Why can't we all just get along?

Okay, I need some good advice. I had a momma kitty, Sissy. I got Sissy almost a year ago, just after Halloween when she very skitishly followed my son into the house–which I allowed due to his supper cute pleading eyes and and the fact that she’d been spray painted.

She and my son hit it off famous. They were best buds and played and played and played. She grew to trust and love me, too. Then she got out one day and grew to “love” some rake of a tom. She had three babies on mother’s day. I allowed my son to keep one–which he named Barack.

Sissy loved her babies and was a good mommy. Barack seemed like a real solice to her when the other two were gone. They played and ran and entertained eachother and us.

I had plans to have them both “fixed” sometime this month, but almost two months ago now, maybe a month and a half, not sure, Sissy made a run for the door one night. I couldn’t get her back in and she just never came back.

My son cried. Her son searched for her and looked so sad. He’s gotten to be the most loving cat I’ve ever had, and I’m now quite attached to Barack.

Today, the nighbor knocked at the door and was holding Sissy, half starved, in her arms. I’d come home the other night and thought I saw her running accross the parking lot, but when I called she didn’t come or answer. There was some odd meowing when I said her name, but she would not come. So, anyway, I guess it really was her after all.

But now, she is being very territorial and doesn’t want Barack in “her” house or on “her” mom at all. They seem not to recognize eachother at all. She’s finally stopped trying to kill him for the time being, but if I reach towards him, she freaks out and runs between us to try and shred him before I get there.

What in the world do I do? If they can’t both stay, I’d let go of Sissy first, buy my son will NOT understand and his little heart will be broken again. How do I make them get along? Do they just need time, or should I separate them?

I’ll still be getting them fixed, but I’m pretty sure Sissy is too thin at the moment and I’ll need to give her time to re-adjust to things first.

Oh you poor thing! What a terrible situation to be in…

We tried to adopt a 2nd rescue cat about a year ago and hoped that she would be a good companion for Lemon. They hated each other and although they didn’t fight openly much, Lemon took to staying out of the house more and more…whilst the new cat kept pooing in our bath and in other places around the house. I asked vets and behaviourists for advice and also did a lot of research (there is a fantastic book by a UK cat expert called Vicki Hall, all about cats and how to manage multi-cat households) - unfortunately, the consensus seemed to be that it is unrealistic to expect cats to get along in a small territory. Yes, many manage it and there are always people who proudly display their 7 cats all living together in harmony or something - but they are actually the unusual lucky ones. And, apparently, if a knowledgeable behaviourist were to observe the 7 cats, they would see that 4 were seriously stressed through “silent intimidation” by other cats or 3 were only ever staying upstairs all the time or something like that - but because they weren’t actively fighting, the owner thought everything was OK. It seems that it’s especially common that cats which are related and used to get along fine (eg. siblings) will suddenly and inexplicably start fighting and hating each other. And they could never be reconciled again - and usually, the solution was to rehome one. Unfortunately, unlike dogs, you just can’t win cats round very often - once the dynamic is in place, that’s it.

Anyway, might not be true in your case and you might be one of the lucky ones - but you may need to prepare yourself for the fact that they might never get along again and probably won’t be able to live in the same house, unless you’re prepared to segregate the hosue and have 2 separate “territories” all the time…

I’m sure other, more experienced cat people will have better advice for you but I thought I’d just pass on what I’d learnt through my research. In our case, we decided in the end that we had to give the 2nd cat back - it absolutely broke our hearts and we felt so guilty for ages but our first loyalty went to our 1st cat, who had been with us since a kitten, and so if one of them had to go, it had to be the new one. We made sure she was rehomed to a nice home as an only cat, so she wouldn’t have to deal with any more stress…but we still felt like we failed her terribly. I often look at other people’s photos of cats curled up sleeping together and feel so upset and envious - and wish it could have been the same outcome for us.

Funny, when we first adopted the 2nd cat, everyone was worried about Honey - how the cat would cope with such a huge dog in the house…ha, one look from the new cat and Honey was quivering in the corner. She was never the problem. The problem was the 4kg ball of fluff who thinks she is Queen of our household (well, she is, I guess…) :unamused:

Thanks for the reply. I haven’t had pets in years, but grew up with always multiple cats around the house, or at my grandmother’s house. I’ve had cats and dogs. I had a doggie in Taiwan and leaving him really broke my heart. I am not kidding when I say that, in the end, I think I loved ShaoBai more than my ex. But he was the first pet I’d had since ages because, living overseas, life didn’t feel stable and I didn’t want totake on a responsibility that I couldn’t follow through with.

I was the same back “home” here in AR because I don’t really plan to stay here after graduation, buy my boy’s eyes! He loves animals and actually gets mad at me that I won’t allow him to have a goose. And the poor cat had been spray painted and I do have a heart and love animals, too.

Well, anyway, my OP was in hopes of more happy suggestions. My own experience with animals tells me that sometimes a formerly wild animal cannot be fully domesticated and that it’s just a natural thing for siblings/parents/children to reject eachother as they would do that in the wild, too. It naturally prevents inbreeding and over hunting. But they were still very mother/son like before she high-tailed it out the door that night. Now, though she’s very loving to me, she gives the younger cat some very wild-eyed looks of enmity. I’m still hoping that they might settle in with eachother in a couple of days. If I can just keep them from shredding eachother long enough, I can get the young male fixed and let his mother be dominant. That may help. She’s totally skin and bones, so I simply can’t do anything with her until she’s healthy again and I can’t put her back out like this.

I tried earlier today to pet them both at the same time–they were closer to eachother than they realized–and they were okay until they realized I was touching them both and they both almost skinned me!

On another odd note–I gave one of Barack’s siblings to a neighbor who lives in my building. She has two boys who wanted the cat, but this is a first cat for all of them. So I agreed to come and trim that cat’s claws for her from time to time because she’s not confident about doing it and is afraid the cat might scratch her boys. I went to do that for her today and THAT cat also had a fit when I smelled it’s mother’s scent on my hand! Wow! And she was such a good and loving mother!

Hey Housecat,
Sounds like a nasty situation right now. For what it’s worth, I’m told the two cats I foster fought lots when they were first put together, but now they are inseparable. The male cries and paces if he can’t find the female.
I think the fighting is a lot to do with establishing hierarchy - once everyone knows their place, harmony (of some sort) ensues (hopefully).
What the cats are doing is kind of like that little dance dogs do when they first meet - only a bit more , uh , dramatic.
Being spayed/neutered might also pay a role in calming down, I guess.

It might be that the cat that came back is trying to establish that she is loved by you (ie. has a place in the household hierarchy - but then, I guess cats are not as much pack animals as dogs) - might be pretty insecure after her adventures in the “wild” . Best of luck.

I am not an expert by any wild stretch of the imagination, but that is my 2 cents (NTD).

Are you sure you have the right cat? Maybe she just LOOKS like momma cat! :laughing:

[quote=“kage”]Hey Housecat,
Sounds like a nasty situation right now. For what it’s worth, I’m told the two cats I foster fought lots when they were first put together, but now they are inseparable. The male cries and paces if he can’t find the female.
I think the fighting is a lot to do with establishing hierarchy - once everyone knows their place, harmony (of some sort) ensues (hopefully).
What the cats are doing is kind of like that little dance dogs do when they first meet - only a bit more , uh , dramatic.
Being spayed/neutered might also pay a role in calming down, I guess.

It might be that the cat that came back is trying to establish that she is loved by you (ie. has a place in the household hierarchy - but then, I guess cats are not as much pack animals as dogs) - might be pretty insecure after her adventures in the “wild” . Best of luck.

I am not an expert by any wild stretch of the imagination, but that is my 2 cents (NTD).[/quote]

Yes, this is what’s happening to a large extent. I think having the young male fixed might help him slip into the subordinate role, but his testicles aren’t decended just yet. For now, he’s very, very stressed. When his mom took off he was pretty upset and firmly adopted me as mom instead. Now, mom is back and wants to be MY kitty, and the little one is worried and stressed from being attacked all day. They’re not fighting often now, and mom is so worn out and malnourished that she sleeps very frequently and so deeply that the young one will climb righ on top of her and smell her closely without her waking up. But when their paths cross it’s sudden and HOT! I think I may put the momma kitty in the bathroom tonight so they don’t have a war on my head–where the baby usually sleeps.

And yep, I’m sure it’s her. She answers to her name and looks exactly like her yung’un.

After checking a few pages in Cat vs. cat. Kepping peace when you have more than one cat, I am afraid that this stress related agression can only be solved by re-introducing the cats. Mom caught quite a few unfamiliar “smells” in her trip, and her “kittens” have matured socially. Let’s just say they have to work out their relationship carefully again.

Set up a sanctuary or isolation chamber, not empty, but with places wher the cat can hide and feel safe. Mom goes here: she’s the aggressive one. Slow introduction can be worked from there. Rub a sock on little ones’s face and work it from there -he’s male, hormones may also be at play. Get them to eat at one side of the door. Then let them see each other. This takes weeks.

Maybe getting him fixed before reintroducing them would be a good idea. They have already been through a big change, now, they need to restablish their relationship. Too many upheavals may disturb them too much. If you need to move furniture/change schedules, do not do it in the interim period. Cats do not like changes. So get it done now and they can work on an unchanging pattern from there. If 3 months on something else happens… well, there goes all the work out the window.

A few tips:
Don’t leave cat’s alone to fight it out -serious injury may occur
Don’t reinforce negative behavior by cuddling or peting the aggressive cat -our firts instinct to calm her down.

[quote=“Icon”]Don’t leave cat’s alone to fight it out -serious injury may occur
Don’t reinforce negative behavior by cuddling or peting the aggressive cat -our firts instinct to calm her down.[/quote]

That first tip made me laugh! Not at you, just that I’ve been affraid of just that since she came back. I put her in the bathroom when I have to be out.

Things are getting some better now because I’ve been giving lots of love to the younger cat to help settle him, and I’ve been leaving mom to her devices. The fact is, she’s so starved that she can’t really do much for an extended time. So she blows up at him, but then has to go back to sleep. She eats and sleeps a LOT. She’ll do this to regain her health and strength, but also, I believe this is really helpful at this time. The more healthy she gets and more weight she puts back on, the more mellow she’s getting.

If she comes to me for loving, I give it to her–if she hasn’t just taken a slash at the younger cat. Seems to be working out okay. The younger one has started to look at this as a game with her and will stalk her and run in for a hit and try to run away before she can strike back. He really is playing now–sometimes she’s really not, but she has stopped going on the offensive so much.

Thanks for the support, everyone! I really don’t like to live in a war zone, even if it’s just cat war, but I think it might just work it’s self out with a little patience!

Have your cats been vaccinated? Did you get Sissy checked over by the vet after she disappeared the second time?

Cats can be desexed as young as 8 weeks of age.