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I have a one-year-old British Blue boy called Sausage. He is neutered and very calm, sweet, affectionate, and social. I had always planned to get him a companion as he gets along well with everyone and has a lot of pent-up playful energy. He recently spent several weeks at a cattery and made good friends with another boy cat a little older than him. They were inseparable and loved to wrestle with each other.

Shortly after he came back home and settled, I bought a new cat, a female Tabby-something, 6 months and unspayed. At the pet shop, she was napping with dogs and grooming her cat companion, so she seemed really chilled, confident, and friendly. I bought her home and gave her her own room with her own litterbox, food, toys, etc. I am calling her Peach for now. I gave her a few days without Sausage to acclimatize and bond with me and explore the house. She is still quite skittish but affectionate to me (enjoys being pet and likes to sleep on laps) and plays by herself.

However, she is not too impressed with Sausage. The first intro involved lots of hissing and growling on her part and avoidance. Sausage was his normal curious self and immediately wanted to be friends and play. She gave him (and continues to give him) signals to back off and leave her alone.

Anyway, things have really improved on the growling/hissing front, and now they can be in quite close proximity without altercations. They have booped noses, sniffed each other's butts, slept/relaxed near-ish each other, eaten next to each other. She walks up to him and sniffs him but runs away/growls if he responds too much. She still growls, hisses, and smacks when he tries to play with her, which might involve him playfully pouncing her or swatting gently. She is particularly aggressive on the new cat tree I bought them. She tolerates him, but is not enthused at all with his playing and not extremely interested in him. At night she goes to her room as I still don’t want them together unsupervised, and she enjoys her alone time.

It is very early days (less than a week) and I think it’s a great sign that they can tolerate each other so early on. I’m confident Peach’s aggression will improve with time, but I’m not sure she will ever want to play with him or be affectionate with him. Maybe I’m being dramatic, but I wanted a companion for Sausage, not a roommate situation where they tolerate each other. They are both sweet lovely cats, and Sausage is really very loving and playful with other cats if they accept him.

TLDR: Has anyone had cats who have had a lukewarm introduction, where they’ve gone on to be good bonded friends? Could her being unspayed be contributing to her aggression?

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"I wanted a companion for Sausage, not a roommate situation where they tolerate each other."

A common misconception is that cats that are cuddly or groom each other are being friendly, while cats that merely are in the same room are just tolerating each other. Cats might also socialize by following each other around and being in the same place. If you find your cats all sleeping in the same room regularly, that's not just because they merely tolerate each other. Your cats already get along quite well for only having met for a week if they sometimes sleep or relax in the same space.

However, as it's only been a week, I think Peach is still nervous. This situation will be scarier for her than for Sausage. He is in confident because he's in his home territory. Likely even the room you are keeping Peach in still smells like him. Peach, meanwhile, has very little that she feels like is hers. It's a much more anxious sort of situation for her. Her hissing, growling, and swatting at Sausage are all signs that she's still a bit nervous around him. I think it's likely she'll calm down eventually, and you may even see some of the friendlier behavior she's shown with other cats, but it also might need a little human intervention:

  • Start spreading her smell around the house more.

If there's something in her room that she's used a lot, then put it in a place in the rest of the house in a place that Sausage frequents. You want to really get her smell mixed in to help her gain confidence.

  • Give Peach better ways to get away from Sausage.

Incidents are happening on the cat tree because she probably feels safer up high, but then when Sausage approaches it, she is now trapped with no way down. You should instead make it so there is another piece of furniture she can go to from the cat tree, that leads to a different route she can go to get down and away from Sausage. Arrange your entire house this way if you can. This way Peach can choose when she wants to interact with Sausage, and avoid him if she doesn't. With fewer negative incidents happening, it'll hopefully help to build up her confidence around Sausage.

  • Play with them together.

It also might help to build up Peach's confidence to play with both cats together. You might need a helper to do this, so one person can play with each cat. It will encourage them to be close together, but they will be focused on the toys and not each other.

And, yes, definitely get Peach fixed.

Though unfixed toms are more notorious, unfixed female cats can also be more aggressive or territorial than fixed females. It's better for her health and will make her more companionable.

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  • Thank you for your detailed response, I thought I would clarify some things: Sausage will scratch the cat tree, to which Peach will run across the room and scratch the same area as if she is defending her territory, followed by aggression which makes Sausage move away. Furthermore, we just moved house and Sausage was not in her room at all prior to her moving there (we kept him out deliberately) so the environment/smells are generally fresh for both cats. I think she is trying to carve out a pecking order, she is also still nervous, and on top of that, hormonal. We will be fixing her soon ! Apr 1 at 3:07

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