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New cat introduced to existing cat - are we doing it right?

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by crazycatman1983, Sep 19, 2016.


  1. crazycatman1983

    crazycatman1983 PetForums Newbie

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    Hi there,

    We recently adopted a new cat from an animal rescue home, into our home which an existing cat has lived for approximately 2 years (he was also adopted from a rescue home). Both cats are male, have been neutered - the existing cat is 4, and the new cat is 2.

    We've been following the advice online to the tee - we put the new cat in its own room as soon as we brought him home, and kept the door closed. When the current cat went out, we would let the new cat have the run of the house, and when the current cat came back in, we put the new cat in their room again. We were careful not to let the cats meet or see each other. We also swapped toys, bedding, and rubbed each of them with clothes to swap each others' scents.

    After a couple of weeks of this, we opened the door (with a baby gate) so they could see and sniff each other for small periods of time. Aside from putting each others' paws under the baby gate, there wasn't any aggression or hissing.

    After another week, we decided to introduce them to each other in person. We removed the baby gate, and let them approach each other. They touched noses, and sniffed each other, but there was no obvious aggression the first few times they met. We thought everything was going well - however, fast forward 5 days, and they has been a bit of pawing and the odd attempt at biting each other. They only tend to meet twice per day, for about 30-40 minutes. The existing cat seems to be quite chilled, and just wants to lie down - but the new cat seems more excitable, and constantly approaches him. He obviously isn't too keen on this, and keeps lightly pawing the new cat on the head. This causes the new cat to back off for a moment a few times, then the new cat eventually gets in the new cats face and they scuffle. Not massively aggressively (there is no hissing/meowing) - but we break it up and we're not sure if it will escalate.

    What we'd like to know is whether this is a bad thing or not? From what I've read online, if you see any aggression - you should go back a step. But is this really aggression? Or just some teething issues they'll likely sort out between themselves (I mean one had to be top dog [or cat], right?).

    And if anyone has any tips on how we can help, that would also be appreciated :)

    Thanks

    Crazy Cat Man
     
  2. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Hi there @crazycatman1983 and welcome to Pet Forum :)

    It sounds as though you are doing well. :) It is always heartening to read of people using the gradual step-by-step introduction process when introducing a new cat to a resident cat.:)

    However the situation at present where the cats are fighting is not something that should be allowed to continue. The cats are not yet friends nor have they even had enough time to get the measure of each other so what they are doing is not playfighting. It has a more serious intent and could easily escalate into something more injurious if not nipped in the bud now.

    Also, it is important not to permit a culture of physical squabbling and whacking each other to develop when you are introducing new adult cats to each other. It is a different kettle of fish with kittens who have grown up together and may carry on their rough and tumble into adulthood in some cases.

    Cats unlike some species do not have a hierarchy, so the squabbling is not about who should be 'top cat'. Cats are very protective of their resources and do not always like sharing them with another cat.
    (Come to think of it humans are rather the same with their own species;))

    Valued resources for a cat are food, water, litter trays, cat beds, scratch posts, toys, and resident humans. Your original cat naturally regards all the resources as his, as your house has been his home, his territory for the past 2 years. He has no doubt been happy as an 'only' cat, and was not looking for a feline companion. So it is important to give him plenty of time to make up his mind whether or not he wants to accept this intruder into his territory and share his resources with him. If he does decide to, then he is being generous.

    If one allows a situation to arise where a new cat comes in and starts being aggressive with the original cat, wanting to take over his resources, the result can be the original cat is driven out by the new cat to find himself a new territory. Such a situation would be would be very stressful for the original cat, but it is what would happen in the wild, and cats still adhere to that even though they are domesticated.

    In situations where the cats are kept indoors 24/7 it is even worse because if the original cat loses his resources to the new cat, he is physically prevented from following his instincts and leaving to find a new territory. So he is trapped in a situation where he has lost his resources and feels crushed.

    In conclusion, it is best not to allow the cats to fight at all. A occasional swipe with a paw or a passing hiss as a warning is OK but a full on engagement with rolling around, bunny kicks and the like is too serious at this stage of their relationship. I would always supervise the two cats when they are together, give them short periods of time face to face, intervene immediately there is anything more than warning signals and separate them to their own quarters for the rest of the day.

    I would also allow them to see each other for longer periods through the baby gates, as long as there is no way they can jump over the gates. I always use a screen door because they can't jump over it, but some people use two tall baby gates, one on top of the other.

    Because resources are so important cats, increase the resources you provide to more than double so the cats feel there is almost a superfluity of resources. e.g. at least 4 litter trays between them, and spread around the home, several water bowls likewise, lots of scratch posts and pads, several to every room, plenty of cat beds, etc. And always their own feeding stations, even when you feel they are integrated together.

    If you go at a pace that the original cat dictates to you by his behavior you won't go far wrong. :)
     
    #2 chillminx, Sep 19, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2016
    ameliajane and moggie14 like this.
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