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Adopting a kitten?

This is a place to gain some understanding of cat behavior and to assist people in training their cats and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other cat owners and lovers...not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
Riley

1172417
 
 
Purred: Sat Jun 13, '15 8:51am PST 
So after much thought I decided that I wanted to expand my kitty family by adding a kitten, the only thing that's holding me back is my older cat Riley. I have two cats, both indoor, Riley will be 5 this year and Mia will be 3. When we first got Riley he was 3 months old and was the only cat of the house for two years until we brought home Mia. At first they got a long fairly well, they would lay with each other, but now they don't really bother with each other and stay out of each others way. Riley has these moments where he gets like this "roid rage" and if Mia goes into the basement aka his "man cave" he'll chase her back upstairs and attack her. This is only every once and a while but sometimes it gets to the point where they have to be isolated because he's being mean. I'm scared to bring home a kitten with his sporadic behavior, I don't know how he'll react and I'm scared as the kitten gets older and ventures down into the basement he'll attack it and the kitten won't be able to defend itself. Should I just abandon hope of adding to my family or is there anything I can do to help with his behavior?
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Angel Buddha

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Purred: Mon Jun 22, '15 2:41am PST 
You might want to ask the vet about his behavior and have him checked over to make sure there isn't any medical issue causing or contributing to it. Do you notice anything or any situation in particular that occurs right before he goes into his "roid rage" that might be a triggering factor? It may be that he hears or scents things out of your sensory range, things such as an approaching thunderstorm or cats fighting outside. It's possible that an anti-anxiety medication might help him. Such behaviors are usually fear motivated. I have one cat here who tries to go after two other cats that he's actually afraid of. Its like he goes after them first to bluff them so they won't think of going after him. However if one of them approaches him first, he turns and runs. This cat has been here since mid-October and as time has passed, he's gained confidence and his behavior has been gradually improving.

I always start out a new cat or kitten in an extra large plastic airline dog crate. That way the newcomer is safe. The newcomer can hide at the back of the crate if he/she is insecure or come to the front of the crate to interact with my other cats safely through the bars of the crate door. I will also let the newcomer have some time loose in one room with the door closed while the newcomer is in there. This allows the newcomer to smell the other cats and after the newcomer is returned to the crate, the other cats can smell the newcomer's scent in the room. After sosme time of this, if everything seems harmonious, I allow the newcomer loose in the room with a couple of my other cats who I know will be social and friendly to the newcomer. If all goes well there, I let the newcomer loose in the house.

If you get a kitten, I would recommend you try to pick a confident outgoing kitten.

You also might try the Feliway diffuser. It emits a cat calming pheromone. The best price I've personally found for it is at the Drs. Foster & Smith website. I've found the Feliway diffuser does help when I'm integrating a newcomer into my cat family.
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Arwen

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Purred: Tue Jun 23, '15 4:51am PST 
Ehhmm, how big is your place? And are they indoor cats? I second the advice to have him checked by the vet, btw, just to rule out medical causes, but this sounds like territorial aggression/boredom aggression.

Territory is very important to cats - more important than relationships, as it is vital to their personal safety. Male cats need about 4-5 rooms to themselves, while females are usually ok with 1-2 rooms. You can help them out, if this is the issue, by adding vertical territory (cat trees, cat shelves, see your place in 3D basically laugh out loud

I myself also have a tom cat that acts this way because we were forced to live in a place that just is a little too cramped for my cat family right now, and he does take it out on the others- even though he can go outside. He also overate because of this frustration. Since I've added environmental enrichment (toys, boxes, but most especially the Tiger Diner food bowl that forces him to slow down and figure out how to get the food out of it), he's stopped overeating and bullies others a lot less.

This stuff is even more likely to happen to indoor cats. They are literally stuck between 4 walls with nothing to do which can lead to apathy and depression but also to aggression and teasing of others to keep oneself entertained.

Either way, I'd hold off of adopting another cat until you sort this out as adding another cat to this situation will add even more pressure and stress. It is stressful anyways, for them, the first week or so in order to adjust to having to share resources and feeling unsafe with an intruder in the house, so you want them to be in an optimal mental state before you put them through that. When you do add that other kitty, see if you can use the safe-room method to make the introduction as smooth as possible. It'll give you the best chance of succeeding and avoiding more problem behaviour wink
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