When Cat Introductions Go Down the Drain
January 17, 2019 6:13 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to integrate a 10 month old male kitten with my existing two cats (9 year old female and 8 year old male) and it is not going as well as I had hoped. The kitten, Sammy, seems totally cool with everyone and everything. Merlin, my 8 year old male cat, hisses at him and hides under the bed. I think if I just let them alone they would learn to co-exist. Pixie, on the other hand, is being a little diva. More info inside.

So a few background details. Merlin and Pixie are fixed, but Sammy is not yet. I have that scheduled but it's not for a couple of weeks. Merlin has never lived with any other cat then Pixie since his brothers and sisters were adopted. She was a pregnant stray that I adopted, and he was one of her kittens. I'm not sure of Pixie's background prior to adopting her, but she was only a year old when she came to live with me so she has spent most of her life here.

When I first started everything was going well. I had Sammy isolated in a room for a couple of days and let everyone sniff under the door. When I cracked the door Pixie had no reaction, so I decided a face-to-face was worth a try. They touched noses and had no problem with each other. Pixie even went to sleep on the couch while he played in the living room.

Then there was an incident. Sammy was just being playful, but he jumped on Pixie and I think she took it as an attack. We're talking the big tail, growling, hissing, and chasing him into the bedroom with serious intent to murder. I separated them to let everyone cool down.

It's been a couple days now and she is being weird. She gets really ticked off when he tries to use the litter box in the bedroom, and she also has problems letting him get near enough to her to walk down the hall or go up the stairs. But I can feed them both kibble two inches from each other and neither one seems to care.

Any thoughts or ideas on how to nip this in the bud? I would let them figure it out themselves but I don't want Sammy to be unable to use that litter box. I have three boxes but can add a fourth if people think it might help. Feliway doesn't seem to make any difference.

posted by MaryVictoria to Pets & Animals (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would restart integration and take it slower. Part of being a kitten around adult cats is that he is going to tick them off. I'm honestly not a fan of "let them sort it out," but if they can be calm around each other and no one draws blood, you are doing pretty well. I know it's upsetting to see confrontations but it helps
Sammy learn how to behave around other cats. Getting him neutered ASAP will definitely help too. The shelter I volunteer for recommends getting kittens fixed at 5 months.
posted by Bistyfrass at 7:00 PM on January 17 [2 favorites]

I have heard a lot of good things about Feliway Multi-Cat. It comes in plug-in diffusers which last a month or so. Try getting a few dispensers and plugging them in where the cats like to hang out.

Feliway is not a substitute for careful introduction (you might need to restart the process and take it slow, as Bistyfrass says) but it can really help things along.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:03 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]

How long has it been? As a data point, it was about 2 weeks for the hissing to stop, and we only let them interact in short bursts under supervision during this time.
posted by snickerdoodle at 5:11 AM on January 18 [3 favorites]

I've asked many questions on this topic before (there may be some answers in there that might help)

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

From my experience, I think you just need more time. My existing cat took an immediate dislike to the new cat we brought in, and it took weeks, if not MONTHS, for tensions to settle down. They still drive each other bonkers and it's been 4 years since they were forced to live together.

There was hissing and growling and fighting and litter box tensions and chasing and more hissing and weird low rumbling noises and flat ears and big tails..... there were moments where I was so upset and I was kept awake at night wondering if I had made a grave mistake.

I can't pretend there was a specific turning point, all of a sudden it was just ok. Once the existing cat realized that this other cat wasn't going anywhere, she was kind of forced to accept the situation. She still gets exceptionally jealous and if the boy cat is on my lap, the girl kitty will saunter over and poke at him until he moves. I have cats fighting over me... there are worse things in life.

The best part is they are SO cute together when they are getting along. My heart swells when I watch them sleeping together and licking each other's faces. I wouldn't change a thing.

Good luck, stay patient, and I am sure it will all pan out just fine!
posted by JenThePro at 2:01 PM on January 18 [3 favorites]

It's only been about a week so I think all of you are right and I just need to allow more time. I think I was lulled into a false sense of security by how well their first interaction went.

It's been extremely stressful and I was in tears at work today thinking I might have to rehome the little guy, but I am going to try to keep going. I was able to move his neuter appointment up to next week so I hope that will help a little bit.
posted by MaryVictoria at 3:05 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]

On phone so can't type out the verbose response I have for this, but we were there recently and while our cats will never be best buds (sadly) they have reached a quiet understanding and things are mostly peaceful. It was NOT peaceful in the beginning, not for many months. Cats hate change... time will help.
posted by whistle pig at 5:21 PM on January 18

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