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In August, I adopted a one year old female cat. My first cat is a three year old female, who I’ve had for over a year. I’ve been going slow with their introduction, but we keep getting stuck at the step where I introduce them face to face. I have a baby gate up in the new cat’s room (my office) and whenever she gets close to the gate, my older cat will hit her through the gate. At night, I let the new cat roam the house (since she was getting antsy and always trying to escape her room to look at the rest of the house), and I keep my first cat in my room. Whenever the new cat comes near the door, my resident cat dives under the door to swat at her. Whenever I let them close to each other, my first cat will almost immediately start swiping at the new cat, who just hisses and presses her ears back. She never retaliates.

I’ve been trying give them positive associations with each other by giving them treats on either side of a door with a small crack, which has been making my new cat more open to my older cat. They’ll eat peacefully until the treats run out and then my older cat will start swiping again.

I believe it’s territorial aggression. Whenever my older cat has some sort of encounter with my new cat, she’ll start viciously rubbing her scent on everything near her. I’ve tried the Feliway near the door to the new cats room, but it didn’t seem to have an effect and my older cat would continue to swipe at my new cat. I’m not sure what to do to get my older cat to tolerate the new cat.

My older cat hasn’t yowled or hissed at the scent of the new cat since the first week she was here, she doesn’t get upset being in the new cat’s room (just starts rubbing herself on everything), but just can’t seem to stand the sight of her. There hasn’t been any blood drawn or injuries because my resident cat doesn’t seem to be using her claws, and my new cat is warming up to the older cat because she tries to seek her out during her active hours, but my older cat is just not accepting her. What should I do?

Edit: Both of them are spayed.

Edit (01/09/21): I've been draping a blanket over the gate so the girls can't see each other during the day and have been taking constant breaks out of my work day to spend time with my resident cat, so she won't get jealous. At night, my resident cat seems less aggressive with how she swipes under the door at the new cat. They also seem to be playing with each others paws under the door. In reply to the comment suggesting to go back to the step where I'm swapping their scents, they still don't react to each other scents, both on a cloth and around the house; they sorta just sniff whatever it is and keep moving. I've started giving them treats on either side of my bedroom door in the morning with just a crack in the door. I know this is going to take time, but am I heading in the right direction?

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Your cats are definitely not ready for meeting face to face. Since the one cat is territorially rubbing as a reaction to the other, I think you should step back to the point of just getting them used to each other's scents, and not attempt for them to get near each other until they seem okay with the smells. There's a couple steps to doing this:

  • Swap the cats' belongings. It should be something that's definitely well used by the cat. It can be a scratcher or a bed, or whatever. Place it in a spot the other cat hangs out a lot in, and let the cat discover it and explore this new smell in its own time. Swap more belongings over time, to help them start to mix their scents together.

  • Swap who's in the room. Put your new cat in a bathroom, and open the door to its room. Let your first cat come into the new cat's room on its own terms. Once it is in the room, shut the door, and let your new cat into the rest of the house to explore and spread its scent. Once you start swapping, you want to keep swapping them until you finally succeed in getting them to share space. You should also be doing the swaps pretty regularly, like once a day, so that neither has a chance to make its smell overwhelm the other's.

Once you get to a point where the cats seem perfectly comfortable with the smell, then you can return to the idea of feeding them on either side of a closed door. However, do not just start feeding them right by the door. Rather, give some space between them. They should be far enough apart that they aren't attempting to get each other under the door. Observe them as they eat, and over time, gradually decrease the space between. If you sense they get too tense or wanting to swipe from getting too close, then step it back again. Hopefully eventually you'll be able to feed them very close to each other with no reaction.

This is the point where you can try letting them actually see each other through the baby gate. Do the feeding routine on either side of the gate, much like before, but you'll need to reset their bowls back to being far apart. I've also heard the advice of draping a cloth over the gate so that they can't see very much of each other at first. Then, over time, work on raising the cloth and bringing them closer together, again keeping a close eye and stepping them back if you feel it is necessary.

Hopefully after all this they will finally be ready to actually start sharing space.

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  • I have tried swapping their rooms (putting my older cat in the office and letting the younger one roam the house), but neither of them like that very much. My older cat started pulling at the carpet to get out of the office and my younger cat was stressed because she couldn’t get back in her safe room. As for switching their belongings, my new cat seems to favor sleeping in the cat tower over the bed I got her, so getting her to put her scent on something is trial and error. She kinda knocks whatever cloth I put down out of the tower to lay down. Dec 20 '20 at 19:11
  • Also, I do switch who has run of the house about every 12 hours. At night, the new cat is free to roam the house and my older cat sleeps with me (my bedroom is her safe room). Then during the day, the new cat goes to the office to sleep and I close the baby gate so my older cat can’t get in. They have a scratch pad in the hallway that they share, and whoever is out in the house at the time with use it and start rubbing their face on it. There’s a blanket downstairs that they both seem to sleep on when they have roam of the house. Dec 20 '20 at 19:17
  • Finally, when I was at the stage of them eating on opposite sides of the door, even as I moved the bowls closer, they never reacted negatively. My older cat would go to her food bowl outside the office door without complaint, and my younger cat slowly gained the confidence to go near the door until finally they were both eating with the door between them. With the step back, how will I know when to proceed again, given that they gave no negative signs the first time? And how do I address, if at all, my older cat swiping at the younger under my bedroom door at night? Dec 20 '20 at 19:22

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