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Big struggle integrating two pairs of cats

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by ChrisandSam, Nov 8, 2012.


  1. ChrisandSam

    ChrisandSam PetForums Newbie

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    Hello all. We are a four cat house, or at least we've got two cats, and then another two. And the two sets don't get along...

    Sorry if the background which follows is lengthy but I don't want to miss any details. We're at wits' end, just about.

    Our first two are the boys, Bernie and Clive. They get on like a house on fire and are a pair of very healthy, happy cats. We got them together from the same rehoming centre and have had them approaching a year. So, no worries so far.

    Five months ago we got an opportunity to take on a mother (MamaCat) and daughter (Little One) pair from a couple who couldn't keep them and were just a day or two from taking them to a rehoming centre. Since then there has been barely any integration between the two pairs. We tried all the standard techniques and introdcing smells and carrying out familiarisation in stages, but the primary barrier has been that Clive, to our surprise, has revealed himself to be a very territorial animal. The relationship between him and MamaCat in particular seems to need serious therapy. They need only be in each other's vague presence from a distance and the mother's growling starts; this is sure to be eventually followed by flying claws, a chase and a fight. MamaCat has a cosy spot in a spare bedroom she likes upstairs, but rarely will she move from it.

    The Little One is so incredibly timid that ALL her time is spent in our bedroom, either on our bed, under its duvet or curled up in the wardrobe. She shows no interest in play, though is very receptive to attention in the evening when we go to bed. She doesn't go out, doesn't move around the house. Just sits, apparently lacking any feline instinct at all. If Clive enters the room, again there is growling, hissing and Clive will eventually pounce more often than not. Clive wears a bell; if he trots up the stairs, Little One will instantly retreat into herself and hide, irrespective of whether Clive is actually anywhere near her. Unlike her mother, she will not react with violence but with more and more timidity.

    We have tried feeding the four of them together, but the girls would apparently rather starve! We have tried to bring the girls downstairs when the boys are out but they quickly scamper back upstairs. At one stage the daughter hid underneath kitchen cupboards for a day and a half! Their comfort zone is upstairs, doing nothing, not being threatened by Clive and any deviation from this is most unwelcome. Every time we think there is progress, like one of the girls coming downstairs of her own volition, it is wiped out by two steps back.

    Bernie is less of a trouble; he's a very relaxed cat who doesn't get the girls' hackles up like Clive does. So overall you can see the problem. We would like the girls to enjoy life with as much freedom as the boys have, but there seems no way out of the current situation.

    We've tried to be active and we've tried to step back and let things take their course, all to no avail. We want to give this one last real crack before we try and re-home the girls. They are not the cats they can be and it may be that they need to stay together in a house without other feline residents if this does not work out.

    Anything you kind folks can tell us about some techniques we might try will be most appreciated. More than happy to answer any enquiries, of course.
     
  2. ChrisandSam

    ChrisandSam PetForums Newbie

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    Bump as it took three days from posting to publication.
     
  3. Ang2

    Ang2 PetForums VIP

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    A very frustrating situation. I have 8 cats and one of my male cats would bully a small female in exactly the same way. She spent most of her time hiding in the hooded litter tray. I was almost resigned to having to re-home him (had the female longest) then suddenly after 10 months it stopped and they accepted each other.

    It was a very hard 10 months. I think you may have to look at re-homing them together. Good luck
     
  4. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Hi ChrisandSam, I sympathise with your difficult situation, as I am in a similar position. I took in a young stray cat earlier this year and have spent the past 8 mths trying to integrate him with my other 3 cats, (all of whom get along fine with each other), without success.

    I followed the right protocol over the 8 mths -- scent swapping, keeping the newest cat separate from the others, gradual introductions etc, all to no avail. There were vicious fights between the new cat and my other cats whenever they were allowed to meet. As a result I have to keep them apart all the time now, and I am trying to re-home the newest cat. Frankly it has been a very stressful time, both for cats and humans, and I hope never to repeat the experience.

    It sounds as though your poor girls are having a jolly miserable time of it -- no life for them at all. I think they would have to find the courage within themselves to stand up to Clive, as he is apparently such a dominant & territorial cat. Otherwise nothing is likely to change, as I don't reckon he will back down of his own accord.

    Personally I would think it would be kinder to go ahead as you are intending, and re-home the 2 girls together to somewhere they can feel at ease and able to be themselves.
     
  5. Sussexplumber

    Sussexplumber Banned

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    Mine was staying here with two bigger male cats and one of them (a ragdoll) really didnt like her. She always gave him a wide berth. Now shes here on her own, a one cat house, shes never had it so good. Happy and spoilt with attention, mistress of her own patch.
     
  6. OrientalSlave

    OrientalSlave Shunra Oriental Cats

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    You could try the following:

    1) completely separate the two pairs
    2) give the two that are fighting Zylkene every day for at least 2 weeks
    3) start a very gradual reintroduction

    Zylkene might help - it has helped my cats - and by giving it to both of the ones that are fighting you are giving yourself two chances for it to help.
     
    #6 OrientalSlave, Nov 12, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2012
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