Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01-16-2007, 08:52 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 24,534
Is it possible to interfere in your pets' social order?

So, I've had this kitten for, what, six hours? And I'm already wondering if this wasn't a huge mistake.

I added an 11 week kitten, Edison, to a house with one adult cat, Dewey. Now, I know it's too soon to see how it's all going to work out, but from what I can tell Dewey is getting schooled by this little orange fluffball. He's getting ambushed and chased, although they both bat at each other a little. I'm afraid Dewey is going to lose custody of his favorite places, like the table behind the sofa where he likes to look out the window. He's already given me dirty looks for petting the kitten, and sat on the floor when he would have otherwise come and sat on the couch with me. Now, I'm guessing the answer is "no", but is there any way to intervene and tell the kitten he's a second class citizen in this house? To reserve Dewey's places for Dewey? Or would trying to solve Dewey's problems for him wind us all up in more trouble? In other words, is it possible to judiciously interfere in the natural social order of your pets?
Old 01-16-2007, 09:19 PM
nashiitashii nashiitashii is offline
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: FL
Posts: 7,474
I'm going to assume that this is like having dogs, and, yes, your behavior affects their social order because you are part of their social order. Dewey is going to be jealous for a while, but don't interfere with them scrapping, as they're going to work out the social hierarchy that way. If you pick up Edison (or even Dewey), that cat is going to think that he's been reinforced as the dominant cat. This is bad, as, well, they need to figure out their own social structure and understand that you like them both.

I know this is going to sound crazy, but Cesar Milan (The Dog Whisperer) might have some advice online that'd be helpful for cat herding.
Old 01-17-2007, 12:29 AM
Renee Renee is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Missouri
Posts: 4,484
Is there some reason you want Dewey to be the dominant cat? Does it really matter? When we first added a new dog to our household the original dog was rather bitchy toward the new dog, not letting her play with toys the original dog had previously scorned, etc. Within a day or so they were best friends and new dog was allowed to play with the toys, etc. The original dog is still the boss, but rarely exerts her authority. They play together constantly. Give it a couple of days. I wouldn't interfere.
Old 01-17-2007, 12:31 AM
Renee Renee is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Missouri
Posts: 4,484
This is the tread I started about my dogs' pecking order, in case you're interested:
Old 01-17-2007, 01:26 AM is offline
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 13,777
Actually, if it's only been 6 hours, and Dewey is interacting with the new kitten at all (instead of growling, hissing, hiding, and leaving the room), he is being very welcoming for a cat. It normally takes more like 6 days for cats to accept another cat, often more for a cat that was the only cat in the household.

Just make sure that you continue to give attention to Dewey by petting him, etc., so he doesn't feel that you have 'abandoned' him for your new cat. Otherwise. let them work out the hierarchy on their own. Dewey, as the older & bigger cat, will probably come out on top. But maybe not. And that's not a problem -- both will continue to get food & shelter from you, after all. Sometimes older cats are fine with letting a younger, more energetic cat take the 'leader' role, and they just relax into a follower role. (Though that's not as relevant for cats as for more herd or pack oriented animals.)

It's quite likely that they will end up 'sharing' favorite spots -- it's fairly common to see cats curled up around each other in a tight space, when there is plenty of open space nearby. They seem to enjoy being together. Dewey is big enough to protect his favorite space, if it's important to him that it be exclusively his. Often older cats are fairly tolerant of a kitten, more so than a new adult cat. You might try creating additional favorite spaces, like adding one of those window shelves to a nearby window, so they each have their own watch-the-world space. Or add a cat nest box to that table, so they have choice of the table, inside the box, or on top of the box -- then they will probably each choose one spot as their favorite, or take turns choosing among them.

You certainly can interfere in the natural social order of your pets. Just by giving more attention to one, or by always giving attention to one first.

But I would NOT do so. They will work this out on their own, and they know better than you what will work for them. Just love 'em both, and things will be fine.
Old 01-17-2007, 07:01 AM
rocksolid rocksolid is offline
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Auld Reekie
Posts: 279
Got nothing new to add here, just thought i'd chip in to agree with what the others have said.

Sounds like they are off to a great start. Last time i introduced a new cat there was at least two or three days of simply hissing at each other. Dewey sounds like he is much happier with your new kitten than you'd expect.

And again, agree with leaving them to sort themselves out. Being the dominant one isn't necessarily what an animal wants. Being number two cat probably wont bother him one little bit after the dust settles so don't worry about that. If that's the way it's going to end up no big deal.

Also, i have to say i've had lots of cats and i've never really seen much of a pecking order at all. Dogs, yes very much so, but cats i don't really see it. I've seen 6 cats all sharing the same sleeping spot, like a tangled mess of fur, legs and tails. I'm sure i have a picture of that somewhere it's quite funny.
Old 01-17-2007, 08:40 AM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Southern Pennsylvania
Posts: 21,599
I have no cats, but it occurs to me that the kitten probably just has more energy than the adult cat. I don't think it is more dominant, it just likes to play more.

Friends of mine have greyhounds. They got a pup and their oldest was clearly not thrilled. The pup was always playfully teasing the older dog. The older dog let it go until he had enough and then the teeth would come out and the pup would go running. Don't get me wrong, but pup was never really hurt, but the older dog would let him know that playtime was over.

I think your older cat will probably do the same.

Of course, I may be wrong...
Old 01-17-2007, 12:23 PM
SnakesCatLady SnakesCatLady is offline
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Columbus, Georgia
Posts: 6,934
I'm another cat person here to say that if they are already playing you are off to a great start! Cats don't have as strict a pack hierarchy as dogs do, as cats are not pack animals by nature. The pecking order within my group changes from day to day - and sometimes hour to hour!

Make sure you give Dewey as much attention as you give the baby - and possibly a bit more so he doesn't feel neglected. It's kind of like when a new baby comes home - everyone is oohing and aahing over the infant and no one pays attention to the three-year-old.

You may find that they share favorite spots, or they may use them at different times of the day.

In other words - what t-bonham@scc.dotnet said.
Madness takes its toll - please have correct change.
Old 01-17-2007, 12:59 PM
AskNott AskNott is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Anderson, IN,USA
Posts: 14,638
Adult cats are usually tolerant of the wild pouncing and dashing around that kittens do. Don't interfere in that power struggle; I feel sure that Dewey won't be the subordinate cat after a few weeks. However, don't forget to play with Edison, yourself. It's a vital part of his development.
"You know what they say about sleeping dogs; you can't trust 'em." --Oliver Faltz
Old 01-17-2007, 01:35 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 24,534
Well, today they were both napping on my boyfriend, albeit not exactly together. Progress, I think, although Dewey has not returned to His Spot.


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:58 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to:

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to:

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017