Young Cat Continually Pounces on Resident Cat

TardisDance

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Like a lot of people out there, I am feeling a bit lost on the cat introductions. I adopted 1.5 year old male Kirby from a foster a month ago. He was originally a TNR from a feral colony that suffered from a bit wound and turned out to be friendly so he was taken in by the rescue group. He was described as a calm cat that loves to sleep and I was told it was struggle to get him to play.

Our resident cat is a 4 year old female, Sango. She came from a hoarding situation and is extremely timid with humans except for us - she hides from strangers. She loves attention from us and was very miserable when we went on vacation for a week in September. She hid from the pet sitters the entire time. Before covid, we used to go on 2 week+ vacations, so we wanted to get her a friend.

The problem is, Kirby really loves to play and no matter how much I play with him, he never tires out. I suspect this was always his personality, but the foster never knew because he was sick with giardia (which lost us a week of introduction while I had him isolated on meds). This translates into Kirby always pouncing on Sango. I’ve tried to break up these chases by using a spray bottle and then separating him by putting him back in his room. However, I’m not sure if this is teaching him anything

Every so often I’ve been letting things play out to see how she handles it and hope that she defends herself. Tonight I allowed things to happen again, and he chased her around the entire house. I wished it hadn’t gone so far - it went very fast! Eventually she hid under the couch. Then, she went to me for protection by jumping on my lap. He’s not attacking her with claws out and it’s mostly play I think? Regardless, she is very freaked out by it. I had to separate him and put him back in his room.

Is there any hope for things to ever work out? They do have times where he will lay near her on the couch and groom her face - but even this sometimes this looks a bit aggressive (I thought I saw him kind of nipped her on the front of her neck before, but it was hard to tell for sure).

I’ve been trying to play with him behind 2 stacked baby gates to tire him out, but he still goes after her if I let him in the room with her. She used to defend herself when we first introduced them by swiping and hissing at him, but it’s like she’s just given up? I give Sango lots of play and treats to help her confidence, but she just won’t fight back and is always the victim.

I know a month is not a long time, but I’m very frustrated. I even tried plugging in a Feliway multi cat diffuser and so far, it hasn’t made a difference (it’s only been plugged in for a day so far though).

Does anyone have any tips to help calm this crazy teenage boy and leave the girl alone? This is so stressful.
 
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TardisDance

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This is Sango and Kirby by the way (Sango is the one near the air purifier). Before I bought I second gate, I was using cardboard before he quickly figured out how to superman his way through it. Sango isn’t too afraid of him behind the gates and will eat treats and play near the gate. Kirby occasionally tries to paw her through the gates which disturbs her.
E581A11C-4674-4B79-94D8-2EF72936DCA9.jpeg


He is capable of being polite by greeting her with a lick and moving on, but he’s super out of control in the mornings and evenings. He paces around the house and just won’t settle down and then goes after her. Play sometimes helps but it’s never enough and he redirects his play on her eventually.
 

ArtNJ

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If you do a search for 1.5 years, you'll see tons and tons of posts with similar problems, because 1 to 1.5 years is the absolute peak of stupid crazy enthusiasm for play times body size. Its normal for play to be like trying to drain the ocean with a thimble. A noble attempt that should be made, but not one that can ever entirely work.

There isn't really anything to be done other than let things play out while the cat ages and calms down some. Only putting them together sometimes sounds logical I know, but its its own kind of problem, because the 1.5 y.o. is always desperate to play when allowed together. Sort of like a Christmas morning effect, where after waiting so long for the presents the young child is so crazy eager they wake the parents up, and bounce down the stairs with madness in their little eyes? So putting them together full time, as long as the resident cat isn't so stressed it becomes a medical/eating/litterbox use thing, is actually the better long term play even though it can be hard to watch. This way, the older cat does occassionally see chill younger cat when the young one gets it out of the system, and it enables the relationship to improve over time. You can still give breaks for closed door attention of course.
 

Mamanyt1953

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And do try to make sure that your older cat has escape routes, and places to retreat to that won't easily hold two cats.
 

ArtNJ

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And do try to make sure that your older cat has escape routes, and places to retreat to that won't easily hold two cats.
Yes, elevated spaces help a lot. Even just an extra scratching post or two.

And ditch the spray bottle. I've not really seen or heard of evidence you can train a cat out of this. A five year old human boy you can actually talk too, and he is still going to act like a terror too his siblings. You can't train away age, a 1.5 y.o. cat is going to be a 1.5 y.o.

If there is a particular time of day when the cat has full on crazies as your post seems to mention, then absolutely separate them in advance. Some cats, especially young cats, do have those periods where they seem insane! But for the most part, you have to let them do their thing even if its hard to watch.
 
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TardisDance

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I'm only using the spray bottle as it's the only way to stop him and separate if necessary. The problem is Sango has plenty of high spaces but she doesn't use them. She will go on them in between pounces, but won't use these as escape routes. He will literally wait until she jumps down and pounces on her. It's frustrating, because sometimes he will actually settle down and watch birds on a window perch in the living room. Then she passes the living room to go get a snack in the kitchen, then boom, he pounces on her. Then he will try to take her food too (she's a slow eater). Before he was quarantined from giardia, he would maybe follow her, but he'd sniff around the kitchen but leave her alone. At one point, they were sharing a window perch, but now he seems to only view her as prey. He would occasionally bat her leg, but he's turned into ultimate crazy since his quarantine.

At this point, my husband and I are seriously thinking about returning him to the foster, though we think we think she was negligent for not recognizing and treating his giardia (he had diarrhea several times a day). We can maybe keep him separated for a few months, but we can't do this for 6+ months.
 

ArtNJ

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but we can't do this for 6+ months.
Well, the cat is 1.5 years old. If it is truly bad enough that you can't just let them be (which is usually best) and your relying on the cat maturing, then six months, 6+ is probably the time frame you are looking at. Almost all cats mellow out some by twoish, but the timing and amount vary greatly. Things can potentially get better faster if you let them work things out, but sometimes an older cat is just too stressed for that. So if you really feel like there is a hard decision to be made, I'd make it, whichever way you decide.
 

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Hi TardisDance TardisDance !

I recently went through a cat introduction and I thought my experience could perhaps help. After the first 2 weeks of a slow introduction, feeding on each side of the gate, we started having short sessions and things were OK overall, so we decided to give them more time together at around week 3.

This is when a similar problem started - our resident cat (neutered male, 1.2 years old) was obsessed with our 5 month old (recently spayed) female kitten and would stare at her all the time, stalk her and then pounce. Every single interaction they had at the time ended with the kitten hissing and growling, trying to hide under the bed or the couch. This happened for several days and each time they were together. Once he saw her, he would stop anything he was doing (even food!) and pounce on her.

I was really frustrated and ready to give up so I posted on the forum here and A ArtNJ gave me the same advice, you should let them figure it out themselves. That's what I did and after a couple of days (week 4), things calmed down a lot. He still pounced on her and stalked her but she stopped hiding that much or being defensive.

Now, it's been a little bit over 2 months since the kitten joined us and things are going pretty well. She's not getting defensive anymore and they're even taking turns chasing each other. Since he has access to her all day long, he's not pouncing at her at every opportunity he gets and they seem to have worked things out among themselves. Most of the times now that he's used to her, he ignores her even though she's desperately trying to catch his attention and play with him.

I hope things will work out for you soon, I know how hard cat intros can be!
 
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TardisDance

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My husband and I took a step back and looked at what the potential issues may be. I think one of the issues with Kirby may not necessarily be playfulness. I think we pushed him too soon on his feeding schedule and I think he was upset that we weren't free feeding him dry food like his foster probably did . He gets 2 cans of wet food but does eat some dry food. He always gobbles food like a competitive eater. I transitioned him to Dr. Elsey’s and setup an automatic feeder for him and even though he was getting double the portion (1/4 cup instead of 1/8 cup), he would scarf up the dry food immediately and even tried to reach into the feeder like someone breaking into a vending machine lol. I think maybe he was going into hunter survival mode and taking it out on Sango. He was a stray so I think he may have some food insecurity issues along with eating so much because of the giardia he had.

I put a big bowl of his old food that the foster gave him (Purina Indoor Advantage) and he’s slowing down on the eating for both the wet and the dry. He seems much calmer and less playful. I did need to mix in Dr. Elsey’s because when I let him out, he went immediately to Sango’s Dr. Elsey’s bowl so I may have created addict for this food (she too has an automatic feeder, but she is always a grazer and hates wet food despite many attempts). I mixed in some Dr. Elsey’s (it’s too expensive to give a huge amount) and so far, so good. I know the Purina is junk but he has the rest of his life to eat better.

I also put out a Feliway multi cat diffuser out on Monday and maybe it’s kicking in finally.

I’ve been giving them small increments of time together and he hasn’t pounced her once. He’s not even grooming or touching her anymore and generally ignoring her. I am having him out when he’s calmer so Sango can see he’s not all that bad. He’s still playful, yes, but it’s not 30+ minute sessions - he’s actually pretty lazy about it and doesn’t want to both. I’ll give him more time out as I see improved interactions with Sango. I’m having a bit of a trust issue with him right now and hope that he behaves.
 

Mamanyt1953

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I think you are onto something with the food issues. Keep us posted on how things are going!
 
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TardisDance

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Today I gave them a bit more time together. Sango was on our much contested heated window perch in my home office. He jumped up and groomed her for a good 5 minutes until she finally had enough and smacked him and jumped down. She then went in the living room and hid behind the couch. I’m not sure if it this is a good sign or bad? She did allow it. I went in the living room and she went on my lap for a bit. She’s a clinger and always goes to my lap, especially when she’s uneasy about Kirby.

At some point later, he decided to get up and go to the kitchen rather than stalking her. He seems to always want to get in her food bowl and I’m not sure if there’s much I can do about it except a microchip feeder if there’s a big issue when he’s out 24/7. I got out some dry food and starting tossing to him to catch it and decided it was an opportunity to see how they would react if I fed them a few pieces together (she’s a grazer and only wants dry food, so I’ve been able to feed treats on opposite sides of the gates). She was unsure and wouldn’t eat and I was surprised he actually respected her and didn’t try to take her food. Their heads were only about 5 inches from each other. She didn’t eat but then licked behind his ear after he finished his food. He didn’t protest. In the past, the grooming has been one sided and he never allows her to touch him, but he can groom her.

I think these are all positive signs? We are actually setting up another heated window perch in an adjacent room (my husband’s home office) since this seems to be a big part of his disputes with her. Before he was pouncing on her whenever she decided to leave the window perch. I was glad they actually shared, though it was brief. We have cat trees, perches and heating mats all other the house but he always wants to be near us and Sango always wants to be near us too
 

Mamanyt1953

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Those are absolutely positive signs. I'd even take her swatting at him when she was tired of being groomed as positive, actually. You want a gal to tell even the nicest boy where the line is drawn!
 
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TardisDance

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So far, it’s still positive. Today when Kirby was out, he was still feeling a bit playful and when he had that look in his eyes, I distracted him with a laser pointer. He tends to lay around my office doorway and wants to grab anything that passes him . . he even tries to grab our legs this way (no claws out thankfully) and I have been hissing at him to stop this behavior. He does this in hallways too. I have been trying to get him to play with me with either the laser pointer or a wand toy to redirect him. Sango gets super nervous and feels trapped in a room when he does this. She tried to pass a second time and thankfully he didn’t bother her.

We did finish making my husband’s home office more cat friendly and we hope this does give them more space so Kirby doesn’t block off entrances/exits. They are both using the room somewhat, but Sango is more cautious - she absolutely hates changes in furniture arrangements and it takes her a few days to adjust. She did use the window perch we added, though brief. He’s been using the window perch as well and also a small cat tree that we had in the living room that Sango never really used except as scratching post (we already have another sisal scratching post they both use near the couch). Kirby went in the cat tree for a while and actually used it as intended.

I have Kirby out again as I type this. Sango’s been sleeping on the couch on a blanket with a pet heating mat underneath (we are all about heated everything, spoiled cats). He went next to her and groomed her for a bit and I think she gave a bit of stink eye to him and he stopped. He’s laying near her though he seems nervous because he’s grooming like crazy. He’s starting to sleep, but also has one eye open - our TV sounds and forced air furnace really disturb him.
 

Mamanyt1953

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Sounds like the worst of this is over. There may be a back-track or two yet, that happens, but they will remember this time positively. Nice job!
 
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TardisDance

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Mamanyt1953 Mamanyt1953 I think so, but we had one step back yesterday when he pounced on Sango again. I had a box near the door way against the front of our elliptical machine. I moved it to the other room to discourage the "waiting to pounce" behavior.

I had a single baby gate temporarily up to play with Kirby one on one and Sango decided she didn’t care and actually jumped the gate - I guess she’s not too afraid of him lol. Every time we have him separated out with a few rooms available to him, she starts yelling for attention. He comes over to the gate and starts pawing at her through the gates. She backs up and then comes back for more. Right now, he’s on a window sill behind the couch while Sango is sleeping on the couch. At least he’s entertained by the birds.

On a side note, I am getting quite worried, because now his diarrhea seems to be back again - I really, really hope he doesn’t still have giardia ughh. It’s doesn’t smell like the nasty bombs that he had before (TMI, but the smell was so terrible). I just finished up his prescription probiotic pills on Saturday and boom, diarrhea again and he’s gassy. The vet never suggested another fecal test (I guess they were confident the metronidazole he was on would get rid of it). I‘m using up the rest of this stool thickening paste (kaolin and pectin with some probiotics) provided by the vet and hope that it’s his gut is just adjusting to finally being “normal” and parasite free. Either that, or he’s just reacting to the dry food mix. I’ll drop off a fecal sample to the vet if things don’t improve.

Having a new cat is certainly exhausting!
 

Mamanyt1953

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Giardia does, occasionally, come back. It's one of those "bears" that occasionally survives the meds. Crossing my toes for you. I'd cross my fingers, but it keeps me from typing!

Yes, a new cat sure can be, especially one who has health issues. You keep wondering, "Will I EVER get to just sit back and enjoy this little guy?" The answer is, "Almost always. And you'll enjoy it all the more for the struggle."
 
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TardisDance

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So far, Kirby has had solid poops on Wednesday, Thursday and this morning, so I hope it keeps up. I used Pinesol, bleach and sanitizing wipes on everything before and after quarantine. About the only thing I didn't do was clean the carpets, but I vacuumed with my Dyson sometimes multiple times a day. The house smelled like a hospital for a while!

For Kirby, I may order some probiotics off Amazon, because his gut flora is probably messed and the limited amount of Proviable caps I had probably wasn't enough. I saw a jar by Fera that has s. boulardii included and have seen many post on its benefits.

As far as the introduction goes, Sango has been quite nervous around Kirby and bee lines him a lot. He tries to lick to greet her and she moves away from him. He's tried to bat her a few times on her window perch, but at least she is finally smacking him back! Good girl, teach him you're the queen!

I had to give him him a time out this morning, because when Sango decided to watch Kirby while he was on a window perch, he decided he wanted jump off to chase her. I didn't have time to play with him, but he seemed "chill" until then. He's currently trying to get me to let him out - he has figured out that if he uses his litterbox, that I will open the door and clean after him. I was doing a lot of this when he had giardia because of the smell! I have a camera in the room, and he actually puts a single front paw in and starts moving the litter around to pretend he's using the box! Stinker!
 
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TardisDance

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Update: Late last week, they got into the closest of what I would call a cat fight. Sango was resting on a perch and he jumped up and pawed, she pawed back. He tried again and tried to claw her neck and she clawed back at him. It freaked me out so I grabbed a spray bottle and sprayed him. I think I scared Sango and she made a yelping noise and both ran in opposite directions away from me. I separated him. He made 3 attempts that day to challenge her on a perch. I separated them the rest of the day.

I've been trying a bit of a new technique and use this wand toy that a long cheetah tail and I've getting both to take turns and play together. I even got them to eat treats together.

Something great that I've been noticing is that when Kirby tries to pounce or paw at her, she doesn't run away or even fight. She just ignores him and stands her ground. This is a new thing she's started doing and I think it's helping so he doesn't get a rise out of her and she's less interesting. I hope she keeps it up.
 

Mamanyt1953

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I would suggest throwing the spray bottle away. It can cause more problems that it cures, in the long run. Using the wand toy to distract them is excellent, though! If that works, these aren't incipient fights, but just heated discussions. And it is GREAT that Sango is now standing her ground. If she doesn't act like prey, Kirby will stop treating her as prey. Nice work!
 
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