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First introduction behavior (help)

Xtine

Savannah Super Cat
#1
Hi all, We are experiencing some issues with introducing our F3's. Malia is our 29 week old girl (who arrived first) and Rose is our 13 week old (very tiny) arrived 2 weeks ago. Malia is out going and fearless. Rose is still cautious but not afraid. They still live separately (Rose in the bedroom) Malia has the run of the place. We have been doing 2 or 3 get together's a day since yesterday. Rose hisses with claws out a growl here or there (so cute) but in response to Malia's aggression. Malia is so on her so fast and bites very hard as Rose is in the submissive position. If I hold Malia and bring them together rose is very sweet and wants to play but Malia goes for her over and over and over. Is this right behavior? Malia never growls or hisses just dominates and she bites hard. I am worried because Rose is so small 3.6 lbs compared to Malia at 7 lbs. I am going to buy 3 pressure baby gates to put in the door frame to let them interact without blood. Any and all suggestions welcomed and greatly appreciated.
 

Sunny

Loyal Servant
#2
Malia's reaction seems normal, though the key to a good introduction means being able to see and smell each other on you and on them by way of a barrier and mutual time spent with both close together, separated by the barrier of course instead of isolation in different rooms.

That's how I view introductions, at any rate. Without a barrier you can see, smell through made of lattice, the visiting kitten is going to be viewed as an intrusion rather than co-habitation. I think complete separation by door might as well be called isolation unless you are frequently trafficking in and out multiple times an hour.

I might be alone in thinking this but I'm doing it out loud as a counterpoint. Dominance is not a bad thing. You do it when they misbehave, they do it for more animal hierarchy instincts.

If you are introducing dogs to cats and vice versa, unless you have a larger cat then dog, you lay the dog prostrate and allow the cat to interact or vice versa. Give praise for good behavior, talk to them and help them become accepting.

If you keep pulling Malia off of the smaller kitten, then she is not going to feel satisfied she has established dominance. In other words, sometimes you need to let the hierarchy form unhindered and nature take its course. If there's going to be more than hissing, then you need to pay very close heed. Dominance can go two ways - fighting or acceptance. When you have a hierarchy, someone is always on the bottom.

Rose is going to hiss, she's going to growl, she's going to wiggle, and she's going to be unhappy. Now if it's flat out claws flying and biting then it's not expressing dominance but it's straight hostility and you have to proceed with introductions more slowly. Get those face rubs and licks going big time on one hand from Rose and rub Malia's neck, chin, and face. They need that scent of you and Rose mixed in.

There is also play dominance, the very encouraging kind, when cats completely accept one another while they are wrestling. My alpha Anubis allows my SV kitten Isis play dominate him and she bites down hard on his neck, wiggling or tugging skin flap with force that would make me uncomfortable. Right now, he's in charge. When she gets older, two things will happen. She will be in charge or let him keep thinking he is. (humor)

tl:dr - First change the 'stage', observe, wait for the time they can come nose-to-nose and not immediately growl or hiss. Or, one kitten reaches out to make contact through the gate. You know that kitten is ready for close introduction. Keep luring Malia close to the gate and let Rose touch her through it.
 

Xtine

Savannah Super Cat
#4
Thank you Sunny! I have purchased 3 lattice pressure gates and tomorrow we will start with your suggestions. I think it is harder on us then it is on them, sigh.....Malia has gone through so much and I tend to baby her then there is tiny, tiny Rose I feel I need to protect. But you are right I need to let them work it out more slowly.
 

WitchyWoman

Admin
Staff member
#7
Wow. I've been pretty fortunate. I introduced an F2 to a 14 yr old DSH w/no major problems beyond a few hissy fits from the DSH who was a diva. Introduced an F6 to the F2 and then added another F2 without any problems whatsoever. Each of my SVs were eager to meet the newest addition. While in quarantine, they could see the kitten through the office doors and play footsies under the door. When quarantine was over, I brought each cat into the room to meet the new one and in less than 3 minutes, they were pals. All of mine are male which might make a difference. There was jockeying for #1 cat position as they matured but it was a subtle process. In the past, I've had very unpleasant experiences introducing female cats to each other.
 

Brigitte Cowell

Moderator
Staff member
#8
It's hard to know the level of aggression but in most cases you have to let them tussle a little. As suggested, there is some assertion of dominance going on.

I think if you can do the babygate security door idea then great, it is a nonconfrontational way for them to see each other and sniff through the mesh...