Find your diamond
Find your jewelry
shape
carat
color
clarity

Do cats have a pecking order?

BeekeeperBetty

Shiny_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 15, 2015
Messages
271
I apologize in advance for any typos, I'm having some vision problems lately.

This might be long winded.

Quick background, When I went to college I adopted a kitten from the shelter. Several years later she was killed in a terrible accident while she was with a pet sitter. I was pregnant so I couldn't get another cat, and since my husband is not a cat person, almost 15 years went by without a cat. I finally convinced him to let us get a semi-feral to help with the vermin problem in the yard. Turns out, she isn't feral at all, she was just horribly mistreated and dumped. She won't go outside. Which is fine. And she's very sweet, but also solitary and we only see her for a few minutes a day. I told my husband I forgot how much I loved cats and I wished that she was more affectionate. So he got me a kitten. He was about 16 weeks when we brought him home. I was careful about introducing them slowly and so on. We've had him about 3 months and he's out in the house full time now. The shelter cat only comes out at night, and the new cat sleeps in my room with the door shut, so they only see each other for about an hour in the morning before the shelter cat slinks off to wherever she hides all day.

During this hour together the shelter cat hisses and growls at the new cat if he comes too close. He's very friendly and wants to play with her, but she wants nothing to do with him. They can be in the same room as long as the new cat ignores her. The last few days I have noticed that if the new cat is minding his own business and ignoring the shelter cat, the shelter cat runs at him and then when the new cat sees her, she hisses and runs away. I can't figure out if she's trying to play and is just really bad at it (she never plays, she hides, eats, and allows us to pet her a couples of times a week), or if she's trying to assert dominance? Or am I thinking too much like a dog owner? They don't swipe at each other, it's all verbal. I've also noticed that since we got the new cat, the shelter cat comes out to see us a lot more often, so that's a good thing, right?

We run feliway diffusers in several parts of the house, too, and have for some time since the shelter cat always seems so nervous. The poor dear has some very suspicious scars on her neck, and was just skin and bones and almost no hair when we got her. She's much healthier looking and seems very happy. Just solitary. Neither cat seems unhappy, but I was hoping they would be friends.



TL;DR My old adopted cat is charging and hissing at our 7 month old cat. Will they ever get along?
 

YadaYadaYada

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Feb 2, 2016
Messages
5,928
Short answer to your question is yes, cats have a pecking order and when a newcomer is on the scene it can take a while for things to settle. We have had cats the past 15 years and whenever a new cat was introduced the current cats definitely have the newbie some heat, hissing, swatting, growling were pretty much the norm. As long as they aren't fighting, drawing blood and pulling hair out then they will probably learn to tolerate each other at worst or be best friends eventually.

You can try feeding them in the same vicinity, like people food brings a common ground and positive vibe to the household and that helps facilitate an environment for bonding. I suggest they each have a separate litter box in different locations if possible. You could also get some toys like feather on a fishing rod types that get them to play, even if one just watches it is a step in the right direction.

Now, there is no guarantee they will be friends but even if they just tolerate each other then you are good. Most cats will learn to coexist at least. Just keep an eye on things, don't section them off from each other in the house unless they are fighting and you should be good.

Oh and make sure they are both neutered/spayed.

Congrats on your new addition! Share a pic when you can. :D
 

CJ2008

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Dec 31, 2006
Messages
4,750
Hi beekeeper

First I am so sorry to hear about your kitten's accident so long ago. I'm sure that was devastating. :(sad

You might want to go back a few steps, even if you did the slow introduction, and go back to the simpler things like letting them smell each other under the door, etc. All of the things you did while introducing them.

And start exposing them to positive things together - eating together, playing together, etc. So for example, instead of letting them be together and attempt to play with each other, have you or your DH (or both of you) play with both cats. Give them treats together - I like feeding mine one treat a time, alternating, while they're both sitting next to each other (they both know how to sit).

Good luck beekeeper - and thank you for rescuing both these kitties - seems like they found a wonderful home.

ETA: and of course all the "normal" recommendations as far as the # of litter boxes, plenty beds to lounge/sleep in, places to climb, scratchers, etc. We try to do things in doubles - so for example, when we put out benches in the patio for them to sit on and look outside, we make sure there's always 2. Otherwise the boy will bully the girl off hers.
 

kenny

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
28,175
Yes.

Cats on top.
Humans on bottom. :lol:
 

NOYFB

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 16, 2008
Messages
2,649
CJ gave some great advice. It's always hard to introduce a new cat to a home with an established alpha cat. We have a hidey-cat too. He's the sweetest most gentle soul ever, but is easily traumatized by the smallest things (getting a pan out of the cabinet, friends coming over, etc), so we started using some of Jackson Galaxy's Nervous Nelly Essences on him and it seems to help with his nervousness. He still hides (in the closet) a majority of the day, but he's a bit more social now at least. JG's website has a bunch of different formulas designed for different behaviors, if you want to check it out.
 

Gypsy

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 8, 2005
Messages
40,198
Yes. They definitely do. And it is a fluid thing. My Duncan was the alpha cat when he was young and he defended that title. Now he can't be bothered to care at 14 and blind.

I've had 9 cats total (no more than 6 at one time) over the last 15 years. We have a new cat every couple years it seems, recently.

Honestly though, if the cat is an adult then their prior socialization is the most important thing. And their bonds to you, as their owners. People think that cats aren't loyal just because they aren't sycophants. When you are socializing cats a HUGE amount of the success depends on you and how much they trust you and want to make you happy. And how experienced you are with the process. If you aren't the best thing you can do, if you can afford it, is spend a few hundred dollars on a pet 'whisperer'... animal behaviorist. They don't really train the cats. At all. They train you. And in training you... they make the whole process much more successful.

It may not seem like it, but you actually have a lot of control over the process.

Your problem is that your shelter cat was mistreated, is badly socialized, and doesn't trust you enough yet to take any risks around the new kitten who, to her mind, is a threat (probably because she was beat up and hurt by other cats when she was on the streets). If you don't mind my saying. If you can move her into your bedroom full time for a while, that might be the best thing. The more she bonds with you the more she'll trust that she's safe. She NEEDS to bond to you in order for this to work. She needs to believe to her very bones that she is SAFE with you ALWAYS, even with an other cat (threat) near that you will protect her. And that takes a lot of time and effort. Keep her separate from the kitten now. And when they are in the same space ALWAYS protect her from the kitten, and keep the kitten 2 feet away from her at all times. The kitten is just going to have to suck it up. Get him some wonderful wand toys and play with him for a full 30 minutes a day to make it up to him. She's traumatized, abused, still learning her new environment and she is the one with seniority. When they are in the same space and the kitten is two feet away, a little hissing is okay, but growling is not. If the growing starts... you need to take her somewhere safe or remove the kitten (never a good idea to try to pick up a growling cat that doesn't trust you 1000%, pick up the other one... much safer).

The reason she is coming out more often is that she needs reassurance from you that she is safe. She's turning to you, that's good. But you have to realize that it's prompted by her insecurity and that she needs you to make her feel as safe as you can.

My Lucy was very much like your rescue. It took 3 years for us to win her trust. We couldn't even pet her the first 6 months. But she learned to trust us and cuddles now and we can pet her 98% of the time. And it took an active campaign by us to make sure we interacted with her for quality time for at least an hour almost every day for all those yars. She had her own room and no contact with any other cats in all that time. After she trusted us we were able to introduce Duncan to her. She still needs an 18 inch bubble but they both sleep with us every night now. And she tolerates the other 4 as long as they leave her alone in supervised visits. She's still not fully integrated with the other 4, 7 years later, but she's fine with Duncan now, and that is HUGE from a cat that wouldn't let US pet her when we first met her. And the only reason she tolerates ANY of the other cats, even Duncan is because she loves US and trusts US. Otherwise she is fully willing and able to beat the snot out of all of them (seriously, she's small but she's mean when she wants to be).

I recommend calling your BEST local shelter and asking for an animal behaviorist recommendation. That's what we got with Lucy. We had them come in twice, and they really helped us.
 

BeekeeperBetty

Shiny_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 15, 2015
Messages
271
I appreciate all the advice!

We do have multiples of everything, litter boxes, food and water, scratchers and so on.

We had the shelter cat for almost 2 years. Based on her behavior, I suspect that she was a beloved pet for a while, and then was ditched. When we brought her in the house it was very obvious that she was used to people, young kids, and dogs. She seems to like all of us, and enjoys being petted for a few minutes, but then she's done. Honest to God, she seems to be very happy here leading a comfortable and generally solitary life. Before we got the new cat I would leave our doors open (we have nice weather year round so I keep the house open) and she would walk out on the front porch, look around and then you could see her just go "Nah, I'm not doing that again" and then she's go take a nap on one of the kids' beds. Now she has a thick coat of fur, and she has gained a lot of weight, but not too much.

The cats now barely see each other. We have a big house and it has multiple levels. The shelter cat has chosen one level as her lair and tends to hide in various areas there all day long. She only comes out at night after the dogs are in bed. She's not a fan. At night the new cat is in my room with the door closed. I'm trying to get him to sleep on my bed, but he prefers sleeping by the tub in the bathroom. Stinker. When I get up in the morning the cats are in each other's presence for about an hour before the shelter cat slinks back down to her lair. There's a lot of hissing and ignoring each other for that hour in the morning, but nothing beyond that. So I guess it sounds like they have acclimated pretty well. The new cat wants to play, but he's starting to realize that the other cat isn't interested.

The shelter cat seems to be slowly realizing she won't be mistreated here, but it's a process. She has come out of her shell so much since we got her that it really does my heart good. She was one of those cats at the shelter that no one would have ever adopted. The workers there told me not to bother with her because she was mean, but she's just the biggest sweetheart. There's not a mean bone in her body. She's never scratched anyone or been anything but sweet, and skittish.

So I guess, bottom line is since there isn't any physical violence, and in general it's just some griping and lots of ignoring they're doing ok?
 
Be a part of the community It's free, join today!
    Three-stone engagement ring upgrade
    Three-stone engagement ring upgrade
    Vintage OEC Bracelet
    Vintage OEC Bracelet
    June’s Birthstone Trinity
    June’s Birthstone Trinity

Need Something Special?

Get a quote from multiple trusted and vetted jewelers.

Holloway Cut Advisor



Diamond Eye Candy

Click to view full-size image.

New posts

Top