1-14-10 – Steely Dan & Fagen

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Does anyone have advice on how to get adult cats to get adjust to each other? A reader has two 17 year-old cats and recently added a 2 year-old to the mix. There’s fighting, but the worst part is the marking. Here are the details:

We have already tried letting the new guy have his own place upstairs, and only letting them interact when one of us was here. They kind of slink around each other at this point, sometimes growly and hissy, sometimes scrappy. New guy has been here almost 10 days. Starting Monday, we left the upstairs door open (upstairs is carpeted, down is not, so up is where the pee is and we have closed all but the new kid’s doors) and it looks like they sleep during the day (what else?) and get riled up when we get home from work and feed them. It appears as though they are all using ALL the litter boxes (4 of them, do I need more maybe?). When I get home and start scooping the 2 older ones follow me around so they can pee in the fresh litter. The younger one would too, I think, but that’s when the snarling and growling begins. The occasional scrap, fewer now, but sheesh, even the littermates (bro and sis) fight with each other now, which never happened before. Oh yes, one of the older ones has gone deaf, so yelling his name doesn’t get a reaction.

I’ve never introduced an adult to other adults – only kittens to adults already living here and that went smoothly. These two older ones are the last kittens we adopted since we had (before we adopted these two) 2 other cats, who lived to 25 (died of old age mostly) and 20 (renal failure, but lived 3 years after the initial diagnosis). Heh. I thought *I* was a crazy cat lady with 4! Indoor! Cats! until I read you.

Honestly, I had no advice to give her (aside from maybe giving Feliway a try).

If y’all have any good advice (or even just halfway good advice!), please leave it in the comments!

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A few of you have asked what the story is with Steely Dan and Fagen. They were found in a storm drain with their feral mother. The boys were turned over to Challenger’s House, and their mother is going to a great cat haven in Florida.

I suspect that their mother very well might be a tortie – Miz Poo pushed her way into the foster room the other day when Fred and I were in there (the door wasn’t latched), and both boys went running over to her, chirped at her, and rubbed up against her. When we brought Tommy in, they weren’t interested in him at all. Yesterday I brought Miz Poo in again, and again they ran right over to her. Too bad she just smacked at them and went to check out the food. Heh.

So anyway, yesterday I went into the foster room, picked Steely Dan up off the cat tree (he resisted for a second, then gave in), and sat down in the chair with him in my lap. He purred and purred and purred while I petted him, and finally Fagen couldn’t stand it anymore, and had to jump up to see what was going on. I petted him too, but he didn’t stay long.

Steely Dan climbed onto the back of the chair, and I petted him a few times, then stopped.

And he climbed back down into my lap.



2009: Sun bath.
2008: Punki’s almost got the look o’ het down pat.
2007: No entry.
2006: No entry.
2005: No entry.



1-14-10 – Steely Dan & Fagen — 26 Comments

  1. My best advise is to be as patient as possible. It’s so exciting to have a new family member, and you always want your pets to feel the same way…immediately. Unfortunatly it’s typically a slow process with adults. The article posted above is definitly great information.
    On the plus side with time and patience, you can almost always succeed! Good Luck!!!

  2. i totally agree, too. we just recently took in a new kitty (I’m guessing between 6 months-9 months) and the 2 established kitties weren’t too happy. Cornelius came around pretty quickly, but Nomi was not happy at all. It’s been nearly two months and FINALLY yesterday all three were sleeping together on the bed. We tried the keeping them separate thing but Baby Kat (really original, I know, it was “Cat Benatar” at first but BK Meowler was the one that stuck) too bold and stomped right into the older cats’ business. But we did try to follow rules alot like the ones in GD’s link. But hopefully patience will pay off.

  3. I have successfully introduced two teenage/adult cats to my first adult cat, who is a very territorial tortie. I used kitty valium on all three cats to make them more relaxed during the first few weeks (on the advice of my vets, of course), and then I just monitored their fights for the first few weeks to make sure no one was seriously hurt.

    Fighting between cats is okay–it’s just play. As long as blood is not drawn after the first few weeks, just let them go at it. One of them has to establish dominance, and once that has been established, everything will be okay!

    I was anxious, too, but everything has worked out. Plus, the play-fighting and chasing helps them work out energy that otherwise they would take out on my toes at night! 🙂 Now they all sleep together on my bed at night!

    Just be patient, and things will work out.

  4. We introduced an adult about two years ago and it was hell. Kept them separated for a long time. Separate litter, food, everything. After a week of doors closed separation, we bought a screen door and wedged it in so that they could see each other. That had to stay for months since they’d attack it. Lots of tears and anxiety on our end. After several months we let them interact with us around and it was fully a year before we felt comfortable letting the fights happen because they were only spats and not full on war. It was incredibly hard and stressful, but worth it in the end. Go SLOW and be patient with everyone.

  5. Rus a towel on the older cats, then on the young one. If he smells like the olders, they can sometimes accept him better. Starting over sounds good too. Lock the younger one in a room and let them get to know him under the door. Then sit in the doorway and be with both – one on each side. It worked with my 12 year old when I brought a kitten in the house – although I got bored and told them both to figure it out and thankfully they did.

    Understanding and taking your time will pay off in the future…

  6. I went through the introduction thing with Percy and my girls in March ’09. It took a month before they were all allowed out together all the time (and from talking to my adoption coordinator, this was fast.)

    The other suggestions are great, and I have a few more.

    Keep the new cat in a separate space, and don’t allow any interaction for the first day or two. On day 2-3, switch the bedding of your new cat out every day with some bedding of the residents (and let the residents get the new cat’s bedding). Continue this for a few days. If everything seems to be going fine, then give the resident cats some treats near the door of the room where the new cat is. If there’s any reaction, move them back from the door and try again. Do this for a day or two (or more, if needed).

    Once they are familiar with each other’s scent (maybe after a week or so?) then it is time to let the new cat out — but only after the resident cats are holed up in a room of their own. Let the new cat sniff and wander. This will get his/her scent in the territory of the resident cats. Give this an hour, then put the new cat back in its room and let the residents out. Repeat every day, going for longer periods.

    After about a week of this, I got a bunch of treats, and let my new cat out to meet the residents. I kept them apart by putting treats in two areas, but they were able to see each other. Then the new cat got put back in the room. I repeated this daily, for longer and longer periods (and less treats), and for a week or so had the cats all out together only when I was home (e.g. from after work till just before bedtime.)

    I hope this helps a bit 🙂 Your friend is always welcome to email me too 🙂

  7. I am wondering if the problem might not be the great age difference between the cats. When I last introduced a kitten (1 yr old) into the house with a 18 y.o. and 12 y.o. fights/hisses ensued. When I introduced another kitten, everything settled down. The kittens played together and only bothered the older cats for cleanings and cuddles.

    The young cat may just be trying to play with the older ones and they want nothing to do with it. The older ones, if they are bonded, might just be taking their annoyance/added stress of being pestered out on each other (similar to yelling at your family after a bad day at work).

    I know the solution isn’t a great one (add yet another cat) but it works the best in my experience. Do you have a friend with a young cat that you can baby sit for a week to see if that makes a difference?

  8. Alyssa (Percy the Cat) is dead on. However, when the new cat is exploring the rest of the house, put the existing cat in the new cat’s room. Swap swap swap. The kitty treats is a great idea because they learn that when they see each other they get yummies! Start over…separate them…and re-do the steps, one at a time…slowly…and have patience!!!

  9. I think everyone’s suggestions on keeping them separate and slowly introducing them is a good idea…that’s the standard procedure we always recommend when people adopt cats from our rescue.

    However, contrary to my own advice, I generally tend to let the residents get one good sniff while the new cat is in the carrier, then open the carrier door and just let them work it out by themselves, always supervised though and with lots of petting and treats all around…I’ve found out that if they associate the arrival of the newcomer with getting lots of treats, they seem to accept the new guy faster 🙂 I have to say though that one advantage we have is that all of our adult cats have come from foster homes which have had many cats in them, so they’re used to being with other cats…the worst episode we’ve had was with our last cat who got hissed at and growled at and stalked for a good 24 hours by one of our resident cats…so I would follow them around and pet them both and give them both tons of treats…a month later and they’re best buddies and spend all day playing and chasing and wrestling, followed by cuddling and napping together.

  10. Ok, my kitten (now 10 mths old) loves to ambush my older cat (8 yrs old). She is not so keen on it. He (the kitten) is dominate. She is a 14 lb main coon and he is an 8 lb ragdoll mix. She doesn’t realize that she would “win” bless her sweet self. However, he does love her..but he is just a kitten with kitten ways. She does instigate play with him and she likes him back…just not when she is sleeping and and he attacks her in play. Uh…not so good.

    However, I did keep them separated, swapped places with them, let them meet and great under the door etc. I took my time.

  11. If you don’t like the litterbox marking you could leave a bit of old litter in, this may satisfy the older ones that they are still tops in the box without forcing them to pee right off. More boxes would probably not help if the elders are marking turf-its just more work for them.

    I’d advise just being matter of fact about the extra cat to reduce some of the excess tension. Cats like a calm routine more than they hate extra cats. If the routine involves them all together in a big room for pets/treats the sooner everyone will get used to being at least in the same room if not in a big pile. If you are too anxious about the situation it just makes all of them tense, and they blame each other for it.

    As long one of the cats isnt driven under a bed I wouldn’t worry that much about a little slinking or growling. I gave my elder cat a haircut and the younger growled at him for about 4 days. They’ve been together for 8 years or so.

  12. @Gd: I had originally planned to do that with mine, but it was difficult to switch them around as the place I lived in wasn’t very big. My cat Percy was really timid when I first got him, so it was more about getting him used to the house and the smells. My girls got used to his smell from his wandering around and the bedding switch.

    Introducing cats takes a lot of patience and work – I was so glad when they were able to be out all together… less work with litterboxes and food dishes in odd spots.

  13. Well, I have only introduced kittens, so my only advice is the same as I woudl do – keep them separate for a while. Let them get used to each others smell first. I think it just depends on the cats how they react – some do better adding older cats, some do better with younger (that is how it is in my house – which is why I usually only add kittens – the older ones get really mad around other older cats, like at the vet and stuff). I think with patience any cats can eventually live together ok, but since I haven’t tried it I can’t be sure. I also found that gender makes a difference – oddly the boys are more tolerant of a newbie then our girl cat is, I would have guessed the opposite (like a nurturing thing would come out in her or something).

    I see Alyssa posted – I would have said to check out their blog because I knew that Percy joined the group older (plus he just has such cute cheeks, so you should go anyway). The other place I would recommend is petplace.com – they have lots of animal advice. And I am sure there has to be something on Catster too.

    So, as far as the boys, I am very happy they are getting to like you – but seriously, you call them the sucker! You know you are a sucker too – and believe me, that is coming to you from one of the biggest suckers out there (the vets office knows I will give in easily – oh, look a this poor kitten, he – don’t even finish, I will pick him up on Saturday kind of thing). I have started to think that being a sucker, at least where animals are concerned, is a great thing to be!

  14. Hi,
    all the advice is good advice. When i introduced a five year male to my five yr old Himalayan cat it all went very smoothly. My Himalayan, Fox, just let Niles do what he wanted till Niles was settled and then they were good. Niles is now 14 and Fox passed away a few years ago. Difft story when i had a kitten to introduce to Niles – Niles would hiss and spit and swipe at Sam but god, was Sam fearless. I did keep them seperate for the first week and let Niles come and look and sniff at Sam who was sleeping in a carrier and spending the time while i was at work with a neighbour. after the first week i let them meet and sniff each other and Sam just wanted to play. He loved Niles immediately. Every time Niles ran away from him Sam was on his tail insisting that he (Niles) would like him. Sam seemed convinced he could wear Niles’s resistance down. I got very stressed and being of the “new age” persuasion used both EFT tapping and both Bach flower essences and Australian Bush Flower essences to smooth things over. a little bit of everything together and it’s now been 2 years and the boys are friends. they don’t sleep together but the do wrestle and tussel and chase each other up and down the house and in the backyard. Good luck.

  15. I just leave them together and let them fight it out. But I’ve never had such an age difference. As for the marking, every cat I’ve ever had has peed in the fresh litter as soon as it was in the box. I wonder if the scent of litter just triggers the urge to pee, sort of pavlov’s dogs thing.

  16. I would try the Feliway, too. I have an 8 year-old submissive girl kitty (Skelly), and a 1.5 year-old male who spent a lot of time establishing dominance over her several months ago (Conway). At one point, Skelly wouldn’t cone into the bedroom at all, she seemed to think it was his territory… so I tried the Feliway, and the cats started to see the bedroom as neutral territory. When the Feliway was gone, they continued to share the room.

    However, that did not stop Conway from running Skelly down like an antelope on the savanna during the day. He just plain had a lot of energy, and she’s just a crotchety old lady. So we ended up getting another cat (Leeloo), who is the same age as Conway, and now they spend all of their energy on each other. Bringing Leeloo in allowed Skelly and Conway to be on more friendly terms, and even though the two girls have a squabble once in a while, they also sleep next to each other occasionally. They don’t cuddle, they just sometimes accidentally touch, but I think when the young’uns calm down, they’ll all be more comfortable with each other.

    My whole experience with Conway has taught me that I will probably never get one kitten alone again… he wasn’t really a choice, my husband rescued him from the middle of the road at four weeks old, but still. I think both Skelly and Conway would have been happier if there had been another kitten around.

  17. @Jeni: That sounds like my Emma (8) and Sidney (10 mths)! “running Skelly down like an antelope…” OMG…that is the perfect description! Poor sweet Emma…and poor sweet Skelly!!! Emma also gets ambushed (he does a flying leap onto her back) whilst she is sleeping! Kisses Emma…mama loves you!

  18. Great post! And great comments from everyone! My Yoko (almost 16yr old Tonk) has always had a hard time with other kitties pretty severely. With my fosters, I never let her near them (they get their own big room). And I never thought to introduce them for fear of disaster – and hence, never get another cat of my own either. But maybe with the next round of fosters, I’ll try some of these suggestion (rotating blankets, etc) – see if she comes around to them at all. I learned something today, thanks all!

  19. I only tried this once. I had a very old lady cat (18) and adopted two 6-year-olds off a poster at work who needed a home. The new male wanted like anything to be boss, the old lady was not about to give ground to him. The problem was he was double her weight – he was a bit too fat, and she was on the thin side because she was so old. I basically kept them separated at night until she died (a year and a half) by putting the new cats in their own room so my old lady could sleep on my bed without worrying about being jumped. This was after keeping them in their own room 24×7 for quite awhile, then deciding to go back to that because I’d find fur around the downstairs when I got home from work and my old lady got scratched twice and got infections. I think the age difference made it hard for them to establish a pecking order, and I had to protect the old one. Interestingly, when I got two kittens, it’s the male who’s become like their big brother and licks them all the time.

  20. Seriously, is that cat sticking his tongue out at you!!
    I would think you’d be smothered by cats trying to keep you warm.
    The flu is no fun. Just got my last flue shot yesterday for the season.
    Hope you feel better soon. I always look forward to starting my day with your blog. Matbe Fred could fill in for you??!
    Take care

  21. great advice here, to do the separation thing.
    I add: use Feliway diffusers! Godsend. You can get them for great prices online. We *never* had any spraying, and I think this was the reason.

    We introduced a 15 yr-old to our territorial 8 yr old, and followed the directions about separation, etc. The book Cat vs. Cat was recommended by our vet, and its advice is great.

    Now, 3 yrs later, they’re not buddies, but they will even share a lap!!!! Occasional catflict, involving half-hearted paw waps.