Help with introducing new kitten to resident cat?

Pretzelsmcgee

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Hi guys!

So I have a 6 year old female resident cat who is typically very energetic, playful and chatty. She welcomes people at the door and has previously gotten along very well with new people, children and dogs. Ive never heard her even hiss before. She's very bold and self assured and not much except riding in the car ever seemed to faze her. She NEVER hides and follows us around most of the day... She's really fun and does well when people are around but when she's left by herself and she is now the only animal in the household so once covid is over that is going to happen more often... Which is why we decided to get a kitten given her history of getting along with everything...

THEN EVERYTHING CHANGED.

New kitten is 11 weeks old and male and is a very calm, sweet, curious little guy.

We kept him in a separate room for a week and slowly introduced them both over a week and a half with meals behind the door, smell swapping, and then with meals behind a screen and after all that was fine with zero aggression, no growling, no hissing, we decided to try the in person intro with toys and whatnot.

Resident cat was immediately distracted from playing when the kitten sidled up to her. No hair raised, resident and kitten seemed fairly confident, though I could tell resident cat was a little on edge, she just seemed cautious. I distracted her with a toy for a second, and then like a switch, she broke off and just pounced on top of the little guy. He squealed, we made a loud noise, and she jumped off and hissed at him so freaking aggressively it freaked me out.

We immediately removed them from the situation and they both seemed fine. He didn't seem distressed and she just rubbed against my bf and went about her day and he just started playing in his room.

I on the other hand, was completely discouraged and heartbroken. I'm so worried she is going to hurt him. She didn't give any warning before just launching at him and I've never seen her do more than annoyedly bop the former dog on the head before. I'd never seen her with another cat before and when I adopted her 4 years ago, they said she was fine with other cats...

I've never introduced cats before but could really use some help or advice... I've read about cats hissing and swatting but not full on pouncing on without warning - no hair was even raised and I'm just so worried it's not going to work out or that she'll hurt the kitten... Our current plan is just to introduce over the course of a month instead of a week and a half and hope for the best?

Since the encounter two days ago, whenever she smells him, her pupils get huge and she is more standoffish than usual... She likes to sit outside his door but doesn't scratch to try to get in like she does for other closed doors. I found her under the bed yesterday and she was NEVER an under the bed cat and now I'm worried she'll hate me forever...

Any advice or insight would be GREATLY appreciated. I plan on talking to my vet as well... :(
 

Mamanyt1953

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OK...I am NOT fussing at you, I really am not. I think, that when you made the loud noise, you frightened your girl, and what you saw was called "redirected aggression." This will calm down with time. And a hiss is nothing to be overly concerned with. Cats seem to have a built-in safety valve that keeps them from attacking a young kitten to do real harm. THAT SAID, they DO hiss and swat, but that's part and parcel of teaching them manners. Mama cats do it all the time, especially with older kittens. It generally sounds worse than it is.

The articles below are FILLED with excellent tips on how to help your girl get used to the new kitten. IT IS NOT TOO LATE! I think you just went a little too fast. Remember, successful introductions take...well, as long as they take. I've seen a few done in days but most take a few weeks, months...even as much as a year! Time and patience are your best friends!
How To Introduce A Kitten To An Older Cat – TheCatSite Articles
How To Fix An Unsuccessful Cat Introduction – TheCatSite Articles
How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – TheCatSite Articles
Introducing Cats To Cats – TheCatSite Articles
 
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Pretzelsmcgee

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OK...I am NOT fussing at you, I really am not. I think, that when you made the loud noise, you frightened your girl, and what you saw was called "redirected aggression." This will calm down with time. And a hiss is nothing to be overly concerned with. Cats seem to have a built-in safety valve that keeps them from attacking a young kitten to do real harm. THAT SAID, they DO hiss and swat, but that's part and parcel of teaching them manners. Mama cats do it all the time, especially with older kittens. It generally sounds worse than it is.

The articles below are FILLED with excellent tips on how to help your girl get used to the new kitten. IT IS NOT TOO LATE! I think you just went a little too fast. Remember, successful introductions take...well, as long as they take. I've seen a few done in days but most take a few weeks, months...even as much as a year! Time and patience are your best friends!
How To Introduce A Kitten To An Older Cat – TheCatSite Articles
How To Fix An Unsuccessful Cat Introduction – TheCatSite Articles
How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – TheCatSite Articles
Introducing Cats To Cats – TheCatSite Articles
No this is great thank you so much!

This is all new learning for me I haven't even thought about redirected aggression, I didn't even know that was a thing! We'd just tried to distract her but yeah it's very probable we freaked her out in an already stressful situation...

Thank you for all the articles and the reassurance of that built in don't-actually-hurt-the-kitten, btw. My gal has never really been jumpy and I've never seen her actually act aggressively so it really freaked me out especially being my first cat.

Thank you so much for your reply, I really do appreciate it. We're planning on expanding introductions over the course of the next MONTH at least and I'll definitely read the articles for more :)
 

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I’m sure you are going to be okay with all this. Backing up a bit and starting fresh is done in many cases. Any mom cat would do some hissing and swatting of a kitten in order to teach it proper etiquette. I know this seemed harsh but it happens. As mamanyt1953 said, the noise probably startled her. Bringing kittens in to the house with a resident just takes introduction time. Often I have added kitties here of all ages here. Old, young and kittens have all blended. It’s kind of neat that older cats can start to be more playful or even act as adopted kitten parents. Please do keep us updated as things progress and thanks for adopting!
(When things are settled more, We’d love to see photos of both kitties!)
 
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Pretzelsmcgee

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Ok guys... We're back to introductions again and we're keeping them really short and so far, it's just sniffing each other and then older cat will crouch and shake her booty like she's about to jump on him again... Her pupils get huge and she looks like she does when she is about to pounce on a toy...

Is that aggressive behavior? She seems like she's playing, but she will stalk at him and he's just completely oblivious and I worry that she's treating him as prey or something (which is how I know cats play)... We usually feed them afterwards and they interact and sniff at each other through the screen we have set up and seem pretty chill then.

I guess I just wouldn't expect her to try to play with him like that this early and I can't tell if she like... Sees him as dinner or as another cat to play with. (She generally plays VERY enthusiastically with everyone and everything even at 6 years and enjoys playing hide and seek around the house with us)

Am I just being a total worry wart? Lol... There's no hissing and they play paws under the door where the little one is staying...

Thanks for the feedback in advance!
 

danteshuman

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I do the “my precious” kitten intro. Kitten gets a safe room but when kitten is out, it is always within arm’s reach. This helps because kittens are trouble magnets that get into dangerous situations you could not imagine 🤦🏻‍♀️ & if by freak accident the resident cat tries to really injure the kitten, you can step in immediately. I do not advice taking the cat’s main room (bedroom or living room, wherever they are most.) Also your resident cat will have to be by the kitten to be near you.

My cat Dante was super attached to me and became an uncle to the kittens. My other cat Salem (& the other cat that lived there) just avoided the little annoying buggers until they became somewhat behaved at 6 months old. They are almost 2 and Salem still avoids them.... Chester tolerates then but tends to avoid them. All 3 responses are fine & within normal range. You are shooting for tolerance not friendship.

Be patient, you will get there. Take tons of pictures and videos, kittens grow so fast!
 

Jcatbird

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Large pupils can be excitement. She may be ready to give the kitten a good lesson in knowing his place in the household. That is common but can seem harsh or even cause a hard nip. If he seems oblivious then he is. Slow and steady. Patience and supervision will get you through. Let them adjust at their own pace. It actually sounds like you have made progress though! :clap2: She may still be a bit nervous after the initial introduction with the kitten so, good job getting her to interact rather than run , attack or continuously hissing. I tend to think she sees him as an intruding kitty rather than prey but the reaction still means she can pounce. Give her time. Let her set the pace for the adjustment time.
 

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Just here to echo not to panic, it sounds like your resident cat is actually being AMAZING about a little newcomer in her house! I know how scary it is to see your normally easy-going and loving cat suddenly all tense and hissing and swatting. Honestly sometimes I think it's scarier to us, because when my kitten gets smacked by my older resident he wanders off and then comes right back to play! It sounds like with their first introduction you and your resident cat were both tense, and I'm hazarding a guess her pounce wasn't actually violent -- rough play just looks aggressive to us. Kittens will squeal to tell the older and bigger cat that they're being a little bit too rough, and older cats might bully the younger ones a little to teach them their place. Seems like with all the noise your resident just got over-stressed and reacting by lashing out at the newcomer. Completely salvageable! Just remember that cats pick up on your feelings, so mom/dad being on edge is going to make her nervous too.

Giant pupils and pouncing isn't bad at all! You will absolutely know when a cat does not want to be approached by another, they're not confrontational animals. Staying away, arched back, ears back, growling and hissing, lots of posturing. If either cat is seeming stressed, try to distract them with a toy or a treat so while they're aware of each other, they're not focused on each other -- with the potential to escalate the situation. Just give her some time to come around! Keep your routine and keep as calm as possible. Give her lots of individual treats and love and remind her that she's still queen of the house. A confident cat is a much less aggressive cat. There is absolutely going to be hissing when you next try to introduce them, but as long as the kitten isn't screaming and hiding (and your resident isn't displaying any of those overtly aggressive behaviors), try to let them work it out. You might have rushed the process a little, but with a kitten who's old/large enough to not be in any actual danger from play, I've observed that there's very few negative interactions you can't bounce back from. First day my kitten was allowed to free roam the house he jumped on my head honcho resident who was was sleeping in his hammock -- BIG oops! But after some angry tense hours they were fine, some lessons kittens just need to learn on their own.

You're doing a great job, hang in there! :heartshape:
 

danteshuman

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I will echo that play can look rough! However, real fights have yoweling, fur flying & blood. If those are not present then it is play or mild bullying.

Adult cats will bop or whack a kitten on top of their head (without the claws) to teach them manners..... usually by 3 or 4 months their bratty behavior gets a bop. In the same way you give more leniency to a toddler but expect a 4 or 8 year old to be better behaved.

These boys are brothers and a bonded pair. They LOVE to wrestle. When they were kittens I used to call it thunder dome or wrestle mania because they would get in their soft crate and play fight. 🤣 It may look like a fight but it isn’t. They roll around and it is a blur. However to start their “fight” one will lightly tap the other with a paw, then the other cat accepts the challenge by politely tapping back, they size each other up and then attack. That or a groom fest turns into a nip and then a “battle.” (I included the sequence pictures so you could see it.) If the kitten/cat goes back for more, then it wasn’t an attack.
 

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Pretzelsmcgee

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Oh my gosh thank you guys all so much I feel so much better. And I'm super happy with resident kitty's reaction to the little guy. After looking at your pictures and watching videos and such I realized she just DESPERATELY wants to play with him but doesn't know how far she can go I think.

Today they bopped each other a bit and when she started trying to wrestle, he cried and growled and she backed off and sat there while he hissed at her and she just patiently watched him. He was all kinds of riled up after that but they seem to be doing okay and they both seem to want to get back to each other so I guess that's a good thing...

Thank you all so much I'm feeling so much better about the whole thing. I realize now they're just sorting their stuff out and they both seem pretty content despite minor scuffles. I'm so happy to see my girls confident attitude come back and I'm glad he didn't seem fazed by her now too. Yay 😁

I finally figured out how to attach pictures. I figure it's the only way I can thank y'all:
241750047.jpg FullSizeR1(1).jpg
 
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