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Need some help desperately! :( Cats fighting.

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
I am new to the forums, but I am in dire need of some help/advice.
I've been having a problem with my cats and I don't know where else to turn. I'm trying to introduce two cats to one another, and apparently failing miserably. My husband is one step away from returning the shelter cat, but I'm already too attached. Here's the full story:

About two months ago, my elderly cat Otis passed on. My cat, Shady, was all by himself, and I decided to take in a cat from a shelter named Ghost.

Ghost is 1 year old, and Shady is 6.
I brought Ghost home from the shelter and tried several things to try to introduce him to Shady. I tried putting up a baby gate and letting them visit one another through there, I tried using the Feliway spray (which I don't know if I'm even using right), I tried feeding them at the same time so they could see each other while they eat, and I tried reescue remedy, which, quite frankly, didn't seem to work, because it made Shady throw up and be more nervous and it did nothing to Ghost.

I am at the end of my rope here. The main problem is this: Shady is terrified of the new cat. He puffs up, puts his ears back, growls and just looks scary. Any other cat would be terrified of this, but Ghost is completely deaf. Each time Ghost sees Shady, Shady runs. Ghost wants to play, and he chases him. This always ends in a ball of growling and hissing, all being done by Shady. Ghost never growls or hisses at all.

Today I let them eat dinner together and it erupted into another horrible fight, this time with Shady's face getting badly bitten. It was really awful and scary.

I need major help. I don't wish to return Ghost to the shelter. He and Shady are both really nice cats... please can someone tell me what I am doing wrong?
post #2 of 29
Ok, first off I think you need to slow things down. If one of the cats is getting hurt, it isn't going to work this way. Not only that, but if there is a cat fight, you may be the receiver of redirected aggression. One of the cats will take their wrath out on you and that could be bad. That being said, it is not impossible to introduce successfully, but it takes alot of time and patience. Tons of patience sometimes. I put mine in seperate rooms separated by a screen door. I leave room under it for their paws to touch and give them things to play with on each side of the door. Not everyone has the set up for this tho. Another thing is to acclimate each cat to the others scent. Switch cat beds now and then to get them used to the others' scent. I have taken a dog crate, placed one of the cats inside and let them slowly and safely accept the others' presence. There are so many ways but again it takes time. But I think you should slow this down. Cats cannot be rushed. Watch for more information. I know some really good advice will come along. But you sure have a good heart to bring this new kitty into your lives. Don't give up. Sorry I couldn't be of more help. But move slowly. Let them see eachother but not come into contact yet. Good luck.
post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your reply. I guess my biggest flaw is my lack of patience. I love both of these cats so much, but Shady is being extremely stubborn. It's funny, because when we had cats when I was younger, my parents just threw them together and they were fine. I realize that isn't going to work in this case though.

I will take your advice and step back a bit and give them more time. The pet carrier seems to work wonders in comforting my older cat, so maybe I'll try that for a little bit.

Any other advice would be more than welcome. I was up all night crying because i'm so terrified of having to get rid of either of them. They are both great little boys.
post #4 of 29
First of all welcome to the site!

I know how frustrating it can be but I agree patience is best.

Here is a link to some threads that you might find helpful

Best of luck!
post #5 of 29
Farleyv has given some great advice there, i cant really add much to it as when i introduced my cats to each other one was 12-15 weeks old and the other was 6 weeks old so they got along straight away, but one thing i did do was the door thing as in my flat all the doors were raised off the ground a little so they could stick their paws under so sort of played with each other but that was only the first night the next day we found them curled up asleep together after flash had escaped from the room she was in and got to him
i hope everything goes better as it can be a lengthy process
post #6 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the welcome. I read through that thread yesterday, and i found a few helpful things that I am going to try. ^_^

One thing I will ask, do any of you know anything about the feliway diffusers? I've put off buying them because they are very expensive. I got the spray and my older cat was afraid of it.

my house has a really dumb layout and the only good way to separate them is to close the bifold doors between the two large rooms in the downstairs. There isn't much space under the doors for them to play. My new cat, Ghost, can climb two baby gates stacked on top of each other, so that's a problem.

I had a completely sleepless night last night because I was so worried about this.
post #7 of 29
Oh, I feel bad you cried all night. (I have done the same) I have not used Feliway difusers. I know some of the members swear by them. Don't dispair, things will work out. Just step back and give it some time. Keep us posted. We are rooting for you!
post #8 of 29
Thread Starter 
I cried because I love both of these cats to death. It breaks my heart to see Shady this upset (I didn't expect it, because he lived with two cats for five years previous to this!) I had no idea another cat would make him this upset!

I also cried because giving up Ghost is one of the worst ideas that I could possibly imagine. I was lying on the couch in my basement last night and Ghost crawled up on my lap and fell asleep with his head on my hand. I cannot give that up.

I'm going to listen to ask much advice as you guys want to give me, as I am determined to make this work.
post #9 of 29
There is a lot of great advice in the thread Miss Mew posted for you. I'm glad you found some new ideas and info in it to try. You had 2 cats before so you know its not a case of the current cat just being a cat-hater. I have used the Feliway Diffusers before with success, but in my situation it was to help relax a foster cat that was terrified and wouldn't eat, etc.

Thankfully my cat Riley loves other kitties and I never had a problem introducing foster cats. I'm so sorry its not going well for you. Definitely try all the tricks mentioned regarding scent. If you notice any time you bring something new in the house, kitty has to give it a good all-over sniff and check it out. He's doing the same with Ghost and is reacting badly since its an unfamiliar scent. Get a blanket or towel and let Ghost sleep on it a few days, rub it all over him and get it good and saturated with his scent, then put Shady's food bowl on it as well as feeding him treats on it so he associates that smell with good things.

Since they have reacted badly, you need to start from square one on the intro. I really hope you can get it worked out. Lots of luck to you!
post #10 of 29
I think your issue, like mine was because of bringing a cat into your house too soon after you lost your cat.

You have to let them hash it out, and they will. Ghost is saying hello, I am the new boss around here while Shady is saying um, no - my house! Shady is mourning Otis and all of the sudden here comes Ghost (who is probably just thankful to have a home).

I brought Rangie into the house a month after Leo passed away. I've been through everything from them all fightning (I have 4) to one of them terriorial peeing on things (which has subsided thankfully) I tried to separte them, scold them (with words only) difusiers (which did me nothing). I tried Calming Spray and No Mark from Pet Smart and I have to say it has done the trick.

Now, my Milo has no peed on anything, Ranger and Fluf get along. Spookahontas and Ranger are still a bit on edge but they are working it out.

Think of it this way... at some point they will get along. What I started to see when was when I got home from work I would look in the wondow to see what they were doing ....and most days they were ALL curled up together! Good Luck, Have some paitents and please don't give up. You did a wonderful thing taking Ghost into your home. I am sure he is forever thankful to you ... just like my Ranger Boy!
post #11 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks for saying that. That made me feel good. I think I'm going to try to go tonight and get the feliway plugin and see if that works at all. They do fine separately, so worst case scenario, one lives in half of the house, the other lives in the other half, but I really don't want it to be that way.

Shady was never really attached to Otis in any way, so I never thought that maybe Shady was distraught when Otie passed away.

Losing Otis was quite an emotional time for me as well. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have taken in Ghost, but when I heard his story, I couldn't turn away. Someone had taken 16 cats and kittens and taped them up inside of fruit boxes and left them on the side of the road (don't worry, they all survived). I couldn't turn away from him. I actually drove an hour and a half to a shelter to pick him up after I heard the story. He was a mess when I got him. Ear mites worse than the lady at the shelter had ever seen, fleas, and an upper respiratory infection.

He's better now though. Now all we've got are black boogers on his nose every morning cause the dummy can't clean himself, and this hostility between he and shady.

Anyway, here are some pictures of them if you are interested:




I welcome any more advice, and I will report back to let you all know what is working and what is not.

Thanks again!
post #12 of 29
they are both so gorgeous i hope you can get them to be friends
post #13 of 29
You have to follow your heart. There is no such thing as "adopting too soon" after a kitty we loved passed on. It's a very individual thing. Thank you for rescuing Ghost!

That said.. given that Shady got "badly" bitten, I'd take Farleyv's advice and separate them and start over. They'll eventually work out a truce of some sort - but by taking it slower and having more patience with the process, you can help there be less aggression as they work out just who's who.

Of course... every once in a while scraps do result in injuries. But claw marks are far more tolerable than bites.

And you are absolutely right - part of the problem is that Ghost is deaf, and Shady doesn't undertand why "Ghost" isn't "listening" to him. Ghost can see flat ears or puffed tail - but puffy tails happen during play, so without the sounds, he may just not understand completely what Shady's warning.

So... n addition to the advice you've already been given, I'd like to emphasize the scent swapping, and put it in context. Cats learn completely differently than dogs, and they don't "exist" to make us happy. They are all about "what's in it for me," and they are very territory oriented. So when it comes to learning - and sharing - and learning to share - the best methods to use involved positive association and positive reinforcement.

So that first step involves positive association. That's the idea of feeding them near each other. But you can take that a step further. Rub each of them all over with clean rags. Put a Ghost-scented rag under Shady's food dish. Likewise for Ghost - a Shady-scented rag should go under his dish. Have another Ghost and another Shady scented rag. Give each one play time every day (even twice a day). At the end of the play session, put down treats for Shady on the rag that smells like Ghost. Again - the vice versa (as a 1-year old, Ghost will need a lot more play. Help "absorb" that kitty energy by directed play - as often as you can, but at least twice a day for a minimum of 15 minutes). Just work on getting the to associate each other's scent with "good" things and things they love.

Then take a step back and check out the house. Do you have much vertical space for them? Vertical space can help diffuse alpha issues. It can help absorb the "play" energy Ghost has as a toddler with lots of places to run, climb and jump. It can provide a space for Shady to run away from Ghost - to get "up" and defend his spot without getting attacked. Cats live in a very "3D" world, and when you've got more than one, it can be important to provide appropriate "3D" space.

Also - it's important to dote on Shady as the existing cat. And when you re-start introductions, go for making Shady and Ghost think the other one is responsible for their interaction being a total party. Bring Shady into Ghost's territory for a few minutes of supervised "being in the same space" together. Givem them each a new toy, or get a new wand toy you're pretty sure Shady will love - or give them their favorite treats - and just give it a couple of minutes and then take Shady away before anyone has time to get upset! If there's a problem - don't scold anyone - they're not doing anything wrong - but if Ghost doesn't go after Shady, and Shady doesn't hiss at Ghost - praise them both to high heaven. WHAT good kitties they are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Praise Shady first. I know Ghost can't hear you - but he picks up on the vibes. (We have a deaf cat). And then take Shady out of there.

Just remember - whenever they're together, always feed Shady first. Give him his toy first. Give him treats first. Praise him first.

And that's really it. Slowly lengthen the amount of time Shady has in Ghost's space. After a week or two, depending upon how things are going, bring Ghost into Shady's space. Then - just play it by ear.

They are going to scrap - no two ways around it. Ghost is deaf and can't hear Shady complaining. Shady doesn't understand why Ghost isn't reacting to what he's saying - and Ghost has LOTS of kitten energy, and Shady doesn't want to play (at least not yet). And they are going to have to work out the alpha thing at some point.

But basically you need to absorb as much of Ghost's play energy as you can with interactive wand toys, laser dots &etc. - work on getting them to associate each other's scent with things they love - and then make Shady think having Ghost around is a total party, provide only positive reinforcement for something as little as a lack of hissing or aggression. Make Shady first in everything to reinfoce his "status" in your heart and "his" territory... and just go slow. The kitties probably don't care if they spend the rest of their lives in separate halves of the house. Ghost wants to play with Shady - but given Shady isn't into it (yet), at least he'll have you.

OH - also - stuff to do. If you can, put up bird feeders outside a couple of windows. It's like Cat TV, and it helps to have "other stuff" to focus on.
post #14 of 29
Originally Posted by LDG View Post

OH - also - stuff to do. If you can, put up bird feeders outside a couple of windows. It's like Cat TV, and it helps to have "other stuff" to focus on.
Laurie has given you some great advice. She has done tons of intros and really knows her stuff

I just have to say about that last part, its so true! My two boys play wrestle often and sometimes they get pretty rough where I consider separating them. However, let a bird land on the feeder stuck to the sliding glass door and they both stop and run over there to "get" the bird
post #15 of 29
Thread Starter 
Well, this is what we tried today.
We gave shady his food first. Shady ate it and it was all right. We then opened up the bifold doors and brought ghost in in the pet carrier. Shady continued to eat. We opened up the pet carrier and ghost came out and got his food. Shady got scared and ran away when we did this.

I'm going to try the thing with the towel, too, but I have to start that tomorrow when I have a little more time.

I am worried because shady used to be able to take food in the same room as him, but now he's scared. Its' discouraging because we're taking a step backwards. I'm probably still moving too fast, aren't i?
post #16 of 29
I'd suggest separating them and just doing the scent swapping for at least a week - if not more - before starting re-intros.
post #17 of 29
Thread Starter 
All right, I will do it that way then. I sent my husband the links to these forums, too, so he and I are going to re read these posts and discuss it tomorrow. I'll keep giving updates on things as they progress. ^_^
post #18 of 29
Honestly? I think the biggest problem is that Shady was at least comfortable, if not friends in a way you didn't realize, with your kitty that passed on. He may not have been grieving - but the "quick" adjustment to some "young upstart" that doesn't "listen" to him is making him unhappy. That is definitely NOT to say that he won't be OK with this - in fact, most likely he will be. But bringing in a 1 year old kitty with a 6 year old kitty is kind of like bringing home a 3 year old to be friends with a 30-year old. They can get along - but until that 30-year old is willing to deal with all that 3-year old energy, it's best to have someone else be the focus of all that energy.

...and having Ghost be in a different section of the house will give him some time to adjust the idea that he's going to be sharing his space with another cat... and working on getting him to associate Ghost's smell with good things before only subjecting him to small amounts of time with Ghost will go a long way to making him feel a lot better about having to share his space with Ghost.

Pets are a commitment, and I really love that you want to make this work. If you adopted a kid and you had an older child - you wouldn't return your new toddler to the adoption agency! Here at TCS, we feel the same way about our pets. Pets are for life.
post #19 of 29
I have no added advice as you have already been given great advice but I just wanted to say Good Luck. I'm sure it will be ok. Hopefully a few months from now you will read this and say wow I can't believe I was ever worried about these 2 getting along. beautiful cats btw.
post #20 of 29
I don't think this has been mentioned, but maybe I missed it, but I have 2 cats who don't always get along & I found this book helpful:

Cat Vs. Cat: Keeping Peace When You Have More Than One Cat by Pam Johnson-Bennett (Paperback - Jul 6, 2004)

She devotes a LOT of space to introducing new cats and advocates doing it *very* slowly (like months), especially if there was a previous introduction attempt that went badly, like yours did. She suggests things like introducing them to each other's scents by swaping 1 teaspoon (!) of cat litter into the other's litter box, because anything more (like a bed) would be overwhelming. I really think this could be helpful for you. Good luck with your babies!
post #21 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thank you all so much. I'm going to try the scent swapping thing starting today, and we'll see what happens from there on out. I'll post updates when I have something worth posting.

If anyone else wants to post their success stories, I'd be more than happy to hear them, cause I could use that right now.

Thanks so much!
post #22 of 29
Thread Starter 
I started the scent swapping thing and I think it's going well. I've been taking a towel and rubbing it all over ghost, and then feeding shady on it and giving him treats on it and playing with him on it, and vice versa. Then I'm switching the towels and doing the same thing. Right now I have two boys who are loving their towels very much.

Shady is still afraid to come downstairs on his own, so I'm trying to make him feel more comfortable.

Also, today I got them both to play with the same toy. I rubbed it all over ghost, and then I took it upstairs and rubbed it all over shady.

I don't know if this is progress or not, but shady's not afraid of the towel. I'm going to do this until sunday, what do you suggest my next step be?
post #23 of 29
Originally Posted by xkappax View Post
I don't know if this is progress or not, but shady's not afraid of the towel. I'm going to do this until sunday, what do you suggest my next step be?
Yes is a progress...

and your next step & of DH too, is lots of patience....

Catulina was feral,....I take her from streets... and Horatio was dropped in my yard........
You need lots of patience my can do it...

Hola y bienvenido a TCS, ...Catulina Milky Y Horacio te saludan!!!........
(Translate: Hi and Welcome to TCS, Catulina, Milky & Horatio say hello to you!!!...)

Please feel as you home here, we can learn so much and deep about our kittys in this marvelous site, I just only please ask you read the rules and other stuffs that can help you to feel as you Real home!.. here you have the link my friend.

Please ask whatever you need to know, there are plenty of good members and of course our tireness Mod´s to help us here!....

See you on the forums!, Glad that you join us!
post #24 of 29
Thread Starter 
My patience is wearing very thin with these cats. I've done a week of scent swapping, and it seems to have made matters worse. Now Shady is afraid to go downstairs and won't take his dinner. Ghost is fine.

The towels that we've been swapping are fine, and the cats will take treats on them, but shady won't even go near the door to take his food. He will eat a few bites, hear ghost eating on the other side of the door, and run. I certainly can't get him even close to the door.

This is very upsetting to me. I'm starting to think that I'm going to have to get rid of Ghost. My father is being less than understanding and let them together the other day, too, ruining nearly a week of progress with a terrible fight that occurred between the two cats because of what he did.

Any advice on what I'm doing wrong/what I could be doing better? I haven't even let the two cats see one another for a week, and the problem seems to be getting worse.
post #25 of 29
Bumping this thread up for the pros. I am having aggressive issues with my females and have been lurking. I saw this last post has gone unanswered. Thought maybe it got pushed down, so bumping up.

I wish I could help. All I can say is be patient. It is deff going to take longer than a week. Also, if the one won't go near the door to eat, then back the food up a bit until he will. Don't force the issue of eating between the door if the one isn't ready.

Good luck hon.
post #26 of 29
Thread Starter 
I've actually got a spot of good news, guys! Shady is now eating by the door and when Ghost ran into the room where Shady was, Shady sat on the couch and didn't care. There is definitely a HUGE difference. It MUST be the scent swapping/mixing.

I'll keep you guys posted, and good luck to you, Yarra! I hope all goes well. I'll certainly let you know what I did, and maybe that can help you. I've just been swapping towels between the two and giving them treats on the towels. Now they love the towels and get excited when they see them!
post #27 of 29
Originally Posted by xkappax View Post
I've actually got a spot of good news, guys! Shady is now eating by the door and when Ghost ran into the room where Shady was, Shady sat on the couch and didn't care. There is definitely a HUGE difference. It MUST be the scent swapping/mixing.

I'll keep you guys posted, and good luck to you, Yarra! I hope all goes well. I'll certainly let you know what I did, and maybe that can help you. I've just been swapping towels between the two and giving them treats on the towels. Now they love the towels and get excited when they see them!
It sounds like things are going well! Just continue to take things slow and hopefully it will all work out

Them getting happy over the towels is a great sign. You might try giving them their towel treats now where they can see eachother across the room, or though a screen or something. I will do that for a week or so and see how it goes.

Hang in there!
post #28 of 29
Thread Starter 
This week, we've been putting ghost in a pet carrier and letting him eat his treats and food. Shady has been coming right up to the doors and he can see Ghost in the pet carrier, but they both seem comfortable. Also, I have been taking Ghost in to the room where Shady is and lettting them smell each other nose to nose. This used to erupt in hissing, but now it just results in curious sniffing. If I leave them together too long, Shady runs, so I only do this for a minute at a time. This is a slow process, but it's definitely improved!
post #29 of 29
I hadn't noticed anyone mentioning litter issues, but don't forget to make sure there are enough litter boxes, and the placement is friendly for kitties (2-3 for two cats). Even cats who appear to get along in every way need space to spread out.

Congratulations on your progress so far. Our "new" cat addition was six months ago, and though things are much improved, all is not perfect in Camelot. Think - baby steps - and you will be pleased with the progress you see. Just love your kitties.
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