I’m having some cat struggles and need suggestions. I currently have three cats: 2 sisters that I adopted three years ago, and a new “foster” kitty that I inherited when a friend passed away in February.
Foster girl is 10 years old and very sweet and playful around humans. She is adorable, but… It seems that she feels super competitive with my other two cats now. When I first got her, she had several health problems that needed attention. She seemed very mellow and shy and I thought “no problem, they’ll learn to get along”. Flash forward 2-3 months, her health problems have been addressed and her true personality is coming out! She is very energetic (the “sisters” are not), very competitive for my attention, and lately has begun terrorizing the “sisters” when she sees them. She does not take heed of their growling or hissing. She just continues to stalk them until they either turn on her or hide (generally they hide).
I separate them at night so the “sisters” can decompress and snuggle with me. During the day, I let Foster out and try to keep her occupied. They’re okay about 75% of the time (the sisters just avoid her and hide in my bedroom), but the other 25%…
Foster has all of her claws and the sisters are declawed (done by a previous owner, not me!), so I feel like the sisters are at a disadvantage when facing her attacks.
I’ve got Feliway going upstairs and downstairs. Any ideas???
Some cats are more territorial than others. Certain breeds prefer to be alone with their human and do get super competitive with other felines. I’d focus on keeping the sisters safe, because they probably feel very insecure now. Is there a way to offer them separate spaces at all? Is there anywhere sisters can go that foster cat cannot? I think all creatures need space where they feel 100% safe. Like, if my cat is on his backpack spot in the closet, I will not interfere at all. I won’t pet him, pick him up, look in on him, nothing. He knows that space is HIS and that he can go there and have full control of his experience. If you can figure out something like this for sisters I think that would be good.
The other thing with territorial cats is that they tend to be high energy. Dog owners know to walk their dogs multiple times a day, but there’s a sort of stereotype that cats will just do their own thing. Not so in my experience! I’d start doing regular plays with foster cat, at least 1-2 a day. The play stops when the kitty is done playing, my cat rarely goes for more than 15 minutes at full play mode. I try to make sure he does lots of running and jumping, really high activity, not just tossing a toy on the floor and hoping he bats it. I think this will help a LOT.
Thanks for your response. All three are mixed breed, but Foster did start her life on the streets before she was adopted by my friend, so maybe that explains a bit of her aggressiveness. The sisters are very insecure; they had multiple homes in the first six years of their lives, so my house is their first stable place. They are pretty shy around all people, except me, and are not used to being around other animals.
The safe spot is a tricky one due to my house. It’s a three-level townhouse and the basement and main level are completely open (no way to make a separate space). On the top level, I can close off the guest room (Foster’s safe space) and my room (Sisters’ safe space). But I don’t tend to shut my room off completely because the litter boxes for the sisters are in the basement. Right now I have Foster locked in the guestroom (with her own food, water, and litter).
I’ve been playing with Foster several times/day. She has a lot of energy for an older cat (she is 10, the sisters are 9). Unfortunately, I cannot play with the sisters when Foster is around–that starts conflict. I try to play games with Foster where she runs up and down the stairs a lot or chases things across the room. But then the sisters get jealous. I’ll try to figure out how I can play with her more and also play with the sisters.
I appreciate the ideas as I’m kind of at wits’ end. I don’t want the sisters to start to feel like “home” is not a safe place.
Aw, that sounds tough. Maybe in time they will adjust to each other? At the very least they may sort of resolve the issue themselves by creating their own territories. <3 It’s so sweet that you too foster kitty in.
I decided to back up to square one. I have separated them all day (Foster in her safe room, the sisters free in the house). Doubled the number of Feliway diffusers. The sisters have been much more social all day and more relaxed. Foster has played in her room and cried to be out. I’m going to keep them this way overnight and then try 1-2 hours together tomorrow morning if all seems calm.
Good idea! Having new roommates is always tricky lol, even feline apparently.
So, I think lots of multi-cat Feliway may be the answer. Everyone is much more mellow. No more fights, even though Foster has been out large chunks of the day. A bit of hissing/growling, but at appropriate times. No staring contests, no blocking, no swatting, etc. Such a relief!! I hope it continues.
Re Feliway are you using the “Comfort Zone” version? If not you might see even better results - it’s the bonding pheromone, as opposed to the regular Feliway that is a relaxation pheromone.
I’m glad there’s been progress! My current cat required more than one introduction period and pheromone diffusers all over the place so I sympathize
I’m going to suggest the Feliway to my mom – they got adopted by a stray almost two years ago and have been dealing with the two cats not getting along very well. It’d be great if they’d be a little friendlier and calmer with each other…
I started out two months ago with the “relaxation” Feliway, but now I’m using the “bonding” Feliway. Big difference! Still some issues, but not outright war. I’m not sure long-term they’ll be successful in living together, but at least now I feel like I have time to keep looking for a home for Foster instead of searching for an emergency solution.
Did your current cat ever live happily and peacefully with the others? Or do they just tolerate each other? Both of the sisters are anxiety-prone (due to their history) and get UTIs if they live in stressful conditions, so this cannot continue long-term.
I’m glad the Feliway is working!
I had a similar situation some years ago - my younger, recently adopted cat would lash out at my older cat whenever she didn’t get her way. I ended up enrolling my younger cat in clicker training at the local shelter. It’s a way of training cats; when they do what you want, such as “targeting” your extended finger with their nose, you click the clicker right in the moment and follow it up with a treat. Youngest cat was probably one of the worst students they ever had, not very food motivated. When I practiced at home, my older cat was very intersted and she was a great student! It improved her confidence to the point she started standing up to the younger cat within a week and the whole dynamic changed when she started holding her ground. She soon learned a “high five” and it was the cutest thing. They never were best buds but thankfully they reached a point of peaceful co-existence.
Rehoming the Foster would also be a good solution, and the sisters might be happiest wth that. I wish you luck!
I’m heard of clicker training, but haven’t tried it yet. The sisters are motivated by treats, but Foster not as much, so I don’t know if she would have enjoyed it.
As it turns out, my neighbor asked to meet Foster last Tuesday and was charmed. She took Foster home on Thursday. As you can imagine, the sisters were thrilled. They chased each other around and played for hours.
Unfortunately for them, FosterBoy came back home on Saturday. (When my friend passed, I inherited two of his cats, Foster(Girl) and FosterBoy. I had placed FosterBoy with the local rescue in hopes he would be adopted quicker, but they’re overrun with kittens right now, so he’s with me again).
FosterBoy is 11 months old, gigantic, and super energetic. He can play for hours. The sisters find him slightly more tolerable than FosterGirl, but really do not appreciate the joys of having a roommate. I’m looking for a home for FosterBoy as he needs stimulation and freedom to be himself (instead of being pushed around by my old lady sisters). As long as I tire out FosterBoy with play (he particularly likes acrobatic jumping play), then things are relatively peaceful.
So, that’s the cat update.
Sorry I’ve been slacking on replies around here!
It sounds like good updates for your girls at least!
My current cat did get along with my former cat after a longer intro period – he mostly had issues with my former cat being elderly and blind but wanting to follow him around. He’d just sit and watch Gyver walk up and let him walk right into his body, then would bop Gyver on the head. Not ideal, and freaked my poor old man Gyver right out, but not too aggressive, just bewildered as to why Gyver acted so weird. We used other behavior modification with both cats to reward positive interactions, too. He is a cat that acts his stress out on people so his being isolated and reintroduced had more to do with attacking me every five minutes and needing to learn that food in my house is not available 24/7, heh.
I love clicker training! Gyver was my first cat that was clicker trained and he was a very eager learner. He and the dog were always trying to outdo each other; but Gyver would sit and wait politely for a cue while the dog would hurriedly start going through every single trick he’d ever learned