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We have a 10 month old male cat (virtually full grown) and we recently adopted a 6 week old male kitten. we did everything the internet recommended regarding this situation (separating them in different rooms, letting them smell each other's scent and then supervised mingling).

At this point we've had the kitten for a week and a half, during which the cats have been mingling quite a lot but only under our supervision. During those mingling sessions sometimes they play nicely but a lot of times the older cat gets anxious and too aggressive - he bites the kitten really hard and twists him like a ragdoll, making him scream, and then we step in and break up the fight usually by removing the kitten from the situation.

We are concerned that if we are not there to supervise, the older cat might seriously harm the kitten and are anxious about the possibility of leaving them alone.

My question is, how long should we continue with this routine of separation when we are not home and at what point would it be safe to leave them alone?

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First, I'd suggest taking a look at the answers to these questions:

Your new kitten is very young (ideally they shouldn't leave their mother until 8 weeks at the earliest) and your older cat is still in the kitten/teenage phase and probably not too sure about this interloper in his territory.

Some suggestions from my experience:

  • Keep a water spray close by when you let the kitten out of his "safe space" to interact with the other cat. Instead of physically separating them, try spraying.
  • Make sure you give the older cat plenty of attention, particularly when the kitten is out. I don't know if it's comparable to human jealousy, but cats certainly act like they're jealous. If you can arrange to pet both at the same time, do.
  • Have a separate time-out area for either cat and if one misbehaves, put that cat in the time-out zone for a period. The kitty time-out zone shouldn't be the kitten's safe space or you'll confuse him.
  • Take an unwashed T-shirt (so it smells strongly of you) and put it in the kitten's bed for a day or so. Then put it in the older cat's bed for the same time frame. Using two shirts and switching them is even better. I don't have any references for this, but I've found that mingling the scents like this helps the cats see each other as part of the same household.
  • If the kitten isn't being injured when the older cat loses patience with the game, you could consider simply growling at the two to separate them, but leaving them out to interact with each other. Your older cat could simply be trying to tell the kitten "enough" and not realize that he's scaring the little one. In addition, the kitten needs to learn when to stop, and separating them every time will make it harder to learn this. If the kitten's distress call is fear rather than pain, he'll leave the older cat alone for a while but won't change his behavior otherwise.
  • You shouldn't pet either cat in this situation: you don't want the kitten associating irritating the older cat with your attention. You also don't want the older cat associating hurting/scaring the kitten with your attention.
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  • Hi, Thanks for your response! Some of these tips we have implemented already, and they have helped, but in our case the instigator is the older teenage cat rather then the kitten - the kitten is very calm and usually stirs clear of the big cat but the big cat jumps on him every time he tries to go somewhere around the apartment... My question was more regarding the time frame in which the two could be left alone together safely.. at what point do you think that would be possible? – DZIPP Dec 1 '15 at 13:10
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    When the older cat is showing signs of wanting to interact with the kitten is usually the ideal - it will also help if you can make sure there are plenty of places where the kitten can go that the older cat can't reach. – Kate Paulk Dec 1 '15 at 13:53
  • You could try scolding the older cat some, but in the worst case the younger cat will grow to a more comparable size to the teenage cat in a few months and be able to fight back more evenly. – Oldcat Dec 3 '15 at 0:58
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From my experience, you should seperate them if they are harming each other, then try to start joining them together with your supervision. I recommend placing them toghether in a small and empty room so you could help as fast as possible.

At first they will start harming each other and that is OK if you are ready to help, keep them fighting until you hear screaming or if the little cat stopped fighting and thus was just getting harmed.

Keep doing this daily and then they will start to ignore each other, but that doesn't mean not supervising them.

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