Older cat chasing and hissing at younger kitten- help!

naayy

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I have two cats, one is 2 years old and the other is 4 months old. I have always wanted two so I adopted them relatively close, about a month apart. That was probably my mistake, I thought they would get along well, but my 2 year old is unusually aggressive. She will bite people’s hands if they pet her even a little the wrong way, she swats and bats, she’s extremely touchy. I didn’t recognize the signs for what they were and thought she might be bored, and a 2nd cat might bring out her friendly side.

Well the kitten is extremely friendly, she follows me around and she always wants company. So naturally she tries to play with the 2 year old and makes overtures. The 2 y/o hisses and has swiped with her claws. Today I witnessed her chasing after and hissing at the kitten. I think the 2 y/o is displaying territorial aggression. However, she has always been somewhat aggressive since I got her (if I am reading the signs right) and I wonder if re introduction would help at all as it seems to be just an issue with her.

I don’t want to rehome either of them, I love them both a lot already. I am afraid that the kitten will eventually get hurt if this follows though. I already have Feliway installed, and it has mitigated some of the 2 y/o’s aggressive tendencies such as less hissing and growling, but she still chased and hissed after the kitten today.

I’m hoping to move to a larger apartment in the next few months so they have more space. Besides that, are there any suggestions for what I can do?
 

ArtNJ

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I'm not there, and not seeing exactly what you are saying, so I won't pretend that I can say anything 100% as to your cat, but here is what I know:

(1) adult cats almost never truly attack true kittens (ie below 6 months of age) with actual intent to injure. You could go through several months of posts here and not find a single report of an injury beyond an unintended scratch. Whatever display of displeasure the older cats show, and no matter how scary it might look, there is some sort of biological hardwiring that prevents an actual attack with intent to injure. Its not wholly impossible for an older cat to ignore the biological hardwiring, but it is incredibly rare;

(2) a "get away from me" swat is fairly common when they are first put together, and not a problem. They can get past that;

(3) when an older cat charges a kitten, it is with the intent of backing them off and getting space for themselves, not injuring the kitten. Although this is less common and not a great sign per se, it is also something they can work though.

The above all goes to the "don't despair there is hope" point. They might be able to work this out on their own. HOWEVER, I would like to know what type and length of introduction process you did, or if you just put them together. It may be that this particular two year old would benefit from a more lengthy formal introduction process with this kitten. I'll link our guide below:

How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide

As for why this is happening in the first place, it is not uncommon for an adult cat to be stressed out by a new cat, even if it is a tiny kitten. It may not make sense to us humans, but it makes sense in cat, because it happens a ton. Younger residents do better, and I'm hopeful that despite the rocky start, your cat can eventually befriend the kitten. You might be right that the fact that your 2 year old has not yet fully settled into your home after one month there is making this harder, but don't beat yourself up. Even when the resident is a 2 year old, this is something that can happen. Its totally normal. The only element I don't like to see is the charging after the kitten while hissing, but even that we get a fair number of reports of without kittens getting hurt. I can't promise that they will be friends, although there is still a very good chance, but with an introduction process, and time together to work through any lingering nonsense, things will, at the very least, get much better.
 
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naayy

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Well, I did mess up the introductions.. I separated them for about two days but she kept getting out when I opened the door to get in, plus her tiny little mews (she squeaks and does a silent meow) were just heartbreaking.. In addition the kitten was just spayed, I had to keep an eye on her and I honestly think me spending so much time with the new kitten messed the older one up. I didn’t intend it but the older one kept hiding and I didn’t want the Older one = Lulue and kitten = Cotton by the way.

So... yeah I hadn’t seen that guide before and I think I’ll get a baby gate for my little apartment, or something so she can’t get out. And just try again.

The charging thing happened while Cotton was doing the zoomies all around the apartment real close to where Lulue was sitting (inside her cat tree lounge) and she suddenly got up and chased after Cotton. I could hear hissing plus she had been hissing any time Cotton got too close. Also growls. However, she seems very interested whenever Cotton is playing with her toys and will get close, and observe from only a few feet away, and I think has become more playful after watching her.
 

ArtNJ

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Souns like its going fine. I might help to back up and do a lengthier introduction including the baby gate step. Just keep in mind that there might still be some of this tension at the end.
 

Mamanyt1953

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Yep...back up, regroup, and just take it slower. Remember, time is your friend, and you cannot go faster than the most reluctant cat.

Females tend to be more territorial than males, in my experience. My personal belief is that, spayed or not, they instinctively protect an area where they can raise a family. But females can and do learn, with time, to achieve at LEAST peaceful co-existence.
 
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naayy

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Thanks both of you. I think I just panicked a bit when I saw the hissing and chasing.. well that and Lulue was always a bit touchy so I didn’t know how she would react. I got the baby gate (two of them and stacked them) but the kitten keeps climbing over it, so I have to chase her down quite a bit. However, I am using catnip with Lulue in front of the baby gate and kitten to let her make some positive associations with her. As I speak the kitten has escaped again but is pretty submissive, so laying down and taking a nap not too far away from Lulue.

It makes sense that female cats would be more territorial for their litters. If I get a third cat (which I definitely want to once I get a larger living space) I’ll make sure he is male. And buy more baby gates.
 
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