How can I get these animals to get along?
July 6, 2012 12:43 PM   Subscribe

How do I get my cat to stop hissing and howling at the other cats in the house we moved into? How do I get one of the cats in particular to stop being so hyper-aggressive at times?

About a month ago, I moved down to Austin and brought my cat with me. She's a skittish cat by nature, scared of all sorts of stuff, but since we moved down here, I've had little to no success in getting her acclimated to the rest of the animals in the house (there's three dogs and four cats, excluding her).

Most of the time, she stays in my room with the door shut. If any of the other cats come near the door, she'll hiss and howl. She's actually better with the dogs, probably because she got used to the dog my family has (she hisses still but she's not as aggressive or afraid). But the cats are another story. They're all very curious. I leave the door open sometimes and they'll come in and try to sniff her but she will have none of it. I want her to be able to leave the room so I can feel okay about leaving the door open and hanging out in the living room with my roommates. How do I do this?

There's also one cat in particular who's been really, really aggressive. He's a street cat by nature that one of my roommates took in years and years ago. He's very territorial, my roommate tells me. Now and then, he'll come to the door and go berserk. Pounding on the door, ramming the door, shoving his paws under trying to get at my cat. It's loud, like an adult punching the door loud. What do I do about that?
posted by Modica to Pets & Animals (7 answers total)
I think a month might not be long enough for her to get acclimated. Just give her more time. You might try some Feliway in your room. Anecdotal data here and elsewhere on the net indicate it helps calm stressed kitties.

As for Meowhammad Ali, can you affix some kind of fabric to the bottom of the door, so the punching isn't so loud? Or do you mean keep him away from the door entirely? If so, then try vigorously rattling a can of coins whenever he goes near the door. Loud sudden noises like that often scare cats. (But you run the risk of scaring your own cat further.) So maybe try squirting him with the stream of water from a spray bottle/squirt gun/Super Soaker when he approaches the door?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 1:06 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

"Shoving his paws under trying to get at my cat" sounds really aggressive -- but it also resembles a friendly cat game we call Door Paw. Give the cats more playful, safe ways to interact remotely, like a string that runs under the door and is tied at each end to a catnip toy with a bell. Feed them with their bowls on either side of the door. Let them know good things happen when they're near each other. You might even sit outside your own door and poke your fingers under at your cat.
posted by feral_goldfish at 1:18 PM on July 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

My kitties play Door Paw too. It's loud because it's fun!

Your kitty will take a while to get used to the communal situation. It sounds like the other cats in the house want to know your cat, your cat is just anti-social.

She's probably freaked out by the move, the new smells and the general upheaval. Be patient. Introduce her to the other cats one at a time, perhaps through the door, until she gets used to the new smells and gets to know her new roommates.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:22 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

She's only been there a month, keep her in your room with the door shut. I think she needs to feel that that is her safe zone, from which she can eventually venture out, but right now that keeps being invaded by the other cats. Let her get used to the other cats by sniffing under the door. Don't let the others in. I understand wanting everyone to acclimate quickly so she's not cooped up, but give her time and space.
Eventually, maybe even after months, she'll be curious to venture out. Let her do so in short intervals, with her venturing into the other cats' area, but keep your room as the safe zone while she's in it. Perhaps during her outings, when she isn't in the room, let the other cats poke around, and hopefully the room ceases to become a source of curiosity for them. Eventually you could leave the door open, and she could come and go as she pleases but always retreat to that room. They're going to have to establish their hierarchies in the common areas, though, and howl and whatnot, but make sure to get her out of there if the situation escalates.

I have no idea what to do about the crazy bastard cat. I'm not very supportive of squirt gunning or newspaper swatting, but it sounds like those are your only options when he berserks at your door (with his owner's support, obviously, and preferably intervention). With him living there, and her so skittish, it's possible your cat just could never be able leave your room (if he's just going to confront her in the common areas) and you have to consider that option seriously.
posted by Sayuri. at 1:23 PM on July 6, 2012

Response by poster: It's definitely not playing. One of the other cats will do it to play, but this guy hisses and screams and savagely beats against the door and underneath it.

I'll keep her hidden away in here, then. When I go to the bathroom or I brush my teeth or something, I'll leave the door open and then she'll come to the edge and look around. She usually doesn't step across the threshold though. So that's progress, since for the first week she hid under the bed and wouldn't come out at all. Had to put her food under there just to get her to eat.

One thing though: The lease here is up in October, at which point we'll be moving. What do I do then?
posted by Modica at 1:48 PM on July 6, 2012

Are you moving with the whole menagerie? I'm going to assume so...

Basically the easiest thing for everyone is for your cat to live in your room for a week or so, the other cats live in their own space for a week or so, and then start letting them out, first individually, and then all at once, into the common areas. That will actually be easier for everyone, because they can more equitably negotiate turf. You'll probably have to go through the whole acclimatization again, though, because cats are sort of dumb.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:01 PM on July 6, 2012

It might actually be easier when you all move, because no cats will have established territories. I've heard many stories from friends about introducing a cat which didn't get along with the old cat, until they moved and the cats acclimated to a new place together. You'll have to keep her in your room in the new place and do the whole process over again, but I bet it'll be shorter because she'll be used to the other cats.
That's great she's doing better. Keep leaving the door open when no other cats are investigating, until she feels like venturing out. Good luck! Everything will work out eventually.
posted by Sayuri. at 5:34 PM on July 7, 2012

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