I've been a member for quite some time, but haven't posted in awhile. However, a rather unfortunate incident has arisen, and now I need ANY and ALL guidance I can get.
Quick background - I have two black DSH cats that have been living harmoniously with each other for about 5 years - one is 5 years old (I've had him since birth), the other is the mom, about 7-8 years old (she was a stray I adopted). While they may not be the best buds, they are friendly towards each other. The mom will still occasionally groom his little boy. The male, Newton, acts like a giant kitten. He is playful, can sometimes be a bully, but is generally a love bug, and is also your stereo-typical scaredy-cat; his first instinct in an potentially dangerous situation is to run and hide. The mommy cat, Newt, is affectionate, a lap-cat, loves cuddles, and she is fiercely territorial. She's half the size of Newton, but in the face of danger, her first instinct is to confront.
Onto the issue - I get home earlier this evening (I live on my own). Newt (the mom) greets me normally. I don't see Newton anywhere - he's usually the first one trying to dash outside, so something already seemed wrong right at the outset. I could also smell cat poop, so it appeared that one of the cats had an "accident", which is exceedingly rare with my cats (just one other time in 5 years). I finally spot Newton hiding under the sofa in the living room. Newt walks by me, both cats glare at each other, lots of hissing and growling ensues.
My immediate reactions are confusion and fear at what exactly is going on... I spot where one of the cats eliminated on the floor in my bedroom. I clean that up, I clean the litter box, turn the ventilation on for whole house to clear out any odors. I get changed and fill up the cats' food bowls. Newt is basically following around like normal begging for her food. Meanwhile, Newton is still hiding under the sofa. While Newt is eating, I eventually coax Newton from his hiding spot with a few treats. I bring his bowl of food to him, and he starts to eat. Once he's finished, he slinks back underneath the sofa.
Now, let me share with you all what I *think* happened. There are a number of stray cats in my neighbourhood. Some aren't even stray, but cats belonging to other families that allow them outside. While they may not always get along, my cats -for the most part- tolerate the company of the other cats - EXCEPT ONE. There is a white and grey cat, that for some reason, drives both of my cats absolutely bonkers. It's like this one cat is their arch-nemesis from another lifetime. Even through a glass window when my cats are inside, Newt will launch herself at the other cat if he/she is on the other side looking in. During these moments, what also happens is both of my cats will get really worked up, and sometimes, the fear/aggression is somehow directed to each other. I've seen this happen a couple of times, and fortunately, I've been around to intervene before the situation escalates. I separate both cats, and after awhile, everything is back to normal.
So, my theory is that this nemesis cat (let's call him Khan for the sake of this story) came around sometime during the day while I was at work and peeked through my window. My cats spot Khan, they get worked up... hissing, growling... then Newt glares at Newton, they stare each other down, one thing leads to another, and there is a physical altercation, a pretty big one, I would imagine, maybe even more than one through the course of the day, I don't really know.
Which leads us to the present. Neither cat will get within 10 feet of the other, and lots of hissing when they make eye contact.
Within the past couple of hours since I've been home, there has been a teeny, tiny improvement. Newton is no longer hiding under the sofa. He's roaming around, eating from the normal spot at the kitchen, but both cats are still wary of each other... still lots of hissing going on. Newt is definitely acting like the dominant one. Right now, she is lounging on the bed with me, carefully watching the bedroom door. Newton has tried coming closer a couple of times, but once both cats see each other, Newton runs off.
So, this is the situation I'm facing. I want to know how to "re-introduce" them both. I've tried distracting them from focusing on each other as much as possible when they get close, but I'm not sure how much it's helping. When they see each other, it's like I'm not even in the room.
I'm going to try and work from home tomorrow so I can supervise both cats, but I live on my own, and will have to leave the cats on their own sooner rather than later.
I'm open to any and all suggestions. In the short term, I'm thinking I might need a 2nd litter box temporarily... I've seen Newt use it since I got home, but Newton hasn't yet. I'm worried he might find somewhere else to eliminate if he doesn't feel safe.
Has anyone ever experienced this type of situation before? And what happens if that other cat comes back while I'm away?