Cat Behavior – Inter-Cat Aggression

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 17,144
    Feline specialist Dr. Kat Miller discusses aggression between cats.

    Kat Miller: Hi! I am Dr. Kat Miller of the ASPCA. Today we are talking about understanding cat behavior and now we are going to talk about aggression between cats. When it comes to feeling friendships, or aggression between cats, prevention is really the best route to go. This means when you are bringing a new cat into your household that has an existing cat, it's really good idea to make the transition very slow, so that it goes more smoothly. Separating your two cats is not only a good idea when you are bringing a new cat into your household, but the technique also works for cats and who had been living together but aren't getting along very well.

    Bring your new cat into the home and separate it from the existing cat, give it its little own safe heaven room where it's quite and it can settle in. Bringing a new cat into the household is very difficult time for them, everything is new, they don't understand what's going on, there is new people, new environment as well as the new cat or the existing cat.

    So give them a little safe heaven and some times to take a breather and settle in before introducing them to the existing cat. This also gives the existing cat some time to get used to the idea of having a new comer in the household without actually having to interact with them. Cats have really good sense of smell and hearing, so they will both know that the other one is there but they don't have to necessarily see them and interact.

    In this little safe heaven room, put your kitty in there, it should will be really comfortable and welcoming. You should have everything your cat needs from a bed, toys to food and water and a litter box and put the food next to the dividing door that separates it from the existing cat and put your existing cat's food or snacks on the other side of the door. This will encourage the two cats to come together on either side of the door in a positive way, they will be happy because they are munching and everybody is happy when they eat and the cats will be close to each other, they will be rewarded for coming close to each other but they don't have to interact yet.

    The next step is to crack the door open just a little bit. Now that you might want to wait a few days before you do this and take your time, don't rush things. Crack the door open just an inch so that the kitties can sort of just peek one eye through without having to really, again, interact. They will be able to see each other in a very low-key-way. Keep up the rewards for being close. So treats, play, all sorts of good stuff for your kitties, close to that divider door where they can see each other.

    Do this for several days, get a feel for how your cats are responding to that. If they are upset or they are sinking around, they are hiding, they are not ready to meet the other cat yet. As soon as they are relaxed and their tails are up and they are sniffing around and seem playful and interested in the food, it's time for the next step.

    You can next, put the cats on a harness and leash, you want them to get used to this ahead of time. Put them on opposite sides of the room and keep them engaged in toys or feeding time. Over the course of the few days, or a few weeks, gradually move those cats closer and closer together, always occupied in a positive, activity, feeding or play your cuddle time, so that they are forming overtime a very positive association with the other cat. Good stuff happens to them when the other cat is around. Overtime, keep these introduction sessions up when you are supervising. However, when you are not supervising, separate the cats again in the different room, so that there is no set back to know as soon as you turn your back, there is going to be a little set back and set the whole process back to several days.

    So keep them in very controlled circumstances until they can be right up close to each other, playing and having a good time, and then you know that they are ready to spend some time together and you can give them a little bit of time each day, gradually increasing amounts of unsupervised time. Now in addition to this whole process, you might be using cat pheromones in your house and these are commercially available and it's a scent that only cats can smell and humans cannot and it can have a bit of combing effect in cats that are experiencing a stressful situation. So it might make the transition of brining a new cat into the household, go a little smoother where reintroducing two cats who hadn't been getting along, it might reduce some tension and make things go a little faster and easier for you.

    Dealing with two cats who don't get along is a very difficult situation to be in and you probably want to ask for some professional help. I really recommend you check-out the ASPCA's website and our Virtual Pet Behaviorist for advice or see your local Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist or Veterinary Behaviorist to help get a handle on how to deal with this situation successfully. I hope that the tips we've presented will help you and your cat live together in peace and harmony.