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Aggression & fear after bringing cat families together

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
I apologize in advance that this is quite long.

It's been 9 months since Eric's cats moved into my house, they are both female calicos, age 12. When they moved in, I had Buddy who was about their age, a calm, in-control, cool guy. And Mia, who was not quite a year old. Sadly my precious Budbud passed away on Nov 28, 3 months ago today. Since then there have been increasing behavioral problems in this once-peaceful house. Of course this being today it's bothering me especially badly. My baby boy died of a cancer in his neck that began pushing his throat shut. He's now with his precious big sister Cilla, my two angels are once again together.

Buddy took Mia under his wing after I brought her home as a kitten, it had been about six months since Cilla left us. Buddy warmed up to her in just a couple weeks and they became fast friends and snuggle pals. We had nearly a year where it was just me, Mia, and Bud.

Then Eric's ladies moved in last May. He hadn't moved in yet, but was here most nights. Buddy was quite tolerant, Mia less so. And the ladies kept to themselves and stayed pretty unfriendly to the other two. This was fine for me! I knew I could never expect them all to be pals, ignoring each other was fine with me.

Ever since Buddy "went to the bridge" Mia has become more and more aggressive toward the other cats. Nothing where anyone is in grave danger, but seeing scratches on the faces of Eric's ladies isn't unusual, and it makes me really upset. Obviously Buddy's presence here held down a hierarchy which is now gone. Eric also moved permanently in at that time as he was helping me take care of Buddy around the clock in his last weeks. So that was a change as well.

To distract Mia we brought home Shiloh, a content little boy who likes *everyone* - even the Ladies! These ladies have never lived with another cat, and they snuggle up to Shiloh, he's a charmer. Then he'll be snuggled with Mia 15 minutes later... And it did help her to have someone to play with instead of constantly harassing the ladies. And they play, and they play...

Well, it didn't work entirely. Mia began ambushing Patch and Smudge in the litterpan a few months ago. We've expanded our pan collection to 4 or 5 now. Everyone is jumpy (except Shiloh). I still catch Mia running up to swat one of the ladies in the window. Or running out to find them when she hears the sound of scratching litter. The girls had taken to the bed for a few weeks, which was fine. We have a pan there in the room, and their food on the dresser. They seem to pick a certain area and hang out there for a period of time - either the living room or the bedroom. Shiloh slept on the bed whenever he wanted and they didn't care. Mia might jump up, get hissed at and immediately leave. At first I felt sorry for her.

Then, after two giant pees in the bed, we realized that the ladies were more and more afraid to get down off the bed and use the pan, so one of them was periodically wetting the bed (not spraying - like, you know, a gallon of pee). Once last week I went to fluff the blankets in the morning only to find bouncing poop on the top covers.

At this point we isolated who we think was the culprit and put her upstairs with a pan and her food. She's feisty but scared, and Mia seems to take particular issue with her. She's fine upstairs, we let her sister up there as well. We were trying to get a urine sample to move forward with medical tests so we could get to some behavior counseling or meds so I had to keep her alone so as to attempt to get this urine sample without her going outside the pan... another deal altogether.

Well, this afternoon I heard a ruckus in the living room and Mia had jumped into the window where Patch was sleeping and they tangled. Mia had no reason to be in there, and Patch was in plain view. I don't know why she does this. Well, I leaned over to pet Patcho only to put my hand into a pee-soaked sofa cushion. The litter pan isn't more than 10 feet away, but Patch was afraid to get out of the window. And apparently let out a full bladder onto my sofa and footstool.

Patch is brave enough to slink into the other room to scout for food on occasion, but I did read that going potty is when they are most vulnerable. Anyway, now we know that both of the ladies are having "accidents" and I think that Mia is the problem, rather than Smudge having an inappropriate peeing problem. She's been using her pan wonderfully when she's alone or with her sister. I guarded the doorway as Patch used her pan this afternoon, she was so nervous and jumpy she didn't even cover it all up, I gave her some treats afterwards.

Mia and Smudge were doing that "blocking the doorway" stuff when everyone was sharing the same space. Then there would be big tangles and fights. Mia is jumpy and seems fearful, yet she is definitely the aggressor. She gets downright mean - stalking and attacking them when they're sleeping or going potty. This breaks my heart, and I don't know what to do. This doesn't seem like a medical problem with any of them, it seems like a social hierarchy/ territory problem. Most likely it was brought on by the changes - Eric moving in and mostly Buddy's passing.

Is there a solution besides keeping doors between them all the time? I love them all, but this house used to be peaceful. Now it's not... and I'm breaking up fights and cleaning up pee all the time.



p.s. We really don't want to give up Mia, but her behavior sure wouldn't be making her big brother proud .
post #2 of 4
What it's all about (Patch is just caught in the middle) is female cats defending their territories, and they do make a big deal of it! I wouldn't give Mia up as she was there first, and just because Eric has two of his to deal with is not her fault (especially since she was dealing with losing Buddy at the same time they came in). I don't know your house, but what are the chances the ladies could live (at least for now... months maybe) separately from Mia and Patch, maybe on another floor (any chance of a new door being put up?) or whatever? It's not a great situation for Mia and punishing her for doing what comes naturally is totally unfair.
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
That's what we've done today. Patch and Smudge are "The Ladies". Yeah, things were fairly calm before we lost Bud. After that Mia must've gotten confused or whatever cats do to change their pecking order. Smudge seemed like the aggressor at first, laying in doorways, standing there like a little bulldog, but it's all fear. Maybe we didn't introduce them properly last May, or maybe it would still be fine if Buddy were still here. Mia is only a year and a half, so she's still growing up. She's been going outside for short periods of time (we're in Wisconsin - lol) because I had so much pent up energy yesterday that I shoveled it for her so she can go out the cat door into the enclosure. She enjoys that.

The kitten Shiloh I let stay down here, and occasionally he goes up to visit the Ladies. And they haven't had any accidents.

I found this article and I think I will try to follow a reintroduction because I can't find a behaviorist around here, and I'm not sure what they would do other than advise like this site and the book recommended do. It says giving Mia away should be the very last resort.

I suppose that it doesn't exactly help that Shiloh and Mia chase and wrestle each other playfully. I thought it would be a good idea to get him to divert her from trying to play with the girls, but maybe it's making her more that way. I'm not sure, but she isn't just going to calm down. Buddy was always active till he got sick, so they wrestled and played a lot. Eric's cats do not appreciate any of that. They are too mature

Any more advice sincerely appreciated.

post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 
I've been doing lots of reading, but I'm not finding quite the right situation in any of the solutions. I tried to call Cats International's hotline today and got a recording. There site had very good information, but I'm in the middle of this reintroduction phase - and I'm kind of stuck.

Here's the trouble again, in a nutshell:

We "merged" our families of cats together last May. My 11 year old boy, Buddy, and his younger sister Mia (1.5 years old). And my fiancé's two 12 year old ladies.

Buddy sadly passed away in November, leaving a terrible void in our family. Mia suddenly became aggressive towards "the ladies", attacking them in the litter pan. Long story short - they got so scared they started peeing on the bed or sofa because they were afraid to walk to the pans. We have pans all over the house. I read on Cats International about separating and reintroducing them. It has been a week. I switch them from upstairs to downstairs every couple days. The problem is: The Ladies do not want anything to do with Mia - they don't want to stand at the door and see her, or play with her under the door. She wants to go see them... or hassle them, or at least go where she is not allowed to.

It has been really hard having them separated. I miss who ever is locked upstairs. Sometimes Eric and I sleep on different floors so we can be with our own kitties. Mia is obviously confused - when she has to stay upstairs she seems so lonesome, she goes around and rubs on everything but after that there isn't much to do. When the Ladies are transferred to the first floor they are anxious and it takes them a couple days to walk around bravely. And I encourage them to get around in all the rooms and not just stake out the sofa. There haven't been any accidents since the separation. But I wasn't planning on the separating part being permanent!

I'm not sure what to do short of finding Mia a new home, which would be very hard for me. The Ladies have been here for 10 months, but the fighting and peeing and pooping is too much for me. I was told that Mia's aggression might be a natural or instinctive reaction to Buddy's death, or she might be developing her natural adult territorial instincts, neither of she should be punished for. But I can't have her ambushing the older cats, making them afraid to even walk around the house, and afraid to even go potty.

Any advice is appreciated.


I miss my two angels
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