We have a three-year-old domestic cat. She has always had a picky appetite, and has times of affection and aloofness. We recently acquired a ragdoll kitten. For the last month, our older cat’s appetite and playfulness have diminished appreciably. The two of them interact very minimally; the older cat seems to allow the kitten to have the run of the house. Basically, we would just like to bring back her personality. Any tips?
– Mike, Newington, Connecticut
If the new kitten got the run of the house from the start, the older cat may be feeling stressed by the new household dynamics. Cats are very territorial, and it would be easy for a dominant personality to change the mood of the entire household. Introductions go best when cats have time to adjust to each other more slowly.
Go back to making proper introductions by putting the new kitten in a room with a litter box and toys for a few days, giving your older feline the chance to relax and roam the house again. During this time, take turns sitting on each side of the door, using a feather toy under the door to play with whichever cat is on the other side. Fingers crossed they will connect each other’s scent with something fun, and reintroductions will go easier.
Once they are around each other again, make sure there are at least two litter boxes. Also, don’t feed them near each other until you are sure they are friends. They need to have their separate spaces.
If your older cat continues to have a poor appetite, however, please get her checked by a veterinarian.
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 email@example.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal