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Author Topic: Cat People help me out, please!  (Read 10099 times)

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Cat People help me out, please!
« on: August 19, 2013, 01:35:40 PM »
I am looking for the advice of animal advocates, cat connoisseurs and pet professionals.

My husband's sister recently discovered that she is allergic to cats, and needed to rehome her two. Unfortunately, a friend of hers took one, but declined the other. There was a deadline where she was going to be taking the other to the SPCA, and I didn't like the chances for a 2 year old, male black cat, so we took him in.

We already had a 16 year old, slow, fat, lazy female who I love with all my heart. She is the youngest and last surviving member of the trio of cats that we had for...well...the last 16 years. I was nervous to bring a newcomer into the house, so I did it very slowly...keeping him in the guest room, while letting our girl smell the pet carrier. Then putting up baby gates, so they could see and smell each other, then finally introducing them.

It has been close to three months now and they still don't get along. I still keep them separate at night, and when we are not home, but when they are together they still growl, hiss and swat at one another. I have been separating them when they do fight, mostly because I am nervous for my old girl. I hate making her put up with being bullied by this young whippersnapper.

Any advice? Am I being impatient, and it's just going to take longer? Should I just let them fight it out? My husband wants to get a kitten now, so that the younger cat has someone to play with (I forgot that young cats had this much energy, he has to run everywhere!) but I am afraid that we will then have three cats who don't get along, and I don't want to stress out my old girl anymore than she already is.

I know you ehellions have a lot of knowledge and experience. Any advice you can give is most appreciated.


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Re: Cat People help me out, please!
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2013, 01:39:12 PM »
Has your boy been neutered? I would start with that.


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Re: Cat People help me out, please!
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2013, 01:42:40 PM »
Friend of mine had a cat older from before marriage, and after many years, got two kittens for her young kids, since "Squeaky" was on her last legs.  The kittens played with each other, and the old cat just watched from a viewing place. 

They never really fought.

Now, if you do get a 2nd kitten, and they do not get along, not sure then want to do. 
Stressing out the old cat is not good. 

Friend had a two story house, so the old cat got upstairs, and the kittens got downstairs.  Different litter boxes and even food. 

When Squeaky died, it was easier for the kids (and mom) to not have an empty house.  Then dad wanted a dog, so the house is all sorts of full!

good luck.
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Re: Cat People help me out, please!
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2013, 01:47:53 PM »
Echoing Steve: Get him fixed, if you haven't already.

Also, make sure there are plenty of perches and little cubbies for both of them to hide in/on. I found that using Feliway didn't really help any of mine, but spritzing catnip tea around the common areas was very helpful in relaxing the more high-strung of my cats.


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Re: Cat People help me out, please!
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2013, 01:48:20 PM »
Growing up, we had a female stray cat for about 2 years before another stray cat decided to come join our family. The original cat hated the interlopper. She hissed and growled anytime the new cat would come into the room and would force the new comer out. And if original saw you petting the new comer, she wouldn't have anything to do with you for at least a day.

I wish I could say they became buddies, but after 5 years, the best that it got too was they could walk by each other without growling.

I was at a friend's home last week and she has a 14 yr old and a 3 yr old. They don't get along either and primarily stay in separate areas.

So as long as they are not physically attacking each other, I'd just keep them separated at night. I'd also make sure to have feeding bowls in separate rooms.

Cats will fight. I have 3 yr old brother and sister. Sometimes they start out playing till one gets mad and then they go for blood. Sometimes one is just in a bad mood and decides to attack the other.

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Re: Cat People help me out, please!
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2013, 02:03:27 PM »
My two are 11 and 7 and had been in the same house together for a year before I took them and I've had them a little over two years, now.  They are both spayed females.  The younger one is a cranky pants.  Walk too close to her, get hissed at.  Pick her up, get hissed at.  Scritch the wrong body body part, get hissed at or bitten.

I always thought cranky pants was the instigator in any fights but have since learned that the old girl will have a go, too.  They are never going to be friends but they do mostly get along and will groom each other... before it degenerates into a spat.   ::)

What I do is make sure there are separate sleeping spots for both.  A couple that only cranky pants can get to and the rest are for both of them.  And then, when they fight, I use a spray bottle to break them up.  Cranky pants just has to see the bottle and she runs, now.  And part of the problem is that cranky pants has a lot more energy than the old girl.  So I would recommend playing with the young cat a lot more to tire him out a little.  And get him fixed, if he's not, as per PPs.
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Re: Cat People help me out, please!
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2013, 02:09:43 PM »
Sorry, should have mentioned, the young dude is already neutered.

So, it seems like maybe my expectations are just a little too high and I shouldn't be too surprised that they still may need to be separated.

They do each have their own room with food, water and litter box, so separating them isn't difficult. I would just love to have my guest room back. But as long as guests don't mind sharing with boy kitty, I guess I'm ok.  ;)


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Re: Cat People help me out, please!
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2013, 02:09:44 PM »
Assuming everyone's neutered... have you fed them treats while each is on opposite sides of the gate until they stop growling?

Also, Feliway spray throughout the place may help, it's basically "happy cat pheromones" and might calm them down.

Who usually hisses first?

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Re: Cat People help me out, please!
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2013, 02:23:08 PM »


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Re: Cat People help me out, please!
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2013, 02:30:52 PM »
I know it may seem scary, but you may need to just let them settle it.  Unless they are locked in a furball or there is visible blood from scratches, they aren't hurting each other.  It might even be that they are playing and you are taking it as fighting.  My little Ming hisses and swats and growls at her sister, but she is just playing, she's not angry and they chase each other around.  Let them be and relax.  They'll figure it out.


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Re: Cat People help me out, please!
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2013, 02:38:12 PM »
Most of the time, you can establish a detante.  It may well require months of supervison, though.

I'd offer advice, but my older siblings still attack the young sisters if they catch them on the wrong side of the gate (girls can jump it; Domino and Magic can't quite).  My older two have emotional problems, though.


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Re: Cat People help me out, please!
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2013, 03:01:21 PM »
We have had 10 cats here off and on for the last decade.  Right now the population is 7.  All of them were spayed or neutered.  None of them have been nice to each other, but they are all loving and purr for humans.

We have a 16 year old and a 14 year old who have been together for 12 years, and they still get combative at times.  The hostilities seem to be a tit for tat thing, though, nothing serious for any of them - no bites or scratches.  I think that they are just telling the others to leave them alone.  The cats actually seem to get along better with the 2 dogs than they do with each other.

The newest cat is about 5 or 6 months old, and was found where someone had thrown her into a creek.  Now that she is healthy and spayed she annoys the older cats with her constant playing and chasing.  They also seem to like to perch somewhere and watch her activities, though.  We decided that her alternate name is Miss Demeanor.

The only cats that we ever had who got along were litter mates that we got as kittens.  I wouldn't worry too much about your two cats - it seems like cats just tend to be cranky with each other.  Or, perhaps this is just how cats communicate and we humans perceive this as mean behavior.

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Re: Cat People help me out, please!
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2013, 06:35:12 PM »
Oh, cats. I've got a cranky case myself - and I've grown up with cranky cases.

What you're technically SUPPOSED to do, according to most shelters, is to separate the cats completely for a period of time (two weeks to a month, usually - the shelter here recommends two weeks). Don't let them even see each other. They'll smell each other, though, and the idea is to get them both used to each other's smell. Once the "quarantine" is up, then you can let them see one another, but not come in contact - putting up a gate usually works well, and that lasts about two more weeks as well. Then after THAT, you can let them socialize and interact face to face without a barrier.

Personally, I think that's overboard. I just let them socialize and get used to one another as they will, no "quarantine". Lily, my cranky case, is the worst of them, and the most she's ever done in a fit of pique is to start trying to smack one of the others upside the head. (She's declawed, which helps.) She usually just hisses and growls and carries on like the world is ending, which is fine and also kind of hilarious because she has a growl three times her size. I wouldn't even be upset if she did get into a tussle with one of the others unless there was serious bloodshed and screaming going on, and in 26 years of owning cats I've never seen any cat brought into the household be that cranky.

Long story short, you're probably alright, they may never get along but as long as there's no screaming and carrying on - and you will KNOW a pained cat scream when you hear it - it's okay to let them, well, be cats. Also, if you get super worried about fighting, a squirt with a spray bottle can break them up if they get going.

Younger cats will also integrate better than older. *stares at kitten who thinks she rules the house*
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Re: Cat People help me out, please!
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2013, 07:03:45 PM »
Sometimes it takes awhile for them to sort things out between them. When I was a kid, we had a two-year-old female, and then adopted a kitten. The older one spent much of the kitten's first few weeks in the house hissing, swatting and otherwise terrorizing the kitten. We separated them as much as possible, but we did let them mostly roam around the house unsupervised. Eventually, the older cat settled down and learned to tolerate the kitten, and the kitten spent the rest of her days attempting to become BFFs with the older one. Their relationship consisted mostly of cautious, sometimes cuddly truce, interspersed with the older cat asserting her dominance with hisses, swats and chasing. Hopefully, if you let them get to know each other, they'll learn to live together. But if the bad behavior keeps up, you may have to begin looking for a new home for the male cat. There are homes out there for grown cats, I adopted mine when she was a year old. You might be able to find a home for him, if you have to, through a local cat rescue group, so you won't have to run the risk of him being euthanized.

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Re: Cat People help me out, please!
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2013, 07:07:12 PM »
Just let them figure it out.  As long as neither one of them is actively attacking the other, they'll be fine. 

In my situation.  I got Gretchen first.  She was queen of the house until I brought in Grace as a 5 month old orphan (there was a calico named Tiffany before Grace, but that didn't work out).  They hated each other, but loved me :) .  About a year later I brought in Phoebe who was a 9 y/o who had been given up for the stupidest of reasons.  Phoebe hated other cats, but loved people. After Phoebe arrived Gretchen and Grace became best of friends.  Once I moved back home, I gave Phoebe to my parents as she did better in a 1 cat household.  Gretchen and Grace were still friends. 

About 5 years ago I moved in with my aunt with the 2 cats.  3 years ago, the cat next door had kittens, so we took one of them and named her Zoe.  Gretchen and Zoe are now best of friends and Grace is fed up with both of them.  Every now and then Gretchen and Grace will mock fight.  But Grace wants nothing to do with Zoe and refuses to even play with her.  My bed is neutral territory, so all 3 of them will come and lay around.  But once they hit the floor, it's back to the two factions.