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Will she ever accept a new kitten in the house?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I'm a little worried about my cat's behavior. Sneakers is an older kitty, I think she is at least 13 but we rescued her about 4 years ago and don't know her exact age or history...
I recently rescued a little baby stray kitten, and Sneakers is VERY upset. The kitten has been here for about 3 weeks now. Sneakers gets very angry whenever she sees, hears, or smells the kitten and will hiss and growl even if she just hears him, and will start clawing and hissing at you if you are carrying her if she THINKS you might be bringing her near him (even though you are not.) I have not let her get anywhere near him because the kitten has a cold or cat flu and had parasites (treated) so I don't want Sneakers to catching anything... Also I am afraid she might hurt him, since she is 13 pounds and the kitten is only 8 weeks old...
The kitten is kept in the bedroom or crated when I can't watch him, and Sneakers stays far away from that area.

This kitten will be going to a new family when I find someone to adopt him, but the problem is we are expecting a Maine Coon kitten from a breeder in the new few months. I'm not worried that Sneakers might never be ok with another cat in the house, and I am worried about what will happen when we get the kitten we've been waiting for! The way our house is we would be able to permanently keep them separated but it would not be an ideal situation...
post #2 of 7
At her age, it'll likely take months for her to begin to not openly completely & totally hate a new cat. It's normal.

Just be prepared for a lot of work......Feliway, vanilla, rescue remedy & slow going.
post #3 of 7
Some cats take longer than others to accept new kitties. Shelly is our "Ambassador" kitty, and he pretty much accepts new cats right off the bat. Spooky is jealous and hateful, and it takes her six months to stop hitting, hissing and being generally upset and really pissy about a new kitty. It takes a year for everything to get back to normal. And this started when she was just two years old. So imagine her at 13!

The best thing to do is what you're doing - keep them separated. In the new house, if you are up for it, a great way to handle it is to replace a solid door that separates kitties with a screen door. New kitty may need to be separated for several weeks - maybe several months - maybe longer. It depends upon your existing kitty, whose needs and territory concerns come first. However, moving into a new house - new territory - may make the adjustment easier (quicker) for everyone. But remember - the most important ingredient here is going to be time, and your existing kitty comes first.

I also suggest the use of Feliway spray or plug-ins. Feliway is a synthetic hormone that mimics the "friendly" marker in cats' cheeks. You can also consider the use of Flower Essences. Both can be purchased here: http://www.catfaeries.com

Cats learn best by association, so what you want to do is to get your 13-year old to associate the new kitty with good things. Rub new kitty all over with an unscented cloth, and put treats out every day for your 13-year old (you can do the reverse for the kitty with the 13-year old's scent). Rub new kitty all over with an unscented cloth, and put that under the 13-year old's food dish.

Any time your 13-year old sees new kitty and doesn't react negatively, praise her to high heaven. Maybe keep a stash of new toys that your 13-year old likes, and whenever she doesn't make a fuss about new kitten, give her a toy. Let her think it's a party for her because of the new kitty!

You can do the scent-swapping trick with cat-nip toys too (if your kitties respond to and like catnip). Because the cats will drool all over the toy, it'll stink like them. Let new kitty use the catnip toy. If 13-year old hasn't had a cat-nip toy in a week or so (cats become insensitive to catnip, and toys need to be taken up after a day or two and not put back down for at least a week - in some cases, for two weeks or so), then give her the catnip toy new kitty drooled all over.

The idea is to help your 13-year old understand that her space is not threatened, your love for her is as strong as ever, and she's not doing something wrong by not liking the intruder - and then to help her understand that the intruder means GOOD things for her.

BTW - some cats do not adjust to new ones. There are several people on TCS that I'm aware of that have tried, and in the end made the decision to keep their homes one-kitty households.

Hope this helps,

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the tips! I didn't mean that we were moving to a new house, I meant that the stray kitten I found will be found a new home (new owners) as soon as he is healthy and can be vaccinated and neutered...so he is the one going to a new home.

The way our house is, there is a main floor and an upper floor. My brother (who is the one getting the Maine Coon kitten but also the one who Sneakers likes to stay/sleep with) lives on the upper floor, which is set up like a separate apartment.There are two doors going to the second floor, one at the top and one at the bottom of the stairs. There is a cat door in the bottom door and another cat door next to the upper door. This means that if we needed to we could keep those cat doors closed off and keep one cat upstairs and one down, if we could not get them to get along...

What we had been planning to do with the Maine Coon kitten was at first, have her stay in my bedroom during the day (with the door closed, and Sneakers would get the run of the rest of the house) and stay in my brother's bedroom in the evening and night when he is home (with Sneakers again getting the run of the rest of the house.) This way the kitten could adjust to her new home and we could keep her out of mischief by limiting where she was allowed.
I figure that way Sneakers and the kitten would be able to get used to each others' scents at first without actually meeting.

The only problem is that if Sneakers never accepted the kitten, she would most likely end up being "banished" to the main floor of the house while the Maine Coon kitten stayed upstairs (since the kitten belongs to my brother, who lives upstairs.) However this will be hard on Sneakers because she is used to sleeping by my brother and staying upstairs with him when he's home...

What I am hoping for is that Sneakers will learn to tolerate the new kitten at least, but the problem is I don't know how likely it is that she will! We have two dogs (who were here before Sneakers) and she tolerates them. She doesn't like them but most of the time she leaves them alone and they leave her alone, except once in a while they annoy her and she claws at them... If I could even get to that point with the kitten it would be acceptable, as long as she would not hurt the kitten.
post #5 of 7
I'd still recommend changing one of the doors on the stairs with a screen door (without a cat door in it) so they can "see" and smell each other - if Sneakers wants to. Other than that, I like the plan - combined with scent swapping and supervised "intro" visits - just take it slow, and let Sneakers tell you what her boundaries are. I'm sure with time it'll work.

post #6 of 7
Poor Sneakers obviously has insecurity issues. She might have been displaced from her previous home by a new kitten; we don't know. All we know is that she fears displacement.

The way I would handle it is to tell her the kitten is only here for a little while, commiserate with what a handful the kitten is, and remind her she is still your special cat.

This will address her concerns. At least, it will let her know you understand and will be trying to handle her concerns.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Werebear View Post
Poor Sneakers obviously has insecurity issues. She might have been displaced from her previous home by a new kitten; we don't know. All we know is that she fears displacement.
Actually I think just the fact that her old owners basically dumped her might be enough to cause issues... I don't know how long they owned her but given that she was about 11+ when we got her it seems they may have had her a very long time...then they just decided they didn't want her anymore and gave her to some kid who was visiting (my friend's daughter, who visited and told the owners she liked their cat, and they said something like 'Do you want her? We don't want her anymore.')

Poor Sneakers. I have had the feeling too that Sneakers was likely neglected in her last home. She was VERY overweight when we adopted her, but she seemed attention-starved. She also had MATS on her back (and she's a shorthair!) Our best guess is the owners free-fed her but didn't give her much attention. When we got her she wanted to always be on a person's lap, but if you tried to touch her where she didn't want (like anywhere below her head) or if you tried to shift positions while she was sitting on you, she would hiss and/or bite. We were able to fix this behavior and she now will allow petting her and moving her when she's lying on your chest. If you move too much now she will only complain and not try to bite.

Hopefully she will learn to accept the new kitten when we bring her home, even if she doesn't accept the little foster we have now...this is kind of like a "test run" for us with the foster kitten-- not that it was planned that way, I never expected to run into a little 6 week old feral kitten!
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