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Help! cat agressive towards new kittens

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi, I am new to the forum and am looking for a little help with my current situation. I apologize in advance for the long post, but I think I should provide a little background. I have a 14-year old cat (whom I've had since she was about 6 months old) who has primarily been the only household cat. She's OK with the dog (also 14), who came into her life when she was about 5 years old.

My husband and I recently rescued a pregnant cat who gave birth to a litter of 4 kittens in our garage. We found homes for 2 of the kittens and the mama, and decided to try and integrate the remaining 2 kittens into our house (they were 11 weeks at the time). We followed all of the advice we were given: the kittens have their own room, food, litterbox. We started letting them in a little at a time, supervising their interaction with my cat. She hissed and growled alot, but would eventually walk away. We would give her "treats" when they were out, praise good behavior, and rub their scent on her. She remained very affectionate towards me, even when they were around. So we started increasing the visits and supervising less for the next 2-3 weeks.

Unfortunately, instead of becoming more tolerant, my cat has become increasingly agressive and will now chase after them and strike out. Sometimes she does still ignore them and once they even batted around the same toy for a minute or two. But she still hisses, growls, chases and strikes (no blood drawn yet). The kittens seem to be a little afraid of her, but suprisingly unfazed. The orange male will submit, continue to purr, and then follow her around until she swats at him again! I adore my cat, but am also very attached to these kittens whose birth I witnessed. It is hard for me not to reprimand my cat when she strikes, but I don't want to praise her either. I know this integration is not easy, but I'm not quite sure what to do at this point. Any suggestions?
post #2 of 10
She will let them know that she is the boss. To me, it doesnt sound like things are going badly. She will hiss and growl to teach them their place and their limits with her. Good luck, it sounds like things are going in the right direction.
post #3 of 10
I believe this is a dominance issue. She is the head cat and will brook NO interference.

You said the orange kitty submits and purrs and follows her. That is the right behaviour for him to make.

I use my voice a lot in my house. I also have a new kitty, and she is running the dominance game too. She is a little more aggressive than yours. That's when I loudly say, "No fighting" " No fighting allowed in the house" and Tammy-Timmy usually slinks away for about 15 minutes or so.

You may want to use your voice, or you can physically get between them, but I do NOT advise that as you could get scratched if they decide to go at it.
post #4 of 10
When do you get involved & break it up? Benson is constantly going after Molly & Lucky. Molly runs and hides and Lucky will fight back. I am afraid the kitten will hurt them with his claws since they don't have their fronts anymore.
post #5 of 10
I've had good luck using a product called Comfort Zone with Feliway during introductions. It is a plug-in that emits soothing feline pheromones. It sounds kooky but really works. I have a cat that would prefer to be the only cat and he gets really stressed out by new cats. We have been through this process twice now and the second one went smoothly from the beginning because I plugged in the Feliway on day one. It is available from pet stores and also veterinarians.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Well, it's been about 3 weeks now since I first posted and I did get the Feliway plugin. Ophelia (my 14-year old) seemed to mellow out a bit, but not much. Perhaps she is one of those cats who are not really affected by it, or her agression/possiveness is extreme. We are at the point now where they are together all the time, even bedtime, and there have been no all-out "fights", but Ophelia won't sleep with me anymore and seems to be a bit more skittish overall. Ironically enough, yesterday some friends asked if we used the litterbox trick to introduce the kittens. Rub the alpha cat's litter all over the new kittens before they meet so that the alpha cat will think the kittens are an extension of her. Sounds promising, but a little too late for us at this point.
post #7 of 10
It sounds like things have gone well. You might find if you give Ophelia some one on one time (just you and her) , sitting down on the floor, softly talking to her on a daily basis might ease her skittishness. I havent ever heard of the litter box trick. hmmmmmmm
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
I have definitely been trying to have some alone-time with Ophelia. She will still snuggle with me, just not sleep. And that's OK because the situation is relatively new (although sometimes her unprovoked crankiness towards the kittens does try my patience). It is a little harder to play with her w/out interruption; however, I am amazed at how often the kittens are respectful of her playtime vs. their playtime.

As for the litterbox trick, my friends swear by it (and they have introduced 3-4 cats into their household this way, no issues). I was just reading a thread about how a spayed or neutered kitten may become a little unrecognizable for a few days - maybe that would be a way to reintroduce them to Ophelia....
post #9 of 10
I think you're doing fine. I think the most important thing now is just to give Ophelia some extra attention, treats, etc...whatever you can do to minimize her stress and make her feel important.

Our head female has an initiation process that she puts new kitties through. She does some hissing/growling, but that fades quickly and then she just swats them on the head, 4-5 times, real fast - each time she sees them. This has always gone on for months, until the new kitty is 7-8 months old usually. Eventually she quits doing it. It's so funny because her way of accepting them is when she "lets" them lick the top of her head. She bows down, and they lick, then they cower and wait for their swats . She's never hurt any of them. We have peace and harmony with 8, so I think it will all work out.
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
This situation is like riding a roller coaster. One minute I think everything is going to work out OK in time and the next minute I want to cry because I think that I've "lost" my cat. I love the kittens, but have to shut them in a room if I want to have any quality time with Ophelia; otherwise, they won't leave us alone and that provokes her. I do want them to see me giving her attention (and vice versa), but their presence around me (when I'm trying to be affectionate with her) can turn her a bit vicious and she will hiss, growl, and chase them down to swat ... hard. Or she'll hiss and run away from me. Once or twice, in her angered state, she's even hissed/swatted at me too, which is completely disturbing as we've had such a close bond until now. This is much more emotionally difficult than I anticipated. I'd take territorial marking over this any day.
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