Introducing a New Older Female Cat to a Resident 6mth Male Kitten

by Jess
(Southampton, UK)

I have a 6 month old kitten who has lived with me for 2 months. My gran recently went into permanent residential care and I agreed to take in her cat - which has caused these cat problems to start.

When the older female cat came into our home she would not tolerate the male kitten anywhere near her and would hiss loudly and takes swipes at him if he came within scratching distance. The female cat spent most of her time under my bed or behind the sofa, with the male kitten trying to make friends and being submissive by rolling over on his back. They gradually began to tolerate each other and occasionally have a nap together on the sofa, and are OK eating relatively near to each other.

I thought they had begun to assmilate and a beautiful friendship was forming. The problem is that the male kitten has started to get brave - stalking and pouncing on the older female - who then retaliates and attacks back.

The male kitten is quite hyper and amuses himself exploring and playing with toys and chasing imaginary foes in a manic fashion! He has not been neutered as he is an indoor cat.

The older female cat is about 8 years old - she was a rescue cat. She is very obese, but losing some weight on a restricted diet. She came to stay for 2 months last year and lost some weight then. She was the only cat then and took weeks to come out from under the bed, and eventually was settled in to our house and even began to bond with my 9 year old son. She was the reason we got a kitten - she was missed when she returned to my gran.

Reply from Liz (Editor): These cat problems will, I'm absolutely sure, sort themselves out over time.

When the two cats were first introduced, they had to establish their hierarchy - hence the initial hissing etc. from the older cat. It looks like this has now largely been sorted out, but your kitten, being typically full of energy and playfulness, can't resist pushing the boundaries. Like you said, he's getting brave and seeing what he can get away with.

The older female will, I'm sure, tolerate this behavior to an extent, but when he pushes her to far he'll be rewarded with a quick reprisal in the form of a swipe and / or bite. I'm pretty sure the older cat, from what you've told me, won't really hurt him - she'll just do enough to warn him off. He will eventually learn ho far he can push her, and will learn where his boundaries are.

You can help to discourage him jumping and pouncing on the female by squirting a short burst of water from a water pistol at him when he's either just aout to jump on her, or is in the act of it. Try to not let him see it's you that's squirting the water - that way he'll associate the water with his behavior rather than with you.

Because of his age, he will try to torment her quite a bit as he's got so much energy to get rid of. You can help ease the situation by playing with him - especially using games and toys that make him run around and basically wear him out!

I'd also recommend getting him neutered pretty soon, even though he's an indoor only cat. This will help to stop him becoming too dominant, and will stop other unwanted behaviors that un-neutered male cats tend to display such as urine spraying. He may even start trying to mount her, even though she's spayed - which is obviously not ideal!

Best of luck with sorting these cat problems. From what you've said I think everything is heading in the right direction, it will just take a bit more time and possibly a little intervention from you to resolve them.

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