August 18th, 2010, 11:41 PM
Wow, been a while since I've been here... I need some help (and some positive energy for my cats!)...
Last Monday (Aug. 9) I took my cats, Yoshi (4) and Taro (3), to get groomed. Taro had some mats that I couldn't get out on my own and I thought I might as well take Yoshi along as well.
When we arrived home, everything seemed ok. Settled right in, but I did notice Taro stalking and sniffing Yoshi a lot. Later that night, I found Yoshi hiding in the closet, growling, with Taro staring at him and yowling. That was alarming, since they have never reacted to each other this way. As the night progressed, there was more hissing and growling at each other, so I separated them overnight.
The next morning, I let them both out of confinement, thinking all would be well. Upon seeing each other, Yoshi hissed and Taro yowled and started chasing Yoshi. At this point, I separated them again.
I'm not sure if the grooming experience altered their ability to recognize each other's scent or if something else happened to them to make them react to each other this way (e.g. Yoshi fearful of Taro for stalking him). I've treated the situation as though they are meeting for the first time, but things are not getting better after a little over a week now.
Yoshi stays mainly in my bedroom, while Taro gets run of the house. Both have their own food/water/litter and all seems normal in those areas. At some point during the day, I switch them. Both get lots of attention from hubby and I, and are cuddly and playful with us.
I have also plugged in 3 Feliway diffusers, sprayed Feliway around the house, put Bach's Rescue Remedy in their water, and tried calming collars. The collars were not too effective since they managed to scratch and rip them off.
I kept them separated until Saturday, at which point I allowed Taro into the bedroom. They basically stared at each other from across the room for a long time. Then Taro began to approach slowly. Once he got too close for Yoshi's comfort, he'd growl and hiss and Taro would retreat and they'd do it all over again. But no fighting. I talked to them the whole time in a soothing manner and gave them lots of treats until the hissing started. But eventually Taro got too close and tried to touch/chase Yoshi, which really scared him. Taro seems more curious than aggressive but Yoshi is just so fearful of Taro that too much contact with him is too stressful for him to handle and he tries to run away, which prompts Taro to chase him, which ends with Yoshi really hissing/growling/hiding. We tried this again every day until Monday, at which point there was a really bad episode of chasing that stressed Yoshi out more than ever before. I gave them both a break from each other but am becoming afraid that this won't get better!
I was planning on trying shorter "exposures" to try and reduce the stress on Yoshi and hopefully desensitize him to his fear of Taro. What else can I do? It breaks my heart to see them so upset. They have never been too cuddly but they have always seemed to enjoy each other's presence. Any input (or even just love!) would help... thanks in advance!
August 19th, 2010, 08:37 AM
I got my cat shaved last year and when he came home the same thing happened to them. My other cat hissed at him. Which is very odd behaviour as they are rarely apart and seem to enjoy doing things together all the time.
I think it's just a familiarity thing... the other cat just needs to get accustomed to the new hair do and they'll get along again. Took my cats about 4-5 days before they became inseparable again.
August 19th, 2010, 10:22 AM
Let's see if I got this straight. Taro had the mats, so he was the one that got groomed, but Yoshi just stayed in the carrier without getting groomed, and went along just for the company? If that's the case, somehow Taro has connected the grooming experience which I'm guessing he found unpleasant and traumatic for him with Yoshi's presence, and that's why Taro's now trying to "take it out" on Yoshi by chasing and being aggressive. Maybe because Yoshi didn't get groomed made him mad as well?
Things might get turned around if you can take them to a neutral place in the house where neither one of them usually go, like a spare room, or basement room. That might dissolve their differences. Have you tried rubbing a towel around the face of Tara and then rub it on Yoshi to mingle their scents? Always nice to hear an update. Hope they soon resume their friendship.
August 19th, 2010, 02:41 PM
Have you done the smell exchange? Either putting baby powder on your palms, rubbing them together and then rubbing both cats down? Or a towel rubbed on one cat, then the other, then back again to make them both smell the same? Or a dab of vanilla under the chins and the base of the tail?
The cat smells differently after coming back from being groomed. I would think that is what the issue is.
August 19th, 2010, 10:53 PM
Thanks so much to all of you for your replies! :) It's encouraging to hear that others have had success in this type of situation!
Sorry, I should have clarified - they both got groomed. Yoshi didn't really need to be but I thought he might be more comfortable in the heat with less fur! Little did I know how traumatic it would be for them. :(
I tried rubbing each of them with a facecloth... I don't know but I think we're making progress!! I came home today, rubbed them with the facecloth, and let each other sniff away at it (separately). Later on, I brought Yoshi to his favourite cat tree and let Taro approach. They looked at each other then Taro walked away. Gave them both treats for this. Yoshi seemed a little apprehensive but no hissing! So I let them do their thing... Taro seemed almost disinterested in Yoshi, which in turn allowed Yoshi to be calmer. Each time they looked at each other without signs of aggression, I gave them treats. Before stress began to build up, I separated them again for the night (after about 15 minutes). I'll try again tomorrow - gradually longer periods of time as they tolerate.
Thank you a million times over again... I'll keep you posted!
August 20th, 2010, 09:38 AM
OK, so two steps forward, one step back. Or it could be the other way around, I'm not sure.
After such a good night last night, my husband and I had Yoshi stay in the bedroom with us while Taro had run of the house (it was the other way around the night before). This morning, I left the bedroom to get something, and when I came back, Taro forced his way in. I wasn't quick enough in stopping him, so he made it into the bedroom, where Yoshi was sitting. I can't tell if he just ran in or saw Yoshi and ran towards him, but it freaked them both right out. Taro then chased him and Yoshi ran away. There was lots of hissing. My husband was in the escape route and ended up getting scratched. Yoshi made it into a hiding place and we managed to get Taro out. Tried to spend as much time as possible with each of them individually before going in to work, but I'm worried....
We'll see what tonight brings.
August 20th, 2010, 10:31 AM
When you took them to the groomers they went on sensory overload. There were a lot of new smells for them to take in. All of the cats that were there before them and while they were there left their smells behind. The act of grooming the cats changed the way they smelled to each other. The groomer may have used a product on the fur to make it easier to get the mats out. That in itself may have been enough to throw your cats out of whack.
It is important to remember cats recognize each other more by smell than sight. That is why it is important they "know" each others' smell. At this point in the relationship, while you are trying to re-establish peace in your home, it is critical they are reintroduced properly.
One of my favourite sites is: http://www.squidoo.com/multi-cat-management
The publisher is a woman who has had a lot of experience with introducing cats. While the site is for introducing new cats to each other it can be used in your situation as well.
It is also critical that you do not worry about making the cats friends again quickly. These steps may take some time. Don't rush it! The cats will let you know when they are ready. :thumbs up
August 20th, 2010, 09:58 PM
Thanks, 14+kitties... you're absolutely right, I can't rush things along. I guess I was just panicking that it was taking so long (in my mind, at least... almost 2 weeks now...). Hopefully things turn out well!!
August 21st, 2010, 07:35 PM
Today we discovered that Yoshi and Taro tolerate each other's presence, provided Yoshi is in a safe spot and doesn't try to go anywhere. We placed him on his cat tree and, as it was the last few times we tried this, they simply looked at each other and didn't seem to mind too much. A few times Taro jumped up and they smelled each other then Taro would go do something else.
However, Yoshi tried to jump off the cat tree and that's when things went downhill. Taro then began stalking him and chased him, yowling, while Yoshi hissed at him. Yoshi made it back to his tree, and Taro stayed on the floor. They swatted at each other but didn't make contact. Now they're separated yet again.
When they're in that mood, there's no distracting them. I was thinking I should try a spray bottle if the chasing/stalking happens again. What do you think??
August 21st, 2010, 07:50 PM
The second that behaviour starts have you tried clapping your hands, dropping something (not breakable:D), doing something to make a loud noise? What you are trying to do is create a diversion to temporarily get their attention off each other. If that does not work then immediately separate them. Don't wait for the chasing to start.
I would try changing up the cat that goes into the other room. If that is normally Taro then try putting Yoshi in the quiet room for a while. Let Taro have the roam of the rest of the house. It could be, as silly as it sounds, that he is a little miffed he is the one always in another room. I'm sure Yoshi would like some quiet time as well. You don't have to leave them separated for a long time. After about 15 minutes try bringing out the cat in the other room again.
One thing - if you are stressed out over the whole ordeal they will pick up on it. Try acting as if all is great with the world and as if they little row is not a big deal. They will react accordingly.
I always leave the water bottle as a last resort. I know some folks have had success with it so it's not a bad thing. I just have never had to use it.
August 21st, 2010, 08:24 PM
I just thought about something. When was the last time Yoshi was in for a complete work up at the vets? It could be he is sick and Taro is picking up on it. Cats are masters at hiding illnesses. The timing of it could all be coincidental.
Also, what Taro starts stalking Yoshi have you tried redirecting him with toys? In particular the wand type toys that he can hit and bat at? When you see him heading toward Yoshi try intervening with the toy to get his attention.
Hopefully one or a combination of ideas will help eventually. :fingerscr
August 22nd, 2010, 06:55 PM
Thanks again, 14+kitties... I will try out those suggestions. I guess we have to be more preemptive in distracting Taro before the chasing starts.
We had them both together today for a few hours. A little growling and hissing at first from Yoshi but that was it. The only time Taro seems to become aggressive is when Yoshi tries to move from where he is and he was too afraid to do that, so no chasing today. I just put Yoshi in our room to give him some space and an opportunity to eat/use the litter in case he was too afraid to do that with Taro around.
We have been alternating who stays in the room with us at night and we try to give them lots of attention and love.
It's been a while since Yoshi's been to the vet. I'm worried that if he isn't sick now, he will be with all the stress. Right now he seems fine when he's alone with us - eating, drinking, using the litter, playing, cuddling. When he's sick he usually stops eating and is very withdrawn. I'll give my vet a call in the morning to see if we can take him in just in case.
One very important thing I didn't mention earlier - my husband and I have to leave town for a few days on Tuesday (terrible timing, especially since we hardly ever go away). I had been hoping things would be resolved by now since it's been about 2 weeks since it started but it's not looking too promising. Normally my parents would look after the boys but I found a wonderful, caring cat sitter who will spend lots of time with them and is very understanding and sympathetic. We're meeting with her tomorrow to see how things are by then so she can keep things consistent. While we're away, she's going to update us regularly on how they're doing.
Thank you again for your help.... I'll keep you posted! Hopefully with good news. :)
August 27th, 2010, 10:51 PM
No progress yet; we are still away from home but the boys are managing well enough at home with our pet sitter, who is doing a fantastic job of keeping them separated and still giving them lots of love.
However, I found a wonderful resource online - Greyce, a cat who just happens to live with a retired cat behaviourist. They have thankfully taken interest in our situation and are helping us out via their blog. Refer to the August 26 entry here: http://catadvisor.blogspot.com
Looks like we have our work cut out for us, but I'm very optimistic and hopeful. Will keep you updated on how things go!