June 18, 2008 8:25 PM   Subscribe

We get along great; our cats don't. My boyfriend and I will probably be moving in together in the next year. Our cats have already met, as I've taken care of his cat several times, usually for a week or two. They don't get along. Is there anything I can do to reduce the aggression?

He has a 1.5 yo little pound kitty (under 8 pounds) and I have a 7 yo chartreux (a cheezburger cat, 12 pounds). They are both spayed females, with their claws, both indoor cats. If BF's cat approaches my cat in any way (either just walking by, trying to play or being aggressive), my cat hisses, ears back, and starts batting her paws. My cat's only reaction to BF's cat seems to be hissing, even when BF's cat is not interacting with her, or (in my perception) trying to be friendly (butt-sniffing). BF's cat, who is far more clever and agile than mine, does take advantage of the situation, and will corner my cat and bat at her. I've seen BF's cat stalk out my cat, waiting for her around the corner, doing the whole rear-end winding-up and pounce! thing. Other times, it seems like she's just trying to say hi, or lick, or play.
They just had a roll around on the floor fight, my cat hissing, and both tearing across the apartment.
On one hand, I think my cat needs to find another reaction than hissing, and I think BF's cat needs to not badger mine as much. BF has taken care of both cats once, and reported very few hissing incidents; this could be because his place is much larger than mine (I live in a rather small apartment, he in a split-level house) and the two can have their own space, and that BF's cat is (possibly) less territorial than mine.
I don't expect the two of them to be friends, but the hissing is really getting annoying. What can I do to ameliorate the aggression (on both sides)?
posted by queseyo to Pets & Animals (12 answers total)
Try Feliway. Doesn't work for everyone, didn't work for me, but there's been plenty of success stories so it's worth a shot.

The aggression is probably due to territorial issues at the moment. If you guys are moving into a new place together, it might solve the problem a little bit, since the space doesn't belong to either cat. My older female cat hated the new boy kitten for a few months but now they're the best of friends.
posted by Menomena at 8:47 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Do you have many different places at different levels that the cats can occupy? If one cat can sit at a different level than the other cat, that makes them feel more secure, like the other isn't infringing on her space. Cat trees are really good for this... But so are couches, chairs, bookshelves, or what-have-you that the cat can (and is allowed to) access. When we bought a cat tree and made a few more spaces available for the cats, they started to get along better.

Also, how much do you play with the cats? Another thing that helped us was making sure that each cat got her own special playtime. We aim for a half hour a day per cat. When we started making a concerted effort to do this (instead of just casually playing whenever we felt like it), it helped. It gets all the pent-up aggression out, made our less-dominant cat more confidant, and made both cats mellow out for a while.

(I turned to this book and this follow-up for the above advice and other useful tips. The books didn't revolutionize the way I thought about cats, but they did help me make my cats happier.)
posted by Ms. Saint at 8:49 PM on June 18, 2008

In my experience, cats can take longer than two weeks of living together to get used to each other. You may have to watch them for the first while, but I wouldn't try to keep them separate unless you want a feline fiasco every time you inevitably leave the door open between rooms.
posted by kurtiss at 9:40 PM on June 18, 2008

The youngster just needs to be trained in the proper respect for her elder. This will occur (your cat is doing the work), and things will work out eventually. Your cat is older and therefore less playful. The younger is all happy to have another cat around for fun. I would jump to the theory that you have tended to pay more attention to your cat than he does to his. Your cat is used to being the center of the universe.
posted by Goofyy at 1:48 AM on June 19, 2008

I have had several cats move in and out around me and my kitties, and at two weeks you would have thought we were torturing them. Strange groaning from an unknown corner of the house, random cat explosions at 3am, etc.

After a month or more, they start ignoring one another or they start playing, those are they only two possible scenarios I've seen pan out.

Trust me, they get over it one way or another.
posted by sunshinesky at 4:17 AM on June 19, 2008

It took 2 - 3 months for our new kitten and our older cat to begin getting along. I suspect it will just take longer than a couple weeks; have some patience.
posted by at 5:20 AM on June 19, 2008

First of all, try Feliway. It worked with our cats. Second of all, give them time. My gf's cat and my cat didn't get along at all for the first couple of weeks. At night they would fight and hiss and wail and run around and wrestle. Then, after a few weeks, we found them sleeping together. We watched them wake up and start licking each other. Then, that night, they ran around chasing each other, hissing, wailing, bumping into things. They do it every night. But they are also best friends. Don't worry about it, give them lots of time and their own space if they need it, and in a few weeks they'll be completely cool with each other. More importantly, you'll be more cool with the occassional spat, which is just normal when one of them wants to play and the other wants to sleep. Good luck!
posted by billysumday at 6:16 AM on June 19, 2008

As others have said - they'll eventually get used to each other, just give it time.
posted by doorsfan at 6:32 AM on June 19, 2008

Also, consider that the more you interfere with their sorting it out, the longer it will take. Don't jump in to rescue the one kitty from the other unless there is major harm being done - the irregular spats are just part of their sorting it out.
posted by mightshould at 7:38 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

And don't try separating them by hand if they are mixing it up -- stomp toward them like Godzilla to scare them into running, or push them apart with a broom. In the heat of the moment, you could get a nasty bite.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 8:22 AM on June 19, 2008

My eldest LOATHED the kitten - still does, really - but they've never actually injured one another besides minor, and likely accidental, scratches. Other than a no-fighting-on-my-lap policy, I just leave them to it. (Tried Feliway, didn't seem to help at all.)
posted by restless_nomad at 9:37 AM on June 19, 2008

One thing that helped in my case was when I accidentally left a window open when I went in to work one day. With the heat off during the day, when it's foggy, the temperature in my place sometimes drops to the upper 60's. When I got home that day, I found them both snuggled up next to each other on the couch.

They still fight, but not as badly as before...
posted by Arthur Dent at 10:37 AM on June 19, 2008

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