We adopted a 2 year old cat that had supposedly been a stay most of her life. She is very affectionate and loving to humans, but is very defensive with other cats. We introduced her to our current cat 2 months ago.


Both are fixed, our current cat Milo is a male Maine Coon, 2 years old, and is very energetic, curious, and playful. After day 2 he was no longer growling and was jus curious about the new cat. The new cat is Roxy, female, 2 years old, breed(s) unknown, she is about 1/2-2/3 Milo's size, very affectionate of humans, but gets scared easily and hides a lot.


Milo is very playful, but also territorial (He will try and eat her food over his, and use the litter-box she uses over the one he used to). He often tries to initiate play-time with her in the same manner he does with us, she will run away, and he will follow either seeing her as prey or thinking it's play time. She will turn around and swat at him, and he will swat back, Roxy will usually either hide at this point or go full-in to get Milo away from her. When Roxy gets aggressive, Milo backs off and tries to find something else to play with, or we play with him for a bit and love up on Roxy too.

This is pretty much what Milo does: https://i.sstatic.net/6CG8b.gif except Roxy becomes defensive/aggressive as soon as he sniffs her or pats her.

It seems that Roxy is very wary and defensive of other cats, she puts herself in a defensive stance whenever Milo is really close, or will run and hide. We had a neighborhood stray get in the house a while back when we were moving stuff and Milo tries to sniff and play, Roxy ran and hid in a dark spot curled up (The stray treated Milo like a bother rather than a threat, and was only interested in food).

How can we mitigate Roxie's fear/defensiveness? Milo is insistent on playing or being territorial with her at any opportunity, Roxy usually just runs and hides and that triggers something in Milo. She never leaves the bedroom on her own accord, and rarely plays, no matter what we try.

Edit: Roxy also has a LOT of old little scars all over her body, I imagine from before we got her. We recently did a in-depth pat down on her after we found a bite mark on Milo's chin and a claw mark on her shoulder after they got in a tussle, and were surprised to find so many scars all over her.

  • A 2 year old female stray cat is considered to be full grown while a 2 year old fixed male house cat can be much more immature than her, so for an advice, she may never play with him and she may turn him aggressive or fearful at some point, so it's best to be really slow at the introduction or seperate them more often if you already introduced them. What I saw in the link was an uncertain kitten that's affraid and not sure of the mouse it was trying to pat, but still curious. That's how Milo is ain't it? Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 17:39
  • @toothless199 Yes, that's how milo is, though he doesn't really back off like the cat in the picture does. He will just lay down sideways and stare at her. Sometimes she doesn't care, but most of the time she will growl or hiss. We keep them separated when we are not home, and they can be together when we are home. Milo pretty much owns the house, he prances around with his tail high. Roxy only owns the bed, and to some extend the bedroom, and hugs the wall and tucks her tail & ears everywhere else. Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 15:31
  • Yeah this behaviour I've seen in males more often than females, when he lays down it's him being submissive you see, so it looks like on his side he doesn't have any problem with her being in his house, he seems confident and happy by what you say and wants to spend time with her so that's why he tries to play and then when she doesn't like it he lays to show he isn't a threat and infact is being submissive towards her. What a sweet cat. He isn't being territorial at all. He's acting like a baby kitten though he's larger than her. I had the same situation with kittens though.. Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 15:46
  • ..about 2 to 3 months old. Don't worry as long as he's doing that and isn't afraid ( has his ears fall back) they'll probably solve their problems out. Lol. She'll eventually find out that he's a sweetheart and not a threat. Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 15:49
  • And for the eating behaviour it can be due to him being a kitten, kittens are sometimes (or cats) greedy and would eat their siblings food before their own to make sure they get the whole lot of it. And for the litter box, he's doing that to mix their scents, no problem with that. And for the stray cat, the reason it ignored Milo and treated him like a bother rather than a threat was because it knew Milo wasn't a threat, afterall Milo was displaying kitten behaviour rather than a cat's by trying to play with the stray. Cats know which cats are old,young,a threat, a baby and that's how... Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 16:01

1 Answer 1


It's a difficult situation and sadly there is no real one-size-fits-all approach, and there definitely isn't an overnight fix. There are some things that you can try though and you might want to experiment with them to see if you can find what works.

Get a pheromone diffuser

Various companies market these and with different messaging but they are all essentially the same thing - they contain a synthetic version of CAP which is the pheromone that mother cats secrete after giving birth, it's supposed to encourage the cats to feel safe and secure and help reduce conflict behaviors. They aren't a cure-all and different cats will react differently but I've never seen a cat react badly to one and in my experience they can help take the edge off the tensions. Personally I use Feliway Friends and have seen good results.

Redirect Milo's play instincts

When you see Milo trying to be playful try diverting his attentions on to a toy (a fishing rod type toy is ideal for this sort of thing but you should prioritize the types that he likes). This has two benefits - firstly it means that Milo can get his play urges satisfied without having to bother Roxy and secondly it can (over time) encourage Roxy to join in. All the better if you can play with him somewhere where Roxy can observe from a safe spot because after giving her some time to get comfortable with watching him play you can start encouraging her with the toy.

Play with Roxy alone

This can help build her confidence - and the more confident she is feeling the less likely she will be to freak out at Milo

Make sure Roxy has a a "safe" spot in the house

She's probably already found one or more but if you can make sure that she always has somewhere she can retreat to if she needs to - and if she has gone there following Milo bothering her then try and keep him away as much as possible - take him to another room and give him some fuss or play with him so she can get a breather.

Give it time

Cat's can take a surprisingly long time to truly establish their relationships - they are solitary animals by nature so socializing with others of their kind doesn't always come quickly. And with Roxy's background there's probably a lot of quite heavily ingrained experience that teaches her to be wary of other cats (especially bigger ones)

Share the love

If both are present try giving them alternating fuss - when you're fussing a cat you will be picking up their scent on your hands so when you then fuss the second cat they will pick up on this scent and, over time, associate that scent with nice things (i.e. receiving fuss)

Give it time

Research suggests that cats have "episodic" memories similar to humans so what you need to do is build up a series of "happy" memories in Roxy that are associated with yourself and Milo and overtime this will start to lessen the impact of her older memories of other cats == bad She'll probably always be wary of "strangers" but I think you can probably get her to accept Milo

  • I would add, make it possible for Roxy to use her litterbox and eat undisturbed/without sharing if possible.
    – user10093
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 16:00
  • Thanks! It's nearly 2 months since I asked this question and I've been just about all of those things. She has started coming out of her hole and will play and romp around the house. Milo still tries everything he can to be close to her, when she sleeps he will sneak up and lay down beside her and nap as well, though she she wakes up she quickly vacates the spot. When I play with them, they seems to be oblivious of each other unless they run into each other, but that usually is met with cold stares and distance rather than hissing and growling. She is coming around, albeit VERY slowly. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 23:33

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