My cats hate each other!

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Concerned that your cats aren't getting on as well as you'd like? Follow this advice on introducing unrelated cats.

(Q) I have three cats: Spooky and Scrumpy, aged 11 and four, and nine-month-old Cassie. Before we got Cassie the boys got on well, but since her arrival Scrumpy has been grumpy; hissing and spitting at Cassie whenever he sees her.

Cassie is quite feisty and on occasions she will start a fight with Scrumpy, although he usually just runs away. Spooky plays with Cassie and pays little attention to Scrumpy. 

Behaviourist Francesca Riccomini advises: Scrumpy isn't grumpy or cross, he's actually very distressed by the invasion of his core area by another cat. The fact that she is reactive only piles on the pressure.

When we introduce unrelated cats to our homes we create an artificial and potentially very difficult situation for our cats. We often further complicate the picture by treating them as one group, which they are not.

When unrelated cats are temperamentally suited to each other, potter around and don't impose on their feline housemates, group living can work - but when one is young, demanding and outgoing, things can come unstuck.

You have more than one feline social group so each one needs its own separate core area based on where the cats choose to spend time as individuals. By providing separate sets of facilities (multiple beds, hiding places, toys, feeding stations and water bowls) in each area, we can often reduce the tension. The youngster also needs lots of extra things to play with and investigate so she doesn't force attention on poor Scrumpy.

Look at the communal areas of your home too (halls, landings, etc) and make sure you have a range of cat-friendly areas for your pets to get out of one another's way and that you provide a choice of places to sit, including some high up. Also have lots of small toys everywhere so if Cassie starts to approach Scrumpy you can be sure of diverting her attention away from him in a low-key way by throwing a toy in the opposite direction to him. Keep your Feliway going as you are more likely to get benefit from it if you've done the other things too.