My Young Cat Irks My Older Cat

CatChannel behavior expert Marilyn Krieger, CCBC, explains how a young cat can be kept busy to avoid irritating an older cat.

Q: I have a problem with my young cat’s behavior. I have two Siberian cats. One is 1 year old and the other cat is 12 years old. The young cat is very sweet and playful, the older cat is the opposite, grouchy and sedentary. The young cat finds it great sport to chase the old cat, who wants nothing to do with it. Luckily, there is no violence or blood between the two cats, but a lot of hissing and spitting. We have tried various things to correct this behavior, all to no avail. Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this?

A: The age discrepancy between your two cats causes problems for both of cats. Your 1-year-old is naturally more active and needs to play and chase everyone and anything that moves. Because he does not have enough outlets for his energy, your senior cat has become the younger cat’s primary target. You can understand your senior cat’s grouchy mood; it is natural for him at his age to prefer napping and watching the world go by to playing with a rambunctious young cat.

Satisfy both cats’ needs by enriching the environment and engaging the young cat in activities that focus his attentions away from your senior cat. Interactive toys such as puzzle boxes and ball-and-tract toys will keep the young cat occupied for hours. Inexpensive and simple solutions such as boxes and paper bags without handles are fun for young cats to explore. Tall cat trees and high shelves will also keep your cat busy and help tire him out. Ping pong balls floating in a bowl of water, or placed in a box are fascinating to cats, and will direct your cat’s never-ending attentions away from your older cat.

Daily cat activities such as play, treasure hunts and clicker training will give your youngster something more interesting and fun to do then annoying your older cat. Play with him frequently, using a technique that imitates hunting. Pam Johnson-Bennett’s cat play method is perfect for this. Treasure hunts will also keep the rambunctious youngster busy. Hide favorite treats around the house, on the tall cat furniture and shelves, and in puzzle boxes and toys for him to seek and find. Another helpful activity is clicker training. Cat clicker training sessions will mentally stimulate and challenge your young cat.

Adopting another cat friend for the 1-year-old cat can also help the situation. Search for a cat around the same age as your young cat who enjoys the company of other cats. After gradually introducing the cats to each other, the two youngsters will keep each other occupied by playing and chasing each other through the house, allowing your senior cat to nap in peace.

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Behavior and Training · Cats