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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-16-2017, 05:01 PM Thread Starter
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Best buds...now not so much

I recently fostered 2 female cats. Essentially this is a trial period. It will be up this week. Initially they were together in a very small cage at petsmart and got along very well. The staff kind of implied they were together or bonded and I also made a mistake and assumed this was the case because two cats in close proximity for 24 hours a day would have been at each other's throats for the 6 weeks they were together. Or I assumed so anyway. So I did the trial period figuring they were bonded and should get along well. I do know they were in a home with many many cats for most of their lives. One is 3 years old, the other 5 years old. Initially I put them in a room just to give them a safe space but they are both explorers and soon figured out how to get out and do some more investigation on their own. No fighting. But once they got some freedom, a couple of times they'd pass each other and take a swat. I live in a single wide so it's narrow at the best of times, especially hallways and the kitchen. That meant there were areas where they had to come in fairly close proximity. Now, 3 weeks into the trial, they are having these 5-7 second knock down fights with screeching and bits of fur flying. And well, I don't get it. Why now? The younger cat definitely has bonded to me and wants a good bit of attention and affection. The 5 year old is more chill and couldn't care about affection aside from a couple of minutes morning and evenings. she is often nearby but not where the 3 year old can get at her easily. Occasionally the 5 year old will try to assert dominance but usually the younger one is in control.


So I'm wondering what the heck is going on here. I've never had 2 cats before (I've had only one at a time). I'm perplexed about what the change is. Is it because they went from a high count of cats in the former owners home to being the only two and having access to more attention? Or is it something else? I try to give both plenty of attention if they want it. The 5 year old isn't as interested but if both come to me at the same time, well, I do have TWO hands and TWO cats. It was after one such incident that the last hissy fit occurred as soon as I finished petting both of them for years to come like I see with my friend and neighbors cats?


And if this is fairly normal for 2 cat households, is there a chance that in this situation they'll finally give it up and just get along for the sake of getting along like they used to. Or can I expect more flying tufts of fur and yowling/scratching at each other in the future?

Last edited by Grandma2Kiri; 10-16-2017 at 05:05 PM.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-16-2017, 05:28 PM
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Hi Grandma. Thanks for asking the question. I would like to know their names, colors, and weights to get a better picture of this.

Were the people you talked to at Petsmart shelter volunteers or store employees? That is important. Also, do you know anything about their relationships with the other cats in their previous home?

There is a lot more to starting good relationships than being in close proximity 24/7 for 6 weeks. I think you are learning that now.

Meows and purrs,
Andrea

Last edited by marie73; 10-16-2017 at 09:32 PM.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-16-2017, 05:31 PM
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This is probably how they acted before they were caged together. They made the best of it as 'cellies' but now that they have more room that isn't necessary. Is it outright aggression over territory or just occasional? Do they eat together? Share a box? Do they sleep together, groom each other? It may just be a case where they tolerated each other when they HAD to but now they don't feel they have to. You wrote they came from a home with many many cats- was it a hoarding situation? When an animal's backstory is vague and unclear it's difficult to predict how they will react in YOUR home. All you can do is make it safe and comfortable. This is who they are. Maybe if you explained this to Petco they could shed some light on their history or extend the trial so you can decide what you want to do. In any event you're in the right place as they may be others who had a similar experience. Good Luck!

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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-17-2017, 08:50 AM Thread Starter
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Abigail is 5 and Myrtle is 3. They came from a home (mobile home) with over 20 indoor cats. The lady was fostering them and she worked so I'm guessing she did the best she could with them given how many they were. They needed a home and she willingly gave it to them. Abby and Myrtle were indoor-only cats and have been since both were removed from a nearby feral colony at about 6 months old. To answer both LoveFurBalls and Dizzy's Dad, I don't know about the PetSmart employees. I think a volunteer came in to care for them because they were both there as 'rescues'. the original owner had been told by her landlord to get rid of all but a few of her cats. So I don't know how my two got along. I can say they are both VERY used to other cats around. When my daughter brings Kiri over on Sunday mornings, my cats are barely interested in her. Kiri is the one not too used to other cats but mine essentially ignore her aside from the occasional glance.


The hostility had been increasing BUT Myrtle, the dominant one, will still groom Abby now and then, usually in passing. They don't always fight when they are near each other. In fact, its only about once or twice a day that they'll swipe at each other (or worse).


I put out two large litter boxes (which I scoop clean every night although I don't change out all the litter every night because that would be hugely expensive.) I haven't seen them 'use it' but sometimes it appears they share each others' boxes. I put out 2 food dishes, 2 water dishes which they seem to share as the whim takes them. In petsmart of course, they had only one box. No, they never sleep with each other and rarely anywhere near each other.


Myrtle prefers my company is follows me around and is usually somewhere nearby if she isn't sleeping on me at night. Abby seems to prefer my husband. I have acid reflux so I tend to sleep in a recliner (plus hubby snores loudly) so we end up in different rooms at night. That keeps the cats apart more or less. Abby, for whatever reason, likes the kitchen and often sleeps there. There is a gate my husband built to keep the cats out of the back of the house. Being escape artists, both have defeated the gate. You ask why the gate, because not long ago one of the pooped on a towel still on the floor after a shower. This morning one of them pooped in the shower (which did not make me happy!). I suspect Abby for that one because my husband said she got into the bedroom last night so he closed his door (he doesn't want her pooping in there, that's why). I got up several times last night and Myrtle was either on my lap or on her pillow not far away all night so it makes sense that Abby is the culprit. I'm still not sure why they do that when I cleaned out the boxes late last night. And if Abby was alone, this wasn't a marking or spite thing.


I can't extend the trial period however the agreement is if one or both don't work out, all I need to do is contact the rescue group for rehoming elsewhere. I'd prefer not to do it for either of them but I'd sure like to figure out how to deal with occasional fighting (unless that's normal for 2 cats in a household) and this blasted pooping in the shower and on the towels. I can close doors of course. I'm doing it more often now but would rather not have to do it.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-17-2017, 10:47 AM
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20 cats in a mobile home seems hoarder-ish to me. I think many times a kind person will go overboard with cats and even though their intent is good crowding cats like that isn't healthy physically or mentally. I recently was going to volunteer at a no-kill shelter but the woman who runs it is cramming 30 cats into a waaaay-too small space, she has no quarantine area and even though she is active in re-homing them it's just not fair to the animals. It's a very touchy subject and rather than involving myself I ended up working at another shelter.

It may be best to separate Mrytle & Abby so they can both be happier. Pooping outside the box is a sign that someone is stressed. The occasional swatting given all you've written doesn't sound bad, again sharing a mobile home with 19 cats you get possessive of whatever space you can get. It's up to you as their current caregiver to make the call because their happiness is dependent on the choices we make. I always try to look at it from the animals point of view. Not easy but ultimately better for their well-being.

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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-17-2017, 11:45 AM Thread Starter
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Dizzy - I have actually considered separating them but really I live in a single-wide mobile home. If I put her in an area by herself (Abby), she wouldn't see anyone most days and I'm not sure that's best for her. I'd prefer to place her with a family with no cats in the house so they can love on her exclusively rather than lock her up in some form of isolation. (and as I said, I'd rather not rehome her at all) Also the bedroom was their saferoom (food, water, litter boxes, scratch post) and Myrtle doesn't go in there when we are home unless she is hungry, thirsty or needs the box or the post. She sticks near us. So I'm not sure that will stop the occasional fight OR the shower/towel pooping. I mean, she picked an area to poop that she has been in maybe twice in the 3 weeks she's been with us. She could have pooped elsewhere if sending Myrtle a signal, because, as I said, Myrtle doesn't go there much either.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-17-2017, 12:12 PM
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No I agree, I meant re-home one. Not an easy choice but probably for the best.

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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-17-2017, 01:57 PM Thread Starter
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Oh, I see. Yeah, that's an option. One I would prefer not to take at the moment but fortunately I have time to let them both settle in and if certain behavioral problems persist, I can contact the woman who works with the rescue group about rehoming anytime in the future.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-17-2017, 02:56 PM
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I had a similar situation myself with the shelter telling me 2 cats were bonded, but that was not the case when we got home! they played together fine at the shelter actually, although I never saw them really cuddling together, so I was dubious. but I'm a sucker for a cat who needs a home and we ended up adopting both because after we took the first one home, the shelter said the one left behind was really acting "out of sorts."
anyway, we survived. we did end up spending lots of time preventing skirmishes, I'm afraid. mainly because I was very protective of the older one - she was 15 with really bad arthritis, gentle as can be, and completely declawed. she had also had a really hard life being bullied by her sister before being rescued. the younger one was a young, healthy, fully clawed 7 year old boy. sweet but a troublemaker.
I think what was going on was a dominance/pecking order thing. we already had an 11 year old arthritic cat (Angel) and adopted the 15 year old (Lucy) as a companion for her. Totally wrong decision on that one, too, btw. Angel did NOT want a buddy at all. live and learn!
so basically , Angel was #1, Lucy was #2, and Frankie the young buck was low man on the totem pole. I think he did not like that at all. angel put him in his place IMMEDIATELY by scaring the crap out of him. kinda funny as I look back, cuz Angel was much smaller and older than him and had arthritis and was also front declawed, but she was a banshee when she hissed at him. Frankie would run away crying like a baby every time. he knew not to mess with her. so, unfortunately, I think he decided to try to dominate Lucy instead.
sorry for the long story, but just letting you know it might be hard work for you to keep watching them if they keep fighting. altho, i agree with an earlier post that their skirmishes aren't too serious right now. the more serious part might be the pooping in different areas. you may not want to deal with that if it gets any worse due to them fighting for dominance.
I think the really easy thing (heartbreaking at the same time unfortunately) may be to do what Dizzy's Dad mentioned - rehoming one of them. if the store actually WILL extend your trial period so you can see if things improve, that would be great. if you do rehome, definitely return whomever you decide to the same store and let them know the story so they can do their best to find her a suitable home. they have the rest of her history so it is best to return her to them. they may need to insist she be the ONLY cat in the future -otherwise she could end up being returned again and again, which would be truly traumatic for her.
I think after being in a hoarding situation, then experiencing what it's like to have your own space, then being forced to share it with someone else again might be tough for a cat. they get the taste of freedom, space, and privacy and don't want to give it up again! wait a minute, that sounds like me! ha ha!
good luck grandma! I do hope it works out and I'm sorry if it doesn't with both of them at home.

Maggie & Phoebe
Kitty, Lucy Girl, Bobby Boy, and my sweet Angel forever in my heart.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-17-2017, 08:22 PM
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I disagree on the "only cat" part. It likely is just "I don't want her" and Abby or Myrtle wants would like another cat because they had lived with many cats before. Perhaps living in a smaller mobile home is causing a problem. Once a vet said in some homes cats who can't get along stake out different parts of the house, which obviously is not an option where you live.

I can't comment on pooping in the shower, but defecating outside the litterbox could be a veterinary issue. Is it loose stool or a solid clump?

Meows and purrs,
Andrea
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