My 7 year old cat is terrified of my 3 year old cat.

Owen

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So about a year ago i moved in with my boyfriend, we brought my cat (Brielle, 7) and his cat (Fritz, 3) to the new apartment. Brielle was a bit scared but didn't respond negatively to Fritz, whereas Fritz was hissing and being a general asshole to Brielle. I think this is where the problems began. Brielle grew to be scared of Fritz, and meanwhile Fritz started to accept and love Brielle. Currently, the dynamic between them is that Fritz loves Brielle and often tries to play with her. Brielle never stopped being afraid of Fritz and views her attempts at playing as vicious attacks. This has lead to severe anxiety in Brielle and she is always on edge. When she hears Fritz coming up to her, Brielle runs at full speed which Fritz interprets as playing, so she runs at her and jumps, causing my cat to freak out and Fritz being oblivious to the anxiety she is causing. Brielle has always had hygiene issues (she doesn't groom much and refuses to clean her bum, I have to bathe her weekly) and because of this increased anxiety it's getting even worse. I just want Brielle to be happy. She's never been playful, she prefers to sleep all day or lounge in the sun, but she's so afraid and it makes me so sad. She will hear Fritz's collar jingle from the other room and tense up. Fritz has never hurt Brielle or anything like that, why has she not realized by now that Fritz poses no threat? They eat together, sleep near each other, heck, sometimes we even get them to play with the same string toy together. What else can we do to make Brielle not so scared? We tried calming collars and calming diffusers, we bought Fritz tons of new toys to keep her attention off Brielle, they share a water bowl. I just don't know what else to do. I want to take Brielle to the vet again, (I have before and they said she was probably fine but it hadnt been so bad back then) and see if I can get her some anxiety pills but until then, is there anything I can do to make her not scared of Fritz?
 

cassiopea

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Hopefully some of these will help! And that you haven't tried already:


- Provide more sanctuaries for Brielle, such as tents, card board boxes with holes or cat houses/covered cat bed, a cat tree or two, more skirts along tables or sofas, long window curtains etc Offer more places where she can easily hide or jump up on an elevated place so she can feel secure and create distance.

- Behavior modification techniques, here is a link: Cat Scared of Other Pets

- Continue creating a calm environment, with little cat nip goodies and pheromones'. There are even cat treats that help with calming. For sure enquire with your vet about anti-anxiety pills if things don't improve.

- As soon as Fritz has eye targets for Brielle for a potential pounce or chase, immediately get a toy and distract her immediately.

- Place the cats’ food bowls on opposite sides of a closed door. This will encourage them to be close together while they’re doing something that makes them feel good. Also consider separating litter boxes, beds and the like for a little awhile - I know they eat and sleep near together and that seems to be going alright as is, but it's about slowly getting Brielle comfortable again as a full package. Sort of a reintroduction phase.

- Reward desired behavior. Praise or toss treats to reward your cats when you see them interacting in a friendly manner. When Fritz is distracted by something other than Brielle after a play time attempt, reward her. Same goes with Brielle, when she has a moment of being calm around the jingly sound or presence of Fritz reward her as well. Reward with treats when you see them both interacting with each other in a friendly manner.

- Rub a little bit of tuna juice (Or equivalent tasty, smelly meat juice) on their cats’ bodies and heads. The cats become preoccupied with grooming, which is also a relaxing behaviour and a distraction from the other cat. Apparently it can also encourage helpful grooming with one another.

- If Fritz does a tackle, interrupt it with tossing or placing a pillow in between them.

- And of course, never use punishments in these situations. And another obvious which I assume has been done already, make sure both kitties are fixed.


It might take a little bit of time, but that's OK. And yes, a previous bad or traumatic experience can effect a kitty and cause them to continue to fear something.

I had a similar situation when Tippy Toes would try to chase and wrestle Liffey (Liffey is a former stray kitten; Very sweet but still skittish sometimes, used to be semi feral) Tippy Toes was well intentioned and not aggressive at all, she loves Liffey and just wanted to play, but Liffey did not appreciate it at all and would wail like no one's business. Thankfully it has gone way down since and they are comfortable with each other. Also, I adopted Batbat (Another little stay kitten who showed up on my front door last spring, she is about a year old now) who has the same play style as Tippy Toes, so they make absolutely perfect playmates and Tippy doesn't touch Liffey as her game urges are fulfilled. Not saying to go out an immediately adopt a third cat or anything, obviously time, finances, unpredictableness of compatibility, space and personal willingness are all factors, but a simple side note that it has helped.

Also, 3 years old is still quite young and that energetic spicy phase will likely tapper down soon. And of course you don't have to do absolutely everything that is listed, just some general list of ideas to try or consider! I reckon other members will contribute as well. Good luck :)
 
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Owen

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Hopefully some of these will help! And that you haven't tried already:


- Provide more sanctuaries for Brielle, such as tents, card board boxes with holes or cat houses/covered cat bed, a cat tree or two, more skirts along tables or sofas, long window curtains etc Offer more places where she can easily hide or jump up on an elevated place so she can feel secure and create distance.

- Behavior modification techniques, here is a link: Cat Scared of Other Pets

- Continue creating a calm environment, with little cat nip goodies and pheromones'. There are even cat treats that help with calming. For sure enquire with your vet about anti-anxiety pills if things don't improve.

- As soon as Fritz has eye targets for Brielle for a potential pounce or chase, immediately get a toy and distract her immediately.

- Place the cats’ food bowls on opposite sides of a closed door. This will encourage them to be close together while they’re doing something that makes them feel good. Also consider separating litter boxes, beds and the like for a little awhile - I know they eat and sleep near together and that seems to be going alright as is, but it's about slowly getting Brielle comfortable again as a full package. Sort of a reintroduction phase.

- Reward desired behavior. Praise or toss treats to reward your cats when you see them interacting in a friendly manner. When Fritz is distracted by something other than Brielle after a play time attempt, reward her. Same goes with Brielle, when she has a moment of being calm around the jingly sound or presence of Fritz reward her as well. Reward with treats when you see them both interacting with each other in a friendly manner.

- Rub a little bit of tuna juice (Or equivalent tasty, smelly meat juice) on their cats’ bodies and heads. The cats become preoccupied with grooming, which is also a relaxing behaviour and a distraction from the other cat. Apparently it can also encourage helpful grooming with one another.

- If Fritz does a tackle, interrupt it with tossing or placing a pillow in between them.

- And of course, never use punishments in these situations. And another obvious which I assume has been done already, make sure both kitties are fixed.


It might take a little bit of time, but that's OK. And yes, a previous bad or traumatic experience can effect a kitty and cause them to continue to fear something.

I had a similar situation when Tippy Toes would try to chase and wrestle Liffey (Liffey is a former stray kitten; Very sweet but still skittish sometimes, used to be semi feral) Tippy Toes was well intentioned and not aggressive at all, she loves Liffey and just wanted to play, but Liffey did not appreciate it at all and would wail like no one's business. Thankfully it has gone way down since and they are comfortable with each other. Also, I adopted Batbat (Another little stay kitten who showed up on my front door last spring, she is about a year old now) who has the same play style as Tippy Toes, so they make absolutely perfect playmates and Tippy doesn't touch Liffey as her game urges are fulfilled. Not saying to go out an immediately adopt a third cat or anything, obviously time, finances, unpredictableness of compatibility, space and personal willingness are all factors, but a simple side note that it has helped.

Also, 3 years old is still quite young and that energetic spicy phase will likely tapper down soon. And of course you don't have to do absolutely everything that is listed, just some general list of ideas to try or consider! I reckon other members will contribute as well. Good luck :)
Thank you so much for your very detailed response!! I am truly thankful, me and my boyfriend have been so desperate to help Brielle and your ideas sound perfect. I also included some pictures of the girls :)) And thanks for wishing us luck, lol we're gonna need it!! ^-^

(Brielle is the white/grey one and Fritz is the brown one)
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ArtNJ

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These situations are super common, and generally they improve on their own with substantial time. I call it the long slow craw towards toleration. However, your at a year and still reporting severe stress, so perhaps that isn't happening and if so, then absolutely time to look at other options. Personally, if there is no improvement (even small improvement) over time, then I would recommend a reintroduction process. If I'm interpreting the above linked article correctly, its more about sessions of a few minutes at a time where like one human holds the cat at one end of the hallway and the other at the other end. I've never found that sort of thing to work -- I'm highly skeptical that desensitization works in sessions of a few minutes at a time. There are practical problems as well, such as the playful cat getting loose. Better to put up a gate that cannot be jumped over and give the older cat time to see that nothing bad has happened. You can gradually feed closer to the gate to incorporate the same concept. The main difference is that the gate is up 24/7 and you aren't trying small sessions where things can go wrong. Basically you are backing up and starting an introduction process, except that your skipping scent swapping and room swapping since both cats are already very familiar with each other's scients. Guide linked below. Also includes pictures of home made gate setups:

How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – TheCatSite Articles

To the extent I'm misinterpreting the linked article (and I might be) an we are basically saying the same things, great! If there is disagreement and you do try time limited sessions, just be careful to keep control.

Good luck!
 
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