When kittens are introduced into a home with an older cat, they can be needlessly aggressive towards the older cat. This is because the kitten still has all of its feral cat instincts and has not been taught to rein in this behavior.
In this article, we will discuss why your kitten is attacking your older cat. We will learn how to handle your kitten by supervising and training it on how to interact with the older cat.
If you are having this problem with your pets, just keep reading.
Why does my kitten attack my older cat?
The primeval instincts deeply embedded in your kitten are what drives it to attack your older cat.
These factors include:
Solitary cat behavior
The domestic cats’ ancestors were solitary creatures. They liked to hunt for prey alone. It is possible that your kitten retained this behavior and so does not like the older cat being around. If left alone, your kitten will test their athleticism on your older cat.
Lack of social skills
If your cat lives by itself in your home with minimal to no social interaction with others, the presence of a new kitten can come as a shock. Both cats have to learn new social skills to appropriately interact with each other.
The ranking of cats in the house
Cats establish their own ranking system of all the animals in the house. Rank is determined by posturing and verbal signals. If your older cat is submissive, the new kitten can bully him to get a higher position in the rankings. The more your older cat submits, the more dominant and aggravating the kitten will be.
Signs of aggression from kitten
- A combination of stealth, silence, alert stance, hunting postures, and lunging or springing at the older cat
- Meowing, twitching, and tail swatting
- Bluffing behavior, such as arching its back; this may not lead to an outburst but is the kitten’s way of showing the other cat that it is not to be messed with
How do I stop my kitten from attacking my older cat?
There are ways to avoid this behavior from your kitten as long as you start early on, even before you introduce your cats to each other.
1. Move your kitten to a timeout area when it misbehaves
If the kitten is constantly terrorizing your older cat, the older will become paranoid in his own home. This can have lasting negative effects on it.
If distracting the kitten with toys does not work, then you need to teach the kitten the consequences of bullying the older cat. Time out in their crate for ten minutes will allow them to associate the isolation with their misbehavior.
Do not yell at the kitten. Physical punishment is not acceptable as it sows fear. Pick him up quietly and place him in the time out zone. Do not give it attention while it is in time out. Ignore it so it reinforces that you will not tolerate bad behavior.
Be patient and consistent when training your kitten. Use word commands like “leave it” when it attacks your older cat. It will take your kitten some time before it finally corrects the habit. But soon enough, he will learn.
2. Provide your older cat with a safe space of its own
Provide your older cat with a place where it can rest and take naps without having to deal with an annoying kitten. This will help calm the older cat down.
Give it a box with a food-dispensing toy to play in to work off its energy. If it has a favorite room to sleep in, make that room its area and train the kitten to keep away.
While your older cat is napping, take the kitten to another room where it can explore. Play games to tire out the kitten. This way, the kitten will be too tuckered out to bully the older cat.
3. Reward both cats for collaborative play
Rewarding good behavior is effective for training your cats. Do not reward negative behavior. Remember to not yell at your cats because they will still see that as a form of attention.
Try involving both cats in the same game and give them treats if they interact without any negative behavior. If they are playing in the same area, reward them with a treat at the same time. If your older cat allows your kitten to get close and the kitten does not attack, give them both a treat. When they share a toy, reward them.
They will figure out that good play will earn them yummy treats.
4. Give them separate belongings
When you introduce your kitten to your older cat, be sure to establish ownership immediately so they do not fight over objects.
Give each cat its own food bowls that are spaced apart to make sure that they do not steal food from each other. Give them their own litter boxes to create a little privacy.
Let your older cat keep its bed and all its toys. Do not expect him to share it with the kitten because it may build resentment.
Get the kitten a new bed instead of expecting the older cat to share. If they do decide to share belongings in the future, let them make that decision.
The addition of a new kitten into your home means introducing it to your older cat. The kitten’s unrefined personality may become aggressive towards your older cat and may need to be corrected.
Give your kitten a time out when it is terrorizing your older cat. Provide both cats with their own personal safe space. Tire out your kitten during playtime so it has no energy to bully the older cat. Supervise all your cats’ interactions while rewarding good behavior.
Make sure that you make your older cat feel that they are still loved even though there is a new kitten. Shower both cats with equal attention.
Image: istockphoto.com / Nynke van Holten