Old Cat Hates New Cat
November 4, 2012 12:42 PM   Subscribe

We have a fixed female cat that is three years old. She's a bit grumpy, doesn't like to be held but is affectionate on her own terms. A good cat. When she was a kitten we had an older fixed male cat. They were never friends because he was too old to play but they coexisted peacefully. Once the old male cat kicked off we waited a couple of months and brought into our home a 1 1/2 year old nonfixed female.

Our three year old cat refuses to get along with the new cat. I read up on how to introduce cats, we kept the new one in a separate room with her own litter box and after a few days let her roam the house. The cats met, squared off a few times, and I thought they were slowly getting accustomed to each other. I was wrong.

We now have the new cat completely sequestered, the first cat will not stop attacking the new cat. It actually seems to be getting worse. The new cat is really affectionate and playful but is entirely bowed by old cat and doesn't even really wan to leave her room anymore.

Any suggestions?
posted by zzazazz to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)
In the exact same scenario we had success using the Feliway plug-in. We used two at a time, for three months. Things got marginally better right away, and then just kept getting better. Now our cats are madly in love.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:53 PM on November 4, 2012

First, get New Cat fixed ASAP. She will probably calm down a lot, and, bonus, you won't have a surprise litter of kittens if she gets out (and even if you live in a city, you'll be amazed at how a female in heat attracts toms you never knew existed, from miles around, to pee on your doorstep!).

Second, make sure that each cat has enough territory. Vertical space is important, especially if your house or apartment is small. Get at least two kitty condos or climbers, make sure there are at least two litter boxes, and have some hidey holes where the cats can retreat (those collapsible kitty tunnels are a hit at my house; so are paper bags with the handles removed).

And seconding Feliway. That stuff is amazing. I'm doing kitty intros right now and it seems to make things a LOT easier.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:56 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

How did you introduce New Cat to Old Cat? Did you throw them in a room together and hope for the best? That generally doesn't work with cats. You need a gradual introduction to ensure long term success.

Get the new cat spayed ASAP. Pyometra and mammary gland tumors are a real bummer.
posted by pupus at 1:06 PM on November 4, 2012

Also, where is New Cat from? The street? A friend? A shelter? Is she up to date on vaccines?
posted by pupus at 1:08 PM on November 4, 2012

New cat was fully checked by a vet. She has an appointment to be spayed. We did introduce them gradually, moved blankets from one room to another so they got each other's scent. We live in old split level, they have plenty of space.
posted by zzazazz at 1:52 PM on November 4, 2012

Thanks for the Feliway tip, I will look into it.
posted by zzazazz at 1:54 PM on November 4, 2012

I've been working in cat rescue for several years and have had to introduce a lot of cats to one another (not in a home environment, but...) and I want to assure you that this can still work out.

First I want to nth Feliway, Feliway, Feliway. I've seen this work wonders, too. Also getting the second kitty spayed should help.

It really does take time and possibly more baby steps than you've already done.

Sounds like you've already done the blanket/scent swapping bit, which is good and continue to cycle those between cats and the rooms that they stay in.

When you are ready to try introducing new kitty to established kitty again, try this - get a cat carrier and put the new kitty in it. Put the cat carrier with the new kitty in it in the Established Kitty's space (somewhere else in the house). Let Established Kitty see, sniff, and hiss at New Kitty in the carrier.

If the reaction is too strong on either end (Established Kitty violently attacking New Kitty's carrier, or if New Kitty is clearly Very Stressed by Established Kitty's presence/territory) then don't let this go on for too long and take New Kitty back into his/her space and try again the next day. Continue to do this every day for several weeks or until both cats are least somewhat calm in each other's presence. (With New Kitty always still in the carrier). Gradually increase the time you have New Kitty in the carrier (start off with just maybe 10 minutes or so on the first couple of days, and eventually increase this to an hour).

Once you get to a point where they can at least tolerate each other's presence with New Kitty in the carrier and without hissing/fighting, then try to introduce New Kitty to the rest of the house while not in the carrier.

Just want to be clear...it can take, well, months, for cats to be able to tolerate each other in the same shared space - but they can eventually get used to it. Even the most extreme stray cats we've brought in, that hate even the smell of other cats in their vicinity, have eventually mellowed and begun to tolerate other cats with lots of time and care.

Also, when you do introduce them outside the carrier again - there will probably still be some rough-housing/fighting. SOME is okay and natural - they need to work out who's in charge between them (it will and probably should end up being the Established Kitty depending on their personalities). But make sure New Kitty has a place to quickly retreat and hide when you do this and *safely, carefully* intervene if it looks like things are getting TOO rough.
posted by Squee at 2:47 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

How long have you been trying to introduce the two cats? It can take a while.

Also, make sure your Alpha kitty has a room that the new cat is not allowed into, and do the same for the other cat if you can, as "Safe Zones". We find that it helps, especially if you are dealing with a territorial cat!
posted by misha at 4:09 PM on November 4, 2012

Those of you that have used Feliway, how do you use it? Do you spray it around the whole house or just near where the new cat's room? Do you use the spray or the plug in version?
posted by zzazazz at 12:08 PM on November 5, 2012

I get the plug-ins. They are available from Amazon and pet supply stores. I have a 1900-square-foot house and I have one in a room at each end of the house and one in the middle. You may need more or fewer depending on how big your place is (a studio or one-bedroom might need just one plug-in).

Right now, my situation is that Resident Female Cat hangs out at one end of the house, New Female Cat at the other end, and New Boy Kitty just follows me around. It really, really helps for each cat to have a patch of territory to call their own - hence the vertical space concept of providing kitty condos and cat trees.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:32 PM on November 5, 2012

« Older Interview for the Potentially Disinterested   |   Millwork painted upper floor(s), natural... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.