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shrubbery's avatar

Is there any way to make cats get along?

Asked by shrubbery (9791 points ) 2 months ago

I know that cats have very strong personalities, and for the most part are independent and at least in my experience are pretty solitary unless raised together from kittens. However, I have a bit of a situation and was wondering if there was any chance that someone knows a way to soften cats up to each other.

Sorry for the long story ahead, just thought details might help.

So we have a very proud and spoilt 18 year old russian blue who was crazy energetic and excitable as a kitten, went through a mid life grumpy phase and has now mellowed out. We got a rescued moggy kitten when the russian blue was about 6 and they never got along. I don’t think the russian blue forgave us for a long time for bringing this peasant into her palace. Her introduction might have been the trigger for the russian blue’s grumpy phase. I would have to take a photo if they ever slept on the same bed as each other (though when they did at opposite corners mostly) because it was so rare.

A few years ago we moved into a house that has a laundry accessed from the outside, so the moggy basically has free reign of the laundry and backyard and barely comes inside anymore, while the russian blue guards the front yard and sleeps inside, and gets spoilt by my mother because of her old age and increasing fragility (the cat’s, not my mother’s).

3 years ago I moved interstate for university, and lived with my sister and her boyfriend. They bought a cat together from a shelter, but then they broke up and the boyfriend moved out. The cat stayed with me and my sister. Then we moved out to separate places and I ended up with the cat because my sister’s new housemate wasn’t keen. I was happy with this arrangement as I probably spent the most time with the cat anyway and I love her like my own.

But now, I am moving overseas for 12 months, and my sister has since moved back to our home state but into a house that won’t allow pets. I am currently back at my parents house until I get organised and have brought my sister’s cat back there with me until we can decide what to do with her. I would rather not give her away officially because I would love to be able to have her back when I return, and so the best case scenario is that she would stay at my parent’s house. BUT that is where the russian blue and moggy are, and if she doesn’t get along with them my mum’s saying no. I’ve kept my sister’s cat inside so she can get used to a new house so that when I let her outside for the first time she doesn’t just scarper, but when the russian blue comes inside to sleep they growl and hiss at each other. This is mostly instigated by my sister’s cat who hasn’t ever had to deal with another cat before, who arches and hisses at the russian blue, while the russian blue just seems to sit there like “what the hell how can you do this to me again you peasants” before making a pathetic whiny groan.

When I do let my sister’s cat outside, the same thing will probably happen with the moggy if she ventures into her backyard territory.

So, after all that, TL;DR, is there a way to get a stubborn old spoilt russian blue, a now very comfortable middle-aged moggy, and a young interloper moggy cat to get along?

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17 Answers

hearkat's avatar

I don’t have advice, only sympathy. My Rudy (female) hates cats. When she was a kitten, there were 3 older female cats in the home, but she quickly asserted her dominance. We moved when she was 6, and she was happily alone for a few months. We tried to adopt an 8-week-old female and Rudy almost ripped out her jugular. Fortunately, my friend took the kitten back and she was adopted with her sister/littermate.

A year later, another friend found a stray kitten near her job. No one claimed him, so we took him home – hoping that because he was male and a bit bigger, Rudy wouldn’t maul him. It’s been 2+ years now, and he’s bigger than her, so he’s become the aggressive one – because that’s what he learned from her.

We keep them separated overnight, so we can get some sleep. They will both get on the bed with us now, as we lounge in the mornings, but it is an uneasy truce. They hiss and spit at each other throughout the day, but I don’t worry that they’ll seriously hurt each other, and there are squirt bottles around when discipline is needed. I’ve made it clear that despite all their posturing, I am the Alpha Kat.

marinelife's avatar

There is a chance that they will learn to tolerate each other, but cats are territorial and don’t share well (unless raised together from kittenhood).

cookieman's avatar

Couples therapy??

janbb's avatar

Not a help but I love your Aussie language usage. I think you should adopt my Frodo so they can all unite in hatred of THE DOG!

gailcalled's avatar

What’s a moggy cat, speaking of Aussie usage? Astronomically, the three-body problem has no solutions (not counting the ones that no one understands).

KNOWITALL's avatar

You need the Cat Whisperer, he’s awesome. You can seperate them until the feel safe, let them see eachother through a child gate and move their food bowls closer to the gate on each side, then eventually they start getting along.

Make sure they each are physically safe, that is always step 1.

Buttonstc's avatar

Surely you jest. One cannot MAKE a cat do anything. (You can use certain behavior modification techniques to give yourself that illusion, but its the cat who makes the decision.)

But this guy at the link has had a good deal of success with the way he tells people to structure the introductions, especially the first meeting.

There are numerous video clips of how this is done.

I had a very similar situation for years with my Velvet (who had Rusdian Blue as part of her heritage. She was the first one and never forgave the presence of the other “interlopers”.

But fortunately it never resulted in any fights requiring vet visits; just a lot of hissing, spitting, growling and posturing.

And the other cats just steered a wide path around her and no one ever got hurt. She never allowed them to be friends with her, but as long as no one ever got hurt, I realized that it could be worse.

You need to have a specific conversation with your Mother to assess what her expectations are. If she’s expecting them to eventually all cuddle up together, that might never happen.

But as long as they don’t harm each other, that may be as good as it gets.

But there are specific techniques to gradually get them used to each other such as scent swapping and changing off locations.

You should have a way to keep them in separate locations from each other when you first bring in the new cat. Allow them to smell each other but not to confront each other.

You may need to do this stage for quite a number of weeks and you shouldn’t rush the process.

Then you gradually get them closer to each others presence while they’re simultaneously eating. This way they have a positive association each time they encounter the newcomer.

You gradually reduce the distance, keep up the feeding and praising them liberally, and it should go a whole lot better than just throwing them together and hoping that the fur doesn’t fly :)

As I said, there are several videos showing how this worked with feuding cats. Take the time to watch them and organize your game plan.

If you can achieve a situation where they’re willing to tolerate each other without warfare, that may be as good as it gets. Or they may become buddies. Its basically up to them.

But if you don’t just randomly throw them together but do it gradually you lessen the necessity of aggression on their part.

Cats are very territorial. This is an instinctive behavior for them. As long as you respect them and don’t insist upon suddenly invading their territory with a newcomer but do it gradually, you lessen the conflict.
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http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/my-cat-from-hell
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2TFX's avatar

Cats have to live together as kittens, males are going to start fighting as they get older while a male and female will have kittens. I suggest a gentle pat on the backside, WITH YOUR HAND NO NEWSPAPERS! to train them. females should be spayed

Buttonstc's avatar

@gailcalled

Moggie is the UK term for any cat which is not purebred.

Milo would be a Moggie as well as every cat I’ve ever had.

shrubbery's avatar

Okay so the eating together thing would be a good idea but… The russian blue and backyard moggy already eat separately. They never managed to get along when eating together and would fight over each other’s food. So now the middle aged moggy eats on the back porch, the russian blue either the front porch or inside. But they do have morning and afternoon specific feed times. However, the sister’s interloper moggy has never had specific food times. She would just never eat enough if we only put the food down for a certain amount of time so we got one of those kibble dispensers that she can come and go from at whim and eat whenever she wants. She was super duper skinny before and has put on a bit of padding since we’ve done this. I just put wet food down for her randomly every now and again (tuna mostly, she won’t really eat anything else, and gets sick of tuna after a couple of meals of it so I do it like once or twice a week at most). This makes it hard to do the eating together trial thing :\

The russian blue has been eating solely hard kibble for a couple of years now, she seemed to throw literally anything else up that we gave her except one specific expensive type of hard bits, so we just give her those and water. She has never been interested in seafood flavour things before. But because I bought tuna for the interloper, I decided just to see if the russian blue would eat it too, and she gobbled it straight down! Then when she came inside later she also gobbled down the rest of the interloper’s that she had yet to finish. She hasn’t thrown it up yet.

So this afternoon at the russian blue’s feeding time, I decided to give them both tuna just to see what would happen. I thought the interloper might eat hers straight away since her other serve had been robbed yesterday. I moved the russian blue’s bowl near the door of my bedroom where the interloper’s base camp is, and put tuna in both bowls. The russian blue gobbled hers down without a problem, but the interloper growled, hissed, and retreated under the bed, not wanting to touch her food at all.

So I’m really not sure what to do now :(

longgone's avatar

I would do three things:

1. Find a way to keep them separate while able to see and smell each other. Go back and forth several times a day, petting both of them and letting them see it.

2. Think. Is there really no kind of food the interloper will love?

3. Give them time. How long have they been living together?

If all else fails, some people suggest water guns to shock cats into stopping certain kinds of behaviour. This can be very stressful, so I’d avoid it if your cats are timid by nature… but it’s something to think about. Cat experts, what do you say?

Can you give us their names? This is getting hard to understand.

shrubbery's avatar

The interloper is called Evie. She has only been here a week so far. I let the russian blue, Tattiana (well just Tatty for short), see her for the first time a couple of days ago, and did go back and forth petting them in front of each other but Evie didn’t want a bar of it. I let Tatty sleep on my bed one night like she usually does when I’m home to try to make Evie see that Tatty’s okay with me so she should be too, but Evie just sat across the other side of the room moaning for a while until either she or I fell asleep. Evie doesn’t usually sleep on my bed anyway so she theoretically shouldn’t have had a problem with Tatty there, but you know.

The other mostly outside one is Maggie. We’ve never had to use a water gun with Tatty or Maggie, but I do use one with Evie, and did try to spray her when she was hissing at Tatty, but I think she got confused and just thought that she wasn’t allowed to be on the chair.

I let Evie outside for a couple of minutes this afternoon, to snoop around the back porch, but Maggie came up hoping for a cuddle and didn’t realise Evie was there until Evie saw Maggie and started hissing. I scared Maggie off so Evie could make a run for the back door and go back inside. It actually doesn’t seem like Tatty or Maggie will have a huge problem, it’s Evie who’s automatically on the defensive when she sees them, and starts moaning, so then they moan in return kind of thing?

Oh cats. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

Buttonstc's avatar

Watch a few of Jackson’s videos where he explains things more in detail.

You’re throwing them together in situations where its clearly more contact than either are comfortable with.

Just watch a few of the videos and try his method. You’ll see what I mean.

There’s also one where the owners rushed things too much so he had them go back to the beginning until both cats were comfortable.

Squirting them with water only reinforces in their mind that the presence of the other cat brings bad things with it. You may understand why you’re squirting the water but I guarantee you they don’t have a clue. And even if they did, it’s not enough to stop centuries of inbred territorial instinct.

Also look up “scent swapping”.

The whole idea behind scent swaping and the mutual feeding (BUT NO CONTACT) is to get them to the point where they have positive associations with each other’s presence and eventually come to accept the other as a part of “their territory”.

Punishing them for their territorial instincts does nothing. Its instinct plain and simple. You can’t punish it out of them.

For centuries, cats were predators. Their territory was important as the source for their prey. Without it they could starve and die. And the least territorial ones did die.

When they were in the wild, the instinct for defending their territory and eliminating competition was the key to survival. We can’t just punish them out of it because its inconvenient for us.

We have to gradually convince them that the other is part of their territory. It takes time and there are successful ways to try to do this and unsuccessful ways. Force would be one of the unsuccessful techniques because it just won’t work.

Watch Jackson’s videos and give his methods a try. He’s had a pretty impressive success rate.

poofandmook's avatar

I just introduced a kitten to two 8 year old sisters. It was NOT easy. I made a big mistake in the beginning and shoved them together in a room. Ugh. Terrible. I had to start over, keeping kitten in a spare bedroom, feeding only canned food at scheduled times outside doors… we skipped scent swapping though, and tried something a little different. We tried holding the kitten while ear/head scratching the adult cat… and holding the kitten out to them to sniff. It worked pretty well… and now there is some occasional hissing, growling, and swatting, but 98% of that is because kitten wants to play, and the other two want to sleep. Or, you know, at least walk without the kitten trying to ride them up the stairs like a horsey…

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Obscurethinktank's avatar

I think that shortened exposure to each other would do the trick. If you put them together in a room for about 5–10 mins, a day then they would get use to each other. Slowly increase their time together by a few mins each day. Eventually they will get use to the presence of other cats and get along.

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