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Bringing a new cat home...

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Ok everyone... just as a little background.. I'm not new to cats by any means, as long as I've been alive there have always been cats around. My mother is literally the 'cat lady' has always taken in sick and or stray cats and in the time I've known her, spent a small fortune on these cats. I think currently she has 35 or so. She lives in the country with about an acre of fenced in yard, and amazingly her house is pretty much spottless.

At any rate, I've had a cat here for a few years now, and he's quite hyper, loves to play, and he's usually rough about it, and he has his moments where I'm curious if its possible to have "a touch of rabies". Sometimes his eyes make me wonder.

Anyway, I have been living in a duplex remodeling the entire thing, living upstairs while fixing up the downstairs, and at the time he was allowed to roam free. I moved everything downstairs and then started on the upstairs. Upon first moving down, Buddy began pooping in a corner of a certian room, not sure if it was from the stress factor or maybe an old animal, so i steam cleaned the carpets, and that problem went away. I finished the upstairs apartment, and he was somewhat pissy about the fact that he cant go upstairs anymore but seemed to be generally ok with it. A woman moved into the apartment upstairs and brought a dog, which he noticed right away, but adjusted ok. A few days after that my girlfriend decided that she wanted another cat, and a friend of hers wanted to get rid of.

Now my problem is this, I dont really have an extra room the way this house is setup, to do the 'normal' routine. I locked up my resident (Buddy), and let the new guy (Elvis) check the place out, and he seems ok with everything and found himself right at home. He is 4 years old, neutered, and always lived with other cats so I didnt see him as being a problem. Buddy on the other hand is 2 and also neutered, but after being a kitten he has been the only cat here.

For the most part Elvis isn't worried about Buddy in the slightest, but Buddy seems to want to stalk and harass Elvis from time to time, and for the most part stays within eye shot of him. It seems half of the time Buddy wants to show he's the alpha male, but what gets me is that he wont confront Elvis face to face, he is always trying for a sneak attack, and always trys to 'flank' him. Other times he will jump out like he's going to pounce him, but takes a 1/2 step back when he does. Other than that when he feels the need he likes to walk slow circles around Elvis, head cocked sideways and all that good stuff, and Elvis is constantly tellin him to stop messin with him, and Buddy loves to press the issue. When it comes to food, its like they've known each other forever, they eat just fine even when they are only one foot away. When they are being 'tolerant' of each other I give them both catnip to encourage the good behavior.

It seems like if they fight and I seperate them, it gets worse and Buddy gets upset, and when I let them free again, he's right back at it. If I just keep an eye on them and he settles down everything seems to be ok. But every now and then Buddy wants to stalk him again, and I cant figure out why. Nothing is really provoked, but if Elvis wants to move around, Buddy usually wants to follow in his 'ninja' fashion, as if he wants to try to piss of Elvis. Its only been a few days and seems to be getting better, as of right now, they are both in the living room laying down and being good. It just worries me the way Buddy sneaks up on him, instead of confronting him, reminds me of those shows on the discovery channel of the bigger cats when they hunt. Is this just him trying to set the pecking order? Additionally Buddy has some different vocal behavior now I've not seen out of him before. Very quiet short meows like he's trying to find someone, as he roams around the house, but not all the time, usually right after an 'encounter'. I'm assuming both of these guys will be ok, but Buddys on and off again behavior makes me a little nervous, about leaving them alone one day.

I feel as if I've been rambling on long enough... any questions or sugguestions?

post #2 of 3
As far as Buddy's concerned, Elvis has invaded his territory, and to a cat, that's huge. I wouldn't to break up their encounters unless you really believe someone's getting hurt (as opposed to just P.O.d). They'll work it out - I've heard of a lot worse - but will need more time. You can't really influence their thinking much, and trying to break up fights could land you in the E.R. Just give them some time - it may never be perfect, but it's their problem, not yours unless they start wrecking the place.
post #3 of 3
This is from the Best Friends Network:


From: Clinical Medicine for Small Animals. Dr. Karen Overall DVM, ACVB (Mosby 1997)
(Note: these are handouts that the author has given permission in the book for Veterinarians to copy and distribute to clients

Generally, inter-cat aggression occurs either between cats that have been recently introduced, or between those cats known to each other since kitten hood. It occurs when one of the cats becomes socially mature (sometime between two-five years of age), or when one cat perceives that the other cat in the household is becoming socially mature. Owners often comment that the cats lived together perfectly well for the first several years before suddenly becoming aggressive.

Treatment for this disorder focuses on establishing a social order that is tolerable for all cats involved, without danger of injury. The cats may never be best friends. But they may be able to get along together with a minimum of stress. Sometimes, the only solution is to find one of the cats another home. One thing is for sure, you should avoid getting any other cats. That would only added more fuel to the fire.

The basic protocol for solving this problem is as follows (source: Overall, K; Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals, 1997):

1. Make sure all cats are neutered.

2. Trim all the nails as short as possible.

3. Whenever the cats are not directly supervised, they must be separated. The cat that is the aggressor should be banished to a less valuable or less desirable area. This does not mean a dark closet, a basement, outside, or a garage. Doing this would only teach the cat to avoid you. Instead, if the bulk of the aggression occurs in a bedroom or in front of a favorite window, let the cat that is being victimized have the valued area and put the aggressor into a neutral area like a spare room. Remember to provide water, food and litter boxes for all the cats.

4. Try to find out if there is a distance at which the cats can see each other, but at which they will not react aggressively while they eat. If such a distance exists, then there is a reasonable chance of being able to convince the cats to tolerate each other. You start by putting a dish of food for each cat that they love at this safe distance. This may mean that you have to change the feeding schedule or the type of food given. Several times throughout the day, bring the cats out and feed them at the safe distance. Let them eat this way for several days. Then gradually start moving the dishes closer a couple centimeters at a time until the cats can eat calmly side-by-side. If at any time you reach a distance in which the cats start showing aggression, anxiety, or fear, move the dishes back to the safe distance and start over. If you cannot succeed in getting the cats to eat side-by-side, let them eat at the distance at which they are happy. Remember, the goal is to decrease the anxiety-especially for the victim. Be very observant for any of the subtle signs of aggression-like staring. Watch how fast the cats eat. If the victim bolts the food and leaves, or doesn't want to eat, there are probably threats involved.

5. If marking and appropriate elimination is involved, use the appropriate behavioral modification in addition to what is outlined in this protocol.

6. Only allow the cats to freely mingle under the following circumstances:
-when they have the bell on their collars that allows you to distinguish between the individuals
-if you are able and willing to visually monitor the situation at all times
-if you carry a water pistol, compressed air canister, a whistle or a fog horn at all times. At the first sign of aggression, you must interrupt the cats by directing the device towards the aggressor. Use common sense in choosing the device to use.
-if the threats escalate to frank aggression, do not reach between the cats. You will get hurt and make the situation worse. If you must get involved, throw a blanket over the animals, or use a broom or a piece of cardboard to separate them.

7. Use harnesses and leashes for all involved cats. If there are two or more people in the household, you can take turns monitoring the cats. If you are alone, attached the leash of the aggressive cat to the furniture and hold the leash of the other cat. The cats should be restrained at a distance at which they cannot touch each other even if they lunge. Find a food treat that they love. Any time the cats ignore each other praise them vigorously and given the treat. If the aggressor voluntarily looks away from the victim, reward that. If the victim stares at the aggressive cat reward that. Do not give a treat to any cat that shows signs of aggression, fear, or anxiety. These include shaking, cringing and hiding.

8. Use a harness to correct the cat verbally or with a startle at the first sign of any aggression. If the aggression continues, banish the aggressive cat to the undesirable area.

9. Use the harnesses to arrange the cats so that they can't reach each other. Then alternate between the involved cats and groom and massage them. Start with the victim. The goal is to get them to not react to each other. Any cat that react aggressively is banished. You can couple a favorable response to food treats. If the cats ignore each other gradually begin to move them closer together. They should not become distressed or aggressive by the moves. If they do, separate them and try again at a greater distance.

10. If the cats are able to lie side-by-side without becoming distressed or aggressive and if they can eat together, you can leave them alone for gradually increasing amounts of time. If you notice at any time that either cats is injured or avoiding the other cat repeat the previous steps. Some cats will never tolerate being close together but can live peaceful and separate lives in the same house.

11. Cats generally require and use more space than the average house or apartment gives them. Adding three-dimensional space can help in the form of kitty condos, cardboard boxes, beds and crates in all rooms once the reintroduction of the cats has begun.

12. Some cats may benefit from antianxiety medication. If medication needed, it is used to complement the behavior modification process and not to replace it.
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