I tried to make this writing-related, but honestly, it’s all about my new kitten. Imagine I’m talking about introducing two unpredictable characters or something. Introductions are always important.
I’ve had this little kitty for a couple of weeks now. She was desperately looking for a home after being found on the street. I estimate she was 4-5 weeks old at the time, too young to be away from her mother. When she first came to me, the poor thing was terrified and mostly hid under the bed in the guest room. I was worried she was too scared to ever come out. But a few hours later, I enticed her out with some soft kitten food (I left kitty biscuits down for her) and, luckily, she showed interest and let me pet her. I even played with her for a bit, but she continued to be quite skittish.
A few days later, once she got used to me, I introduced her to Tiger Lily, my 5yr old cat. At first, Tinkerbell was in the carrier in case Lily went for her. It went pretty much how I expected. Lily hissed and growled and glared. Tinkerbell was mostly calm with occasional meows. I did this several times for a few minutes, gradually increasing the time and frequency. The next day, Lily was on her harness and lead (she’s used to it) and Tinkerbell was loose. This went pretty much the same. Just noise. The next day, I had them both loose. They showed curiosity but still kept a little distance.
Gradually, I left them to it, leaving the door to Tinkerbell’s room open during the day. Well, this was when things really began to change. Each morning, Lily waited in front of the door for me to let Tinkerbell out and both cats were much calmer. I couldn’t believe that by the fourth day of gradual introduction, the cats were following each other about the flat, and Lily hardly made any noise unless Tinkerbell got too close. Then I caught Lily sleeping on the guest room bed with Tinkerbell at the end.
In case you think I live in a prison, those bars outside the window are so Lily can sit on the window ledge without going onto my fourth floor (fifth in the US) terrace where she only goes on her harness and attached to the washing line. She just sniffs about, but she has jumped onto the railing before and attempted to chase birds, so… she gets the window ledge when the weather’s nice. Despite her limited outdoor space, she’s a really happy cat.
Mornings were a little unpredictable since Lily got quite fed up after an hour of Tinkerbell’s antics. I thought Lily needed a moment of peace so I shut Tinkerbell out of the living room. Nope. Lily spent the whole time staring at the door until I opened it. Then she sat contently on the floor by the window again while Tinkerbell played with her toys.
That night, I decided to try them in my room for a bit. It went well. Lily was quite accepting that Tinkerbell was sleeping just a couple of feet away. Tinkerbell got a bit playful after a while, so I shut her back in her room for the rest of the night. But the following nights, she behaved a little better, so I only shut her out of my bedroom since Lily hardly leaves my room at night.
Last night, they both made it through an entire night without being separated. We all snuggled together and played in the morning the way Lily and I usually do. This involves me smacking Lily with a cushion and her loving it. She meows at me when I stop. Silly kitty. But this morning, Tinkerbell joined us in this fun. She didn’t like the cushion, but she liked jumping about on the bed.
Now, they eat together and use the same litter tray and play on and off during the day and night. There’s still some growling from Lily, but I think it’s warning Tinkerbell, who seems to respect Lily’s authority. This is all in just two weeks, less really since the cats were separate for the first few days.
Tiger Lily and Tinkerbell (Lily was fast asleep right before I took this, but I woke her up when I got my phone).
I’d call this a really good start to becoming besties, I hope.
So when introducing your characters to one another, think of the different stages people go through when they meet. Do their personalities clash? Do they get on like a house on fire? Or do they get off to a rocky start before becoming best friends? Or vice versa, and end up ruining a potentially great friendship? Just because you want them to end up as one thing, it doesn’t mean they have to start that way.