from each other's bowls, each seeming to believe that the other one was getting something better! Randy ate faster until just recently and would try to take over Ralphie's bowl when he was finished, so mealtimes had to be supervised to make sure they both got their fair share before switching bowls. Now they work it out on their own and they both eat as much as they need. They still like to switch bowls at some point during their meal. I guess they need to make sure they aren't being shortchanged with the food! During my research and in forming my decision to feed wet food, I learned that many believe wet food to be preferable for the urinary health of cats, especially boys because they are more prone to urinary issues. Wet food provides more moisture that they need to keep their systems flushed and running smoothly. Some foods that are labeled for "urinary health" contain high amounts of salt, ostensibly to make the cat thirsty so they will drink more, but with the actual result of making them even more dehydrated. Neither of my cats have had any urinary problems, and I want to make sure we do our best to prevent any problems in the future. I would suggest that you consider feeding both cats a diet of high protein grain-free wet food. I don't know exactly what you're feeding and you didn't ask for opinions on actual food, so I hope I'm not overstepping with my suggestions. That is not my intent, and I'm just throwing out ideas that you may or may not have considered, and letting you know what's working for us. :- )
  • Chris D-Chris D- Member Posts: 2
    edited 30 October, 2013
    Wow! your situation w/James and Jack is EXACTLY like my current situation with my mine! Tang was a stray kitten I took in last year when she was about 4 maybe 4 weeks old. She's been my constant companion and though she has some behaviors I hate (like tearing up my fabric covered chairs to shreds) I have been overall happy. My daughter decided Tanq and I needed a kitten and brought it home a few weeks ago... Enter Rusty Two Guns ;) Rusty is a male and about four months old. always attacking & bullying Tang. Rusty takes over her bed (I have bought the kitten his own bed but he will still attack Tanq while she is trying to sleep and then curl up in Tanqs bed) her toys, even her food. I have to stand guard just to make sure Rusty stays in his own dish -- if I don't, he will eat all of Tanqs even though he has a full dish! The same with snacks -- If I give Tanq a snack but not fast enough giving one to Rusty, Rusty will rush Tanq and take her snack.... For the most part, Tanq simply backs away from the kitten and lets the kitten have his way -- What bothers me most is the kitten always attacking Tanq and so I have to put up with the constant hissing, attacking, etc... :(
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