Calming a difficult rescue cat

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Calming a difficult rescue cat

Updated Dec 21, 2021

Dear Cathy,

My cat is 17-years-old and very frail. I rescued a kitten last Thanksgiving in part because I wanted to soften the blow for myself when my older cat dies. What a big mistake. This kitten, now 13 pounds compared to her three pounds, constantly terrorizes my older cat. I have to take my senior feline to the litter box so that she can relieve herself in peace. I have to feed her on my desk so that the kitten won’t bug her. I had the kitten neutered, but that didn’t help.

It’s too late for a gradual introduction, and when I try to distract him, it doesn’t work. I have finally resorted to giving him Ativan, but I’m only on day two. I don’t know if it’s because he was kind of feral or what, but I’ve never had a cat this monstrous in 63 years of having cats. He also won’t let me pet him without scratching. Do you have any ideas?

– Ann, Las Vegas Nevada

Dear Ann,

Your kitten may have been born feral but was friendly enough to be adopted into a new home. The good news is, it is not too late to do a gradual introduction and settle this boy down in his new home.

Separate your cats for a few days to a week and re-introduce them slowly by switching them in and out of rooms. During this new transition period, add a few plug-in feline pheromones around your home, and put a pheromone collar on the kitten, to create a more calming environment. The combination of pheromones and anti-anxiety medication should calm your kitty enough so that you may be able to pet him too.

In the meantime, keep accommodating your older feline by feeding her on your desk and taking her to the litter box, so she is not ambushed by the kitten. It’s important she maintain some quality of life. But I am hoping the pheromones, medication, and re-introduction will do the trick. Keep me posted.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to cathy@petpundit.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal

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Cathy Rosenthal, CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 25 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

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