Introducing kitten to older cat

by Cecilia
(Durban South Africa)

Hi we adopted a 8 week old female kitten 10 months ago, we also have a 5 year old female cat. I followed the steps - keeping the kitten in a room to get to know us for 2 weeks. Let the big cat sniff through the door (not seeing) the kitten for about 1 month, daily scent swapping (still ongoing, the only thing that seems fine). We build a big cage for the kitten to be viewed by the older cat and vise verse (5min a day)for a few weeks...the older cat still spat, growled and hissed at the kitten. In the end we had to put up two gates in the one part of the house seeing that it was impossible to keep the kitten contained to the room only. I have tried the eating together (gate separating them at about 10 feet away from each other)the older cat will eat for about 10 sec and then growls and run away. Nothing has changed in the 10 months and the kitten will be 1 year old this month.

According to the tuxedocat website i cant move forward until i have succeeded in the previous steps. I am scared that the cats think that this is the way they are going to live for ever. At times i think the older cat is scarred of the kitten, because if they see each other through the window the kitten run towards it very excitedly, the the older cat spits and growls? I dont know.

I spoke to my vet and he suggested that i get some tablets from him to calm the older cat, after administering it to her for a day or so,

will the following steps help:-
Introducing the cats whilst eating, seeing each other but far enough away to prevent contact, i also thought of getting a lead to attach to the kittens collar in case she runs towards the older cat. Do you think if i do that every day for 5min will that work? I dont know what else to do HELP pls.

RESPONSE:

I'm sorry I have been so tardy in replying to you but I was traveling in Europe for 3 weeks and internet access wasn't always available.

When reading what you have tried to do so far to resolve the problem with integrating the new cat into the household, it looks like you have done all the right things. I believe you are correct that the older cat is afraid (or deeply apprehensive) of the activity level of the younger cat, plus it's turf is being invaded.

I've had a similar situation while integrating cat #6, Giorgio, into our household. Although the situation isn't entirely resolved yet we are having some success with a two-pronged approach. First we take Giorgio, encased in a large towel which keeps him immobile (like a cat burrito) and slowly walk him around and let the other cats smell his face. Coty (the smallest but bravest of the bunch) hissed and growled at him but he didn't respond in kind, simply observed, because he wanted to have feline company and not be segregated. The others smell him cautiously, trusting that I won't let him loose, and then sit back and watch him. The vet says he is 2-3 years old while all the other cats range from 4-11 years and he's larger so I believe the energy level along with size makes them wary.

After the visit to smell each other, we place Giorgio in a large soft-sided carrier in the middle of the room. It has very strong mesh windows all around so he is in full view of the other cats and he can see them. They walk around and smell him through the mesh and he does the same. Cats are very attuned to smell telling them the identity of another animal more than visually seeing the other cat.

A few swats at the mesh from one of the cats is the worst that has happened, along with a few more hisses from Coty who is jealous of the interloper. I can see the carrier from the kitchen when I'm preparing dinner so it's all under control.

Giorgio is then taken to his own room to have his dinner and play with a few of his toys until we put his harness on him. We then walk him into the room and hold the leash taut so he can't go bounding forward...terrorizing any of the others. They watch cautiously as he is led around the room. After 5 minutes, he is returned to his room for the night.

So far, months later, Coty can now be in the same room with an unharnessed Giorgio without incident as long as I'm there to stop him from lunging forward towards her too quickly. She's much smaller than him but very feisty and when he gets too close she holds her ground and warns him off with hissing and a deep growl. He backs away and behaves, sits on a nearby padded chair, and they watch each other off and on warily...but sometimes they even doze off.

Once Coty accepts him fully, I'm convinced that the others will follow. She's only 6 but seems to be the little queen bee, monitoring where everyone else is in the house. Chanel, (4 years) is such a scaredy cat that she runs under the sofa when Giorgio appears so it's going to take longer with her.

I hope that I have given you a couple of ideas to try. It is difficult in the beginning but slowly, integration is possible. I have a couple of other pages you might look at: Cat Behavior Medications, Multi-Cat Households, and Animal Behaviorists.

Also, perhaps some of the visitors to this site will offer additional suggestion via the comments section. I wish you well with this project. Having multiple cats takes patience...

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