Saturday, October 29, 2016
Dealing with Cat Aggression, New Cat, and Cat Fights
In our house of cats: Katharine can't be around Baby because she attacks Baby. Jimmy can't be around Roxy for very long and unsupervised because he attacks Roxy. The girls and Roxy get along fine as long as the sisters don't try to get too close. If they do, then Roxy growls and hisses. So, you can imagine that we have spent the last few weeks closing off cats from cats. This has lead to the main set of "kittens" (siblings) being closed off from us and main parts of the house for long periods of time while Roxy has access to those areas. You can imagine that the siblings began to feel isolated even though we saw them every day, for hours at a time, in other parts of the house. An explosion of cat fury occurred Wednesday night when Jimmy and Bette got into a fight and then Katharine and Elizabeth joined in. It was as if just because one was upset and making loud growling and hissing noises, that the others also became upset and had to join in the fray. Jimmy was so upset, making such painful sounding noises, that we separated all of them, watched him for awhile to make sure he wasn't injured; then administered Buprenex to calm him down. (His Prozac is once a day and in the a.m. so I felt confident that it was out of his system enough that there would not be an adverse reaction.) He calmed down and we took the three sisters upstairs to bed with us, putting them in the guest room and not in our room with Baby.
The next day, I reread my links on aggression and discovered that I had likely, inadvertently, created the situation because their "territory" had been diminished and needs to increase; and that they needed behavioral training and more of our attention.
The plan now is to allow the cats to mingle upstairs more and in the regular living quarters more while also playing musical doors: Baby and Rox can be upstairs, or Baby and the siblings and Roxy, but not Roxy and Jimmy and not Katharine with Baby. But then Baby is closed off when fed. The siblings, especially Jimmy, can have the living room in the a.m. and Roxy can stay in the dining room or come into the kitchen while Jimmy is closed off from her until they are fed. The girls and Roxy can mingle in the living room but not Roxy with Jimmy unless supervised and only for a few minutes until someone begins growling; then Jimmy is moved out and redirected. Etc. No cat is punished or yelled at but is simply told (usually Jimmy) "Be a good boy" and then we gently nudge him in a different direction.
And Jimmy loves to play with mice but can't if Katharine is in the room because she takes the mouse away. So, Jimmy gets a play area without Katharine so that he can play with his mouse.
See? Musical doors and cats. One does what one needs to do regardless of effort required. Or how silly it sounds when you try to explain it. But so far, it's working.