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reintroducing with mulitple cats

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone, I'm looking for some advice on how best reintroduce one of my cats. The cat, Tessa, is 11 years old and is the victim of territorial aggression from some of my other cats. (We have 5 cats.) We just moved in November and prior to that she had an uneasy truce with the other cats, they would live and let live. Now she is scared to come downstairs from our bedroom, which is (understandably) leading to litterbox problems.

The main aggressor is Squish, one of my 2 male cats. When he sees her out from under the bed he will attack her, then the other cats will join in on the game. Occasionally Julius, our other male, will be the aggressor but this doesn't happen quite as often. All the other cats seem to join in whenever she is attacked, some kind of cat peer pressure or something? Occasionally the other cats will be the aggressor but this is rare.

Reading about territorial aggression, it seems like I should try to reintroduce her. But by isolating her, wouldn't that reinforce the idea that the rest of the house "belongs" to the other cats? Should I try to isolate the one or two main aggressors and handle the reintroduction that way? Most of what I read about reintroducing a cat seemed to assume that there were only two cats.

Any advice would really be appreciated!
post #2 of 11
I"m having a similar problem with my kitties at the moment, and much like you, I have more than one aggressor, and an "issue" between three cats. Noel and Khan have an issue, and Khan and Bagheera have an issue, but Noel and Bagheera are usually fine.. so, I'm not sure how well this suggestion will work for you but it's what the book on cat vs. cat suggests...

Basically they say that you should put the aggressive kitty in the "sancutuary" room to allow the victim to become confident in the surroundings. Play with the victim in these various areas, to establish a more positive association and to build confidence. Then after the kitty is more confident, then start the reintroduction process, which may take a lot longer or a lot less time, depending on the situation..

She also suggests putting in a lot more "vertical" territory, adding cat trees and places they can climb to. Another suggestion is putting litter boxes in areas where the victim can see in all directions, box uncovered.. and basically the more "view" space you give the victim the less chance the other one has of sneaking up on him/her. Bells on the aggressor allows the other kitties to see or hear where they're coming from.

Anyway, those are some of the ideas given... the book was "Cat vs. Cat; Keeping Peace When You Have More Than One Cat" by Pam Johnson-Bennett.

It was a fairly easy read and is broken down into easy to find chapters and subsections. You may want to get it just because there seems to be a number of relevant chapters to your situation.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
That makes sense, it seems like isolating the victim kitty would just make it harder for her to become comfortable. I'll set up a sanctuary room for the main aggressor, Squishy, today. Maybe I'll put Julius in there too, and then encourage Tessa to come out and play and maybe get some canned food as a treat.

Thanks for the book recommendation, I just put it on hold at our local library.
post #4 of 11
I've learned (the hard way) not to reward the aggressor by giving them the run of the house.
post #5 of 11
I'm not suggesting that your girl is a pariah cat, but I've had them in the past. You might want to read this to see if she fits the characteristcs.

Skip over the part about dogs - there is a section on cats:
post #6 of 11
Hmm, interesting article, and the references to the books at the bottom..I think I have most of those, but haven't read them yet. It's all in my journey to become a behaviorist (one day, when I grow up... okay okay... I guess that should be sometime before I die...since I'm well past "grown-up")..
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Momofmany View Post
I'm not suggesting that your girl is a pariah cat, but I've had them in the past. You might want to read this to see if she fits the characteristcs.
Oh wow, that describes her very well!

How did you handle your pariah cats in the past? I just want to keep the peace enough so that she can eat, drink and use the litter box.
post #8 of 11
From what the book I'm reading currently says...and it's not the same one I recommended... but it's saying that giving enough vertical spacing often helps a lot. He made an example of an animal shelter that tried a new method of putting all their cats in an open room, with tons of vertical spacing (at all different levels of "shelves" and cat trees, etc).. and that the cats got along just fine, although they were not all friends.. the same group of cats did *not* get along when they were in there with no heights to sit on ...

I think this is part of my problem... we took away their cat tree a while ago, and it's been worse since then.. I also need to rearrange their litter boxes, I think, so that they're all open, instead of covered (I'd thought that covered offered a lot more protection but apparently I was incorrect, as they prefer to be able to see who is coming and going, allowing them to escape if they see the dominant cat coming.. and the further they can see into other rooms, the safer they feel)..

I'm thinking that the article Momofmany posted is right on target.. I'm thinking my Mau is the pariah, although.. man, learning cats and cat hierarchy is tough!

I don't know, srbug.. I'm sort of on the learning path too. I have more books to read, and I'm happy to recommend more if you want to read them. Most of them can probably be read by the chapter that deals specifically with cat aggression, so you might be able to skip parts (although a lot of things are written about litter box usage too).
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Now that I think about it, we got rid of our vertical cat tree when we moved so they don't have as much vertical space. I didn't even associate the two. I'll pick up some more tall cat trees for them.

I have one book requested from the library. Any others you can recommend would be great.

post #10 of 11
I'll look at my list when I get home tonight. I don't have it here... well, I should say my stack of books..
post #11 of 11
Okay, here are some of the ones that I have on my reading list that may deal with ways to solve your problem..

PETiquette - Solving Behavior Problems in Your Multi-Pet Household ~ Amy D. Shojai

Think Like a Cat - How to raise a well-adjusted cat, not a sour puss ~ Pam Johnson-Bennett

The Cat's Mind - Understanding Your Cat's Behavior ~ Dr. Bruce Fogle
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