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Need advice re. stray kitty

Posted by petra (My Page) on
Tue, Jul 19, 11 at 13:57

Here's the situation: A little stray cat took up residence underneath one of the neighbor's sheds. She is not a cat person and does not want any pets anyway because she is in the process of selling her house. But she felt sorry for kitty and started feeding him.

We contacted the local TNR for her, but she had to go out of town for 2 weeks, so we ended up taking him to the TNR assigned vet and had him tested (he is healthy except for an infection for which he got an antibio shot), neutered, vaccination, ear mite and flea treatment.

He's been staying on our screened porch to recover and he is the most loving, sweet, affectionate cat. At least until he is around other cats. Then, he gets very upset, starts growling and going into defensive mode.

Most of our kitties just look at him and avoid him, but our 5 year old former alley cat wants to kick his butt, he stalks him and tries to pounce on him, which does not go over too well. We've been doing our best to keep them separated, but it is difficult because it is currently so hot in TX that everyone has to be in the house during the day. Little stray does spend the night on the porch once it gets cooler, around 10 pm.

We are trying really, really hard to find a home for him, but I am wondering if the cat aggressive/fearful behavior will likely decrease once his hormones have decreased from being neutered? A home without other pets would be ideal, of course, but that will probably be impossible unless we get really lucky.

Also, since he gets so fearful/defensive when other cats are around, we probably have to be careful to not get bitten/scratched? How do you protect yourself from that when he is on one's lap, for example?

Any advice would be much appreciated!!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Poor little guy!

No wild-born true feral cat would sit in your lap at all;
he's a tame kitty that's been scared out of his wits for a very long time.

I've used blankets folded into multiple thicknesses, quilts, even a clean braided kitchen rug, to keep from getting gouged.

Yes, the declining hormone level will help, but the heart of the matter is that he's undoubtedly been beat up by bigger, more dominant cats, & he's in full defensive mode.

It'll take a while to calm him down & to make peace (or at least detante!) between him & your kitties, but eventually it'll happen, & it's so worth it.

Meanwhile, you might try Feliway on all of them.
It's a hormone that conveys "I come in peace, I am not a threat, my intentions are friendly" between cats.

seems like the last I got was at PetSmart.

& if he's been in the house already, he'll do fine.

Bless you for taking him in.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

ditto..Bless you for saving this scared little guy. It always takes cats awhile to straighten the pecking order out, Good Luck.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Thanks for your replies, Sylvia and Lily. It sound encouraging that he will likely get over his hissyfits. :o)
We've taken in quite a few strays, but none of them have been scared and defensive toward other cats. He is very, very small for his age, I thought he was a kitten, but the vet said he is between 18 and 24 months old.
I will give Feliway a try once we've worked our way up to try exposure to top cat again, I sure hope it will help.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

All good advice except, No wild-born true feral cat would sit in your lap at all.....
Presently, I have 2 born feral little girls that are the most affectionate cats you'd ever see...I rescued/trapped them when they were about 6 month old and it did indeed take time and lots of calming words but it works....We just lost a tabby, that also had been feral and he was my baby, snuggled with me every night and gave kisses when I asked...He's been gone for almost a year and I miss him so much.....
And right now, I have a new kitten in my laundry room waiting to be vet checked...I have a feeling, she was dumped and not a feral but she sure is a sweetie....We also take care of 3 ferals outside and 2 of them, I'm able to pick up, 1 I could literary throw over my shoulder...With them, we just couldn't get them inside...But all have been spayed/neutered and are living a good life.....
Bless you for taking care of this fur baby......


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Sunny, I do know he is not a feral, we trapped a true feral and her two 6 month old kittens 10 years ago. There is really no comparison in behavior, though by now the mama and one of the kittens (the other one passed away over a year ago) are both very tame and affectionate.

Anyway, he has gotten used to the dogs, but still does not have any tolerance for any of the other cats.

We have a possible prospect for a home, but the people already have 2 other cats, both females. I wonder if that might work out better than other males?


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

You could let the prospective new owners take him on a trial basis but be sure they understand how to introduce cats. Personally, I would not allow him to be taken to a new home and just put down in the middle of a room where there are resident cats.
As I'm sure you know, it takes time for a cat to adjust to new surroundings just as it takes time for the resident cats to accept there's a newcomer in the house.
Hopefully they have a room that he can be feel safe in for awhile before he's introduced to the new cats. During that isolation time, the cats can check each other out thru the door and it would be even better if there was a secure screen door in place of the regular door.

If the 2 females are not aggressive, there's a good chance it may all work out.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

I agree with annz, it will take some time to adjust...Very good idea about the screen door...I've done that and it works....Right now, I'm introducing the new little fur ball to our other 2 inside cats and it's been interesting....The 1st time they saw her, they're eyes couldn't have gotten any bigger and the look on their faces was priceless...I'm sure there's going to be a lot of hissing and swatting but hopefully in time, 1 big happy family.....
Time, patience and lots of love......


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Actually, one of the 2 females is quite aggressive. They can't take him until well into August anyway as they are moving. It will be kinda hard to do on a trial basis as the roundtrip from here to their new house will be 6 hours.

Kitty seems to consider the porch his territory, we brought our 17 year old guy (very non-threatening) out on the porch with us and kitty tried to attack him and chase him away. It is disheartening, with just about all of the strays we've taken it, there has been minimal aggression and conflict. I guess we've been lucky.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

He may be one of those cats that just prefers to be alone and if that's the case, I'd be hesitant to send him to a home with an aggressive cat.

I agree with Sylvia that he's probably a cat that has suffered at the paws of aggressive toms.....and since he's so small he's learned to be extra defensive.
Keep looking for homes if you can't keep him and stress in his bio that he needs to be an only cat. There are plenty of homes that want only one cat........me being one of them. :~)

Continue working with rescue groups and also post flyers at your vet's office.
BTW....how long has he been in your home?


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

He's been here for week, I caught him the night before his neuter and we've had him ever since.
This morning did not go too well, our former alley cat squeezed passed me on the porch when I brought him food, and attacked him. :(
It looked like a cartoon cat fight, just a ball of fur with claws sticking out and horrible sounds. The little one tried to hide, but Mr. Bully kept going after him. I was finally able to separate them because the little one hid behind the big fern, and I was able to chase bully off the porch with a broom. So, I really don't know what to do, it looks like bully is determined to chase the little one off.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

petra, I know that's disheartening but they probably will tolerate each other over time. My teenager cat bullied my old lady cat unmercifully; I felt so bad for her. Eventually my swooping in, using the water spray bottle, and yelling did the trick, and they got to the point where they'd even sleep next to each other and groom each other. It took a long time, but it will most likely happen. Do try the water technique: cats despise a face full of water. Your bully will get the message.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Marita, a water pistol is what my husband mentioned when I told him about the fight. I am glad to read it does work. The little one is so upset, I left him in my office while I had to go out and he did not even eat anything. As soon as I came back, he wanted to be cuddled and reassured. I feel so bad for him. I have to take one of the other ones to the vet next week, I will also ask her if she has any suggestions.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Your new little guy is fear-aggressive, which isn't at all uncommon under the circumstances. "Mr. Bully" is territorial-aggressive, which is also quite common. When I've been faced with any type of aggressive behavior while integrating a new feline into my household, I have found it very helpful to put a harness (NOT a collar) and light leash on the aggressor(s) so that I can control all interactions and put an immediate stop to any aggressive behavior until everyone's nerves settle. I start out holding the end of the leash and allowing the cat to lead me around the house, taking up the slack in the leash only if and when the cat gets into a potentially aggressive interaction with one of the other animals. Once the cat is peacefully moving around the house and other animals without conflict, I drop the leash and allow the cat to drag it around behind him as he moves around the house. This makes it easy to make a quick grab of the leash if trouble breaks out. If everything remains peaceful, I'll remove the leash but keep the harness on, again to make it easier to grab the cat, if necessary. If peace continues, I'll eventually remove the harness. This entire process can take anywhere from hours to weeks, depending on the feline personalities involved.

Of course, a cat should NEVER be left unattended while wearing either a harness or leash, so remove both when you have the little newbie tucked safely away on the porch.

Be sure to praise the leashed cat lavishly when his behavior is peaceful, but be very firm in halting bad behavior instantly with the leash and a sharp, "NO!" if it should occur. At the very least, you should be able to convince your cats to tolerate each others' presence without physical conflict. At best, you'll broker a happy peace in your family.

Laurie


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Laurie, that is a great idea! Don't have any cat harnesses, but will buy one this weekend. That, combined with Marita's water pistol, might work.

Territorial and fear aggression makes sense, it sounds like that is exactly what's going on. Mr. Bully is very territorial. Once, after we first took him in, he escaped and chased the kitty next door into HIS house through the pet door, where he proceeded to try to terrorize him. The neighbors were very surprised.

I finally got a chance to examine both of them and there don't seem to be any injuries, but there sure was a lot of fur flying on the porch.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Keep a close eye on them both for abscesses for the next week. It's nearly impossible to see a deep claw puncture under the fur, but it can cause a nasty abscess. When a bad fight breaks out between two of my boys, I generally give them both antibiotics immediately and for three days prophylactically to avoid abscesses.

When I use the harness/leash tactic on a newbie here, it usually makes the cat a little nervous because of the feel of the harness and restriction of the leash, but most cats accept it without too much fuss. One of my newbies, though, went into an absolute panic with the harness and leash on, so I had to abandon that step and let him integrate on his own with my uncontrolled supervision. Not an ideal situation, but you have to be flexible when dealing with these feline personalities.

If your fear-aggressive boy tries to aggress toward one of the other cats while on the harness/leash, stop him with the leash, but don't speak sharply or harshly to him. Instead, use a soothing tone of voice and physical comfort to calm his nerves.

If "Mr. Bully" tries to cause trouble, though, DO snatch him back with the leash and give him a strong verbal reprimand. You need to make sure he knows that his aggressive behavior will not be tolerated and that he will not be given the opportunity to ignore you.

The trick here is to NOT allow ANY physical altercations to erupt. Unfortunately, that's already occurred between these cats, and it's not something that either one of them will forget. That's going to make it harder for you to get them to accept each other without fear or fighting, but you can do it if you're consistent and don't try to rush the process. It's just going to take more time to convince the fear-aggressor that he's safe and doesn't need to go on the defensive, and more time to convince the territorial-aggressor that he can't get away with it any more.

Laurie


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Cats often attack their housemate who's just come home from the vet. They smally funny. And you'vd got a guy who's changing his scent from "Tom" to "gender neutral". The amount of scents and hormones going on would trigger a kerfluffle even if these cats were best buds before the surgery.

What they are doing is 100% normal, and using force to prohibit the settling of who's "top cat" will only increase the anxiety level of both kitties. They will have to work it out themselves. And, they will, if you don't interfere too much. Let them have their separate spaces for now.

And just like with any kitty introduction, swap "their" spaces so that they can get used to the other's scent. This stage may take a while, because stray kitty's smell is changing. After a couple of weeks of that, you can put them into a "neutral" territory, with good places to hide for each. They may growl and make all kinds of awful noises, and shed enough fur so that it looks like you have a whole other cat there, and they may tussle and get a scratch or two, but that's 100% normal! If you interfere, it will just delay the inevitable confrontation, plus it will make your current "Boss Cat" feel threatened in his position because you are making it seem like the newcomer is your favorite and taking his share of territory and attention.

So, you have to restrain yourself from too much trying to "make peace". It's counterproductive for the situation. A spritz or two of water is usually all that's needed after a couple of those posturing events---as long as newcomer is willing to let old kitty stay boss. Right now, that "tom" scent is a big problem because it smells like dominance and territory claiming to all of the house kitties and so has their hackles up.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Holly, more to think about!! We do let top cat on the porch whenever the little one is in my office, so they are exposed to each other's scent. The rest of the cats are really not a big problem, only the two of them. I am just kinda worried about letting them fight it out, the fight yesterday appeared to be pretty violent.

Our relatives who we were hoping might take him came for a visit today, and it did not go well. His extremely loving and affectionate behavior is apparently only reserved for us, he showed absolutely no interest in the two of them, ignored them when they tried to call him and went to nuzzle my husband, then jumped on my lap and stayed there the whole time. I was hoping he would make a really good impression, I think he did this on purpose, ha ha.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

In my experience, the "let them work it out" philosophy only works with cats who actually want to work it out. When you have a dominant cat who is bent on driving the newbie out of his territory, or you have a submissive cat who can be seriously injured, either physically or psychologically, by the aggression, "working it out" can result in large vet bills (surgically draining abscesses), permanent injury (punctured eyeball and blindness), and/or behavioral or physical manifestations of severe stress (litterbox avoidance, spraying, hiding, biting, illness). Why risk those types of problems when they can be avoided by taking a proactive role in the integration process? You're not talking about normal hissy behavior between unfamiliar felines. You're talking about violent, physical fights that can result in very serious injury. Different dynamic, different solution.

Laurie


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Hub and I discussed it and we are too scared to let them work it out as Mr. Bully seems to want to chase the interloper away. It does not seem to be a case of one trying to assert his dominance over the other, the purpose seems to be to get rid of the unwanted addition. I was thinking maybe put a small elisabethan collar on bully (or both of them?) prior to putting them together? Maybe that would force them to get used to each other without bully being able to inflict injury? Or is that a totally stupid idea?


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

I would NOT put anything on either cat that would impair their visual fields, or you run the risk of even greater injury if and when they get into another physical fight. As I have recommended before, I would put harnesses and leashes on both of them to control their interactions and prevent physical contact until both cats are acclimated to each other's presence and essentially ignoring each other.


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e-collar

Another consideration regarding e-collars in this situation -

When bully attacks newbie, which he almost certainly will even when wearing an e-collar, you run the additional risk of the cats getting their claws stuck in or under the e-collar. If these cats become stuck together, panic, can't separate, and become even more violent, you're looking at the strong probability of serious injury to one or both cats and/or to whoever gets between them to try to separate them.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Oh, I didn't think of them getting their claws stuck. Glad I checked here first, I guess it WAS a stupid idea.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

I once got one of my fingers stuck under a huge mat that I was trying to work out of the long hair under Annabelle's tail. Annabelle got extremely angry about it and started to squirm, wriggle, and twist around trying to escape. All she accomplished, though, was to wrap her mat and long butt hair so tightly around my finger that I couldn't pull it out, and the mat was still too stuck to her skin to pull loose. The tighter she wrapped my finger, the more purple my finger turned, and the harder it pulled on her mat. She screamed and scratched and bit and continued to twist, while I tried to scruff her with my free hand while still trying to pull my now very dark purple finger free of the mat. It was horrible! She was in a panic and in pain, and so was I. It was almost midnight, and I was trying to figure out how to get to a phone to try to call a friend to come rescue us from each other, but I knew that if I let go of Annabelle's scruff to try to dial, she would shred me and continue to wrap herself around my blood-deprived, throbbing finger. By then I was seriously thinking that I might lose my finger. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally managed to jerk my hand sharply enough to tear out the mat and free my finger, which, thankfully, pinked back up quickly. That wasn't the first time I've been "stuck" to an angry cat, but it was easily the worst. It took a while for my hands and arms to heal from the many wounds Annabelle inflicted on me that night, but I really couldn't blame her. It was my own stupid fault for getting my finger stuck under her butt mat to begin with.

So, no, you REALLY don't want to risk getting your little newbie stuck to an angry, fighting cat. Been there, done that, was NOT fun!

Laurie


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Checked for harnesses this morning, no luck. Will have to order some online. He is making great progress with the other kitties, but we are still keeping him and bully apart.

Laurie, I am glad you didn't lose your finger. It sounds really scary and painful. One of our rescues is part Norwegian Forest cat with really long hair and hates to be brushed, so she gets the worst mats. I've figured out petting her and sneakily and carefully cutting the mats while she is distracted works really well.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Here's an update, and I still need more advice. We've used the harness on alpha cat, new addition does not need one because he has lost all aggression since a few weeks after he was neutered. He gets along well with everyone, except alpha cat.

Along with scent swapping, we tried putting newcomer in a big kennel in the middle of the living room so they can see each other and interact without allowing physical confrontation.

Alpha remains aggressive and still wants to get at the interloper. We are able to have both of them on the bed, as long as bully is wearing the harness. Newcomer is very non-confrontational, when alpha makes a move toward him, he throws himself on his side and gives up. He also avoids eye contact and turns his back toward alpha when they are both on the bed. He just wants alpha to leave him alone, but it's not working.

It's been more than 6 weeks and without the harness on alpha, no improvement. When alpha smells newcomer under the door, there is lots of hissing and growling and sticking paws under the door to get at newcomer.

I don't know what else to do, should we resign ourselves to the fact that alpha will never accept the newcomer and we'll always have to keep them separated?


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Honestly, I don't think 6 weeks is long enough but I'm sure your patience is wearing thin. Do you really think at this point the alpha will attack the newcomer? Cats that confront each other do major hissy fits to establish dominance/territory but rarely draw blood from one another. I just wonder whether you should drop the harness and cage, walk away and ignore them, and let them duke it out at this point. Perhaps one major confrontation will get it out of their system. I know my old lady cat never fully accepted the newcomer--lots of hissing and growling for a long time--but after about a year got to the point (every so often) of allowing herself to be groomed by him.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Well, if 6 weeks isn't long enough, we'll just keep plugging away. I am still too scared to let them duke it out. :o)
They met up minus harness in my office earlier because alpha jumped over the gate, they were maybe 8 inches apart. Alpha got puffy and made himself bigger, and newbie hissed and retreated. But there was no attack or fighting or batting at each other. Maybe that's progress??


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

petra, I think that was progress. My guess is that if you put them together again minus the safeguards they'll do exactly this--puff, hiss, maybe roll with each other once or twice, retreat--once or twice more and then be done with it. At some point you have to take the risk, and you may be surprised. I just wonder whether your hovering (as you probably are) during your current controlled meetings is such a habit for them now (you may be unconsciously egging on their behavior) that they are "stuck" there (does this make sense?) You probably won't see progress until you change the situation. Just my two cents! I've had cats all my life.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

When they recently met in your office, what was your reaction?
I think marita makes a good point about your presence playing a role in their reaction to each other. As she mentioned, it's not uncommon for animals that are on the verge of fighting to watch, and react to, the response of any third party that is nearby. Sooo, whatever your feedback was at the time may have determined the outcome. I'm really curious as to what would have happened if you'd turned your back and walked away.
I would think cats have the same reaction as dogs when one is leashed/harnessed and others are not. What adds to the scenario is if the person holding the leash is at all tense and nervous. All that energy will feed directly to the pet at the end of the leash.

I don't think I'd put the newcomer in a crate in the middle of the room since it can make him feel even more vulnerable and unable to protect himself.

What was the alpha's reaction to the water pistol?
I think you're seeing progress. The fact they can lay on the bed together and the encounter in the office is a good sign.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Marita and Annz, could be that we are hampering their progress. My husband does tend to hover when they meet up and, when alpha jumped the gate, followed him and picked him up immediately. On the bed, he holds the leash and tugs it when he deems necessary. I think because Newbie is so small and submissive, he feels very protective over him. I do too, he is the sweetest cat and we don't want him to get injured.

Annz, the kennel in the room was a tip from another forum that we tried a few times when we first took newbie in. I mentioned that we tried it in case it would be be suggested here. It did not seem to make any difference at all in their interaction (I covered half of the kennel with a large towel so newbie would not feel exposed, and newbie retreated under the covered area and took naps, and alpha cat would walk off and do his own thing), so that was the end of that.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

"Duking it out" has never been a productive strategy in my feline household, and I can no longer afford the $400 vet bill to have an abscess surgically drained after a serious cat fight. I also have no interest in seeing any of my cats blind each other, as happened to one of my friend's cats after a fight with another of her cats. There's a big difference between cats who are establishing a social hierarchy through normal hissing, posturing, and swatting, and a highly aggressive tom (or ex-tom) who would rather try to kill another cat to defend his territory.

Petra has painted a picture of a very aggressive cat who seems intent on driving the submissive newbie from his territory by any means necessary. I agree that the leash/harness and the presence of petra and her husband are influencing the cats' behaviors, but that's exactly as it needs to be at this point to protect the newbie and enforce peace on the aggressive resident cat. Petra, if you allow the cats to interact without supervision, and if I am interpreting your posts correctly, I would expect the aggressor to attack the newbie at the first available, unsupervised opportunity, and I would expect the newbie to quickly become a very timid, reclusive cat who hides all day to try to prevent being attacked. I may be wrong, and I hope I am, but that's the picture I've gotten from this thread.

If my interpretation of the feline personalities involved is correct, here is how I would proceed. I would continue to use the leash and harness most of the time that the two cats had access to each other, but I would also incorporate closely supervised sessions where I would drop the leash and allow the bully to move freely, dragging the leash behind him. As long as he doesn't aggressively approach the newbie, he retains his freedom to move at will. The second he tries to attack, I grab the leash and the bully and put him into time-out in another room, by himself, behind a closed door for 30 minutes. Then he gets to come out and drag the leash again. Another attempt at a physical confrontation, and back into time-out he goes. Assuming he doesn't enjoy being put into isolation for 30 mins at a time, he'll make the connection between his aggressive behavior and the time-outs, and he'll start controlling his aggressive impulses.

The flip side to unpleasant consequences for unpleasant behaviors is pleasant consequences for pleasant behaviors. It's critically important to lavish the bully with love and playtime and attention and all good things when he's behaving peacefully toward the newbie. He needs to make the connection between his acceptance of the newbie and your positive attention toward him. When you give the bully positive attention, do it to the absolute exclusion of the newbie. The bully needs to be able to earn ALL of your UNDIVIDED positive attention, because he doesn't want to share it with the newbie. His greatest reward for good behavior is for you to ignore the newbie and give all of your attention to him (bully) alone. In time, the bully will recognize that the newbie's presence doesn't mean that you love him any less or that your attention toward him is diluted. He needs your reassurance that he, in no way, is being displaced by this new cat, either in your home or in your hearts.

Your bully is a strongly demonstrative cat, and he will understand and respond to strongly demonstrative love and discipline from you. Don't be subtle. Don't be wimpy. Use a very sharp, loud voice and a clear snap of the leash when he's bad, and lavish him with whatever he loves most when he's good. Cats are self-serving. He'll figure out what it takes to get the good things that he wants.

Laurie


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Sorry that I gave my opinion Laurie! I am sure you are the correct one.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Everyone is more than welcome to their opinions, myself included. I'm sure that petra knows that each of our opinions are based in our own experiences. She also knows that no one knows her cats like she does, so she has to take all of the information that we are offering her and see which seems to apply most directly to her own cats. I've never met petra's cats. All I can do is make assumptions about them based on my interpretation of the information petra has provided on this thread. Maybe I'm correct. Maybe I'm not. I've lived with animals for 56 years, and even my own cats surprise me at times.

I hope that everyone will continue to offer their best advice to petra so that she can use our collective knowledge and experience to tailor an integration system that will eventually lead to peaceful cohabitation of her cats.

Laurie


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Well said, Laurie. I don't think there is always one and only one way on these things. Our 4 legged creatures are all so different, aren't they? I myself really enjoy reading all the different suggestions and love it when the poster takes the time to give us feedback on what worked.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Guys, I am really grateful for all the replies and advice, and I really appreciate all the different view points. I don't think anyone is wrong, it just depends on the cats involved.

I am sure most of you have much more experience than I with bickering cats because though we've had a lot of cats, we've been lucky to not have had any major personality conflicts or fights whenever a new one was introduced.

This is the first time we've had a former alley cat alpha male in the household when introducing a new cat and it is quite different from the way it normally is. Hub and I are very willing to take as long as necessary to get these two introduced, we just don't want any bloodshed.

The alpha cat is a very willful, bossy, communicative, curious, confident guy. He wants things the way he wants them, case closed. He can also be a sweetheart when he wants to be. He pretty much bosses everyone around and he probably felt things were just the way he wants them when this interloper showed up and ruined everything. The new guy is timid and not quite sure of his role because he has not interacted with alpha very much.

Laurie, the problem with the harness is that alpha feels so encumbered by it, he will not walk. He just lies down. When they are both on the bed he will try to creep toward newbie, so the leash helps with that. But when he is on the floor, he just sits there and makes faces at newbie and yells at him.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

kittens,

I completely agree! There's never just one way to do anything when dealing with individual personalities, both human and non-human. I have to adjust and sometimes completely rethink my integration strategies each time a new feline shows up on my farm. What works great with one may completely fail with another. That's why forums like this one are so valuable. Here, a pet lover can fill their caretaking "toolbox" with an endless supply of tips, tricks, strategies, and procedures that they can use in infinite combinations to address whatever issues come up in the daily lives of their animal companions.

I find animals endlessly fascinating - esp. cats. I love to observe the way they act, react, and interact. Cats, I think, have been my most inspiring teachers because of their psychological diversity and complexity. I just love animals who can still surprise me after all these years.

Petra, please keep updating us on your progress with the boys.

Laurie


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Hmm. I'm guessing that the bully's leash has been tugged on enough that he's now learned that he has no mobility while wearing the harness. You're going to have to reverse that lesson and teach him that he can move with it on. In order to advance to my next recommended step, which is to allow the bully to drag the leash around without anyone holding onto it, you're going to have to convince him that he is allowed to move while wearing the harness and leash. Try teasing him with a wand toy or laser pointer or even just a piece of twine or yarn dragged across the floor in front on him. Or maybe tie a really tasty treat on a string and drag that in front of him to get him moving. Or sit on the floor a foot or two in front of him and try to coax him into your lap. If none of that works, tuck the newbie safely away in his own room, then put the harness and leash on the bully wherever he is in the house and walk away from him. Don't go too far, though, because you need to be handy in case he gets himself wrapped around something. If you're not in the room with him, the bully will be more likely to test the boundaries of the harness and leash and start walking around on his own. You can even go get a meal for him and call him to the kitchen (or wherever he normally eats). With any luck at all, he'll figure out quickly that he really is allowed to move with the harness on.

Laurie


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Well, last night went great! They were both on the bed, no harness, no leash, and there was no confrontation for about half an hour. Then, bully crept toward newbie and made threatening sounds, so he was evicted from the bedroom. That might help too as he loves to be in the bedroom and hates being kicked out. If he associates being nice=bedroom privilege, being mean=evicted from bedroom, he might get the message. Of course, that might not solve the problem when they encounter each other in other parts of the house.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

That sounds like a very good step, BUT, I wouldn't recommend evicting bully all night. Bully may become even more resentful and aggressive if he believes that newbie is being favored and given his territory. Instead, evict bully for 30 mins, then allow him back into the bedroom. If he's good for another 30 mins, then take the newbie back to his own room and allow bully to stay in the bedroom with you alone for the rest of the night. That will enforce limited and appropriate discipline for bad behavior, and then reinforce bully's position as top cat in the household when he's good.

Laurie


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

No, no, he does not get evicted all night. Just for 15, 20 mins. He is the only one who sleeps in our bedroom because he actually sleeps all night and does not want in and out like the other kitties. Plus, he is hubby's buddy and cuddles with him. :o) He has not been displaced and we don't want him to think so. Newbie is free to roam the house at night, along with the other kitties.


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Ah, that sounds perfect then. You're making progress!

Laurie


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

The other thing that I would suggest is having your bully cat evaluated by your vet for hormone levels. It's rare, but occasionally a vet can miss some tissue during a neuter. That tissue isn't enough to make a boy cat be stinky boy tom cat, but it can be enough to produce enough testosterone to create aggression.

And, I know it sounds insane to many people to give a cat Prozac, but it's about $13 a month for the medication and it can make a real difference in aggression levels. It can ease bully boy over his rough patch for 6-8 months and then be gradually weaned from it. Once you get some responses hardwired by repetition, the habit remains even when the medication is gone. The biggest downside to the medication is, well, medicating a cat. some are far worse than others. A human compounding pharmacy can create a flavored liquid out of a pill medication and that often works better than a pill if bully boy is a bad pill swallower. And I still have a nylon "cat sack" Hannibal Lecter straitjacket around here somewhere that I think you can still buy. I got mine at Fosters and Smith. That and a pill popper and you won't get bitten or scratched. But, it may make bully boy be an expert at camouflage and evasion tactics!

My own bully boy, the now departed Onslow, underwent "chemical mood enhancement therapy" for a year before he'd leave my timid little girl cat alone. She screamed every time he headed her way, even though he never put a scratch on her. He just wanted to hold her down by the scruff of her neck and pretend he still had cojones. (That's where I learned about residual testicular tissue. Thankfully, he didn't have any and didn't need a second neutering.)


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RE: Need advice re. stray kitty

Green, that is interesting. He is a very irritable cat in general, but we thought that might just be his personality. He actually got more irritable and grumpier after being neutered.
I can see how meds would work to get him over the "hump" til he and newbie get along and friendly - or at least tolerant - relations are established. Thanks for suggesting that, will mention it to the vet next time I talk to her.
Re. medicating, newbie is the only cat we've ever had who lets you put a pill in his mouth and then actually swallows. :o)


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