Looking for some advice to offer to friends who combined their households with two cats each about a month ago with somewhat poor results.
posted by FortyT-wo to Pets & Animals (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
So these are not my cats, and the cats have been living together for about a month. I'm friends with both the owners, and have been the cat sitter for all the cats for 1.5 years. Recently the two owners moved in together. Am sitting for them for the first time since the combination, and it seems like kind of a sad situation for all kitties. What can they do now that a month has passed? (I think the owners, especially one, is sad about the situation as well, but at a loss as to what to do.)
The cats previous situation:
1 female abyssinian (Cat A) and 1 male generic housecat (Cat B) used to live in one house. Without question, the female was the top cat. She was the adventurous, in-to-everything type, and he was the overweight, velcro-kitty, super calm type. They got along great.
In the other house, two male abyssinians. Again, one was clearly the dominant cat. The dominant one (Cat C) was the bounce off the walls type, the other (Cat D) was, again, the overweight, super calm type. Same situation, the two got along great.
I think when these two households combined (into a 3rd, new house), there were plans regarding the introduction of the cats to eachother, but something made that go awry. I can't remember the situation, but I think they escaped from their areas and ran into eachother or something.
Here's the current situation: The owners are maintaining separate areas of the house because of the difficulties the cats have in getting along. Cat C is acting rather aggressive, going up and fighting fatcat B when he's minding his own in another room, knocking his old friend Cat D off his food plate so he can gobble his food. I never saw these behaviors in Cat C before the combination. He's clearly asserting himself as the dominant cat, which I suppose might be normal. Cat B and Cat D are generally clueless and non-agressive, and can hang out in the same room without issue. Cat C might walk in and be fine, or he might randomly walk in and hiss or screech at cat B.
The really sad situation involves Cat A. She has decided that the particular room her owner occupies is her territory, and will not let any cat except her old friend, Cat B, enter. She will also almost *never* leave this area. She lives in a 5,000 square foot house, and occupies a 10x15 foot area. She does go use the litterbox, but I've broken up multiple fights where cat C is attacking her while in the box. I worry that at some point she'll just stop leaving the room to use the box. Also, because cats C and D aren't able to get into cat A's room, naturally, that is the only place they want to go. Cat A will sit at the doorway to her room, and if another cat besides her friend Cat B is even in eyesight, she sits and growls until they go away.
So while it would seem that cat C is dominant over the rest of the house, cat A has decided she'll be dominant over her 120sq ft. But it's a sad situation because she's confined to one tiny room in an enormous house, and is no longer her playful, shoulder-riding self.
Cat A's owner has always babied her, even before this, (and she is the type who feels that her cat can do no wrong, and all the other cats in the house are rotten bastards for harassing her precious angel...) so all cat A's meals are carried into her room so she doesn't have to exit to eat. Also, because of her breed, she is a skinny, tiny cat... I just weighed her at 7.4 lbs., so doing something like leaving her meals outside her room in order to try to force her to exit might actually be kind of dangerous to her health. I can easily imagine Cat A going on a hunger strike.
Also, even though the owners are a couple, I guarantee Cat A's owner is willing to sleep indefinitely in a separate room specifically so that Cat A won't be lonely / harassed. She's a bit obsessive about this cat. This will obviously interfere with the creation of a happy home.
Anybody know any good ideas on how to resolve this that I might be able to pass on to the owners? If this has been going on a month, is there any way to break Cat A of her territorial-ness? Would this cause enormous fights while Cat A and Cat C fight it out for dominance? Do they need to just restrict her access to her territory? Call a pet psychiatrist? Start over with the introductions? Let it work out on its own? Sell the new house and move back to separate places? (Yikes!)
Deepest thanks to all.