Q: I am wondering if you can help me with my cat. We had four cats, two boys and two girls. They all got along great. The boys are sixteen and the girls are six. Then we added this boy cat who is now two. And that is when all hell broke loose for the last year. He is not a very well behaved kitty. He attacks all four of the cats, but now he especially harasses one of the girls to the point she will not come out of the closet during the day, and if she does he chases her and bites her on the neck (she has tons of scabs).
We’ve tried locking him in the bathroom for a while, but then I saw a video that it was a bad idea. Now my husband chases him around the house with a squirt bottle, he acts like it is a game. When we play with him he will be panting but he will continue to play. There is no wearing him down. He has to use every litter box, every day. Someone is not using the litter box; we are guessing it is the female he attacks. We really need help. M. W., Granger, IN
A: Yikes – it’s sounds like bedlam with that one new is hell on four legs terrifying one cat in particular. Her quality of life living in a closet isn’t appealing; imagine being attacked every time you turn a corner. We need to do better.
For starters, I believe we need to normalize your home. It’s the new cat causing all these issues who – for a time – needs to be relegated to a second bedroom, office or den. Of course, there should be a litter box in this room and toys. And family should spend time with this cat. In fact, he totally needs to be engaged. Use interactive cat toys (such as a fishing pole-type toy with fabric or feathers) a few times daily, if even for only five minutes for each play session. A leave toys for him to play with on his own.
Here’s the perfect cat to feed using little balls to put kibble in, and hiding them in various places for the cat to “hunt.” Even better, a product called NoBowl Cat Feeding System, which will activate this cats seeking and hunting drive. I generally believe all cats should be fed this way – but that’s another story.
Meanwhile, let all your other cats get back to normal, and cool off, and increase their confidence that they won’t be attacked. This will take a few months – you read that right.
Now, I’m just asking this question, which I believe is reasonable. You have two 16-year old cats, and of your two more, one cat who is persecuted. Is it fair to even add another cat now, especially one who may be better off as an only cat? I’m unsure I have a definitive answer, but you should know rehoming is not a suggestion I make often. Still, I believe in this instance it’s a reasonable idea to at least consider.No matter, I’d like to see you help those frayed nerves on both sides of the door. Use Feliway Multicat. This new pheromone product specifically uses a pheromone fraction which encourages everyone to ‘just get along.’
If you are determined to try another reintroduction – the key is patience. The four cats can smell this cat under the door – they know who’s there.
After a few months (that’s right I said months), but before reintroducing the cat – several times a week, or even daily, take all four cats and move them into this cat’s room, where they discover a treasure of treats – so associate this once mortal enemy with treasure. And similarly in reverse, allow the secluded cat to explore when the four cats are in his room. And insure he finds treats too.
Also, take bedding and swap it – and place it near a food dish, All cats (on both sides of the door) will associate the odor of others with something positive, their meal. Similarly, exchange toys on both sides of the door. This protocol takes several more months.
Now, finally you can replace the door this one cat is secluded in with a screen door, taking this one sense at a time. They were able to smell one another all this time, and now they can see one another. If this isn’t practical – don’t worry.
Either at the screen or at a slightly opened door, offer totally the best treats possible for your cats. This can be cheese or tuna or sardines, whatever your cats like. Entice the four cats to the door with the treats, don’t force them. The idea is that all cats involved only get these yummies when all cats are around – all five.
This step (and the relocating of objects belonging to the other cats near the food dish) are imperative – giving the cats a reason to like one another. Think of it this way: If every time you saw me, you received a $100 bill – odds are you’d come to really like me a lot. Meanwhile, continue using Feliway Multicat.
When you do bring the cats together, at first, only when supervised by an adult. Also, do this cat by cat – with the female that is picked on the most the last to be introduced, and continue to insure she has an escape route.
Typically, with five cats, the suggestion is six litter boxes (and in six different places). Speaking of which, large litter boxes which are easy to get into, make life easier for your elderly and likely arthritic cats. You don’t want to make going to the bathroom a challenge. It might even be that one (or both) of your 16-year olds is having the accidents because of the litter boxes and the new cat only makes matters worse.
All your cats should be tested for early signs of kidney disease with a simple blood test you can ask your veterinarian about, called SDMA.While certainly it’s possible the accidents are due to high tension, a medical issue may also be the cause – and should never be overlooked.