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Please help! Hissy kitten at resident cat

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by Hanm3, Dec 24, 2019.


  1. Hanm3

    Hanm3 PetForums Newbie

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    Hi all! I’m new here, I’d like some advice on my new kitten / cat introduction as I’m losing my mind over here!

    We have had a brown Bengal boy (Things) for 10 months now, he is almost 1, he’s a wonderful cat with a great character, but as my partner and I have had to be in less and less, and he became more bored, we decided to get him a friend.

    Enter Hope (silver Bengal), who we have had for two weeks now. She is 4 months. We have kept her confined in the bathroom and she became comfortable in there very quickly. We began ‘proper’ slow introductions (scent swapping, meeting through crack in the wall, food together etc) until beginning to have supervised meetings together.

    The problem is Things, although young, is VERY big for his age (6.4kg) and I’m concerned he doesn’t know his own strength. He seems to only want to play with Hope, he has his claws sheathed and hasn’t once hissed or growled at her. (I’ve never seen him hiss or growl ever) He has pinned her and bit her a couple of times although from what I have witnessed this isn’t aggressive.

    Hope however is constantly growling and hissing at Things when they’re together. She seems quite frightened in her body language towards him and goes crazy when he pins her down (screaming / hissing). She has her back arched a lot of the time even when he’s just in the room which is horrible to see!! She is fine with us normally and completely settled in her safe room (eating / toileting as normal)

    I’ve heard that Things’ behaviour is pretty normal in terms of establishing dominance in the house. Hope has submitted to him and let him bite her but he just seems to constantly pounce on her.

    I’m stuck as to what to do at this stage. Things lies next to the bathroom door caterwauling to get into her. When they do interact Hope hates it. I feel bad for telling Things off when he pounces as he doesn’t seem aggressive but Hope is so scared!

    How do I get Hope to accept him? From everything I’ve read I’ve heard it’s most likely to be the resident cat that hisses, what do I do if the kitten does? She seems to growl / hiss at him even when he doesn’t touch her and I feel really bad that he just wants to play!

    I feel so disheartened and sad about this. The whole reason we got Hope was to enrich Things’ life as everything I’ve read says Bengals are better in pairs. Please any advice / reassurance would be so welcome at this stage!!

    And merry Christmas!!

    P.s- we already have feliway
     
  2. Bertie'sMum

    Bertie'sMum Obedient Cat Slave

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    I hope that @chillminx will see your post soon as she has lots of excellent advice about introducing a new cat into an existing cat's territory. In the meantime however, can I ask if both Things and Hope have been neutered yet ?
     
  3. Hanm3

    Hanm3 PetForums Newbie

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    Hi! Yes Things has been neutered, Hope hasn’t been spayed yet (I think she’s a little too young)
     
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  4. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Hello @Hanm3 and welcome :)

    Kittens can be neutered from the age of 4 months old. Most vets are prepared to do the op from that age these days. If Hope is approaching sexual maturity (as is likely) then it could account for why she is being very antagonistic to Things. Because with him pinning her down and biting her neck she will think he is trying to mate with her.

    Unlike some animals, cats do not have a hierarchy, so Things is not trying to establish 'dominance' over Hope. If he was not neutered he might try and dominate her sexually but as he has been neutered this does not apply (assuming he was not neutered within the last couple of months).

    Cats, being solitary hunters, are highly protective of their territory and their feline resources. This is why Things is being aggressive towards Hope - he does not want to share his resources or territory with her. Basically he wants her gone, away, out of the house!

    From what I know of Bengals they are very territorial cats. And I have read they may be happier in pairs, but that this applies to situations where they have grown up together as kittens e.g. litter mates.

    As Hope is evidently very frightened of Things (who as you say is very big for his age at 6.4 kg at only 10 months! ) It is understandable she is afraid of him. So they should not be left together unsupervised, or at night when you are asleep.

    As things are difficult between the two of them, it would be wiser to erect a screen between them, so they can see each other, read each other's body language and smell each other's scent, without being able to have any direct contact. This will give Hope more confidence, which she needs at present. You could make a screen from a wooden frame and bird cage wire, and attach hinges and a catch to keep it closed. Or you could buy a hinged mesh screen door from amazon, such as this one (I know of a few people who have bought this one and it seems to be adequate for the purpose. Note they come in different sizes so you will need to measure the doorway of the room where you intend to put the screen.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/vidaXL-Hinged-Insect-120x240cm-Curtain/dp/B01G3R6T26/ref=sr_1_4?crid=3P8ZP2O05U0A&keywords=hinged+fly+screen+door&qid=1577227445&sprefix=hinged+screen+door+,aps,139&sr=8-4

    Once you have acquired the hinged screen and fitted it with a closing catch, fit the screen in the doorway of Hope's safe room. Then allow the two cats to get to know each other at their own pace. Do not rush things - the idea is for them to have gradual exposure to each other. Be prepared for their acceptance of each other to take several weeks or even several months. Hissing is OK, but any growling, yowling or attacking the screen, close the wooden door for a few hours to give them both a break from each other.

    Once they can tolerate each other through the screen you can allow them to have direct contact for short periods always under your supervision. Any chasing, fighting etc and Hope is returned to her safe room.

    Because it is an issue about resources, it is advisable to multiply all the existing resources in the home. e.g.

    1/ Litter trays - a minimum of 3 but I would provide 4.

    2/ water bowls - several around the house

    3/ scratch posts and scratch pads - several to every room, different textures, and site one near every door

    4/ a couple of tall cat trees and shelves to provide high resting places

    5/ 5 or 6 cat beds (if they use cat beds) so they can swap around where they sleep - as cats like to do


    Give Things and Hope their own separate feeding spots out of sight of each other. This should be a permanent arrangement. Always feed Things first, so he knows there is enough food for him. Once the two of them are sharing the same spaces, it would be a good idea to buy them each a microchip feeder so they can feel assured their food resources are safe.

    Good luck. :)

    p.s. I wouldn't bother using a pet gate as a screen - they're not tall enough (cats can climb over them) and the gaps between the bars are easy for a kitten of Hope's size to squeeze through.
     
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  5. Bertie'sMum

    Bertie'sMum Obedient Cat Slave

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    just one small thing that @chillminx "forgot" to mention - photos of Things and Hope please :):):)
     
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  6. Hanm3

    Hanm3 PetForums Newbie

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    thank you so much for your detailed reply!

    I will ask the vet about neutering, thank you, and look into the screen door.

    We had them both in a ripple rug today and it went well! Hope actually gave him a few playful swipes which she hasn’t done before and didn’t hide from him.

    it does always escalate though and ends in her being overly cautious. She has a habit of growling / hissing at him when he hasn’t done anything to her which I’m worried about. I thought the kittens were meant to be the playful / forgiving ones?!

    Also Things also makes a very strange noise after his visits with her. It’s almost a chirping, (but not quite the same one he does at birds), any idea why?

    I really, really want them to be best of friends!

    merry catmas!! Xx
     
  7. Hanm3

    Hanm3 PetForums Newbie

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    Here’s some photos of the terrors!
     

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  8. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Wow, what gorgeous cats! Things is a very handsome fellow - love his coat pattern! And Hope is very cute and pretty. xx

    Cats make a chirruping sound when they greet each other, or greet their humans. This is probably what Things is doing with Hope. So it sounds as though he may be willing to accept her. But it is understandable Hope is wary of him if he keeps pouncing on her and pinning her down. Female cats do not like that unless they are in call (heat) and wanting to mate.

    You may be able to manage the integration without a screen door, but tbh it could be a lot of work for you trying to keep them happy without a screen to help you, as you will have to keep on separating them every time Hope gets scared of Things.

    (p.s. why is your gorgeous boy called "Things"? .....Just curious! :))
     
  9. Hanm3

    Hanm3 PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you so much! Is there a way I can stop him pinning her down? I don’t know why he insists on doing it when she hates it so much! Does it tend to calm down?

    Things is called Things because of a song called Things by my favourite band, Frightened Rabbit. The lead singer sadly lost his life so I thought it was a nice way to remember him
     
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  10. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    I expect you can tell by his body language when he intends to pin Hope down? I would not pick him up when he is that mood, as he might turn on you in annoyance. But you could discourage Things by putting a cushion between him and Hope before he bites her neck; then you should be able to pick up Hope and remove her to another room.

    I can't promise that Things will ever stop doing it, but once Hope is bigger and stronger she will be able to fight him off more easily than she can at the moment. I think the fact it is happening will mean Hope will never feel she can entirely trust Things. But she may come to tolerate him in time.

    Was Things neutered late - i.e. some time after he'd reached sexual maturity? Male cats who are neutered late sometimes retain the habit of pinning down and neck biting other cats to subdue them. Some neutered males even use this behaviour on another neutered male to subdue them.. But mostly I have seen neutered males do it to neutered females.
     
  11. Hanm3

    Hanm3 PetForums Newbie

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    Hi, no Things was neutered relatively early, around 4 months.
    He’s been less bitey today, but she is still overly cautious. I’m hoping it’s just a matter of time before they come round to each other.
    Thank you for your help
     
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