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Ganging up

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
My boyfriends cat and my tom love to pick on Meeker; whenever she's out from under the bed they'll sneak up and surround her, Draco in the front and Mally behind, blocking her retreat. Meeker starts hissing and growling and freaking out and it's so sad to see her doing that, getting so scared of them. I don't know why they do that to her. Draco and Mally get along just fine, but Meeker's always been shy. She'll tolerate Mally sometimes, like when she's eating she's let Mally lick her head, but at any other time she just panics and tries to hide, and she's never gotten along with Draco. Luckily I'll be moving soon and Mally won't be a problem anymore. Has anyone else seen cats teaming up to pick on another cat? Why would they do this? Do they see some sort of weakness in Meeker?
post #2 of 10
Cats do sometimes gang up on another cat. Sometimes it is because they sense an illness or weakness. Have you ruled out a medical condition?

When you move, it might be best to separate Meeker and Draco(?) into separate rooms and treat it like a new cat introduction. They will need to adjust to the new space and get used to the new territory - if they're like our cats, they'll be scared of the move at first - so for each of them to get used to separate rooms first might not be a bad idea.

While they're in separate rooms, rub Meeker all over with a wash cloth or clean rag, and put treats out on it for Draco. Rub Draco all over with a wash cloth or clean rag, and leave treats out on it for Meeker. This will help them come to associate each other with good things.

If you're moving to a studio apartment, you can still use the "treat" trick.

If you can separate them, slowly introduce them in a supervised fashion. Let Draco into the room with Meeker for 15 minutes or a half hour while you're there. Keep a can with coins in it handy, and if he attacks her or something, shake the can of coins - don't intervene physically.

Once they're sharing the space together, instead of verbally discouraging Draco from being mean to Meeker, praise him out loud when he leaves her alone or is nice to her. If Meeker likes to play or likes pets, whenever Draco comes into a room where you are with Meeker, pet her or play with her. The idea, if possible, is to make it seem like good things happen to her when Draco is around.

Treat your kitties as they are - emotional, sensitive, intelligent creatures. Talk out loud to them, and explain to Draco that he should take his aggression out on his toys. Give both of them "alone time" play - 10 or 15 minutes a day (at least).

Spending his energy on play may help. Sometimes cats are aggressive to each other out of sheer boredom. They need stimulation, and it is up to us to help them get it.

Change the toys that are out every few days. Add a new toy every week or so. Put boxes out for them to play in - leave them out for a few days. Then switch to paper bags for a few days. Change the placement of the bags and boxes.

Vertical space is also really important to cats. The dominant cat (usually) likes to sit in higher places. Make sure you've got bookshelves he can jump on safely - or consider purchasing a cat tree if you can afford it. Try buying a couple of cat tents for Meeker to hide in if Draco goes after her (if it's just one kitty she may retreat).

Hope some of these ideas help.

Scritches to Meeker -

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks a bunch for the advice! I haven't ruled out a new medical condition, but the last time I took my kitties to the vet he said that she was perfectly healthy, just really shy and she used to shed all the time, literally, which can be a sign of stress I think, but she's stopped since I had moved here. When I take her in for her next check-up I'll tell the vet what's going on and see if he can maybe find something that would cause them to do that. Also, Meeker is 11 this year and Draco will only be 2 this year, could they just be picking on her because she's so much older than them?

I've never done the new-cat-seperation technique after moving, but that's not a bad idea. Gets them used to the new smells and sights of the new apartment, and I'll try the treat thing, too.

I always try to take some time out of my day to play with my kitties. Back in my old house I had a big basket full of toys that were all theirs to play with, but when I moved I only took a couple of their favorites but I'll be getting all their toys back soon enough. I love talking to my cats because I feel like they really understand what I'm saying, so I'll be sure to have a good talk with him about picking on his sister. Meeker absolutely loves to get pets for hours on end, ^_^. I just hardly ever see her because she's so shy she stays hidden almost all the time. Draco loves to play and can usually be found wrestling with Mally or playing hide-and-seek or catch-the-mouse with me.
I do have a kitty tree and I'm planning on getting some more things for them to climb on when I get the money.

Again, thanks so much for your advice!
post #4 of 10
Aww.... such a good meowmy!

I do think the age difference could be part of the issue. We have a kitty that sounds a lot like your Meeker, though she doesn't hide nearly as much anymore. And when we were fostering we had a lot of cats coming and going, so our crew got used to newbies around. But Spook stresses - and sheds a lot - very easily. She loves pets for hours on end. She'll hang out in one of her tents for hours and hours and hours at a time. Our Tuxie really doesn't like her, and will constantly go after her. But no one gangs up on her with him, so she can (and does) retreat. It'll be easier on Meeker once there's only one kitty to contend with.

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
I've always wanted to foster animals, I think it's such an awesome and selfless thing to do and I can really admire anyone who does it. I feel bad for Meeker that she has to put up with being picked on all the time, but at the same time she seems to just kind of accept it as how things are, and I will admit I love that she spends so much more time around me than she used to, lol. I'll really have to keep Draco occupied when I move and he doesn't have another kitty to play with, but that's okay, it just means that I have to (read get to) spoil my kitties even more! I don't know about you, but I love going to the pet store and finding all these cute little toys and things for them to play with.. it's just a lot of fun, I think.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
I was sitting at the computer and I heard someone hit the door on the litterbox, so I looked up (there's a clear view of the front of the litterbox from the living room) and I see Mally on top of the litterbox, so I think great, she's picking on Meeker again. I get up, walk into the bathroom and Draco's sitting in front of the litterbox blocking her escape! Poor Meeker is frantically trying to find an escape route from these two, so I get Mally down, tell her and Draco that they were being bad cats, and that they can't pick on Meeker like that and now they're both locked in the bedroom for time-out. I feel so bad for Meeker that she's being picked on like this and I just don't understand why. I'm only going to be here for a few more days, but then before I can get my new apartment in Salt Lake City I'm going to be staying with one of my sisters, each of whom have at least 2 cats, so that should be a fun time, lol. I'm going to be really patient with the introductions for all of them, and I'll be glad when I get my new apartment and it's just the 2 of them I have to worry about.
I've been playing with all of them a lot and petting Meeker when the other cats are around and petting the other cats when Meeker is around, but they just keep doing this. At least it's only a few more days.
post #7 of 10
Because you're going to be moving around a lot, have you already tried Feliway and Rescue Remedy? If not, it seems like it might be a really good idea. The kitties are going to MAJORLY stress at the moving. Cats are very territory-oriented, and having to stay with your sister, whose place smells like her cats, and then moving to ANOTHER new territory, is going to be rough on your babies.

Feliway is a synthetic hormone that mimics the "friendly" marker in cats' cheeks. It often helps calm a multi-cat household, or just generally helps calm cats during stressful times. Flower Essences work for some cats and not for others - but it sounds like Meeker may really benefit from something like that.

I don't know how much Feliway costs at Petsmart - but it and the Rescue Remedy flower essences can be purchased here: http://www.catfaeries.com

post #8 of 10
Oh - one last thought. It may not seem like the pets and play are helping. I know you're moving in a few days - but keep it up. It can takes weeks or months to change behavioral patterns that have been set for - how long?

Just think of them as children. How long does it take to retrain a 3 year old out of aggressive or submissive behavior? It's something that will take time and patience.

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Alright, thanks. It's hard to see my babies having to go through this, and I can't wait til I can just settle down and stop moving around, and that's what I'm hoping to accomplish with this next move. I'll see if my boyfriend will pick up some feli-way for me, since we need to get cat food anyway.
Thanks a lot for your advice, I think I'd just go crazy without it, lol. I'll keep up the attention with them for as long as it takes, and after that anyway since they're my kitties.
post #10 of 10

Cats are amazing animals! They stress pretty easily sometimes - especially when it comes to moving around - but they're also incredibly intelligent and resilient animals. Just talk to them out loud, tell them what's happening, and do your best. They'll settle in just fine when you reach your final destination.


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