Two Cats who don't get on - is this the best next step? - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
 
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-20-2006, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
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Two Cats who don't get on - is this the best next step?

I've posted regarding our two cats previously. Pumpkin is a small 7 month old, Pomme is a strong, large 2 and a half year old. Both female, both spayed (Pumpkin very recently) Two months ago, Pumpkin came into the household where Pomme had been on her own (for about a month only) & from the outset Pomme was fighting Pumpkin.
We have therefore kept them separate. Pumpkin in our bedroom, with tray & food, Pomme on the loose.Then we swap them over. Each others' scents are all over the place. Pomme prowls outside the room where Pumpkin is & tries to get in whenever you open the door. If she succeeds there is then a cat fight, during which Pumpkin usually voids her bowels.
In the evenings we put Pomme in a big basket & have her in the living room. Pumpkin is roaming. Usually Pumpkin is scared even with Pomme in the basket, but is getting a little bolder (she has sat on top of the basket once!)
Pumpkin now scratches almost continually to get out of the room (and has shredded the bottom of the door.)

Two months like this has seemed so difficult, and we are starting to come to the conclusion that what we have to do is have a face off between them - let them fight in order to sort out dominance. The keeping them seperate only seems to get Pomme more worked up. But, as I say, Pomme is a big strong girl and Pumpkin a "delicate little flower" (as Mr D. calls her!). I would be worried that Pomme would hurt Pumpkin.

What do other clever cat chatters think?
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-20-2006, 11:13 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2005
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Cute names! I have a Pumpkin too!

As to letting them "fight it out for dominance" - that's probably the worst thing you could do. It will most certainly lead to lasting problems between the 2 and could also lead to behavioral problems, i.e. urinating/defecating outside the box, misplaced aggression etc.... And I know you don't want that!

You started off great with separating them and switching them and all. You just missed a couple steps in between that and letting them be in the same room.

Don't let them in the same room together at all for right now. Continue the swapping until there is no aggressive behavior - they will still be curious but the hissing/growling is moslty gone. Then proceed to the next step, which is letting them see each other but not letting them be able to fully get at each other. You may actually already be at this step! What I have done is to prop a door open just a few inches.... I used a door stop on either side to wedge it in place. This way they can smell each other, bat at each other, etc... Feed them/give treats on either side of the door to make them associate each other with good things. Make sure you supervise this. Try this several times a day when you are home. When the growling and hissing is mostly gone, then move to the next step which is letting them in the same room for brief supervised periods of time.

It can take a few weeks or it can take a few months. All cats are different. This is certainly something that can be fixed so don't think it is impossible!! I know it sure can get frusutrating but it's worth it!!

Good luck - you'll do fine!
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-22-2006, 11:05 AM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
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Sadly, there's not been that much improvement since I posted this. What I have done is buy a harness & lead for Pomme. During the evening, I have them in the same room, with me holding Pomme's lead. That way she can prowl around, or sit on my lap, but can't get to Pumpkin. She does try to lunge at Pumpkin sometimes, but we spray her with water to try to discourage this. She is lunging less now & spends much of the evening on my lap.
I give them their supper in two dishes (they eat from either) and offer them bits of chicken or ham as well throughout the evening.
Pumpkin is a bit wary - she hides under the table for most of the evening, but does come out for food. She is becoming a little more confident, and comes out occassionally. Pumpkin takes up "subservient" mode (ears back, low to the ground) when moving round, and growls/hisses if Pomme gets too close.

For the rest of the day, either Pomme or Pumpkin is in our room, with their own litter tray & food, while the other roams the house. Pomme tries to get in when she's out, and out when she's in; Pumpkin tries to get out when she's in, but isn't bothered about getting in. I still think there may be a fight if they meet - mostly instigated by Pomme - so I'm concerned about not letting them meet except under controlled conditions.

We've been doing this for two weeks now. My question is: when will I know it's OK to let Pomme off the lead? I would hate to do it too early and undo the good we've done.

Does it sound like we're going the right way? On another forum I got a sound telling off because I said that Pumpkin defacates when there's a fight (she does this sometimes - usually when she has loose bowels, which she does if she has too much wet food) and is "clearly petrified". But she really truly does seem like a happy cat the rest of the time - and, incidentally, seems completely unconcerned by the fight minutes afterwards...
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-22-2006, 12:12 PM
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
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There is no rule of thumb for how long it takes. You can try some intermediate steps. The trick is to make sure they are both enjoying themselves when the other is around. If you constantly keep them near each other and they don't like it but don't fight, that's not really going to help much. You can try putting food on both sides of the door when they eat. There are also some toys that have two heavy ends with a string between them that you can put under the door so they get accustomed to playing with each other. If you can keep the door open a crack where neither can open it, that might be a step too.
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