How do I make a new cat get along with my older cats?

Cary May submitted this question:

I am having trouble with our new cat Male getting along with my older cats. 10 years and 16 years. The new one won't leave the old cats alone and he is mean to them. We found the new one on the highway and brought him home about 3 months ago. I am worried what might happen when we leave on vaction the end of April. Any suggestions?

   

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Answer:

First, there is some general advice about getting new cats at this page on introducing a new cat. However, your cat has been in the household for awhile and is still having problems with the older cats. So you may need to take some special measures.

As far as general training, you should put your new cat into "timeout" whenever he's aggressive to the older ones. Say "NO!" loudly if he attacks them, and use a spray bottle to spray him with water whenever you catch him in the act. If he persists, then put him in a separate room for awhile to cool down. If he is in the same room as the other cats and isn't fighting with them, praise him and pet him. You want to get him to learn to tolerate being in the same room at the same time. Cats are very territorial, and he probably is trying to establish himself as the top cat. It will usually cool down over time as they gradually get adjusted to each other.

Long term, it is a good idea to neuter your cat as well. This will reduce fighting and aggression if you haven't done it. You should also separate out the feeding dishes and litterboxes - give him his own so that he is not forced to be in contact with the other cats. That can be a common aggravating factor with aggression towards other cats. Make sure he has a separate bed as well.

Finally, for your vacation specifically, one thing you should look at are claw covers. These are only for indoor cats, so if he is going to be allowed out at all you can't use them. But they will dramatically reduce the chances of him being able to injure the other cats. They last at least a month or two so it should go through the whole vacation. Also think about getting a cat sitter to check up on them and make sure the older cats haven't been in a fight.

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