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Old 11-16-2012, 10:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default To Separate or Not to Separate?

I'm looking for a little advice if anyone has been in a similar situation. We have two cats, one is Fifi, 4 yr-old extremely skittish spayed female. We've had her for more than three years. The other is 8 month-old Bingo, a neutered male. We've had him about two months now. I thought we did everything right as far as their introduction as we kept them completely apart the first week, then followed all those often suggested steps of slow introduction. The thing is, once Bingo realized Fifi was afraid of him, this bully behavior took over. It's hard to tell when he's playing and when he just feels like Fifi has no business being near us or near the litterbox or near the food.. Most of the time it seems as though Fifi sees him as a threat or nuisance. There are good times when clearly they are playing (taking turns chasing each other, no hissing, no growling). Fifi every once in a while will entice him to play - I assume this because she will come up to him when he is sleeping and just whack him. He'll get up and the chasing begins. There are days though like today and Wednesday when he is relentlessly chasing her and keeping her out of this room or that room, even the litterbox as I mentioned above.. Though fortunately, it does seem she has already done her business by the time he chases her, I don't want this to escalate and the box becomes a place of fear for her.

We're going out of town tomorrow for almost a week. We have a professional cat sitter coming in once a day for half an hour to feed, water, and clean our two litter boxes. I have gone back and forth in deciding whether or not to separate them when we're away. I can't decide what the best situation is for them. Of course the company of the other would be desirable, but is it really for them? Will Bingo be a terror the whole time? Will things get worse between them? If I do separate them, will they be strangers when we return and need to be reintroduced all over again? Or will they have missed each other and be happy to see the other and get along better than ever? If we keep them together and we're not around to rouse jealousy from Bingo, will they be mostly calm and decent company to each other? Maybe they will then be better friends?

My husband and sister say I should let them be together, they will be fine. I'm over-thinking this. But they aren't around as much as I am to see Bingo at his worst. We had two really bad days this week. Yesterday was good though.. I shot the linked video below yesterday when things were good. Do these cats get along OK? It kind of seems like it. Even as I'm typing this, Fifi is sleeping on a footstool by the window and Bingo is under it looking out the window, completely non-plussed by Fifi being nearby. All is well.

What should I do? Thanks in advance for an insight and advice!

Video from yesterday: Fifi and Bingo Sitting in a Tree - YouTube
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Old 11-16-2012, 10:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Just some additional info, if it sounds like I don't know what I'm doing, I don't. I've never had more than one cat before. I get very nervous when there seems to be any hostility between the kitties. I have a hard time know what's play and what isn't. They often are silent when they interact, but their ears are back and their usual greeting to the other is a swat or two at the face. Growling happens about half the time (from Fifi). Today she hissed when Bingo ran her out of one of the litter boxes.

If you click on the video, Bingo is the smaller black cat on the top of the tree and Fifi is the plus sized girl on the lower level.

Also, Bingo was an unplanned, but very welcome addition to the family. He just literally showed up on the back porch one day. We tried to locate his owner with no luck, but we're pretty sure he was probably dumped in the woods behind our apartment. We took him to the vet for shots and testing and then had him neutered. We adore both our kitties, but my nerves are kind of shot whenever they don't play nice.
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Old 11-17-2012, 01:00 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I'd be afraid Fifi may eat Bingo.

A friend of mine had two cats who didn't get along and they kept them separated. They went on a cruise, the cat sitter let them both be together (I'm not sure if it was a mistake or she was stupid), and when they came back from the cruise, they were buddies. Who knows why.

Do they actually fight or is there just hissing and swatting?
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Old 11-17-2012, 02:11 AM   #4 (permalink)
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^^ that sounds like a best case scenario. I dont think one would seriously harm the other, and who knows, maybe with all of their one-on-one time without you being around will help them reconcile their differences. But honestly, i think they will be fine together. Just be sure to leave lots of toys so bingo will have other outlets besides Fifi.

If worse comes to worst, your pet sitter probably wouldnt mind seperating them while you are away if Bingo is causing too much trouble.

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Old 11-17-2012, 03:19 AM   #5 (permalink)
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The fact that she walked up and swatted him is a good thing--it means it's a two way street and she's either sticking up for herself or trying to play with him. Either way, good sign. I agree, they'll probably be fine together without you, and you could always have the cat sitter separate them if he/she finds the house destroyed.
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Old 11-17-2012, 12:32 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I have six cats - in general they are very good together but they have occasional hissy fits (even the ones who are totally bonded) but being honest don't we all - with siblings, best friends, partners, whatever? No relationship is totally smooth - that goes for animals as well.
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Old 11-17-2012, 01:07 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I appreciate the replies very much! Thank you! I am going to let them be together. They really have never had a real fight where I had to intervene. Neither has ever been hurt by the other as far as I can tell. I've even seen Fifi stand up for herself a few times today, so I think she will ultimately hold her own and I suspect when we aren't around they will be fairly peaceful. I'm going to let them be together and hope for the best! I am sure the cat sitter will separate them if she senses things aren't going well.

Marie, your comment made me LOL. Fifi's diet is something we need to work on. It has been very difficult to monitor who is eating what as we've been feeding them together and there is food available 24-7 generally. When we get back next weekend I am going to work on more positive reinforcement of Bingo's good behaviors and a trick I read about (here, I think) to teach him to halt his chasing and come to me for a treat. I also need to play with him more. I notice a difference in how much he bothers Fifi if I get him to seriously run around the apartment chasing a toy, he doesn't chase Fifi as much. Then I also need to figure out feeding so everyone gets enough but not too much.

Thanks again, all. I love this place! Happy Thanksgiving.
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Old 11-17-2012, 04:14 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I agree in letting them be together. As long as you never witnessed any real cat fights then it may be a good thing. They may work it out for themselves when theres no humans around to interfere. You may come hom to find them cuddled up. Who knows.
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Old 11-17-2012, 05:17 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThatCatGirl View Post
Fifi's diet is something we need to work on. It has been very difficult to monitor who is eating what as we've been feeding them together and there is food available 24-7 generally.
No free feeding in this house, my girls wouldn't be able to fit through the doorways. Cleo gained almost two pounds a while back without my even noticing it! I started paying more attention and saw that she was finishing everyone's meals. Simply by separating the girls, she lost the weight.
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Old 11-17-2012, 06:24 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Lol marie that reminds me of my brothers cats. One would breathe all of his food in, while the girl would pick-and-crunch one piece at a time.

Even with us sitting there watching him he would come over and start eating her food. And the worst part is she would just move out of the way without putting up a fight!
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