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I'll try to keep this as short as possible, but it is a long story; I'd greatly appreciate some advice!

About three months ago, I adopted a Maine Coon mix from the local APS. He was 8 mos. old, and a **** of a lot of fun - I named him Bagheera. At the time, I lived with my ex-roommate, and Bagheera had free reign of the whole house (we didn't have any other pets). His behavior was great - other than being a attention fiend, he was excellent about using the cat box, and generally a pleasure to be around.

Three weeks ago, my girlfriend and I decided to move in together. She has a 12 year old cat named Shelley (poor thing has lived around other cats all her life with mixed results).

Bagheera and Shelley didn't get along; Bagheera is frightened of her, and whenever she comes around, he'll meow or trill nervously and go away. At times, Shelley will chase him around the house, and even though she's not particularly abusive towards him, he definitely doesn't feel comfortable when she's there (at least most of the time).

Both, Bagheera and Shelley share a food and water dish, and a litterbox. Let me also state that BOTH CATS have been very good about using the litterbox, and have never urinated nor defecated outside the box...
About one week ago, I came home and walked into my office, where I noticed a horrible smell. Sure enough, there was a nice pile of kitty diarrhea underneath my desk. As I was cleaning it up, I noticed a little blood in it (not much, mind you, but noticable). I immediately called the emergency vet. He kindly advised me that seeing a LITTLE blood in cat feces is not uncommon (since their colons readily bleed with any foreign ingested things, such as carpet fibers). I had noticed that Bagheera had been chewing on the curtains here at the new place recently.

The next night, another surprise was left for me, this time in a different location in the office, but I was pretty sure it was Shelley who was the culprit (saw her right next to it when I came in) Same thing - blood in the feces. I called the emergency vet again, and scheduled an appointment the next day. I took both cats in, and the vet gave Bagheera a clean bill of health (I requested a fecal exam for both cats to ensure it wasn't a bacterial or parasitic problem). The vet, while saying Bagheera was fine, told me that Shelley was likely the one with the problem (though both fecal samples were free of parasites), and gave me medicine for her to clean out her GI tract (I also has BOTH cats dewormed too, just in case).

Everything was just fine and back to normal, until this evening (two days after the vet visit). While my girlfriend and I were enjoying an otherwise romantic dinner, Bagheera decided to jump up on the table. Not wanting to enourage such behavior, I picked him up and tossed him back down on the floor. He climbed back up, and this time, my girlfriend put him back down. Not 30 seconds later, I looked over and saw a pile of feces on the floor. My girlfriend picked him up, took him over to the mess, and positioned his face NEAR it, and then tapped him on the rear, and told him sternly "NO". We then put him in the bathroom (where the litterbox is), and shut him in there for a bit, before letting him out again.

I am convinced that this is a behavioral probem (he's acting out as a result of us ignoring him or not letting him have his way). Just in case it was not preventable on his part (due to his ingestion of fabric fibers), I gave a liberal coating of bitter apple treatment to the curtains and other areas I had seen him nibble at.

What I want to know is - does this sound like a behavioral problem, like I think it is? If so, how do I stop it? We have to be fair to both cats and give them both attention, but he seems to need a heck of a lot more than Shelley does. We've never abused him or otherwise caused him any reason to act out like this, other than setting down ground rules (i.e. putting him on the floor when he tries to get onto the dinner table while we're eating). Though we give him as much attention as we can, he also has to adjust a bit and realize that there IS another cat in the home, and she's not going anywhere soon... I think he's just used to having free reign of the household.

We both love this cat immensely - how can we stop him from this unacceptable behavior?

Thank you in advance!
 

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WOW! That is indeed a complex problem. Does the poop always occur after Bagheera is disciplined or doesn't get his way? Because it may or may not be related. Maybe you should try first of all to get the two cats more aquainted, like play a game involving both of them. Or give them a treat in two bowls close by so they have to eat side by side. They may not be the best of friends, but at least they should be comfortable seeing each other around.
 

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"Bagheera and Shelley didn't get along; Bagheera is frightened of her, and whenever she comes around, he'll meow or trill nervously and go away. At times, Shelley will chase him around the house, and even though she's not particularly abusive towards him, he definitely doesn't feel comfortable when she's there (at least most of the time).

Both, Bagheera and Shelley share a food and water dish, and a litterbox. Let me also state that BOTH CATS have been very good about using the litterbox, and have never urinated nor defecated outside the box... "


I don't understand...if they don't really like each other, why are they being forced to use the same food/water dishes and litter box? It sounds like a behavorial AND medical issue. What I mean is the stress from the abrupt and fast introduction (from what it sounds like) may have them both on edge. Stress can cause illness in a cat...especially an elderly one. Please add another litter box away from the current one and let them have their own dishes. I find in my multi-cat household it helps immensely to make sure there are plenty of cozy spots to sleep and kitty furniture that allows them to climb and hang out on their own "turf." I think discipline at this time will do more harm than good. If the diarrhea persists, there is medicine the vet can prescribe to help settle the females intestinal tract. Personal one on one cuddle/playtime will also help.

That's all I can think of right now at this late hour. Someone may be able to add something. Best of luck :)
 

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Yes, you would do well to have at least 3 litterboxes that are not near to each other. Feeding from the same dish is likely to lead to conflict or bad feelings. I use two dishes but feed them near each other.

As far as the litterbox problems, there are a lot of possibilities. There are a lot of articles on these subjects, I know that drjean will soon chime in and recommend the litterbox articles at Little Big Cat.

I would not rule out the possibility that there is a problem medically, though. It took two visits to the vet for them to diagnose tapeworms in my cat, for example.

I do have a question, though. Did you do an "introduction" of any sort? Did you switch cat food recently?
 

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thanks for the advice so far

Hi folks,

Thanks you all for your input so far. Brenda, I don't think it's a problem with them having to eat together or use the same box - I've never seen them fight anywhere near that area. However, I'm going to take your advice and buy another cat box and food/water bowls, just in case.

Someone asked about the introductions of the cats - there really wasn't much of one. We moved Bagheera in first, let him get used to the place for a day, and then moved Shelley in. They were okay with each other for a day or two, before the hissing began. Not smart, I know, we really should have done something more formal in terms of introductions.

I've noticed that Bagheera IS USING the litterbox most times, and only defecates on the carpet once in awhile (as I said, I think that he is just acting out). Last night, Bagheera slept in our bed with us, and stayed there until this morning. As soon as he walked out, Shelley was there, and he ran off - she is the one who usually sleeps with us, but we wanted to spend as much time with him as we could, so he is reassured and stops this behavior. He is also not chewing on the curtains anymore :)

Any wise words, Dr. Jean?
 

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Hi, my internet access has been funky so I've been offline...

Definitely, more litterboxes is a good idea. In your household, 3 would be the best idea, so that nobody can "ambush" anybody else.

I had an old cat one time that terrorized the resident cat when she moved in. She was quite the old girl! Funny how a big male will often let a little female boss him around!

One thing that occurs to me, did you actually *see* Bagheera poop on the floor after being set down? It seems equally possible (if not likely, given that Bagheera was involved in climbing on the table for several minutes) that Shelley could have come along about the same time and done the deed.

This looks like a perfect case for Feliway, as well as some play therapy for Shelley to dissuade her from picking on her new "brother," and for Bagheera to help him become more confident in his territory and reduce his need to "mark." Flower essences like "Peacemaker" might also be helpful. www.spiritessence.com

Just because you don't see problems occurring near the food and litterbox, doesn't mean those aren't a big source of the dispute, so good that you're getting more.

Cheers,
Dr. Jean
 
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