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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 01-20-2009, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
 
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Need advice on new cats

Myself and my girlfriend brought home two young cats from a cat shelter about 2 weeks ago. Both have been sterilised, microchipped, vaccinated.

Georgie - 2 year old male. DMH tabby/torty. Found wandering the streets. Georgie is easily scared and runs away at the first sign of trouble. Apart from that he is well behaved and doesn't cause us any trouble apart from when he hides on the top shelf of the pantry and a flying paw swipes at you as you walk past.

Joy - 8 month old female. DSH tabby. Recently had kittens (before we adopted her), sterilised shortly after. Joy is very aggressive and immediately trys to seek out the other cat and attack him.

We have been keeping the cats separated with half of the house each and spending lots of time playing and being affectionate with each of them. There have been a couple of "accidents" where Joy has managed to cross the demilitarized zone and attack Georgie. No physical damage (to the cats anyway) has been done since Georgie just runs away. I pretty much have to dive across the room, grab Joy, put her back into her room and close her door until she calms down. Georgie then spends the next few hours hiding in various places in the lounge room eventually getting up the confidence to walk around freely again (although with a fear of the sound of the door opening).

To start introducing them properly we have been feeding them on opposite sides of the same door. As long as they are distracted by their food its okay. Georgie is curious about the other cat but Joy will often hiss and growl at the door making him run away. We read that if you open the door a bit and let them swat at each other then it helps them get it out of their system. However, Georgie just runs away which I suspect makes her just want to chase and attack more.

Next we tried putting Joy in a carry cage and then putting her in the same room as George. She was frightened and meowed but we kept her calm with a bit of food and some patting. Both of them were okay but needed to keep in eye sight of one another to remain calm.

Next we tried holding Joy and patting/feeding her while Georgie ate a few metres away. Her attanetion needed to be brought back to her food a few times when she tried to get down at him but generally it went okay...she relaxed enough in my arms while I held her even after she finished eating.

Next I tried holding Georgie while Joy was free to walk around...big mistake. He got scared and growled and tried to climb up over the top of my shoulders (I was standing), then she attacked my foot and leg and proceeded to climb up me to get to him, biting me aggressively on the way up. So I grabbed her and put her in her room again and left her to cool off while I put antiseptic on all my claw and bite marks.

Since then she has been acting quite funny. Yelping when we try to give her affection and going nuts when she is locked in her room. You can hear her literally throwing herself against the door and tearing around the room inside. Previously the only time she tried to get out was when she wanted food or she had just used her litter tray. And even then she would just meow and paw at the door. Beyond that she had seemed perfectly happy to stay in there.

After we put two and two together it seemed that something in the room was really freaking her out. The last couple of days we haven't left her enclosed in that room at all and she has begun to calm down and let us pat her again. If we close the door of that room when she is in there though she is bashing against the door 5 minutes later. Other rooms she has no trouble being closed inside until she needs food or her litter tray.

The only things I can think of that have changed with the room are a new scratching pole, and the fact that she was punished in there. The room does have an external window but there haven't been any different sounds coming through that I have noticed.

We recently bought them both harness leashes to aid in the introduction. We figured we need to give her some room to move and be herself, but not enough so that she can go after him. (I will wear protective clothing next time though - and be armed with a spray bottle!). We also bought some rescue remedy which we were going to administer a couple of hours prior to putting them together.

Thanks for reading all of that...any general advice is most welcome as well as answers to the specific issues of why her room now freaks her out and whether or not our introduction strategy is a good idea.
Nogen is offline  
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 01-21-2009, 11:35 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2008
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Re: Need advice on new cats

Other people will be much better resources about the introduction process than I am - we did ours "all wrong" (isolated Othello for the first day, until we could get him to the vet to check on an upper respiratory infection, then just let them both out together with no formal introduction beyond the paws-under-door they'd been doing). There were several weeks of squabbles, hissing, and chasing sessions that usually ended with Desdemona cowering under the futon. One thing that really helped us was a Feliway diffuser - we left one of those plugged in for three months or so, and I think it did help them both calm down with each other. Not cheap, but worth it. You might try that to see if it can help Joy calm down in her room. (Does she have everything she needs in that room - food, water, litter box, scratching post, toys, someplace to hide? Do you keep her company and play with her/pet her in her room?)

One other thing that was recommended in the "Cat vs. Cat" book we picked up is using play to help build confidence in a scaredy-cat. Some good interactive hunting sessions with a toy like DaBird can help them feel more like a predator, and therefore more confident in their dealings with the other cat. Desdemona used to be a total scaredy-cat, but she has come a long way in the ten months we've had her. It can also help an aggressive cat burn off some of that energy so it doesn't all get directed at the other cat. Might be worth a shot for your two. Joy is still pretty kittenish at 8 months, and probably needs a whole lot of play time for all that energy!

I hope some of that is helpful - good luck with your new furry little ones!
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