Old Cat Fearful Of Younger new Cat

by Brent Brotine
(Evanston, IL)

Hershey and Snickers

Hershey and Snickers

Hi, Kate. We have two male Siamese rescues, and are at our wits ends with the most vexing cat introduction we've ever had. Hershey is our 4-year old who's been with us for two years. Our previous second cat suddenly died at home (stroke my M.D. spouse diagnosed; was 15 years old) before the holidays -- Hershey was distraught when it happened -- and we went and got a new companion cat, Snickers, who's about 1 year old (much smaller than Hershey).

Snickers is highly affectionate and so far has no fear of Hershey. However, Hershey rejected the idea of a new cat from the start (this surprised us as he was rescued from a 200+ cat hoarding situation and has always been around other cats). We kept Snickers in a separate room the first week, and Hershey seemed to pay no attention -- no paws under the doors, and when we would take Hershey into the room he would simply sit in one place and growl. Since New Year's we've given Snickers partial to full run of the condo; when he's loose Hershey retreats into hiding places -- usually our cat condo tower -- and doesn't come out. Typically he only comes out in the middle of the night to eat or use the litterbox. I can remove him from the condo and place him on our bed or inside his cat bed on our sofa or kitchen island to be part of the action -- he'll stay there without moving, and will growl/hiss at Snickers whenever he comes to sniff or check out Hershey. There's at most one screaming cat fight per day that never lasts more than five seconds, and it usually happens so fast that I seldom see which cat attacks first. (Hershey has his claws, Snickers came to us declawed, but we haven't seen any blood or injuries to worry about.)

If I lock Snickers in a separate room for the evening (with food and litterbox), Hershey may or may not come out to sleep with us. If we keep Snickers in a separate room once again during the day, Hershey will usually come out from
the condo and be his old self, but as soon as Snickers is let out he runs back into the condo again. It is totally unlike Hershey to be so depressed/sullen/lethargic. We've been told by the rescue organization both cats came from that Siamese can be this way and it will pass -- but if you can suggest anything I'd really, really appreciate it. (And although our vet hasn't suggested it, is there reason I should ask about a feline antidepressant?)

Answer by Kate
Oh dear, this is a common problem. Unfortunately and or no fault or own own as humans we assume that cats needs are similar to our own. So when one cat dies, we worry about the other cat being lonely and get another cat. unfortunately it doesn't really work like that for cats and i get many questions regarding the same problems you speak of.

Cats are not pack animals like dogs and unless brought up from an early age with another pet they will often reject a new animal. So siblings get along ok and very young cats introduced to other cats and dogs etc from the start are usually ok but this does not necessarily mean that they will get along with every cat they meet.

unfortunately this sounds like what has happen ed here. the behavior you describe is completely normal for two strange cats. They are in the process of deciding who is top cat and it sounds like your older cat has decided that it is your new cat as he is keeping out of the way.

Now you did the right thing about keeping them apart and i think you went through the introduction period. Can i suggest that you try this again, with one cat in a cage and the other being allowed to wander round and then to switch the situation over. the process is described here


However time is a great healer and eventually the two cats will settle down into their own routine and perhaps always give each other a wide berth but they will be Ok with this.

best wishes kate
beautiful cats by the way ;0

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Thanks, Kate
by: Brent Brotine

As I figured -- last night we put Snickers in a separate room, which brought out Hershey to come sleep with us. It's hard to keep Snickers locked up in a separate room when we're gone during the day, but we might try that too -- and I love the idea of having him in a cage when the two get together. Will report back -- thanks!

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