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December 19, 2014

Cat Introductions: Pillow and Sudan

The stage was set and it was time to start the cat introductions– introducing Pillow to Sudan, through a combination of clicker training, management and environmental changes. Since Sudan does not like other cats, except the ones he grew up with, the introductions between the two cats needed to be slow and gradual. The good news is that my other cats, Maulee, Olivia and Jinniyha were already playing and interacting with Pillow under the door.

Hello

One month ago we started the first phase of the four-phase cat introduction process. Phase one used scent exchanges combined with clicker training to help develop a friendly or at least a tolerable relationship. Both cats were already clicker-savvy—having a positive association with the sound of the clicker.

Cat introductions & scent exchanges

Cat Introductions: Clicker, towels and treats

Clicker, towels and treats

I focused on the pheromones secreted by sebaceous glands on cat cheeks. These are sometimes referred to as “the friendly pheromones”. They can help promote a remote, but friendly relationship

All of the necessary tools were assembled: soft towels, a clicker and treats. I conducted the scent-exchange exercises twice a day—once in the morning and then again at the end of the day.

 

I began the exchange by gently petting Sudan’s cheek with a towel. Taking the second clean towel, I stroked Pillow on his cheek. The towel with Pillow’s pheromones was placed in the hall where Sudan hangs out and then I placed the towel with Sudan’s scent on it in the sun room.

Cat introductions: petting Sudan's cheek with a towel

Petting Sudan’s Cheek with a Towel

Sudan immediately went over to investigate the towel. Since he did not display any stress or fractiousness towards Pillow’s scent, I clicked and tossed him a treat. I aimed the treat so that it landed about six inches away from the towel. After he ate the treat he checked out the towel again. I waited a couple of seconds while he explored it and then clicked and treated him again. There were no signs of anxiety or aggression. I am always very alert for these signals.

Cat introductions in a stress free fashion

Sudan checking out the towel

After a few cycles I focused on Pillow who had picked up the towel and carried it over to his table-bed. Of course he was reinforced with a click and a treat.

I repeated the scent exchanges twice a day, each time with a fresh towel. Both cats responded positively to the scents on the towels. Sudan became very attached to the newly-Pillow-scented towels, rolling on them immediately after they were placed on the floor.

Usually, after one-two weeks of positive responses the second phase of the introductions can start. Because of Sudan’s reluctance to accept other cats, I extended the pheromone exchanges to one month.

A serious setback

Cat Introductions: Sudan darts through the door

Sudan

The first phase was progressing nicely, but then two weeks ago, a friend of mine accidentally opened the door to the sun room. Sudan, waiting for the opportunity, darted under his legs into Pillow’s room. My friend yelled, startling Sudan. The Maine Coon was sun bathing when Sudan spotted him and ran at him. He first gave Pillow a nose touch and then immediately launched himself at the unsuspecting cat. Although it was an aggressive attack, neither cat was injured.

This is not a good sign. I am not sure if Sudan will ever tolerate another male cat in his territory.

Help for cat behavior problems is available

For help with cat introductions and other behavior challenges, contact Marilyn to discuss scheduling a consultation.

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Comments

  1. I recently adopted a cat about 4 months old I believe to be an Ocicat type breed. This little female is very demanding and I thought (as I had read on the Ocicat website) that a friend to keep her company would be a good move so I adopted a 4 month old`neutered male from an adoption site. I have only had the female 1 week. Big mistake when you live in a studio with no doors in it except to the bathroom! I tried keeping the new kittie in the bathroom with water and food and litter and both times he completely destroyed my bathroom! The girl at the adoption site said to keep them separated for a few days. So I exchanged them both small increments of time in the bathroom just to give the new male a break. My female chases the male hissing and cuffing all day. Do you think it will eventually stop? It’s only been 16 hours but feels like an eternity!

  2. I am having similar problems introducing a rescued 1 year old male, Oliver, to my 8 year old female, Rosie. Rosie is very territorial and aggressive. We are doing the whole segregating thing, which is very difficult with the tiny house we have. Also have 3 Comfort Zone pheromone diffusers. Have not yet tried the towel with cheek scent or clicker training. 2 days after we brought Oliver into our home there was an accidental meeting between the two and a cat fight broke out. It’s been 2 weeks and we don’t seem to be making any progress. Rosie still growls and spits at the newcomer under doorways and through a screen door. I am wondering if Pillow and Sudan ever recovered from the set back you had.

    • It was best for both cats to rehome Pillow with the person who adopted his best dog buddy, Abby. Pillow and Abby are doing great together, best decision for everyone, including Sudan, Pillow and Abby.

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