Cats do get jealous of other cats, pets, and sometimes even humans. It can be very stressful if you have just introduced a new cat into your home and your old kitty becomes jealous. However it is important to understand that this response is totally natural. Cat behavior is very complex so it takes time and patience to help your feline friends adjust to each other. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to help make this transition easier for both your old kitty and the newcomer.
One important thing to consider when bringing a new cat home is whether or not he or she is spayed or neutered. Male cats are often involved in inter-cat aggression, which most often occurs when a cat reaches social maturity between two to four years of age. Although this type of aggression is usually seen in males competing for mates, it can sometimes occur between cats of any sex when territorial conflicts occur.
The first step toward eliminating this type of behavior is to make sure that both your old cat and your new cat are spayed or neutered. If this has already been done, there are other ways to help with territorial and aggressive behaviors in cats. Pheromone products are available on the market and can help reduce aggression and tension between cats. One such product is called Feliway. This product is a plug in device that diffuses cat pheromones and helps to calm kitty. Having one in every room is recommended for best results. Feliway collars are also available to purchase. If these products do not work you might want to consider other alternatives such as kitty Prozac.
That New Cat Smell
When you first bring a new cat home it will have a strange new cat smell that screams “intruder” to your resident cats. Some cats may be more troubled by this than others. Integrating their smells over time can help resolve the conflict. Rubbing a towel or blanket that already has the scent of your house on it can help make the new kitty smell like he belongs. After rubbing new kitty, rub your resident kitties with the same towel to mingle the feline’s scents. This can be done several times a day for several weeks.
Another good idea when bringing a new cat home is to make sure that he or she has their own litter box. This will help resolve any territory or potty issues that may occur between new cats and resident cats. The general rule of thumb for a multiple cat house is that there should be a litter box for each cat, plus an additional litter box. Having more than one litter box in the house can be very beneficial as sometimes cats will begin urinating or defecating outside of the litter box or throughout other areas of the home as a way to mark their territory and tell the new cat “this space is mine”.
One common mistake that many pet owners make when they first bring a new cat or other pet home is introducing the new pet to their resident cat right away. This is not the right approach if you have hopes for the two to become best friends. The better method would be to take the new cat into a room and keep it there for 7-14 days so that the two cats can get used to each other’s scent and presence through the door. Make sure that your new kitty has everything he or she needs to survive. A food and water dish, a litter box, some toys, etc. During this time be sure to set aside some one on one time for both kitties so neither feels neglected.
Cats by nature are territorial creatures. When bringing a new cat home he or she will need to establish territory and your resident cat(s) will need to defend theirs. This often results in a cat fight or two. Keeping your new cat in his own room for a week or two will help him gain confidence and claim that room as his “territory”.
During this time it can be helpful to have the two cats switch places every now and then. For example, let your old kitty out into the rest of the house to wander around and get used to his new belongings, and lock your old kitty in new kitty’s room to get him used to new kitty’s scent. Mingling the two scents will help the two cats get used to one another better.
Eventually you can also integrate meal time, shared play time and treats. This will help the cats get along better. Start feeding your old cat outside the new cat’s bedroom door, or try using a pet gate or a cardboard poster board to block the two from seeing each other, but allow them to be close enough to one another to know that they are each there. They will smell one another and if you feed them together they will also begin associating one another with food and other positive things. Eventually when the cats seem to have warmed up to the idea of sharing meal time you can ditch the walls or gates and see how they do.
Reinforce positive behavior towards one another by feeding the cat’s treats when they are behaving and getting along. Try to play with them both in the same room until you can eventually get them to play together. If they start to fight, lock one of the kitties up for now and continue this until they can be in the same room together without fighting. Never leave two cats that do not get along alone together. Eventually the two felines should be able to coexist peacefully in the same home.
Breaking Up Cat Fights
During this entire process you will most likely be required to break up a few cat fights every now and then. Never reach in between two cats fighting and try to separate them yourself. Instead, squirt the cats with a squirt gun or a spray bottle filled with water, from a distance. It is best if they do not know that you are the source of water. Loud noises can also be affective in breaking up a cat fight. A can full of pennies or something similar can be used. Never chase or hit a cat with an object such as a broom. This will only increase aggression and can permanently destroy a cat’s trust in you. The best method is to reinforce positive behavior when the cats get along so that they begin to associate good things happening when they are around one another. With a little time, patience, and understanding, you should eventually be able to achieve household harmony within a few months.