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Help with cats not getting along

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi! This is my first post to this forum, so bear with me. I've reviewed the threads and have seen similar requests, with great insight given, but not exactly what I'm looking for. Here's my situation and I welcome your advice, guidance, reassurances, etc.

I adopted Tiger from the Humane Society in mid-June (neutered male about 2 years old). In early July, Luck entered our lives as a stray(neutered - now, male about 1 - 1/2 years old). I've been taking the gradual approach with the introductions; kept Lucky isolated to one bedroom, let Lucky and Tiger sniff each other under the door, traded places with them, put Lucky in a carrier and let Tiger approach the carrier, reversed that arrangement, lots of attention to both, and so on.

Tiger at first was definitely the aggressor, attacking Lucky's paws under the door, hissing, growling, generally very upset. Lucky seemed less interested in Tiger (maybe because now he had a roof over his head and two meals a day). Now, when I put Lucky in the carrier, Tiger is very interested in Lucky, but in a much less threatening way. Lucky is the one who sits/lays in the carrier and will hiss when Tiger gets too close. When I put Tiger in the carrier, Lucky has no interest in approaching Tiger.

The other day (Sunday), by mistake, the two got together. There was a stand off of about 20 minutes where the two were mostly laying down and making growling/moaning noises. Tiger seemed to be interested in getting closer to Lucky and finally inched his way close enough to sniff Lucky's hind leg. With that, Lucky swatted at Tiger and the two literally rolled in a ball of flying fur, screaming and scratching. Tiger ended up with a small scratch on his forehead, and Lucky seemed no worse for the wear. I got them seperated because Lucky ran under a bed and I was able to distract Tiger, wrap him in a towel, and carry him from the room. But I was a nervous wreck!

Since then (it's now Wednesday), I've had both of them back in their carriers and all's been OK, but I'm terrified to let them be together for fear there will be another attack. Tiger spends the better part of the night scratching and meowing at Lucky's door - so I'm not getting the best sleep right now (at least Tiger/Lucky aren't hissing at each other through the door any more). Tiger does seem to be more aggitated since the encounter.

First, is this behavior typical? Am I expecting too much too fast (it's been 3 weeks)? I've used Bach's Rescue Remedy with some noticeable results with Tiger. I've given it to Lucky twice, both times he threw up so I don't think I'll give it to him again, or maybe less than the 4 drops I gave him before.

Any suggestions, reassurances, advice?
post #2 of 8
When you have the face-to-face encounters, even if one is in a carrier, do it when you are feeding a tasty canned food meal. Start the cats out as far from each other as necessary for there to be NO signs of distess or agitation, with them being able to see each other. The goal is for them to associate the presence of the other with something very positive. As soon as one gets upset, separate them. Prevent any fighting (separate them when that moaning,howling starts as that is a sign a fight will likely start). The more negative interactions cats have, the more that becomes their habitual way of relating. You want all their early meetings to end as pleasantly as possible, even if that means they are only 10 minutes.

Move their feeding bowls slowly closer day by day, always adjusting the distance to keep it in their comfort level. If they never have chance to fight or feel threatened in between meals, after a time, they should be able to tolerate eating within two feet of one another without a problem, and with both not in a carrier.

If they get to the point of being able to eat happily near one another, they should be ok to be left out together all the time (but there are always exceptions).

There is no set time as to how long it will take two cats to tolerate, let alone like, one another. Some get along fine after only a few days, some take weeks, and very unfortunately, there are some particular combinations that never get along.

Good luck.
post #3 of 8
Might I also suggest you buy a bottle of Feliway spray and spray a little on the cloth and give it to each cat to sniff. It will calm them down a bit. Also do the towel rubbing trick where you take a slightly damp towel, rub down one kitty, then rub down the other, then do it again to mix scents. Good luck
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice! Could I get clarification on a couple points made? I'm going to approach this with one cat in a carrier, one out of the carrier. I "think" I can fit a food bowl in one carrier, but I know the other carrier I have is too small to fit a food bowl and a cat. So, do you suggest I put Lucky in the carrier with his food, then let Tiger into the room and feed him there? Or, if this is supposed to be a treat, should I give him little pieces of chicken or tuna through the cage door and likewise to the one roaming free? (Sorry to be kind of "thick" about this but I'm trying to figure out just how this would work.)

Each day, I picture I'd move the carrier closer to the feeding spot of the other cat (as long as there's no sign of aggression). Is that the idea?

Thanks for the suggestion for the Feliway. I bought some and have been spraying it on the door jam of Lucky's room, in an attempt to keep Tiger calm as he gets close to the door to inspect. I'll try the suggestion of having them sniff a cloth sprayed with Feliway, before I put them together.

I'm also curious to know what you think about Bach's Rescue Remedy. While it seems to work, should I be concerned that it is 27% alcohol? Am I getting the kitties "looped"?

post #5 of 8
Hi Ann

You shouldn't worry about rescue remedy, but you should be informed that it does not always work on some cats. There are different flower remedies for different behaviours. Here is a link to a thread that breaks it all down.

Flower Remedies

As I am introducing cats to each other most of the time, I have the best success using the closed door technique. You have one cat on one side of the door, the other cat on the other side of the door. On the floor spread under the door so both sides have part of it showing, I put a blanket that one kitty has slept on for a few days and then the other kitty is allowed to sleep on the soiled blanket so the scents mingle. On top of this I place their food bowls so they are eating right next to each other, with a door between them. This usually means that there is a lot of scratching "I'm going to get you" behaviour going on, growling and such, but this is the only way I feed them for about a week. After awhile, they get used to each other and when the scrapping and growling stops I open the door and they are pals.

You are going to have confrontations, though the level you describe them to be having is a bit intense. Cats don't know timetables and though sometimes we want them to hurry it up they won't. It depends on what type of social skills they got from their moms, how secure they felt when they were just tiny kittens. These guys are still fairly new in the world and they will find their way to each other. It just takes patience on our part to allow it to happen in their time, not ours. Good luck!
post #6 of 8
One little bit I'll add to the others' advice. The whole idea is that you want the cats to associate each other with good things. So, every time one cat sees the other, make sure something great is happening. So give them tuna ot tuna water or a touch of herring or sardines, play with the favorite toy of each (at the same time), introduce another exciting new toy, etc. This way, whever one cat thinks of the other, the cat thinks "Hey! There's that cat...that means something great is about to happen!" instead of thinking "Hey! There's that cat...that means I'm gonna kick some kitty butt!"
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone! Your advice is great! I will start using tuna/tuna water because I've found neither guy gets excited over the store bought treats. You've also made me feel that it's way too soon to think about giving up. Here I was thinking "what's wrong here - why don't they just get along" after only 3 weeks! I'll stay with it because I see now, there is hope!
If there's more adivce people have, I welcome it.
post #8 of 8
You might also try anchovy paste. Given in small amounts, most kitties adore it. It is spendy though about $3.00 for a small tube.
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