Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Ontario, Canada
Hi Margarita. I wouldn’t worry too much about Bianca not being able to defend herself, especially considering she seems to be the aggressor. It’s very unfortunate that her prior owner had her declawed, but there’s not much you can do about that. She will find other ways to defend herself when necessary (biting, etc.). I would, however, try to keep Lucky’s claws trimmed. I would also focus on ways to avoid the fights in the first place, so Bianca has no need to defend herself.
The problem with the suggested steps on how to introduce cats is that all the books imply that after a few days or a week, the cats will start to get along. That’s true in many cases, but in many other cases, the introduction can take weeks or months…and the books (or websites) fail to mention that. Given that your girls are both 7, and (I’m assuming) haven’t lived with other cats recently, you could be in for a longer-than-normal introduction.
You really have two choices. You can let them “work it out”, although that approach often leads to two cats who never truly get along.
Alternatively, you can continue the introduction, whereupon you will need to separate the two cats. Usually baby gates are used for the separation. So, one cat is kept in a safe room, and baby gates (or a screen door or something similar) are put at the door so the cats can interact without being able to "get at" each other. You will likely need to install two or more baby gates, stacked on top of each other, so they can’t climb over. You should feed both cats either side of the gates, play with them there, give them treats, etc. Thus, you should have as many “good things” as possible happen by the gates so that, over time, the cats learn to associate each other with good things. After a while, they should stop hissing, growling, etc. when they’re by the gates (although it could take weeks or months). Once they seem ok together when separated by gates, you can let them be together for short supervised sessions a few times a day, and then slowly move to longer sessions.
I went through a difficult introduction with my girls and ended up hiring an animal behaviorist to assist me. The approach outlined above is the one he recommended and it was the approach I used. It took two months before I could put my girls together for supervised sessions a few times a day, and three months before I could leave them out all day together. But today, they are best friends. They cuddle and groom each other. It’s been over a year since their introduction ended and, although they play-fight, they never fight “for real”. This approach is a lot of work and requires a lot of patience, but it’s really the only way for your two girls to ultimately get along in the future.
One complication in your case is that Lucky is an indoor/outdoor cat. Cats are very sensitive to smells. When Lucky comes back in after being outside, she carries all sorts of new smells, which often means Bianca will no longer recognize her. If you’re not able to “convert” Lucky into an indoor-only cat, it will likely mean that the introduction will take even longer.
Finally, you might also try certain calming products, to see if they help. Feliway is one such product. Rescue Remedy or Spirit Essences are another. Good luck!
Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.