Dear Cathy: I have a 1-year-old male cat named Remy. He appeared on the doorstep this winter and has become quite the house pet. He is neutered and vaccinated, and an energetic companion with a great personality. We started to have problems during introductions to the other family cats. I have two 15-year-old cats and a 6-year-old cat named Tika. Remy has been in contact only with Tika. I am slowly introducing him to the rest of the group, one at a time. It has been over two weeks and I have not let them all meet yet because Remy is aggressive toward Tika. Tika growls at him through the door, but that’s all. Remy attacks me whenever he gets a strong scent of her. I have pheromone plug-ins, calming spray and toys to distract him, but I’m not sure what else to do. — Amanda, Aurora, Illinois
Dear Amanda: Cats are very territorial and introductions in a multi-cat household can take time. When introducing multiple cats, put the new cat in a room with food, water and a litterbox and leave the door closed so the new cat can’t get out and the other cats can’t get in. During this time, facilitate scent exchanges by brushing Remy and then brushing the other cats with the same brush or wiping down Remy with a towel and then dropping the towel somewhere in the house for the other cats to check out. Then return the towel to Remy’s room for him to check out.
After a week, bring Remy out of the room and put the other cats inside the room for more scent exchanges. Every cat in the house should be wearing a pheromone collar since this will provide a shared common scent that also reduces anxiety.
As for Remy’s aggression, do not touch or pick him up, and do not allow yourself to be close enough for him to scratch or attack you whether in the room or outside the room when he is exploring. Wait for him to come to you. If he doesn’t, that tells you he is stressed. If he does, that tells you he is settling into his new home.
After a few more days, reintroduce Tika and Remy in a large room where they can be far apart. Let them meet for 15 or 20 minutes. Repeat these meetings with all three cats, one at a time, over the next few weeks until you see their comfort level with each other growing.
During these introductions, all your cats will hiss and growl as they establish their new territories. If you feel they might fight, remove the three cats one by one. Give Remy a chance to settle down before touching, then put Remy back in the room, and try again when everyone has settled down. Cats can adjust to new environments and new animals, but it takes patience to get those introductions right.