So we recently adopted a new cat into our household. She’s young and the only girl among three other tomcats.

It’s been about a month or two and she wants to explore the house, but our other three cats won’t leave her alone. However, she’s really the only one expressing aggressive behavior. Two of the toms seem to genuinely want to play with her, and I’m pretty sure neither of them have done her any actual harm. They’re very gentle, but even then, she hisses and yowls bloody murder. Is it possible for a cat to be overdramatic?

Well, two of the toms are friendly, but the third is much more mean about it. It’s as if he doesn’t know how to appropriately play or tell when he goes too far, and that’s not just with Keta (our girl)— it’s in general.

Still, we followed all of the normal meet-and-greet procedures when we brought her in. The three boys are usually able to play with each other all of the time without a problem, so I don’t think there’s a lack of play here. I know the two nice boys are just curious, but the female is not having it. I’m not sure how to solve the problem.

I’ve had them play together before, but even if one of the other males comes too close to her, she hisses and spits and folds her ears back. She seems VERY insecure even though I feel like I’ve done everything I can to make her comfortable! All we’ve been doing right now is separating them whenever a fight breaks out, which is at least three-four times a day. It’s kind of annoying to have to stop whatever you’re doing because you hear a cat screaming at another end of the house, regularly.

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    Hi, welcome. You say tomcats - but are they actually unneutered males? Is the female spayed? – Harry V. Sep 1 '19 at 19:49
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    Considering all details, I think the new cat is actually defensive, not aggressive: girl among males, new among olds... – virolino Sep 2 '19 at 6:24

You probably introduced the cats too quickly. It sounds like your new cat is extremely intimidated by your other cats. The house was their established territory, and so it's very scary for her, whereas your other cats are much more confident because it's already their space. You should try separating for a little while to let them calm down, and then introducing them again, but this time, do it VERY slowly.

  1. The best way to separate them is to keep your female cat is her own room with all the things she needs. You might also want to use feliway in the room, which is supposed to remove cat scent. Hopefully she will claim this room as hers and feel safe and secure in there. The separation is necessary because as long as they keep getting into fights, their bad impression will be reinforced, and you won't be able to make progress.
  2. While separating your cats, try to think on if there were any particular points of contention between your cats. Like, were they commonly getting into fights near litterboxes, food, and so forth. If so, you might consider providing more of those things in different locations in the house, so that the cats will have options, and hopefully not fight over them as much. Similarly, it might help to give your cat more options for avoiding each other, such as hiding spots or places up high for them to climb on. If your cats are truly not aggressive as you say, they will probably not be inclined to follow her into places that are too small to comfortably fit more than one cat.
  3. After you've given them time to calm down, start reintroducing them as slowly as you can manage. The first step is usually to feed all your cats at the same time, but separated by a door, to get used to smelling each other. You do that for some days, then you can work up to very short supervised visits. The visits should not take place in your female cat's room because that should be her safe territory. Instead, it should be just outside the door, so she can go back in if she chooses (try to prevent your other cats from entering.) You should also start out these visits by feeding them treats, so that they will be distracted. If you observe your cats getting too stressed, cut the visit short. Once you feel like they are okay, you can consider slowly increasing the time.

You will have to rely on your own judgement as to when to decide that they're ready to be unsupervised again. Or, it may be the case that they never really get along. In that case, you may have to try your best to keep them separated.

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  • I'd add another step: feeding across a screen or baby gate so they can get used to seeing each other, in addition to smelling, without any actual risk. It helps the idea that ever time she sees them, good things happen, i.e. food. – StephenS Sep 26 '19 at 0:12

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