Can They Be Friends?

A noted feline behaviorist shares methods to help two cats get along peacefully.

By Pam Johnson-Bennett

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Q: I have a 1-year-old female cat and a 3-year-old male cat. The female is the resident cat, and we recently adopted the male. They run around and chase each other and seem to be playing, but she doesn't like it when he smells her behind. Everytime one wants to lay with the other, they paw each other. Do they need more time to develop friendship? Do you think they will ever be close friends?

Pam Johnson-Bennett explains how to ease two cats into more positive encountersFeline behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett, author of Think Like a Cat, says:
They are still in the early stages of getting to know each other. The swatting may be related to misunderstood communication. One cat may be in play mode while the other isn't. That is often the case when one kitty is resting and another walks up. They are also still at the point where they are figuring out who is going to claim which areas within the home. One kitty may be approaching another in a spot that is considered sacred. As long as there is no growling or outright aggression, this is something they will work out.

One thing you can do is to use distraction if you notice one kitty approaching another and you're pretty sure the encounter may be negative. Distract the approaching kitty with a little toy to change his mindset from negative to positive. By using a toy you keep things positive just in case he didn't have anything but the best intentions upon his approach.

As for your kitty not liking the other cat doing a scent investigation of the hindquarters that's very normal. Usually only cats who are very familiar with each other will engage in anal sniffing. Cats will approach each other and do nose-to-nose sniffing and then if they are friends, one cat will turn around to allow the other to do anal sniffing. For one cat to just walk up to another cat and anal sniff is considered extremely rude in the cat rule book.

Best,
Pam Johnson-Bennett, CABC
IAABC-Certified Animal Behavior Consultant

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Reader Comments

ary    manteca, CA

3/18/2014 4:45:46 PM

I have just brought home a 4year old cat .to be a friend for my cat they are not getting along. Hissing growling and he is huffing. I was worried they would start fighting so I put him in another room .now he is crying and she won't come out from behind the sofa. They are both. Fixed

Joy    Rosemount, MN

10/10/2012 2:46:43 PM

I have a young, 4 year-old female cat and a 13 year-old female cat. I used to have a male cat. When my 13 year cat was 9(so was my male cat, the 2 were siblings), we got my other cat, at five 5 months. She was a stray. We introduced the three of them,and after some hisses, they seemed to get along. But we noticed that Pepper(5 months) and Pixel(9 years), seemed to hate each other but both liked Creamsoda(male kitty). When Creamsoda passed away 3 years ago, the two cats dislike seemed to grow. When Pepper was in a bad mood, she would lash out at Pixel and chase her. Poor Pixel was old and Pepper often "beat her up". Even now, Pepper will still go for Pixel when she is upset. Will my kitties ever get along? :'(

pam    spokane, WA

2/24/2011 7:46:50 AM

i have a 8 year female cat and a stray female has adopted us the stray is very fiesty and our 8 yr is fat and happy and always hiss/growls and they fight will they ever get along

Jan    SanDiego, CA

1/28/2011 8:31:52 AM

Six weeks ago I adopted a male 6 week old kitten from a rescue org. My resident female is almost two. They have been very slowly introduced this week and the Baby wants to pounce on my resident. She then runs and he keeps up until she hisses and growls.Then I separate them. How can I teach the baby manners so we can be in peace?

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