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We recently added a new cat to our three-cat (now four) household. Our oldest cat is wonderful and gets along with everyone, cat and human alike. The problem is between our newest, youngest cat (the "victim") and our two other cats (the "bullies"). The first few weeks were fine; some hissing and occasional fighting, but that's to be expected. It's been a few months now, and things have only gotten worse.

Over the past couple of months, the bullies would stare her down, chase her, back her into corners, and tackle her, at every opportunity. The victim always retreats to our bedroom, where she usually hides under the bed. She's gotten attacked while eating, while drinking, while playing (with us!), and while using the litter box. Now, she never leaves the bedroom at all, and will hide under the bed unless we are in the room and the bullies are not. We have had to start feeding her behind closed doors, add a water fountain in the bedroom so she can drink without getting into a fight, guard her from the bullies while she uses the litter box, add a third litter box, and physically handle the bullies to remove them from the area after a confrontation. One of the bullies even hissed at me after I had to stop him from interrupting the victim's bathroom break.

I believe that one of the reasons the situation may have gotten worse is that the bullies can no longer be in the bedroom very much anymore. Before we adopted the new cat, they would spend time in there, sleeping during the day and hanging out with us at night. But due to the constant bullying and attacks, and with the bedroom being the victim's only "safe space," they have to be removed from the bedroom all the time now. One of the bullies has even started invading her space under the bed; when that happens, I can't even get underneath to intervene.

I'm running out of ideas for how we can deal with this situation. We have tried administering an herbal supplement to the bullies in their food, but the behavior has only gotten worse. Aside from an occasional water bottle spritz and picking up the bullies to remove them from a room, we do not punish them (I've been told that cats don't understand punishment and it makes them even more upset). We both work during the day, so there's not always going to be someone around to rescue her from being backed into a corner or block the bullies from interfering with a pee break. I'm worried that we are soon going to start seeing actual injuries or finding poops under the bed because she's too scared to come out.

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    Have you followed any instructions for introducing a new cat to the resident cats? Or just opened her carrier and let her roam the place? Please read this question in case you don't know what I mean with "introduction". I honestly fear for the wellbeing of your new cat. You must seperate her from the other cats when you're not at home. She doesn't feel safe in her own home, which can cause mental health issues. I strongly advice you to find a new home for her or start a proper introduction, which might take several months after the current disaster.
    – Elmy
    Jun 14 at 18:35
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    @Elmy We followed the best introduction procedures we could find. She lived in a different room for the first week she was here, totally separate from the other cats. Then we introduced her to each cat one by one, on different days. There was some anxiety and hissing between the victim and the bullies, but no attacks. After we let her roam free, things were pretty okay for a month or two. There would be occasional bouts of intimidation, especially after dinner, but she usually stood her ground and growled/hissed to get them to leave her alone. Jun 14 at 18:40
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    Hmm, maybe you moved too fast. Or the bullies might be intact males? They are often very territorial. Ideally there should be no intimidation or fights, but reality is seldom ideal. Still, if she constantly hides away and isn't even safe in her hiding spot, her current living conditions can have a devastating effect on her psychological health. I hope someone has an idea how to save the situation, but personally I would look for a new home for her.
    – Elmy
    Jun 14 at 19:03
  • Not a full answer, but something to keep in mind when selecting a "base camp" for a new cat moving in, the bedroom is usually not a good idea. The bed has your scent all over it, and as such can be considered the throne of your territory. Allowing the new cat in while having to block resident cats will help the new cat settle in and mix her scent with yours, but can lead to jealousy issues.
    – bgse
    Jun 14 at 22:54
  • Also keep in mind that some cats just do not get along. Some cats will not live peacefully together no matter how long you try.
    – SerenaT
    Jun 15 at 7:52

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