old cat is terrified of new cat-- what can i do?

by Cata



i have 2 cats: Odessa and Norah.

Odessa I have had for over a year, she's two. She was a pet turned abandoned/stray and lived on the streets for a good while, therefore she has a lot of emotional issues and albeit very friendly, she is very skittish and can frighten easy.

I got Norah from the APL in mid December of 2010. She is 10 (I have some doubts about that but that is what was written on her card), and came from a loving home she had had all her life. She is very outgoing, playful, sweet, and mischievous (like jumping on kitchen counter mischief).

I knew they were never going to be friends but I was told that they will learn to at least tolerate one another, and it looked like it was heading that direction. They were progressing to the point that they could sleep on the couch albeit separate sides and with two people in between them. Then--

About 1.5 weeks ago, I decided to start alternating which cat gets to sleep in my bedroom so that they both get to be with me alone. I had to close the door when it was Odessa's night because Norah always wants to be where the humans are. The next morning Odessa and exiting my bedroom as Norah was coming in to see me and as they passed each other Odessa started to run to get away from Norah faster. Norah took that as a cue to play the 'chase me, chase me' game and ran after her. Then they started fighting and Odessa continued to run until she got under her pet stairs, I then collected Norah and put food/water/litter box in my room and closed her in.

Odessa eventually came out from under the stairs. This 'Norah pouncing on Odessa' incident has happened twice since then and now whenever Odessa
sees Norah she runs and hides.

They were at a point where they would just ignore each other but now Odessa hisses and growls and runs and I can't even let them be in the same room without supervision because Norah wants to pounce on Odessa. I think Norah wants to play, I don't think its coming from an aggressive place (although I could be wrong), but Odessa is problem ridden and doesn't like to play with other cats. In fact she seems downright terrified of them. Her and I had to stay with my mother and her 3 cats for a while and Odessa was absolutely miserable there, but I thought it was because it was a new place and on top of that, there were 3 cats new to her.

How long should I give this before I succumb to rehoming Norah (my father has been thinking of getting a cat)?

Everyone is fixed and I have a feliway plugin. What else can I do to get us back to the 'just ignoring each other' place?

Answer from KAte
well it sounds to me like one cat wants to play and the other one doesn't ( I have two cats so I know what it can be like). In my experience the situation normally sorts itself out with a little time. Cats sometimes need to sort out their own issues with each other so that they can find their own boundaries ect and learn how to live togeather in some sort of harmony. Sometimes our intervention can make things worse as it does not allow them to sort things out.

if the situation is really bad you could try a period of reintroduction as described here


I would definitely give them much more time to get along, these things can take months before some sort of equilibrium is found.

best wishes Kate

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by: Cata

thanks Kate!

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