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psychokitty and pariah cat

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I'm hoping maybe somebody will have an idea that I haven't thought of, other than DH's idea of "get rid of the darn cat". I feel like this is one of those puzzles where "A must be next to B and C, but C can not be next to D or the world explodes" problems that I used to hate on the SAT and stuff.

The offending players, my very unstable cat household:
Tessa - 13 years old, skittish, hates Kayla, frequently get beats up by the boys (she is our pariah cat)
Kayla - 9 years old, psychokitty, tolerated by the boys, hates every other human other than me, scared of everything & everyone
the boys - Julius (? years) & Squishy (7 years), pretty much run the household after my alpha cat (Tatjana) died
Cleo - ehhh, she doesn't care about any of this as long as she has food

Tessa spent a long time living in the laundry room. She prefers this - she's the queen of her own little domain, still gets to spend time with me, has her own food and litter box and doesn't get beat up. (If she's out, then the boys either won't let her into any of the other boxes or beat her up.)

Kayla - Somewhat OK if I keep her medicated on Elavil for anxiety. Still hates all people other than me, my kids call her "the mean kitty", runs in sheer terror if DH walks in the room. Needless to say, he hates her because she's so psychotic. Frequently has a problem with inappropriate elimination (no UTI or medical reason) which is helped some by the Elavil, but not completely under control.

Bottom line:
Tessa stays in laundry room - sometimes the boys still scare Kayla so much that she poops everywhere. :gah
Boys in laundry room - WWIII between Tessa and Kayla at night, so more poop (from Kayla) in my dining room.
Kayla in laundry room - She freaks out and won't use the box in there, so poop on the bathroom floor. And the boys won't let Tessa into any of the other litter boxes. (No matter how many boxes there are, they beat her up so she's scared to leave our bedroom. And there's no place for a litter box in the bedroom.)

Well crap, there's nowhere else to isolate another cat, short of moving one into the garage. Which we've done with Kayla temporarily before, but winter is coming up. And DH is so so so done with this psychotic cat who hates him (and everyone else) and has litter box issues. She's almost out of Elavil right now, so I need to take her back to the vet. But I'm not sure her dose is high enough, and is it fair to keep animal permanently medicated like that? But if she were to go to a shelter they would put her down, she wouldn't be considered adoptable. I've tried adding more litter boxes, I've tried isolating and gradually reintroducing Tessa, I've tried isolating and gradually reintroducing Kayla, I've tried Feliway diffusers, I have Kayla in (I don't remember the brand) a pheromone collar. I'm really at a loss here, and feel like I'm running out of options for Kayla.

(But at night, when the kids are in bed, she comes and snuggles with me on the couch and is almost like a normal cat. I've lost two kitties to cancer in the last year, so the thought of losing another cat just breaks my heart and she's the only cat I have left that is a cuddler.)

Any ideas?
post #2 of 7
Wow, it does sound like your house is WW3! I don't think there's anything wrong with giving Kayla meds for anxiety. I mean, humans take them, and if it makes living with the other kitties easier then I would say it's fine. It's better than her being stressed out all the time

It sounds like you've definitely tried to work out the problem. Wouldn't it be great if our kitties could just tell us what's bothering them??

You did mention that Tatjana passed recently and she was the alpha. Has it been worse since she's been gone? It could be that all of them are still getting used to not having her around and are kind of lost.

Also, did you get Kayla from a shelter or have you had her since she was a kitten? Her reaction to your husband and other people makes me wonder if she wasn't abused earlier in her life and that's what makes her afraid. Some cats never truely get over that.

If you've tried Feliway and it didn't work, I'm not sure what to tell you. You can try the vanilla trick. Although that's usually used to introduce a new cat into your house, it may help here. Just put a drop of vanilla on the nose and base of the tail. Not only do they all smell alike, the scent seems to calm them somewhat (and they are walking air fresheners ).

It seems like the boys are the bullies and are causing half the stress by not letting the others eat or use the litter box. As much as I hate to say it, sometimes you have to remove the stresser for the good of the family. Please understand I'm not recommending getting rid of them but sometimes it's necessary to separate. You mentioned a garage. If it's safe, could you put the boys in there for a while and see if the girls calm down? My Gizmo is the bully of my zoo, and we finally had to make him and indoor/outdoor cat (I live on 5 acres, dirt road, very little traffic, so it's relatively safe). He just terrorized all of in stalking (not in play), scratching, fur flying, etc. It is just his personality. Actually, he is much happier outside during the day (he does come in at night) and the other cats are much calmer and get along better because they aren't constantly looking over their shoulder.

I wish you luck!
post #3 of 7
When my boys were recently fighting, I separated everyone. One in the bathroom, one in a cage, & one free. (Maggie was free all the time as she was not fighting with anyone). Then I would rotate, I did this for 1 - 2 weeks. It ensured that there were no fights for a long enough period of time for everyone to calm down. Eventually things calmed down & we are pretty much back to normal. Have things in your home ever been quiet? If so, it's important to figure out what changed. Cat's do not like change, so they often react pooorly
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
I did get Kayla as a kitten, however after I had only had her for a few days I had to go out of town for the weekend. I'm afraid that Tessa (who up until then had been the youngest) must have beaten her up pretty badly, because when I came back Kayla was very skittish and terrified.

Things were pretty unstable for the next year or so until we got Julius (adult stray, dumped in our neighborhood) and that seemed to stabilize things. Things have never been extremely stable, but after Tatjana died then that's when things really got worse.

I took her into the vet yesterday afternoon and they ran some bloodwork to rule out any medical cause. That came back clear, so today they called in some Clomicalm for her. We'll give that a try and see how it goes. I've let the boys out of the laundry room, and will put Tessa back in since that's where she is the happiest. (Plus the laundry room is my workroom, so Tessa gets to spend a lot of time with me in there.)
post #5 of 7
Wow - sounds like my house! Sorry - shouldn't laugh - just nice to know I'm not alone in the world.

Elavil aka Buspar is my saving grace with my psychokitty (Ophelia Rose). Next step up, IMO, is Prozac.

Do you have a multi-level house that you could close the door between floors & have 2 "family groups"? I have Dory/Eden/Ophelia on one floor & Molly/Margo/Twitch/Lily on another floor. Another option is a full set up in one room/area of the house (like a room & hallway or something) with baby gates or a screen door.....and rotate them around - like kitty A & B in room while everyone else roams house, then switch A & B roam house while others confined.

Lily has come to *depise* one person in the household, so urinates on his clothing, him, where he was sitting, etc. She was also urinating in the laundry room. So I set up a litterbox in there with Cat Attract litter for her.

Are all the kitties spayed/neutered?
How many litterboxes do you have?
How big are they?
Where are they located?
Any cat trees/perches?

It's taken me 4 years to obtain some semblance of balance or peace don't give up.
post #6 of 7
Reminds me a little of my house.

My Cleo is medicated on 10 mg Amitriptyline daily and I also give her 2 drops of Rescue Remedy with her food at night. She has terrible anxiety.

I give Charlie and Ramsey, Cleo's tormentors, 4 drops each of RR in their food at night.

Albert has no issues whatsoever. The boys will wrestle with him, but he gives as good as he gets. He loves Cleo and is the only one she will play with.

When I brought Ramsey in the house and realized that Cleo was reverting, I did a few things:

First, I separated EVERYONE for a day and then started doing slow re-introductions. Then I decided that part of the problem was, because Cleo was hiding so much of the time when the boys were awake, she didn't know their normal behavior. So I set up one of my wire crates I use for dogs and put her bed, food, water and litter box in there. This has become her "room" at night. At first I had it set up in the living room, where most of our household activity occurs. Then, after about a month, I moved her into my office. She still goes in her "room" at night, but other than that, she's out and about with the boys.

She still hides a bit, but she's much more social and interactive than she has been in a couple of years and when I catch her trying to hide, I put her somewhere up high instead so that she can watch what's going on. I hope this helps a little...
post #7 of 7
A true pariah cat is rare. I had one once (Shep), and it seems that there was always some level of anxiety in the house while she was alive. Feliway didn't help me either. I was fortunate to live on 10 acres while I had her, and when younger, she loved to be outside away from the others. As she aged and I could no longer trust her outside, it took me a while to find her that spot in the house away from the rest where she could live without the stress of being attacked. It was a spare bedroom for a while, and at the end of her life, she lived on the kitchen counter.

Keep your pariah separated from the others, even if that means closing the door to the room where she lives. Then try vanilla extract on the rest (dab their chin, back of their neck and base of their tail), and you might want to try Feliway again once she is away from everyone.

I have a constant war between 2 of my cats. Both have auto immune diseases and the war started when the second one got sick. What has helped me the most is to give positive reinforcement during the times when they are together and acting normally. And when 1 of them acts up, let them know that what they are doing is wrong. Sounds insignificant, but their relationship has improved about 50% since I started to do this.
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