Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

Cat Advice Needed


Well, the new kitten is here… and Cairo is absolutely terrified. He has been hiding ever since. I brought the kitten’s carrier over to Cairo so he could smell it, and he was terrified of that, too.

I’m beginning to think that Cairo wants to be an only cat. I’m beginning to think we’ll have to give the kitten back.

I know, I know, it hasn’t been very long. It’s just that Cairo shows no curiosity or interest… nothing but terror. It’s breaking my heart to see him so afraid and to know that I caused it. I thought he would be happier with a playmate and cuddlemate, but I always knew there was a chance that this might happen too.

Any advice? Any tried-and-true methods of initiating cat friendship? I’m all ears right now. I can’t bear the thought of Cairo being so afraid, and I can’t bear the thought of having to give the kitten back.

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Jenn Reese


  • Yes, Fuller was exactly as you describe Cairo when we first got him. It took a full two months for the cats to warm up to one another. The key for us, at first, was to give each cat their own space. The new cat should have a small room to himself, because he's not used to your house yet, and will need to take it bit by bit. But Cairo will feel far less frightened if he knows the "threat" is contained to one area of the apartment. Curiosity will come with time, but it will take a long while.

    It also helped that Steven or I would would spend time in the bathroom with Fuller at first. Not just help for Fuller, the new cat, but also for Izzie. Gradually the "new cat smell" just blended in with our scents and her scent and she got less scared and more intrigued. Eventually one or the other of them will initiate some play by pawing under the door at the other cat. You can help this by having one of you on one side of the door with the new cat, and the other on the other side of the door with the established cat and you can wiggle your fingers under the door. Izzie is a bold cat, so it only took her a few days to start this, but Fuller is a scared cat, and it took him several weeks before he stopped hiding in his bathroom. Another month+ later and he finally was satisfied that Izzie wasn't going to eat him, and Izzie was satisfied that he wasn't going to go all alpha on her. In other words–after two months they only TOLERATED each other. A few months after that and they finally got the snuggly, co-play stage.

    It takes time–don't give up yet, but don't force them on each other, as that can be very traumatic to both cats. Even now, though they clearly have affection for one another, Izzie and Fuller are both quite independent much of the time. They only snuggle when they think we aren't looking (seriously! it's hilarious to catch them snuggling because they'll jump up and run to opposite sides of the room and look at us as if they wanted to say "it's not what you think!"). Adding a fourth family member will change the dynamic somewhat, but the cats don't know how until they work it out.

  • Patience. Patience. More patience.

    It took Zero and Sparky about two months to accept each other too. I was also disappointed that they didn't become fast friends immediately, but they eventually became perfectly companionable once they worked things out. Not the same species, I know, but very similar circumstances.

    Cairo is not a one-cat family, he's too sociable. He just needs time to become best friends with the best friend that you've arbitrarily (from his POV) picked for him. In the meantime, enjoy and love the new kitty (and post pics!).

  • Thanks, guys. It sounds like we are doing almost everything right… except giving it time. I will endeavor to be more patient, even if it kills me!

  • I’ve had mostly success and only 1 failure with introducing new cats–be extra vigilant in checking out dark corners in case Cairo decides to express displeasure outside the litter box :-(.

By Jenn Reese
Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

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