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Author Topic: Introducing a new cat to an ornery cat  (Read 4311 times)

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Just Lori

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Introducing a new cat to an ornery cat
« on: November 27, 2012, 06:49:41 PM »
We have a cat.  She's an ornery cat.  She loves the folks she loves, but when she doesn't love someone, she shows it by hissing and snarling.  I totally blame some younger family members, who would tease her mercilessly when they visited.  She's never been the same.

Anyhow, my husband and daughters have it in their minds that we should have another cat.  They want a kitten.  Does anyone have suggestions for introducing a new cat to an ornery one?  I've heard you should do the opposite gender.  I've also heard that you should go with a kitten, rather an an adult cat.  Ornery cat is 7, by the way.

Any other suggestions?


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Re: Introducing a new cat to an ornery cat
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2012, 07:30:45 PM »
So ornery cat is a girl? I would advise a boy kitten. Not a tiny kitten, but a bigger kitten (like in the 4-6 month range) because it will be better able to defend itself physically. (Also the personality of an older kitten is a good representation of what it will be like long term.)

Keep them separated by a door for a day or so, then swap "sides" of the door so they can each experience the area the other was covering with its scent. In my experience, the vast majority of cats adjust reasonably well to new cats. It can help to give them really fun play time with cat nip and some exciting toys (feather on a stick, mouse hanging from a string) together, so that their focus is on the toys and not each other.

Hissing, spitting and the occasional swat are normal in the first week or so. There will be suspicious stalking and a lot of staring.

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Re: Introducing a new cat to an ornery cat
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2012, 03:48:17 AM »
Whenever we've added a new kitten, we shut the established cat(s) away in the bathroom for an hour or so, to let the kitten adjust to his new surroundings. This is a good time to point out his litter box and food dishes. In general, I think boy cats are easier/more friendly than girl cats.

I imagine that ornery kitty is going to possibly swat the new kitten, hiss, express general displeasure but then stomp away and sulk for a good while. Kitten will win her over though. When we adopted Frankie, our bigger kitty Arnold was NOT HAPPY. They still occasionally beat each other up with snarling and hissing, but they are currently sharing the same car bed so they do love each other.

Make sure you give ornery kitty extra love after new kitten comes in. Good luck!
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Miss Unleaded

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Re: Introducing a new cat to an ornery cat
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2012, 05:38:31 AM »
The other suggestions are very good.  There are also plug in diffusers you can buy (Feliway I think is the brand name) that are supposed to release pheromones that calm cats down.

Just be aware though, that some cats are more solitary by nature than others.  My previous cat (now passed on) was one of these.  When we brought a new cat home he got so aggressive that he actually attacked me and the new cat and put me in hospital for a few days.  For that reason I would suggest getting a younger cat from a shelter that has a return policy in case new cat and ornery cat don't get along.

Good luck.   :)


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Re: Introducing a new cat to an ornery cat
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2012, 05:45:09 AM »
I had a similar situation over the summer after my old gentleman passed away.  I decided that the smartest thing for me to do would be to adopt not one, but two male kittens--littermates who were already bonded.  My "ornery" Mehitabel is ten years old and I figured it wasn't fair to expect her to play with a kitten, and kittens need to play.  At first, they were confined to the spare room with their litter box, food, and water.  (It definitely helps to have a spare bedroom, but in a pinch I suppose I would have used the bathroom.)  I did all the things that the experts recommend with introducing new kittens to established cats, except I never had to resort to Feliway.

The boys were in one room for most of a week, and then introduced slowly to the rest of the house.  I spent a lot of time in that spare room!  Every time I came out of it, I would immediately go to the kitchen and offer Mehitabel some Greenies.  It got to the point where she started to associate the boys with food, and that definitely made a difference to her attitude!  She still grumbles at them frequently, and cuffs one or the other of them when she has decided she needs to do so, but nothing that doesn't come under the "feline hierarchy" umbrella.

Kittens are expensive, though--it cost a bundle to get the boys neutered a couple of months ago.  Ah, well... I tell myself that they're worth it, even when they start chasing candy wrappers fished out of the trash can all around the kitchen (loudly) at three in the morning...


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Re: Introducing a new cat to an ornery cat
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2012, 06:04:25 AM »
As far as the costs go for shots and neutering, try going to Petsmart to look at their shelter animals. Often the cost of those services is built into the adoption fee. I think we paid $90 for Frankie.
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Re: Introducing a new cat to an ornery cat
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2012, 06:52:47 AM »
I'd keep the new cat in a separate room for about a week. Then swap the two cats a couple of times so that they get used to the other's scent. Whenever you leave the new cat, go to the older cat and let her sniff you--she'll definitely get the other cat's scent.

Expect hissing and chasing and some swatting for the first few weeks. I've never had two cats who completely got along. I see other people's pictures of cats sleeping in a heap and I envy them. The best I've had was two cats who would, grudgingly, sleep on the same bed or sofa, maybe getting as close as a foot between them. But they would only hiss and "fight" about once a week. ("Fights" being nocturnal chases through the entire house, up and over my bed at 3 am. No one would get hurt.)

Aim for peaceful co-existence. If you end up with two best buddies who do everything together, consider that the icing on the cake.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


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Re: Introducing a new cat to an ornery cat
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2012, 12:23:09 PM »
I used to foster kittens, and my resident cat is a jerk.

I'd keep them separated for at least 2 weeks (longer if you have the time). There will be a lot of sniffing under the door and growling at the door and perhaps some hissing and swatting at you when you re-emerge from the room of the interloper.  Perhaps a few treats at that point to soothe the resident angry beast.

Swap towels/toys after a few days so they can get a better idea of each others scent. When you let the kitten out, make sure both cats can get away from each other safely.  Likely resident cat with swat at the kitten.  Equally as likely, the kitten won't really mind and may continue trying to pester the resident cat.  here's a handout from the shelter i volunteer at that may help.


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Re: Introducing a new cat to an ornery cat
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2012, 03:26:23 PM »
I agree with all that's been said, especially the part about occasional swatting or hissing.  This may continue for longer than a couple weeks.  But it's not aggression or anything dangerous.  Cats operate on their own timetable, and no human has ever succeeded in changing this!

I also agree on an older kitten.  It's easier on the other cat and more fair to the younger one.


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Re: Introducing a new cat to an ornery cat
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2012, 03:34:16 PM »
My older cat, Parmie (now coming up on 2 1/2) was 1 1/2 when I decided to get her a playmate.  Parmie is an extremely loving cat - when she wants to be.  She's pretty much a one woman cat (though she has finally accepted my DH!).  At the time, I was single and not home very often (full time grad student with almost full time outside job) so Parmie was very lonely when we moved to a new apt.  (Previously, I had lived with a roommate that had two dogs.  Parmie loved the dogs).  Parmie is the epitome of "fickle cat".

She was NOT pleased when I brought home a tiny little ball of fluff (Brie).  (2 months old).

Initially, I had Brie stay in the little cat carrier for a couple hours.  Parmie came over and they smelled each other.  Brie was excited, she wanted to play (I swear that this cat is a confused puppy).  Parmie, after an hour of smelling, started yowling and hissing and promptly went to hide in the box spring under my bed for 3 days, hissing whenever I'd go over by the bed.

After those couple hours, I let Brie out of the box, and she pranced around happy as a clam, smelling everything she could.  She adjusted quite well.

After those first 3 nerve-wracking days of Parmie hating everything (and she had NEVER hissed at me before this point) something happened, and they started to get along. 

Nowadays, we have since moved to a new place, they are besties.  They sleep together, play together, and Parmie has become extremely maternal to Brie - think Simba's mom giving him a bath from the Lion King. 

I have this theory that an ornery cat will do better with a young kitten, because once over the initial shock, they become maternal.  But you have to take your time in introducing them - no NOT force them to smell each other.  Let them get used to the scents and so on. 

I have a single litterbox and just a single bowl of water and food out for the two Katzen, and they are totally fine sharing all of those things.  Actually - I think this is kind of weird - but they can sit and eat their crunchies together without any hissing or fights.