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marko July 7th, 2011 08:42 PM

Can an anti-social cat become social?
Hi members,

I'm writing this on behalf on a friend that has a cat (adult) that dislikes other cats and dogs. For now that cat is living with another cat because roomates just joined so their cats joined...but they don't get along well and it seems the cat needs to be in its own space. The cats owner is also a dog lover and would love to get a dog....but the cat hates dogs.

ADDED BY ADMIN - both cats are females around 5 years of age and spayed.

I've recommended holding off on the dog for now and possibly concentrating on the existing cat becoming a better friend to see how that goes. I've also suggested swapping the cat's scents, very slow introductions with cat gates as well as feliway, and rescue remedy.

But i guess I wanted to know - are there some cats that simply remain antisocial despite our best efforts? Or can most cats be slowly socialized if it it done well?

many thanks!

pattymac July 7th, 2011 10:59 PM

Remember Nino? I remember Lorraine telling me that he really didn't like other cats and she was worried about him moving in with us! Well, he was pretty defensive for a while, but he really improved when I got him his calming collar and then I got one for Bobee as well and that really helped.

You know it sounds strange but our move, the first one, seemed to make a big change in him. I don't know what about it did but he's pretty much a normal kitty now. Him a nd Bobee still get into the odd arguement..I really wish he wouldn't scream though, still scares the you know what outta me!! It has the desired effect on Bobee though!

Now he's a real lover boy. Except I really don't need him wanting to molest me when it's 33 here!!

I think maybe if the owners don't make a big deal out of the odd spat they might have. Nino and Bobee can sound like they're killing each other, but Bayley usually intervenes. If Bobee is being a real snark, he has his moments where I think he thinks he has to rule the roost, I'll put him in the bathroom to cool his jets for a few minutes. It's really funny sometimes if Nino screams at him, I think he gets really upset and starts sneezing!!

It's funny too when Noella arrived, Nino took to her with no problem. She learned quickly not to bug him though. He's pretty fast with the smacks! Now though the last few nights since we moved to Medicine Hat and it really cools down at night..Nino and Noella have been chasing each other around! I thought AHA!! You little (big) sneak! He's sooo funny to watch play, I swear he gets embarrassed that he's doing it. I don't think he had much chance to play as a kitten.

Love4himies July 8th, 2011 08:47 AM

That depends entirely on the cats. You won't socialize Puddles with any cat, she won't even tolerate Jasper, who has been allowed immediate access to every foster litter I've had by the kitty momma. That's how friendly he is.

Sweet Pea, who is only semi social with other cats, can be socialized with other cats who allow HER to be the boss.

And Jasper, well, can throw him in with pretty much any cat (except Puddles) and they just LOVE him to death. :shrug:

I so agree with holding off on getting the dog, it will be enough on the cats just to get used to each other for now. And slow intros are always the way to go, gives both cats a chance to get used to each other's smells.

Have you suggested feeding the cats on each side of a closed door, so they get positive feelings while being close but not being able seeing each other?

Do they have their own cat stands that they can claim for their own territory?

Longblades July 8th, 2011 09:33 AM

I found the same as L4H, it depends on the personalities involved. I've had it work and not work.

A male rescue we took in got his nose in a snit when a cute little girly kitten showed up. He'd play happily with us, US, the human people, but when he realized Miss cute kitten was in the room he'd turn and stalk out. It was kind of funny to see. He never hurt her. After about a year they became best friends.

Our current 18 year old Ginger has never adapted to the newer cats, Sadie and Bitty. We've had them all for 12 years. Ginger hates them and Bitty in particular hates her to the point we've had big Vet bills and have to keep them separated. Ginger is fine with the dog, but took a year to feel comfortable with his royal highness harum, scarum puppy.

You can't tell ahead of time how it's going to play.

marko July 8th, 2011 09:52 AM

Thanks for the comments thus far!
i just added an extra piece of info just in case it helps people.

"ADDED BY ADMIN - both cats are females around 5 years of age and spayed."

Thx! Marko

Love4himies July 8th, 2011 09:56 AM

I've had the same experience as LongBlades. Puddles and Sweet Pea have to be kept totally separated and they have been together for 4 years now. They both want to rule the roost, so to speak.

marko July 8th, 2011 10:04 AM

[QUOTE]Have you suggested feeding the cats on each side of a closed door, so they get positive feelings while being close but not being able seeing each other?

Do they have their own cat stands that they can claim for their own territory?[/QUOTE]

I'll admit I don't know the answers to those questions, but i've passed this link on and all this info helps - :goodvibes:

mikischo July 8th, 2011 10:33 AM

What have they done so far? Did they keep them separate at first and try to introduce them to each other slowly? Slow introductions and patience are the key. If they didn't do this or if they missed some of the steps, they may be best to go back to step one.

I would urge them to read the following website which has some excellent suggestions that they might want to try:


[COLOR="Blue"][I]"The absolute worse thing you can ever do is to bring home a new cat or kitten and toss them into the mix. All hell will break loose and injury can result. All this will accomplish is a lot of stress for all parties, and set an unfavorable tone for the future of the relationship between cats. New additions need to be introduced very slowly."[/I][/COLOR]

While each cat has his/her own distinct personality and it is possible this cat may never be all that sociable, there is definitely a good chance of improving the situation.:goodvibes::goodvibes:

EpicJean July 11th, 2011 12:12 AM

Hi all - and thanks Marko and everyone for all your responses. I am one the owners of the two cats in question. [I]I should point out that we taken Marko's suggestion and have absolutely no intention of brining a dog into the house until we feel reasonably sure our cat problems have been resolved. I think we both fell prey to wishful thinking when we saw those cute "little" Rott x Burmese Sheep dog puppies at the shelter, but - being generally level-headed people - cooler heads have prevailed.[/I]

Now, about this cat problem: this is a situation we've been trying to live with and address for the better part of a year an a half.

So here 's a rundown of the situation (sorry, it might be a little long, but there's quite a history):

My girlfriend and I each brought a cat into our relationship (both cats are and have always been indoor cats):
"her" cat is Bubbles, 9 yrs old female, (spayed). This cat has never lived with other pets and was adopted as a kitten from a pet store. She's always been a little agressive and quick to scratch.

...and "mine" is Dezzie, 5 yrs old female (spayed). I adopted her from friends who were roomates in a large loft. Dezzie lived with several people and 5 cats. She got along well with the people and cats.

When my girlfriend and I moved in together, we moved into a new place (new to us and to both cats). Dezzie, however, suffered a traumatizing move. During the move into our new place, we had some renovations done. The workers were at our house during the day for a little over a week, and would often work with the windows open. One day, we came home and couldn't find Dezzie. We searched and assumed that escape through the window. After a week of searching, we found no sign of her. However, a few days after the renovations were finished, we heard her under the floor!!:eek: We tore open the floor boards and she crawled her way out, all grey with dust - she was likely under there for the better part of a week at least. Brought her right to the vet (of course) who rehydrated her and gave us some special food to get her back on track. She got better in no time and even seemed relatively unscarred by her experience: after the first day or two, she came out of her hiding spot and was back to her old self (jumping up on my lap while I read my Shakespeare, eating well, etc.).

Initially, we made sure that both cats were separated. Dezzie was in our office (where I spend most of my time) and Bubbles in the living room (where my girlfriend spends much of her time). The door to the office is a french door with windows so the cats can see each other through the door.

While they were separated, we did quite a few of the things people have mentioned (swapping scents, feeding the cats on either sides of the door in sight of one another, letting the cats explore each other's spaces, swapping their scratching posts). We did this for a month while Dezzie recouperated.

When we finally got the vet's green light to let the cats meet briefly "in person," a fight immediately broke out: Dezzie ran away (and peed all over the floor), Bubbles ran after her, claws and teeth bared. We had to break up the fight before anyone got hurt.

We went back to the begining, keeping the cats isolated, and we continued to do all of the things mentioned above for a while. After a week or so, we tried to set up short "meetings" with a cat carrier. That was no better. Dezzie wouldn't even approach the carrier, Bubbles would not stop clawing and biting.

We kept resetting the process and trying again, until one day when Bubbles had Dezzie cornered and we couldn't break the fight up fast enough: Bubbles lost a tiny bit of ear to Dezzie who was just trying to get away from her.

As a result, Dezzie spends most of her time in the office (much of it with me, at least) and when she gets the chance to roam around she generally refuses to explore. Bubbles - however - roams through most of the rest of the place and is all to happy to mark her territory when left in the study. We even tried vet-prescribed "downers" for Bubbles but it had no real impact (save a stoned cat) and getting her to swallow the pills twice a day was a nightmare!

The major issue is that Bubbles is relentless: as soon as she catches Dezzie's scent, she will run at her and keep running at her. And unlike most cat fights which involve some hissing and batting with paws with both cats eventually retiring to their respective corners, Bubbles is playing for keeps. (I've been hurt pretty bad by Bubbles while trying to break up one of the worse fight, which doesn't help our situation either.)

We just learned about the Feliway thanks to all of you, and even after 2-3 days, we can see a marked change in the behaviour of both cats: Bubbles seems a little less aggressive and nervous; Dezzie seems a little braver. Of course, we're not yet ready to call this solved, but this is probably the first real sign of any type of improvement in the situation.

SO. The million dollar question: what now? What's our next step with these little gals? How long should we wait before trying to introduce them again?

Can't thank you all enough for your suggestions.

Love4himies July 11th, 2011 07:51 AM

Glad to hear the feliway may be working :thumbs up.

I really hate to be the pessimistic one, but with my experience, once a cat has got it in their head that they "hate" a cat, it's very hard to get them to be friends, especially if one is very timid and the other is aggressive. I'm not saying impossible, but it really depends on the cats (really I mean Bubbles).

Puddles and Sweet Pea got along when they were first introduced and then Puddles made the mistake of hissing at one of Sweet Pea's kittens while Sweet Pea was there and Sweet Pea attacked Puddles and that was 4 years ago and Sweet Pea is still always trying to attack Puddles. We now keep them separated all the time and we tried everything, even drugs like you have, to calm Sweet Pea down. We don't even try to get them used to each other anymore, it's just seems to be better for both of them to be kept separated.

But if you find a way, please let me know, I would love to hear it!

sugarcatmom July 11th, 2011 02:29 PM

SO. The million dollar question: what now? What's our next step with these little gals? How long should we wait before trying to introduce them again?

This is a really tough situation (as I'm sure you know!) and as Love4 said, these 2 cats may never reach a point where they can be left alone together. Because the fights have been so bad, it's possible that the damage to their relationship is irreparable. I think your best hope as it stands now is if you were to get a certified animal behaviourist on board to guide you with any further introductions. Perhaps you can ask your vet for a referral to Cornell University's Animal Behaviour clinic: [url][/url]
There are also animal behaviourists that do house calls and phone consultations. Some links to check out (I'm not endorsing these, just giving you ideas):

Also, along with the Feliway (a couple diffusers in each of the cat's main hang-outs), you could try flower essences. I've used [url=]Spirit Essences[/url] and [url=]Bach Flower Remedies[/url] in the past with some success. I found [url=]Bully Remedy[/url] and [url=]Safe Space for Cats[/url] to be effective when dealing with a bossy cat vs an anti-social one, but they hadn't reached the full out fighting stage.

In the meantime, continue to keep both cats completely separated. I'm not sure I would even allow them to see each other for a while, if that's possible. Dezzie needs to regain her confidence, and Bubbles needs to learn she doesn't have to be "on guard" all the time. There isn't going to be an easy solution to this. Be prepared for a lengthy process, possibly taking many months or longer. It took me 10 months to reach a stage where I felt comfortable leaving all 4 of my cats together unsupervised, and that was without there ever being a fight, just emotional tension.

I wish you the best of luck with this, and would be interested to hear about any progress you make. :fingerscr

sugarcatmom July 11th, 2011 04:30 PM

Couple more links for you regarding flower essences:

Some stuff on play therapy:

And understanding aggression in cats:

One other thing that might seem a little far-fetched, but what do your cats eat? Believe it or not, an inappropriate diet (ie grain-based kibble) can in some cases create a constant low-level feeling of discomfort in cats, which might manifest as anti-social behaviour. I've heard of situations where extremely fearful cats became much more relaxed when switched from dry food to 100% wet food. I doubt it will be the key to success with your 2 girls, but I also think every little bit helps (and right now you need all the help you cat get!). If neither cat likes wet food, don't force the issue too much at this point and risk more stress, although it's something to consider in the big picture. More info on feline nutrition: [url][/url]

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