When Cat Introductions Go Bad – Part 3

An update on George’s integration into our cat family.

After the Cat Behaviorist came, she gave us a map for our re-introducing plan. To start, we need full separation for 2 weeks to reset everyone. We keep George in the bedroom area and the rest of the cats have the rest of the house. So I set up my office on the dinning room table, so I could spend the days with the other cats. We also bought an air mattress and one of us sleeps on the air mattress with the other cats while the other one stays and sleeps with George. With this arrangement the cats get company most of the days, but my husband and I don’t get to see as much of each other as we live mostly separate lives on opposite sides of the house.

One of the other things the Cat Behaviorist recommended for the introduction phase was medication to reduce George’s anxiety and aggression. In general, I’m against medicating cats for things like this. But at this point I’m willing to try just about anything, so long as this is temporary and not a life long thing for George, I’ve agreed to medicate him during this initial introduction phase. The vet did warn that in some cases the medication can cause aggression to increase as the inhibitions decrease, so that is a possibility. So far George has been on the medication for about 6 weeks. He does not appear to be scared or anxious, and he does not seem to be more aggressive. The one odd thing we have noticed is that George stares at himself in mirrors now. He never seemed to do that before the medication, so it’s a bit odd.

The first introduction step on our plan is for treat time. We can provide treat time as many times a day as we want, but we usually do once a day. We started the treats on practically opposite sides of the house and opened the hallway doors so the cats could see each other through the baby gate. We were told to only move them forward about 6 inches at a time and only when they are all comfortable. The important thing is for the session to end on a positive note, so if things look like they are going south, just end the session. Short and sweet is important.

The other important thing is for the treat to be amazing, something that makes the cats go crazy. So we tried to see what the cats like, and of course, they all seemed to like something different. At first we tried bonito flakes and Tuna and Pumpkin appeared to like them, but they tired of them quickly. Marvin and Nathan love kitten food. George appeared to like canned salmon, at first, but in the end goes crazy for Temptations. Now everyone pretty much gets kitten food, and George might get a few Temptations as well. At one point George escaped the gates and rushed to the other cats, just to get their food, so we found it promising that he was only interested in their food and not attacking them.

So that’s where we are at right now. We are still on the treat time step, moving forward slowly. Taking baby steps. George seems to be getting antsy and ready to come out, but as tempting as it is, we want to keep following the plan and not rush it. We probably have at least 4 – 5 more weeks of this to go. We are hoping that by Christmas, or at least by New Year, that we can try to introduce them again. We will need to see how it goes.

This little sweetie pie is worth it. We love him and we’ve been bonding with him and he’s been bonding with us. Let’s hope this all works out in the end. This little one deserves a good home.

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