Hello all and happy Memorial Day. I'm having trouble integrating Gibson and my established cat Cali. It's been over a month and we've run into a bullying problem.
They used to be fine with the open air gate. We switch sides every 2-3 days. They still eat together for every meal. They sniff through the grid and Cali wasn't hissing at all for a while. I was ending their play dates early before they had a bad experience, and things were looking up. However things started going poorly when Gibson realized that he can chase her and she doesn't fight back, just runs into a corner and hisses.
Now things have gone backwards. Cali no longer feels comfortable hanging around the door and she's started hissing again. The problem is that Gibson is so much bigger and has more energy and prey drive than Cali, who just wants to be a lazy old lady. He won't let up once he decides to chase her, not for food or toys or loud noises. We've tried playing with him before play dates to tire him out, or doing them after feeding so they're both digesting. We also have been playing with Cali more to build her confidence, but again, lazy old lady cat so it's not doing much. He decides he wants to play and she just cowers. I don't think he will hurt her, he's not using claws, but she's now afraid of him (which entices him more). I don't know how to go forward from here.
I researched online and the prognosis doesn't seem good for this issue, but I'm not ready to give up yet. It feels like I have two options: chemical help or just let them sort it out. I could buy a Feliway plug for use in the area by the gate to hopefully calm them both down. The reviews are spotty for those and I'm hesitant to try it. Or, since I'm pretty sure he's not going to hurt her, maybe it's time to just keep the gate open when I'm home watching them, and let them sort it out. Once the novelty is gone maybe Gibson will give her more space.
I'm torn, I don't know what to do. I would love some advice from people with more cat experience. Do I have a chance of salvaging their relationship?
Thank you in advance for any advice!