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New here...please advise about 2 cats....

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I'm new here, and I'm growing increasingly concerned about my 6 year old female cat named Winter, whom I've had since she was six weeks old. She has been an "only child" for most of her life(started out with two older cats(my roommate's at the time) in the house, had no problems, and also got along fantastically with my parents' male cat when we would visit). I am often gone at night because of work, and I worried about her being lonely without me. Three years ago, I decided to adopt an adult female cat, found by a friend of a friend. I named the cat Sasha and slowly introduced them. Winter at first seemed mostly curious...and I let them out together when I was home to supervise. One day, I heard a terrible fighting noise, and I found Winter huddling in fear under my claw foot bathtub. She was, from then on, absolutely terrified of Sasha. Sasha went to live with my parents. I think something about this encounter with Sasha did something to Winter's psyche concerning other cats.

I decided that if I adopted another cat, it would be a male kitten. I waited until this past October, and Avalanche(Avvie) came to live with us. He was about three months old at the time. Again, I kept them separated, slowly introduced them to one another(although at the time I didn't know about the fenway comfort zone and about putting vanilla extract on both cats to help them have a similar scent). Avvie was neutered as soon as he was old enough. Both kitties are current on shots and seem quite healthy.

Winter of course was pretty resentful of him at first. But for a while, I occasionally caught them both curled up on the couch or on my bed(when I wasn't around), I saw her groom him maybe once or twice. But Avvie is kind of agressive in one sense. He chases Winter(although there are a few places in the house she refuses to let him "have"), and my presence is definitely a bone of contention between the two. But recently, I find Winter's behavior very difficult to understand, although I'm very certain she is not afraid of Avvie. The vet said that it would take several months for her to adjust, but it seems as if she's finding it harder to take as time goes on. She refuses to be anywhere but underneath the couch if he is in the same room. If she is lying on my desk, contentedly purring away while I type(and licking my fingers as needed ) the minute he walks in the room, she stops and runs away. She won't even get on my bed anymore, and that has been HER place from the time she was a baby--and she won't get on my bed even if Avvie is shut out of the room.

This is a kitty that followed me around the house, and loved to play and be fussed over. Tonight, I had one cat on the toilet and one on the floor in the bathroom, and I was petting each at the same time. For the first time in her life, Winter actually snapped at me. From the time she was a tiny baby, even in the middle of play Winter would stop and lick if I touched her fur--she NEVER bit me, not once.

Avvie is a very sweet and loving kitty. I do think he wants to be dominant, but he tried very hard to cuddle up to her at first, which she won't allow. I don't worry about them when I am at work. I never see scratches on them or bite marks. I think they coexist pretty well, and I have seen them play pounce on one another from either side of my bed quilt. But what worries me is how my trying to make a fuss over Winter when Avvie is present makes things worse for her. Maybe she doesn't want to share me at all. Is she jealous? Depressed? Should I separate them again? I just bought the comfort zone plug-in yesterday to see if it would help her...but I'm guessing it will take time.

I'm sorry this is long, especially for being new, but I'm very worried and I'm just not sure what to do.

Thanks in advance for any help or advice!
post #2 of 8
There are, of course, many possible answers to your questions!

Cats can get jealous when there are new introductions. But the reassurance of doting on them usually results in a return to "normal" behavior within a few weeks to a few months. Cats definitely have their own schedule, and things like the slower introductions, the Feliway Plug-in, or Bach's Rescue Remedy may help, but there's really just no "normal." Some cats adjust right away, some take a few weeks, some take a few months - and some don't like having other cats around.

I'm assuming they're spayed and neutered? That might make a difference.

It could be that after the experience with Sasha, Winter doesn't like other cats. Since you have seen them cuddling together, she obviously doesn't hate Awie completely! But apparently that was some time ago, and she now tolerates his presence less?

Perhaps the best thing to do, for now, is to try to not interact with them together. When Winter leaves the room when Awie enters, let her leave.

As the cats are apparently allowed in the bedroom, just leave the door open and let them decide who's in and who's out, who's on the bed and who's not.

Our Lazlo stopped sleeping on the bed when any other new cats were introduced to the house (actually he never slept on the bed, he slept on the bedside table, but that stopped). He's never moved back in - though he will sleep in a bed on the floor next to the bed. He doesn't like pets, per se, but he loves being brushed in the bathroom. (He'll stand next to the door and meow when he wants brushes). This behavior stopped for months after the arrival of Flowerbelle. She came home in July - and I think the only thing that caused him to return to his old behavior was that we had to go see my parents and had no choice but to put them in boarding for 10 days. The first day back, I took him into the bathroom, put him on my lap and brushed him. After that, he went back to his old behavior of meowing at the bathroom door when he wanted brushes. I don't know what would have happened if we hadn't had that interlude of terror and fear!

Our cats were all feral rescues, and we wanted so much for them to love us. We found that the more attention we gave them, the less they wanted. The more we ignored them, the more they wanted attention.

For now, I think I'd recommend giving Winter some treats and "just her" playtime when Awie's not around. Or if he shows up for playtime, then shut him out of the room for 10 or 15 minutes to just have play or pet time with Winter. Then "ignore" her and try not to worry about it. Do the same for Awie. Give it a couple of weeks and see what happens. Don't chase after Winter when she leaves in a huff. Don't chase Awie away unless it's designated play-time with Winter. (Not that you do these things, but if you do....).

Perhaps others have had this experience and might have other suggestions. But this is what I'd try and see how it goes.

It could be that Winter does not like Awie, he's tired of trying to get along, and they'll just figure out a way to coexist? I know that sounds so sad, and is the exact opposite of what you wanted for her. But only time will tell, and though it's been a long time, I wouldn't give up hope yet that she may come around.

We have five cats in a small space. Tuxedo was the fourth rescued. He was a troublemaker as a kitten and attacked the other cats outside in the colony - that's one of the reasons he wasn't rescued earlier. The other kitties were social with us within a few weeks - with Tuxedo it took almost 6 months. He became very sick and we had to take him to the hospital. After a week, he was OK healthwise, but not eating. The vet recommended we bring him home - inside. We did. He tolerates the other cats, but does not really like them. One of them he'll go after if she gets too close. She avoids him. We brought in little Flowerbelle, and perhaps because she's deaf and was almost blind - and a teeney kitten at the time, he tolerated her differently, and still does.

What's strange with Winter is that she was OK with other cats before. When you said she was OK with your parents cat - was that when they visited and their kitty was on her turf? Or when you visited them and she was in the other kitty's territory? (Or both?)

It could be as simple as she no longer likes sharing her space.

If you haven't already done this, like I said before. I'd try engineering time alone to interact with each, and ignore them otherwise (unless they're proactively asking for pets or brushes or whatever) and just see what happens.

Hopefully there'll be some other ideas - I just haven't ever had this type of experience.

Good luck, and please keep us posted!
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for taking the time to give me such a long, thoughtful answer! I will definitely give your suggestions a try. I always give each cat lots of attention, but I don't think I actively made sure to give each one his/her own special time. I will see how that goes.

And, yes, both kitties are spayed/neutered. I had real hopes that after Avvie was neutered, it would calm both of them down, but no luck!(There is a reason why I named him Avalanche! LOL)

About my parents' cat...Winter was absolutely fine with him, and she was on HIS territory!(Although he came here one time to visit, and she was fine with that as well.)

Thanks again!
post #4 of 8
Well, I hope it helps. Got my fingers crossed for you!!!! Please keep us posted!
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Just thought I'd update, since it has been about a week since I bought the feliway plug-in. I think BOTH cats seem calmer. In fact, this afternoon, I woke up from a nap on the couch with Winter snoozing on my feet and Avalanche snoozing right abover her on the back of the couch. Winter even came to me after I woke up to be petted and fussed over. I'm pretty sure she knew Avvie was sleeping on the back of the couch. Winter wanted to be fussed over for a little bit, then she gave Avvie a glare and jumped down. BUT...she didn't run under the couch, which is what she would have done before. Instead, she curled up in the middle of the floor and gave him a glare. She's also starting to follow me around the house some, which is very heartening for me to see. I think it's starting to help her. Maybe she was just stressed out???
post #6 of 8
Woo Hoo!!! What excellent news!
post #7 of 8
I'm glad to hear things are moving in the right direction, I had 2 thoughts come to my mind, at 6 years old it is possible that right now Awie is too active for Winter & that maybe upsetting or annoying to her. I don't know what you would do about that, but as he gets older he will calm down some. The second thought I had is, it is possible they are working out who is alpha. My boys went through a phase where their playing went from fun to really ruff. They seem to have gotten past it. If that's what it is, time will help. It sounds like your trying all the right things. It's hard, but my guess is things will get better. You know how cats are they never want to do things the way we simple humans think is best.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for your helpful suggestions! I definitely think that Winter finds Avvie to be annoying at times. hehe! But I wanted to give you all yet another update. Today I got home from the mall and found them both curled together on the couch in my den! I mean curled into one big ball of fur. SOUND alseep!!! Now, I'm sure that Avvie invited himself up with her when she was already snoozing, but they both woke up when I came into the room, and Winter just looked at him and yawned! She's still being somewhat grouchy, but I think that is a wonderful sign. I'm so happy.
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