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Continued cat on cat aggression after a year

post #1 of 2
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I've read several posts about new cat introduction and how things get better with time, but it's been well over a year with multiple "reintroductions" without any change. Obviously these cats are not going to just "get over it."

Over a year ago, my wife and I adopted a stray (named him Kratos) and brought our kitty count up to 4. From the get-go, our 3rd cat (a large female named Rikku) has been on a seek and destroy mission determined to terrorize Kratos. We tried slowly introducing them, reintroducing them and finally just set Kratos up in his own room (door open) with food, water, and litter box hoping that over time he would venture out into the rest of the house and everyone would learn to live together. Over the following months, Kratos stayed in his room and Rikku continued to make regular assaults into the room. Eventually it got to the point where Kratos was so worried about her attacks that he quit pooing in his litter box. He continued to pee in the box, but refused to poo in it. Things never got any better. We eventually started closing the door at night and during the day while we were at work so he could at least have a few worry-free hours during the day.

We eventually were able to move out of our two bedroom trailer and into a 3 bedroom house. We figured this would be the perfect opportunity to try to reintroduce everyone and make things happy. We let kratos out by himself and locked the three girls up in a room together. Kratos stayed out for a week and got completely comfortable in the house on his own. After a week, we let our most docile girl, Freya, out of the room. She and Kratos mostly wanted nothing to do with each other, but they both roamed freely throughout the whole house with only the occasional hiss and growl. After another week, we let our oldest female, Bijou, out with Kratos and Freya. Again, everyone stayed clear of each other but they all roamed freely about the house with no reservations.

After a third week, we thought everything was going wonderfully! We decided to go ahead and let Rikku out with the rest. At first, she was overly concerned with exploring the new house and didn't pay much attention to Kratos. But as she got more and more familiar with the house, she began returning to her old bullying self. She is always the aggressor and hides and waits until he's not paying attention and runs up and attacks him. Things have now basically returned to the way they were, except Kratos doesn't even have a whole room. He stays perched on my or my wife's computer desk in the dining room. He got to the point where he wouldn't even dare to trek across the living room to get to the water dish, so we put one in the laundry room which is about 10 feet from the desks, and where the litter boxes are. Now he's to the point where he wont even get off the desks to go to the litter boxes, but will instead poo on the floor right next to the desk or in one of our chairs. He even peed on the cushion in one of the chairs once.

Obviously, this is a horrible situation for Kratos and is getting to be extremely annoying for whomever has to clean up his messes. We have tried everything we can think of short of locking them both up in the bathroom alone and just letting them duke it out. We haven't done that because Rikku is a rather large female and Kratos is a particularly small, timid male with some kind of sight problem. I'm afraid he'll get ripped to pieces.

The only time Rikku and Kratos will tolerate being within 10 feet of each other without violence is during daily food time and only if my wife or I am standing by with the spray bottle. After Kratos gets his fill, he goes off into a corner of the kitchen and will stay there unless we pick him up and set him back on one of our desks. If we leave him in there and go about our business, then RIkku will sit and corner him until we're out of sight and then attack him.

All of the cats have been spayed or neutered. Rikku, being the 3rd and acquired as a kitten, doesn't have a problem with our other two females. Bijou and Freya will give Rikku a wide berth (because she likes to play rough) but neither of them are afraid of her to the point where they are depriving themselves of water or the litter box. As stated above, Kratos at least peacefully coexisted without fear of Bijou or Freya before Rikku was let out. Now it seems that Rikku has made them more aggressive towards Kratos and there have been several times where we go toward the utility room and the three girls run out and Kratos is just hunkering down in a corner like they had him surrounded.

We haven't tried the whole towel rub down because it seems to me that after a year these cats would be used to each others smells. We haven't tried feeding them on opposite sides of a screen or door because they eat near each other just fine as it is. I've read about the whole pheromone thing using something like "No Mark!" but haven't tried that yet. I'll go buy a bottle tomorrow, though, because I'm willing to try anything. Our vet can't even give us any helpful suggestions other than giving RIkku an anti depressant to help curb her aggression, but I'm not about to shove a pill down my cat's throat every single day. That just doesn't seem fair.

We really don't want to have to give away any of our cats. I had suggested putting one of them out in the backyard so they could at least still be "ours," but my wife is deathly afraid that something will happen to them. We're desperately in need of some advice.


post #2 of 2
The way I handle my bullies is a time out. My cats hate to be confined. It takes several 10 minutes to 1 hour confinements until they realize the bullying is not an acceptable behavior. Also, on the way to the cattery, I'm hissing and saying NO like crazy to show how displeased I am.
The vet too suggested meds for my most aggressive cat but I do not like drugging cats either. Feliway/Rescue Remedy are not readily available where I am, so I've never tried them either. You should though since I have heard it works wonders.
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