You just got a kitten! Congratulations! After a few weeks, have you noticed your kitten is causing some frustration for your older cat? Are they bothering your cat with needless pouncing, stalking, and meowing?
This is a pretty common occurrence; you are not alone! There are a few ways you can help correct your kitten’s behavior and make life a little better for your older cat. Read on to find out what to do!
Why won’t your kitten won’t leave the cat alone? (3 reasons)
#1 Kitten is learning how to be a cat
Your kitten is so new to this world. It is watching your older cat for clues on how best to grow into a kitten. If you think about your kitten like a toddler (and they are a lot like a toddler!), it is easy to understand what might be going through their little minds.
The kitten may follow the cat to the litter box to see how they go to the bathroom. Your kitten may watch the older cat to determine how to clean itself.
A kitten’s entire world is often inside the walls of your house; it will follow in the steps of the other creature that looks like them.
#2 The kitten was taken from mom too soon
Kittens need to be with their mother until they are ten to twelve weeks old. If the mom abandoned her litter, or if you adopted a kitten younger than that, the kitten may have yet to receive all the necessary skills.
That may lead the kitten to mess with your older cat due to a lack of knowledge. If your older cat hisses or bites them, the kitten may think that is a sign of play and not the opposite.
It is difficult for a kitten to properly understand how to act around another cat if they were too young when they came to you.
#3 Kittens need lots of playtime and exercise
Just like toddlers, kittens need lots of playtime and exercise. They will benefit from having lots of extra toys around, especially those that keep them entertained on their own.
Playtime away from the older cat will provide the physical and mental stimulation the kitten needs to grow into a loving cat.
Try spending at least two sessions a day for twenty minutes where you are interacting with the kitten and providing them with exercise.
Exercise can come in different forms and doesn’t have to cost money. Giving your kitten exercise throughout the day will help them learn how to socialize with the older cat and provide excellent health benefits.
Potential issues with overly pestering kittens
It is understandable to feel like there is a problem if your kitten won’t leave your older cat alone. You may be concerned and wonder if your kitten has a serious issue, but this behavior will subside with time.
Kitten aggressively pounces on the older cat
Your older cat has been lounging on the couch, enjoying its nap, when your kitten walks over and pounces on the cat, causing concern for your older cat. Your older cat may pounce back; it might hiss at your kitten or do nothing.
Behavior like this is perfectly acceptable. While it may be a bit annoying for you, it is nothing to be concerned about.
Kitten chases older cat and bites
Maybe you have noticed that your kitten is a bundle of energy. You may see your kitten chasing the older cat around and potentially biting it.
The truth is your kitten needs a lot of exercises, and sometimes they are not getting enough. The kitten may think it’s fun to play with your older cat by chasing them around and biting them to get their energy out.
While it may annoy your older cat, this is something the kitten is doing to get their energy out and is not cause for concern. This behavior will often diminish over time.
The older cat seems stressed out
With the addition of a younger cat and all that comes with a new companion, your older cat may seem anxious or stressed out.
It may not be dealing with the high energy of the kitten or tolerating the pouncing and biting very well. That can lead to some mild anxiety.
Over time and with the right approach, this anxiety will dwindle in your older cat, allowing for a more normal cat.
Three steps to correct poor kitten behavior
Step 1: Discipline the kitten
Often, a kitten will pounce on an older cat throughout the day. It can happen at inopportune times, like when your poor cat is napping in the sun. Your kitten is testing their limits, and they are learning how to play.
If you are around to see the kitten do this, you can discipline them by grabbing its scruff, the skin on the back of the neck.
Loosely grab their scruff and then distract them with a toy. That gives them the understanding that playtime is not with another cat at the moment.
Step 2: Help establish boundaries with the kitten
Your cat can be helpful with the kitten by establishing boundaries. Sometimes your cat will hiss or bite at the kitten, expressing frustration. It can be shocking for the kitten, but it helps teach them when to stop.
You can also help set boundaries with your kitten. Using a water bottle to spray a single stream at the kitten when exhibiting unruly behavior is a fast way to get the kitten to comprehend a set of rules.
Some people use clickers to help train kittens, which may be less invasive for some owners than a spray bottle.
Step 3: Reintroduce the cat and kitten
The initial introduction period may not have succeeded in bonding your pets. It’s also possible that the introduction period went well and is now regressing.
In either situation, you can always have a reintroduction period with the cat and kitten.
Start by getting the cat used to the scent of the kitten again. Separate the two when you are not at home or with them. Once they are together, offer treats to your older cat while they sniff each other.
Ensure the kitten is exhausted from playtime before letting them explore the house and your older cat. Once the kitten has had sufficient playtime, it will be more inclined to leave the older cat alone for a few minutes.
These steps may need to be repeated. It is okay if the two don’t like each other initially. Often, it takes time for the cat to associate the kitten with positive vibes; it will happen!
How to improve the relationship between your cat and kitten
Give the cat their own space
If you can give your cat their own space in the house, this will go a long way in improving their relationship. That can be a separate room where the door can be closed or a smaller area with a door (a closet, a bathroom, etc).
If the cat has their own space to retreat to, it allows them time to decompress from the kitten. It gives the cat a chance to rest and relax in a stress-free environment.
Exhaust the kitten throughout the day
One of the things discussed above was physical and mental stimulation for the kitten. That can come in many forms, and it will take some time for you as the owner.
The importance of playtime cannot be understated. Kittens can get exercise from playing with empty boxes that have holes cut in them, from laser light play or strings attached to door frames.
The good news is you can do this inexpensively!
It is imperative to ensure your kitten is exhausted before spending time with your older cat. That allows time for the kitten to do more observing instead of having the kitten constantly rushing at the cat, preparing for a wrestling match.
Set up feeding schedules
Feeding schedules are important for a kitten as they often have different food and shouldn’t be eating adult cat food yet.
You may not be able to feed the cats on separate schedules and if that is the case, try separating them while they eat. At least while the kitten is young, this gives the older cat their own space.
Feeding schedules also give you insight into your pets and how they need sustenance. Your older cat may be fine having a bowl out where they can eat all day.
Kittens often cannot feed that way at the beginning; this method of schedules allows you to learn the best way to care for each cat.
Purchase Feliway or other calming products
You may need some extra help in calming your kitten around your cat. If so, you can purchase something called Feliway, a spray often used to help reduce stress in cats.
Sometimes it will help calm your kitten down and keep them from bothering your older cat. There are also calming toys or treats you can offer your kitten if you feel like that may help them.
Kittens often outgrow much of this behavior, so the calming products likely won’t be needed for very long, if they are needed at all.
Provide vertical space and hiding spots
One of the best things you can do for your cat is to provide vertical space and hiding spots. Vertical space can be empty shelving units for them to hang out on. These only work if the shelf is just big enough for one cat.
Cat towers are great as they provide small spaces to relax and many places to hide. If you don’t have the option of getting a cat tower, any areas you can build for your cat to hide are a great way to give them the space they need away from the kitten.
Much of what you are experiencing with these two pets is the newness of a relationship. Sometimes it will be like the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and sometimes your cat will be like a curmudgeon who won’t give your kitten the time of day.
In either case, it is often short-lived. If you take the steps listed above, ensure your kitten is amply exhausted, your cat has had time to get used to their scent, and they both have plenty of vertical spots and hiding spaces. Your two pets will get along well in due time.