Some specific cat re-introduction questions
Hi, all! I need to perform a re-introduction between two of my three cats. I was going to wait until early 2008 to begin the process, but I'm starting to consider doing it now and would like some feedback from those who have dealt with similar situations.
My youngest cat Jack, about 1.5 years old and the “victim” in the current inter-cat warfare, recently became quite ill with a fever of unknown origin and was hospitalized for three days. He is much better now, fortunately, and is back home, isolated in his own room for observation and as a precaution.
Jack only needs to stay isolated for a few more days from a veterinary perspective, but I've started to think, "Well, as long as Jack’s separated already, maybe I should just launch into the re-introduction process now."
Clarkie is the aggressor in the conflict, a 3.5 year-old neutered male who is VERY high-strung. Clarkie and Jack were never that fond of each other, but the tension was fairly low level until about 6 months ago, when Clarkie decided that he HATED Jack and that Jack shouldn’t live here anymore. A continual round of growling, hissing, stalking, chasing, and fist-fights has ensued. It’s been upsetting to see poor Jack, who used to be so bouncy and happy and charmingly self-absorbed, turn into the hunted and paranoid kitty that he has. Needless to say, Clarkie was very happy and relaxed while Jack was hospitalized and out of the picture. Now he’s back to prowling around and hissing at the door of Jack’s sick room. Sigh.
Anyway, here are my questions:
1. Is there any reason why they shouldn’t take turns being the cat isolated from public space? Neither one enjoys being confined, so I’d feel better if that burden could be shared between them. I have never read any discussion of this prospect in the “cat introduction literature,” though, so maybe it’s a bad idea for some reason. In this particular case, Jack would always get the spare bedroom (when it was his turn) and Clarkie would always get the basement (which he hangs out in a lot anyway). The only problem I can see is that Pirate (my THIRD cat, but the one who everybody likes) might start getting confused about litter boxes (since the available ones would shift from day to day).
2. Is there any likelihood that Clarkie and Jack would start getting along with each other between now and December 22? I will be taking a week-long vacation then, which is one reason I didn’t want to start the process quite yet. Hmm.
3. This is more of a theoretical than practical question: why on earth does re-introduction work? If the cats have already gotten to know each other once (and didn’t like what they saw, so to speak), why should a second try be more successful? When authors talk about transferring the cats' scents between their respective rooms I think, “But they already KNOW how the other smells, and they don't think it's pretty.” Can someone explain how this process results in a successful outcome? I'm really dreading it and could use some encouraging information; it's so hard for one person to deal with all the kitty needs in multiple rooms!
If you've waded through this post (sorry it's so long) and have any feedback, please feel free to share--I appreciate any input.