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At wit's end - looking for any feedback!

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Ok this is something I've been battling since October of 2005 and I'm looking for any advice on what I could do to regain some sort of normalcy at home. I refuse to give up on my pets and have tried everything I know to do.

Issue at hand:
My happy family has consisted of my two dogs and sister calico's who have always gotten along surprisingly well. I made the mistake of bringing home an addition that has created nothing but chaos. I knew there would be a transitional process to go through but thought I was someone who had the patience, and love of animals, to follow all steps to a successful introduction. I read up beforehand everything I needed to do to make this transition as smooth as possible. I just couldn't let a friend's cat I had bonded with go to the pound. My biggest weakness!!

So I've tried everything that I thought would create tranquility again amongst my babies!! But nine months later, I'm still at square one and can't figure out where I've gone wrong!

I've also spent a small fortune on products to help. Feliway did nothing which really surprised me. I refuse to give in and give up. The new kid on the block (Mia) is such a sweet kitty and hate that she can't receive acceptance from my Lilly and Cali. It's hurt my feelings for her to see her attempts to win them over just to be attacked. They, especially my dominant cat Lilly, refuse to let her live in their home.

Anything anyone can offer is what I'm desperately seeking. I'm getting ready to move into my first home and think it could offer a fresh start since all the animals will be in new territory.

Thanks in advance!!
post #2 of 23
First off is everyone spayed? I would hope so but gotta get that cleared up first because that is usually the first cause of a lot of problems.
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
Yes my three female cats were all spayed when kittens and Sophie and Sampson when they were puppies. Funny you asked because that's something my dad is ocd about!! He spends a fortune spaying and neutering strays at our vet's office just to ease his own mind. Yeah, my love of animals was handed down...lol.
post #4 of 23
Have you tried "sharing scents" trick? And are they all in good health?
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Yes they are all in tip-top health. Regular visits to my vet is something that's very important to me. I've never consulted him with my dilemma so maybe that's something I need to do. I tried all the tricks including the scent one. At first, the curiousity seemed promising but in the long run, became a no-go. I'm starting to wonder if I just have cats that can't get along. Lilly is really the roughneck of the bunch who only shows affection or her sweet nature to me so I'm now wondering if she might be happiest outside once I move. It is an option at the new house where it hasn't been where I live now.
post #6 of 23
You may be doing this but in case you're not, you might want to make sure lillly is first for everything, gets fed first, help her maintain her status and make a fuss over her, and not over the new one when she is present. When there is hissing or fighting, speak to them calmly. there are other tricks I read but never tried like vanilla on the cats. I helped my guy maintain his dominance and I think it has helped. He still gets fed first. The new guy challenges sometimes, but I think they are ok with each other now, and if spike wants to turn the alfa seat over to pansy, its ok with me.
post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
Well your input sounds very helpful but I have always just had community food available. And Lilly's always been pretty skinny and never was bribable with food (Cali on the other hand is quite the chunkster ) I have the constant feeders in place. I've tried to make over Lilly more but she still gets pissy and acts like a wild child whenever she sees or even smells Mia. I wonder if she would be happier as an outdoor cat - she CRAVVVVESS the outdoors. Where I live now though, it's just not safe. The home I'm finally closing on in seven days is more private and on a dead end street so maybe I'll experiment with letting her explore outside more. This is a major problem in my household and I want more than anything for all of my animals to be happy. Thanks for everyone's input so far!!
post #8 of 23
Having gone through something like this myself I have to say that after that long of a time a successful resolution is high unlikely. You may have to resign yourself to finding another home for the cat; probably an "only cat" home. That's what I had to do, and the longer you wait the more it hurts. It sounds to me like you've done your absolute best so far, so don't put it down to a failure on your part. Sometimes some things aren't fixable no matter what.
post #9 of 23
I have done everything I can to integrate Pearl into the kitty family, but after 5.5 years, she still wants to spend most of her time alone. She will cuddle with us occasionally, but will have almost nothing to do with the other cats. Scooter and Fluffy know she is afraid of most everything and torment her at every chance. I make sure she has her own safe place, currently an old hamper filled with blankets, and she is fed near it, or occasionally she will come out and eat with the others. We play with her and pet her separately, and she seems content. It has gotten a little better since we stopped being quite so particular about letting them work it out for themselves. There has been a little interaction, but since Fluffy came Christmas Eve, Pearl stays mostly to herself again. Fluffy jumped right in to the mix, but sadly, sometimes integrating a cat into an established family just does not work.
If I thought Pearl would have been any happier anywhere else, I would have considered letting her go be happy, but she is afraid of everyone but us, so we just let her live her life on her terms. It is a real treat when she comes out to visit and cuddle.
I wish I could offer better advice or encouragement, but I can only offer best wishes on making some kind of progress so sweet Mia can be happy, too. Please keep us posted on what happens with her.
post #10 of 23
Originally Posted by lillyncali
The home I'm finally closing on in seven days is more private and on a dead end street so maybe I'll experiment with letting her explore outside more. This is a major problem in my household and I want more than anything for all of my animals to be happy. Thanks for everyone's input so far!!
In my opinion, you still shouldn't let your cat go outside. I know it's an age old argument - but I also live on a quiet dead-end street - and that didn't stop someone from killing my cat. He was found pumped full of BB's from a BB gun.

As far as I know, everyone on my street loves cats, most of them own cats themselves.

That just goes to show that no matter how "safe" an environment seems, there are always hidden dangers....

I didn't used to think letting my cat go outside was such a big deal, he absolutely refused to stay indoors, and would cry all day long - that was my excuse.

I don't want to turn this into a big indoor/outdoor cat argument - just wanted to pitch in my personal story as a caution -- from someone who also lives on a dead end street in a quiet, "friendly" neighborhood.

According to the local animal services, 7 cats have gone missing from my neighborhood in the last 2 months - - and they haven't found any clues as to why they are all disappearing.
post #11 of 23
Let's hope they haven't ended up in labs as experimental test animals.
post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 
I have gotten alot of helpful feedback. I will always try my best to create the happiest environment for my animals as I can. I hate that I am someone who can never give in and look for another home for Mia because there's been other people to say that might be the best option. My problem is she was adopted from the local shelter as a baby by a guy I was dating at the time. I bonded with Mia more than the guy!! Things didn't work out for him and I romantically but we remained in contact. When he said he was looking into finding Mia a home or taking her back to the shelter (due to his new job), my heart broke. My biggest heartbreak is when animals are rejected. They're so innocent and don't understand. That's when I started looking into how hard it would be to bring a new cat in my home and finally decided to tell Nathan I would take Mia. I never dreamed it was gonna be the battle it has become. My home has been in uproar ever since but I am determined to make peace.
post #13 of 23
Since your calico girls will not accept the new cat, Mia, into "their" pack, what about adding another cat for Mia to form a pack with? I would suggest bringing Mia with you to pick the cat out to make sure there is a potential bonding there and there are some rescues, for example, that you can take a cat into your home on a trial basis to make sure that this is the cat for you and vise verse - it is really a wonderful thing because then the best home is found for the cat and cat for the home.

Personally, I would look into something like that before considering to find Mia a new home - which it doesn't sound like you want to do anyway.

If I'm understanding your original post correctly, Mia really does want to be part of the pack but the "head" cat is not allowing that. This may be a viable solution.

I also have to just throw my own personal opinion in on outdoor cats - as much as it may be that a cat wants to spend time outdoors, the risks are huge, not only for them being injured or killed or lost but also for them picking up viruses such as FeLV - imo, those are huge risks that far outweigh the benefits. Instead, I personally, make sure to have lots of variety in toys and interactions and have a couple cat condos throughout the house to give them look out spots and hiding spots and try to keep them stimulated indoors - it has worked very well for me, but that is just my own experience.

Good luck, I know it is very difficult and frustrating when the animals within a house are not at peace.
post #14 of 23
I just like to make a couple comments about Murfins' proposal: I don't think it's ever a good idea to add another cat in the hopes of solving a cat problem. If you want another cat, fine, but don't get another cat thinking that you're going to be able to create a bond between the new cat and a resident cat. You just never know how it's going to work out. And it's not fair to the new cat if it doesn't, and that's the only reason you adopted it.

Second is that I don't think it's a good idea to take a cat to a shelter to "pick" another cat. The cat is going to be stressed and probably terrified being in the midst of all these strange animals and isn't going to be looking for another cat to bond with. Also there's the issue of the risk of catching some cat bug that shelters are rife with. Finally, it's really difficult to judge a cat's personality in a shelter, because they're not in a home setting, they're in with a bunch of other cats, and there's people coming and going. My theory is that cats in a shelter are so eager to get out that they're putting on a good show and once you get them home they often turn out to be a totally different cat.

Well, just my thoughts FWIW.
post #15 of 23
Good point about the shelter, but that is why I also suggested the rescues/shelters that do a trial adoption so you can see the cat(s) together in the home and after the adjustment period.

As for the it not being fair to the new cat should it "not work out" with the resident cat - that is why I suggested the trial adoption situation. I don't know about your local rescues, but the rescues I work with and the ones in my area, prefer to do trial adoptions to make sure it is the best fit for the cat(s) and the humans.

Of course you don't adopt a cat if you are only wanting to fix a problem - I should have clarified that, I would NEVER intentionally suggest getting any animal to solve a problem and not because you also WANT another animal in your family.

I DO think that adding another cat could give the lone cat, Mia, a friend and thus not make it so difficult on her not being part of the other cats' "pack".
post #16 of 23
I don't think trial adoptions are done here. At least I'm not aware of it. What they do say is if an adopted animal doesn't work out you've got 30 days to bring it back and choose a different animal. Which I suppose is the same as a trial adoption. But I wish they wouldn't even promote that policy. It sounds too much like going to the department store and buying some new clothing with the guarantee that if you don't like it, just bring it back and exchange it for something you do like. Not only does it bring to mind the picture of buying merchandise, but I think it also lessons the motivation of the adopter to make the right choice the first time, and then to do their best to make it work.

Maybe I make too much of it.
post #17 of 23
Thirty days seems like a long time for a trial period. In thirty days how many good homes has that cat missed out on if returned. The returned cat has lost precious time in which it could have found a more perfect home.

I would think three days would be time enough to judge whether there is a problem.

I do like the idea of trying the suggestion if you can bring a cat home for three days. But I think it's true that it would be difficult to bring your cat into the shelter itself and be anything but stressed, but that wasn't what was suggested anyway. Just try to pick one yourself, bring it home, and if in a few days you don't see hope, then at least you have tried something else.

I'm not sure about the idea of letting one cat go outside each day. I'm not against letting cats outside, but how about maybe getting some of that cat fencing, the "purrfect fence," which would be new territory for the alpha? Let her out and see if maybe the other two don't form some kind of bond???

This is very difficult, and I clearly feel your angst over it. I hope it gets easier at least. And certainly keep an eye out for the perfect new home for the outsider kitty, as you go.
post #18 of 23
Thanks for your understanding, but I have to disagree that three days is long enough. Often cats come down with something right after adoption, or are ill to begin with, and need to be separated from the resident cats. When I adopted Twinkee, I planned on a slow introduction because of an unfortunately previous experience, but I was forced into anyway because he had a cold and roundworms, and it was two weeks before I introduced him to Mellie and Rocket.

My vet encourages a minimum of one week's separation after adoption.
post #19 of 23
Mia needs her own territory. Feed her separately in another room, her own litter box, everything. If she doesn't feel safe in her own home you are going to have one very depressed kitty on your hands with all sorts of behavior problems to come. Your other animals will understand she has her own territory and will come to respect it. Eventually they might even get along!
Moving is traumatic enough, I don't think it will give you the results you're looking for and letting one outside is courting disaster. It's not unusual for a longtime pet to run away when you move and they are suddenly free to roam outside. Cats are territorial, and if he/she doesn't feel established in the new home he/she will seek out a safe territory or home elsewhere.
post #20 of 23
I disagree that adding a new cat is not a good idea. It worked wonders for me. You are taking a chance and my cat was a rescue that I took with the umderstanding that if he ascerbated the problem, I could return him and try another. Fortunately for me it was love at first site. same gender same age.
post #21 of 23
I too could not surrender Mia, even if her presence has created turmoil in my home. But there are things that can definitely be done differently...there is always something else to try. I can completely understand why you're hanging on to her, and your decision to not re-home her yet again.

Here's what I would start off with:

-Completely quarantine Mia in an area of the home that the other pair are either not interested in, or don't hang out in regularly. This should be a space where the pair do not have access to Mia...preferably with a door. Set Mia up in there with litterbox, food dish, bedding (blankets, towels, cat bed, whatever...this is important), water bowl, scratch post, toys, etc. This is HER space!!!
-Leave Mia in room for 2-3 weeks, with NO access to resident kitties...no contact should be made with other cats. Make sure resident kitties are being showered with attention, and Mia gets short and meaningful interaction sequences with you as well.
-After 3 weeks, swap bedding with Mia and resident kitties. Begin moving her food bowl by the door of her space. Also, begin moving resident kitties' food bowls by Mia's door. Do this for another 5-7 days. Remember to swap that bedding! You can also rotate toys among them, as another way to pick up scent.
-Begin placing Mia out for short time periods with resident kitties. If hostility (not play aggression) mounts, remove Mia back to her room. Shower resident kitties with lovin'.
-Continue bed swapping and moving food dishes closer and closer to Mia's door. If at any time, resident kitties are laying beside her door, let Mia come out for a visit, closely monitoring the hostility levels. If it gets ugly, she goes back.
-Gradually begin increasing Mia's "out" time...let resident kitties investigate her space too at this point.

This will take a lot of patience, and effort...and this will also take TIME. What you're doing is completely re-integrating Mia and starting the introduction process over. I cannot stress how much time and how gradual this needs to be...generally the slower, the better.

Good luck! This will work!!!! Don't give up on this little girl, or your other kitties either.
post #22 of 23
Thread Starter 
Wookie - you have given me hope. Everyone else's suggestions were helpful but I had already tried them. Thank you so much for giving me exactly what I was looking for: something to try in an extreme situation. I will never give up and you have given me a renewed plan to put in place!! Thank you!
post #23 of 23
Hi LillynCali! I think wookie has given some good advice. I also have two females (one calico), and we have fostered several kitties. My tips:

* Provide them with seperate food bowls, in different rooms. If the new kitty insists on being friends with someone, move her food bowl into the same room as the more amenable calico so they can adjust.

* I see no problem with indoors/outdoors cats. All of mine have been that way, except for Puppy since he is a declaw. Yes, there are risks. It really depends on the cats though. One of my girls looks both ways before crossing the street. The other will actually not leave the yard, ever. For both of them, being indoors/outdoors helped them to adjust to new cats; it was more room to get away.

* I have also tried the bedding switch, but it never worked for me. The cats always get upset at the smell of others. What helped most is that each cat has their own room where they sleep. One cat per bedroom. In the new house, give each cat a room that's hers. Assign according to their own preferences of which human to sleep with (if you have a larger family). Leave one room (yours, probably) for "neutral zone". Make sure it has a very big bed.

* One of the calicos, at some point, will take a nap on the neutral bed. When the cat is asleep, bring in Mia. Set her on the opposite end, pet her, and talk quietly. It's best if she is also sleepy. Then go pet the other cat. If they are sleepy enough, they will wake and realize Mia is there, but be too lazy to get up and do anything about it. This helps reinforce the neutral territory. Dogs get to partake in neutral zone, too (if they are good with cats and are allowed on the bed).

To be honest, you're not going to get a happy kitty household. Certainly not with 2 calicos, a happy friendly kitten, and 2 dogs. But if they each have their own personal space, and if they can learn to share a large bed, you should only have a skirmish a week.
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