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I've introduced my old cat to a new cat...

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by George Power Finch, May 10, 2019.

  1. George Power Finch

    George Power Finch PetForums Newbie

    May 10, 2019
    Likes Received:
    Hi all,

    First time posting so hope I'm in the right place.

    I have a lovely cat called Suki, she's been with me more 6 years and is such a bundle of joy, she's grumpy at times but mainly she's incredibly friendly and loves attention. I've recently moved in with my girlfriend (about 2 months now) and she's lost some confidence in herself and isn't as friendly as she once was.

    We've seen her sit with a cat outside and they both seemed friendly with each other so we've decided to get another cat, its a boy and he's just under 10 weeks old.

    We introduced them to each other today and inevitably there's some conflict, lots of hissing and a few swings of the paws but they've been separated.

    However Suki has been quite aggressive, if I go to pick her up, stroke her or put my face near her she hisses and earlier she actually attacked me.

    I'm just wondering how normal this behaviour is and if they'll eventually get used to each other? They both seemed scared of one another so Suki hasn't been too dominant.
  2. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

    Nov 22, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Hello @George Power Finch and welcome :)

    Suki's behaviour is entirely normal. Cats are highly protective of their territory (their home) and of their resources (food, water, litter trays, scratch posts, toys, cat beds, and human attention).

    You brought a strange kitten into Suki's territory and Suki is not sure what to make of him. She does not know if she wants to share her home with another cat. It is one thing for Suki to be friendly to a cat in the local neighbourhood, but another matter entirely for her to suddenly find a strange kitten in her home. It is a shock to her!

    To add to that Suki has recently been through a big upheaval - i.e. the move to a new home with you, and the loss of her old territory. It was only 2 months ago and she is nothing like settled yet in her new home. Cats are very attached to their territory and it can take as long as a year before a cat feels fully settled in a new environment. The reason why she has not been as friendly since the move is because she is busy trying to adjust to the new home, plus the new human she has to get to know (your g/f).

    I imagine you're hoping that Suki and the kitten will get along and be able to live harmoniously together, rather than merely tolerating each other? In which case you will need to help them a lot.

    Suki has shown you clearly, by hissing and attacking you, how angry and upset she feels at the moment about the kitten's presence. The attack was in fact due to 'redirected aggression' as a result of her negative feelings about the kitten. I recommend you avoid picking her up, handling her, or putting your face near her.

    You need to keep the kitten separate in his own safe room, with all he needs, (food, water, litter trays, toys etc) and spend plenty of time with him, playing and building trust.

    Suki has the rest of the home as her territory for now.

    Cats need time to get the measure of each other. They not only need to be able to get used to each other's scent but they need to be able to see each other too. So introductions using a solid door rarely work well. The best method I have found over many years of introducing new cats or kittens is the mesh screen door method. This is where an inexpensive mesh screen door with hinges is fitted into the doorway of the new kitten's (or cat's) safe room. A hook and eye catch is fitted to the other side to keep it closed.

    (You can leave the wooden door in situ, just fit the screen door so it opens the opposite way to the wooden door)

    The cats can see each other and smell each other's scent through the mesh and they both feel safe from attack.

    The type of screen door I mean needs to be rigid, not a curtain. e.g. it needs to be like this one:


    You keep the 2 cats separate until they are able to view each other through the mesh without any negative reactions (i.e no growling, yowling or spitting). This may need a week or two or it may take longer.

    You can feed them both treats on either side of the mesh screen so they associate each other with good things. Your 6 yr old cat should in time be able to tolerate you stroking her within sight of the kitten (i.e. while he is still behind the mesh screen). This is the point at which you can open the door and allow the two cats to meet for short periods, ALWAYS under your supervision. Do not allow any chasing or fighting - only cats who are friends can chase each other or play-fight with impunity. Your two will be unlikely to reach that stage for quite a while.

    If Suki gets distressed with kitten in the room, then put kitten back in his safe room and try again next day.

    Do not leave the kitten and Suki together unsupervised until you are certain they can be trusted not to squabble. You need to avoid them squabbling at this stage as it will do potential harm to their future relationship.

    Once they are able to share the same space in harmony, ensure you increase all the resources, e.g. at least 3 litter trays between them, and spread them around, place extra water bowls, extra scratch posts and pads, more high up places to sit etc.

    Give each cat their own feeding spot (once they are together) at least 10 ft apart and out of sight of each other. e.g. perhaps feed Suki on the floor in her usual place and the kitten on a work top or table across the room. This arrangement should be permanent.

    Have the kitten neutered at around 4 months old before he reaches sexual maturity. Suki may reject him if he has the scent of male sex hormones.

    Be very patient with Suki, do not try and rush things. She needs to go at her own pace.

    Good luck. :)
    #2 chillminx, May 11, 2019
    Last edited: May 11, 2019
    Gallifreyangirl likes this.
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