advise needed please- rescue cat hates my fur family

homebodymomMay 4, 2010

I will try to keep this short. A few weeks ago we rescued a cat found by a girl in my neighborhood. Took him to the vet- @3yr old neutured male, skinny but healthy, 4 paw declawed. In my home we have a VERY well adjusted fur family- 13yr old neutured male lab, 2 1/2 year old neutured male lab, and a 5 yr old neutured male cat. They all get along very well especially the younger lab and the cat. They play and groom eachother connstantly.

Here is the issue- the new kitty- "Stanley" hates all of them. For the first 2 weeks he stayed exclusivly in my daughters room. We started very slow introductions- blocked but open door, with him in my daughters room and the dogs unable to get in. MY cat only wants to be near him, but Stanley goes after him as soon as he gets close. Stanley also goes after my younger Lab all the time. It is a good thing he doesn't have claws. I am concerned that someone is going to get hurt. Stanley has wandered out into the other rooms in the house several times now- usually when my younger lab is sleeping. He is very sweet to us, but isn't adjusting well to hi new fur family.

Please offer ANY suggestions. I want the peace back in the house :(

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New kitties, especially those that have been scared, chased, run off from the food, etc, are *very* defensive, & there'll be a certain period of hissing, spitting, growling, screaming like a cougar, laid-back ears, ugly-cat-faces, etc.

I'd get some Feliway & hope for the best.

& bless you for taking in one of the most vulnerable.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 8:27PM
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Thank you for rescuing that poor kitty. Since Stanley is declawed he comes with his own unique set of "problems". Declawed cats feel especially vulnerable because they've learned they no longer have claws to protect them or climb to get away from predators. If he was found outside he probably had a very difficult time defending himself against dogs, and other territorial cats. Poor baby. That is probably why he is reacting the way he is toward your animals. If you have the patience I would give him more time. Two weeks isn't very long- I recently brought home a rescue cat (she HATEs other cats) and I left her in a separate room for over a month before fully introducing her to her new fur buddies.

I think Stanley needs to feel safe and secure in your house (he needs to know he can expect food and attention each day and you aren't going to abandon him) then he won't feel he needs to fight the other animals for food or defend himself against "enemies" because right now this is how he sees your two dogs and your cat. If possible, a few hours each day or on the weekend, I would lock your dogs and cat in a separate room and give Stanley the run of the rest of the house. Let him feel comfortable and he can examine the new smells etc and once he feels comfortable then (after doing this a few times) I'd introduce him to the other animals one by one. Maybe one day put your 13 yr old lab out with him, then your cat etc. IF he doesn't have claws the only way he will hurt someone is by biting and if he doesn't feel his life is in danger he's not going to do that to your pets.

He feels threatened by your animals because on the street on his own, with no claws to climb trees to escape danger or to defend himself against other cats on top of scrounging for food (and if he is a 4 paw declaw he was someone's pet at one time and obviously discarded) and that is traumatic even for a cat. My rescue cat HATES other cats (she was miserable at the shelter) and sometimes she still hides for a few days because she doesn't want to be bothered by my other cats. But just last night I found her curled up at the foot of the bed curled up against my 7 year old female (the head cat of the household) I think she realized that as long she doesn't challenge her, my 7 year old wont give her any trouble or bother her so she's no longer bothered by her or afraid of her. SO there is hope for your Stanley. He just needs time to adjust. And if you aren't up to it then take him to a no-kill shelter so they can rehome him. There are always people looking for declawed cats.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 9:36PM
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Maybe give him some more time. It can take a really long time for a cat to adjust. I just saw my youngest cat approach my dog and sniff his paw (while he was sleeping) for the very first time ever. I've had the dog for close to three years! I'm still holding out hope they will one day be buddies.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 11:39PM
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Thank you everyone. I would NEVER bring Stanley to a shelter. That is just not in my genetic makeup!!!! My husband always says that I am a long lost relative of St. Francis-he actually wanted to name Stanley "Francis" for that reason.
Stanley and my cat EJ had a pretty bad dual yesterday. Stanley went after him again and for the 1st time EJ responded aggressivley. Neither EJ, or my 2 labs for that matter, have ever been exposed to an aggressive animal before. I think my animals probably dont know how to handle Stanley's aggressive behavior. My thoughts are to take a step back and seperate them for a day or so and try again. Is this right?
Is it smart to do it that way? 2 steps up and 1 step back when needed when things go backward? If that is the right way please let me know.
It has only been a few weeks but we love Stanley already. He is so sweet, and just a love bug.
Can anyone share how long it took if you were in a similar situation?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 8:56AM
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My guess is that Stanley, being the aggressor with no armaments, will learn that he's outgunned & will modify his behavior.

but give him a few weeks, anyway.

& get that Feliway.

I like your hubs's idea for a name!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 2:02PM
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Be certain you have him looked at by a vet, his bad temprament may be due to an underlying illness.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 3:41PM
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It is very common for a new cat in an animal-occupied household to be very defensive-aggressive. This is likely to be even more amplified when the newbie has suffered amputation of his primary defensive weapons, as in Stanley's case. Not only is Stanley fully aware that he has been thrust into unfamiliar animals' territory, which is enough to put most cats on the defensive, but he's also aware of his disability in terms of his own physical defense. He's in a "first-strike" mentality right now, trying to scare off the enemies who he sees as potentially mortal threats.

I've been down this road many times with many adult cat integrations into my household, so I will share my two most successful integration strategies with you. First, I set the newbie up in my bedroom/master bath and fill the doorway between the bedroom and livingroom with baby gates from bottom to top (the door could also be temporarily replaced with a sturdy screen door). This allows the newbie to view all of the household goings-on from the safety of his side of the gates, and allows safe interactions between newbie and resident animals without any direct physical contact. This provides the newbie with time to observe interactions between the resident animals, to see that resident dogs don't chase resident cats, and to learn the residents' body language and general demeanor.

Depending on the newbie's reactions from his side of the gates, it may take days, weeks, or months before I feel comfortable bringing the newbie out for brief visits into the rest of the house. Regardless of how long I have given the newbie to decompress and acclimate in the bedroom, there is almost always fear aggression as soon as I take the newbie out of the safety of his own room. For this reason, I almost always put a kitty harness (NOT a collar) and light leash on the newbie when first bringing him into the rest of the house. With the leash, I can immediately curb and control any aggressive actions on the part of the newbie so that he won't make immediate enemies of the resident animals. I may hold the newbie on my lap for a couple of minutes while the resident animals go about their usual activities, or I may allow the newbie to explore a bit while I follow passively behind, ready to immediately curb aggressive behavior with the leash.

Depending on the stress exhibited by the newbie, these first outings may only last a couple of minutes. I let the newbie set the pace. If he wants to stay out of the bedroom and explore longer, that's fine as long as he doesn't try to go after the other cats. The longer he passively observes the other animals, the more quickly he learns that they pose no significant threat to him, and the sooner he will release his aggression. But again, it's all on his time table. My job is to hold the leash and keep the peace while the newbie is figuring out that he's actually safe in this new environment with these new animals and people.

One the newbie has started to relax around the other animals and his aggression has largely diminished (could take hours, days, or weeks), I'll drop the leash and allow him to drag it around behind him while he's out of the bedroom. This gives him greater freedom while still making it easy for me to quickly grab the leash if trouble breaks out. If all goes well and peacefully during the leash-dragging phase, I'll remove the leash but keep the harness on. If all remains peaceful, I'll eventually remove the harness, too.

I strongly advise you to get a harness and leash for Stanley right away before there is any more aggressive degradation of his relationship with EJ. Unfortunately, when mutual aggression occurs early in a feline relationship, it sometimes never improves. You need to prevent any further aggression between those two if you hope to restore peace to your household. Using my baby gate and harness/leash strategies, I've had cats who were fully integrated into the household within a few days, and others who took as long as 4 1/2 months.

Oh, one important note - never EVER leave a harness and/or leash on a cat unattended. Use them only when you are available to keep a close eye on the cat wearing them.

Best of luck with Stanley man.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 5:21PM
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Thanks Laurie for the great ideas. Will be buying a harness and leash today! I will keep everyone posted.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 8:33AM
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This is all great advice that I cannot add to, and will file away for MY use at some future date.
I will add however, that it's been two years since our new cat family member joined us. The resident cat was the aggressor at first, but there have been amazing dynamics working for these two years. Now the 2 cats will lie beside each other (albeit NOT touching, but hey, hope springs eternal, huh?!) The younger, new-comer definitely is right up at the same status as the original, older one with only a little "posturing" going on now, which may always occur.
Thank you for your big heart & Good luck!
p.s. I have always told them to "knock-it-off" if things seemed to be going into undesired territory...! Maybe that has helped.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 10:10AM
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Patience is the answer. Cats take a long time to adjust to a new environment. Might take a year or more. Eventually, they will become part of the family. Eventually.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 6:30PM
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