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Reintroducing cats and moving home

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by Uhhuhher, Oct 2, 2019.


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  1. Uhhuhher

    Uhhuhher PetForums Newbie

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    We have two cats, bother and sister. We have had them both since kittens and for the first 7 years they got along very well. For some reason (potentially me going back to work after a long period at home) about 18 months ago, they started to fight often. The fights were vicious and our male cat would overpower and hurt the female. We have had to keep them separated since. We have tried reintroducing them over 6 months without success. We used all the tips/ advice from the vets... smells, treats on either side of the door, play near each other, etc... but they seem much happier apart (they are still very aware of each other and can see each other though one glass door. They both currently have one area of their own each and share the communal area at different times).

    We are going to be moving house shortly. Aware of how stressful moving can be for cats and I think this will be enhanced with trying to reintroduce them again.

    Both cats are very affectionate with myself and my husband, but our male cat is particularly demanding of my attention and has been known to attack our friends (and my husband at times) when they're in his space. I do think we may have gotten them younger than we thought and they may have 'inprinted'.

    Our current home is a one bed flat with a small enclosed courtyard, so they're almost indoor cats. Our new home is larger and has a large garden leading onto a stream and field. I'm hoping this may give them both more territory and make the chances of a successful reintroduction better?

    Any help on how best to do this (if you think it's possible) would be greatly recieved.
     
  2. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Hello @Uhhuhher and welcome :)

    I'm sorry to hear your cats have not been getting along for a while. Sadly this can happen with some cats, even those who have been together all their lives. Other than rehoming one cat, the only harmonious solution, as you have found, is to enable the cats to live separately within the home.

    However, moving house does bring with it a great opportunity to try reintroductions again. New core territory (the home) for the cats + new outdoor territory (the garden and beyond) provides "a level playing field" in the sense that neither cat has any established claim to the territory.

    On the other hand the relationship between the brother and sister is a well established one, with the male bullying the female for ownership of territory and being highly protective of his feline resources, and particularly possessive of you as a major resource.

    But the fact the new house will be bigger, and there is a large garden with access to a field beyond, should make a big difference to the male. Hopefully there is not a high density of cats in the new area, and no cats that have already established "ownership" of your new garden. The reason I mention this is because if the male has to fight with local cats to establish ownership of his garden territory, this could impact negatively on his relationship with his sister ---redirected aggression being common amongst cats.

    When you move to the new house I would start the reintroductions straight away, but go cautiously (as I am sure you intend to :)) It could be that the male cat will be feeling so bemused by the new environment that you might be able to allow both cats to be in the same area of the house safely from the start. On the other hand, if the male feels disorientated and at a big disadvantage in the strange environment, it could make him turn on the female cat with redirected aggression. Without my knowing what his triggers for aggression are, it is hard to predict what is likely to happen. You will have a good idea yourself what his 'triggers' are, of course.

    You will need to keep the cats indoors for 3 or 4 weeks after the move, so they bond with their new home. These 3 or 4 weeks are a crucial time for each cat to establish their ownership of resources as well as of the core territory (the home). I advise being what might seem over-generous in provision of resources, as this will certainly help reduce competition between the 2 cats. e.g.

    1/ At least 3 litter trays, but preferably 4 while they are shut indoors. Spread them around the house, not grouped together

    2/ Place bowls of water around the house in different spots

    3/ Provide multiple scratch posts, scratch pads, scratch mats etc, several to every room, and always have one placed near each door. Also placed in hallway and on landing. This will enable the cats to scent mark their new territory without damaging your carpets, wallpaper or furniture.

    4/ If they like cat beds, provide a choice (of say 6) so they can move around where they sleep as cats like to do.

    5/ Provide high up places for the cats to rest, e.g. tall cat trees, or shelves up the wall giving a safe route (at a 45 degree angle up/down) to tops of cupboards where you can put a cat bed or fleeces for comfort. High up places may be of particular value to the female if she needs to get away from the male.

    Lastly, give the cats their own separate feeding spots from the start, out of sight of each other. With your two, separate rooms might be best. If not then feed them at separate heights and at least 10 feet apart. Providing both cats, or at least the male cat, with a microchipped feeder, so only he can access his food, will be helpful too.

    With regard to the male's possessiveness of you, the house move will certainly provide an excellent opportunity to encourage a bit more independence in the male. I am not suggesting you leave the cats to come and go as they please 24/7 (unless you are comfortable with that), but that a microchipped cat flap is fitted so the cats can access the outdoors whenever they want in the daytime & evenings. And then are shut indoors at bedtime. More time outdoors and a larger area to roam should make a big difference to the male.

    Good wishes for the move, and I hope all goes well with the reintroductions. It would be great to have an update when you are settled in. :)
     
  3. Uhhuhher

    Uhhuhher PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you so much for such a fantastic response! :) You have been incredibly helpful!
    We will definitely try all the suggestions and post an update when in the new property.
    Kathy x
     
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  4. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    You are welcome @Uhhuhher :) Looking forward to your update at a future time. :)
     
  5. Aly Sav

    Aly Sav PetForums Newbie

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    Hiya, how did this work out in the end? We have a case of misdirected aggression just started, and we are due to move in a week's time. Did your new house bring harmony? Any advice gratefully received! Thanks
     
  6. SusieRainbow

    SusieRainbow Moderator
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    This thread has been inactive for 2 years and the posters in question are no longer here.
    I suggest you start a new thread. The advice given here is excellent.
     
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