when your feline friends just can't get along
i haven't said much about my feline siblings, tut and refugee but it's because i have been upset that they don't get along anymore.
i decided however that this is probably something other peeps deal with and that maybe it could help someone else out there struggling to make sense of their cats.
dogs are not so complicated- you can tell what we like and what we want, but cats are much more mysterious. this can make it hard to understand when there is a problem (unless it's their usual go to: inappropriate litter box use) or what to do about it.
our big brother tut is an old man now at 12- he's been with mom and dad since 2012, so he's an OG in this fam!
he is also a bit of a grump. he was given up twice before he came to stay with mom and dad because he was beating up on the other cats in the house! he was so grumpy, he even growled and yowled at mom and dad for about a week...
of course most people might find this unattractive, but they thought he was funny. he was harmless- he didn't scracth or bite, just made a lot of noise. he reminded them a little of the legend, biki who has died not long before that.
mom and dad just went grocery shopping and when they came home they found him still warm, but dead on the bed...it was very upsetting.
he was a giant cat- oddly enough the runt...and biki used to complain a lot too. tut reminded them in a good way of biki, but he was still his own cat- and mom has always wanted a bengal...and without any other cats anymore, tut was welcome to stay.
through all the fostering mom and dad have done, hundreds of cats and kittens have come through the house. tut hates ALL of them. they keep the cats separate anyway (as many times this is best for cat fostering), but when they were playing with them or bottle feeding, even kittens would make tut hiss and run away!
then they brought home refugee.
ref was a sickly, alien looking (like me!) baby who they did not think would live. she was actually a stow away in a crate with a mom and her litter of kittens- but she had no paperwork and didn't match them. we believe the shelter workers knew she didn't have a chance there and if she made it all the way to us (from california), then she'd hopefully be tough enough to survive!
ref was so small and weak, mom had to get up every 2 hours and feed her. she took her everywhere- and even started a facebook page where people could see her progress and be a role model for others- especially in regard to the critical importance of fostering.
for whatever reason, tut DID like ref. we couldn't figure it out, but he even started to PLAY- something we'd never thought we'd see. ref worshiped him and followed him everywhere...
we were so happy they were so happy together.
but then ref started limping. this went on for a bit, but mom and dad didn't think he leg was broken because she could move it and put pressure on it- it seemed more like a soft tissue injury.
ref started to get grumpy and would hiss at tut sometimes- because even though he didn't mean anything, he would hurt her when they did try playing. the vet said she should be put on crate rest, so we put her back in her "baby condo" where we used to keep her and her surrogate siblings.
she and tut would see each other daily, but they couldn't play...and ref wasn't getting better.
we got xrays done and it turned out her hip was broken! she has a genetic weakness and the vet said it required surgery and would likely happen to the other hip as well?! poor ref.
it too a while to get the surgery lined up and then the recovery was about 6 weeks of more crate rest.
we think that she had started to associate tut with pain- and we think he went back into "only cat" mode because he was no longer directly interacting with her (or sharing the litter box).
she was getting better- but he started attacking her! she wanted to go back in her baby condo all the time, so we took it away- but mom and dad couldn't trust them together...
mom and dad were very stressed and had to keep them apart.
they tried everything to help repair the relationship.
they tried all sorts of herbal remedies...
mom was working on her cbd formulas at the time, so she tried that. it worked for ref but not tut.
it works for most animals, but on occasion some do not seem affected by it, or it makes them more excitable. tut seemed to be more alert, rather than relaxed...although ref felt better not being so stressed about tut attacking her- so they have used that for her.
they tried alternating spaces- so tut could be out in the house one night, ref in mom and dad's room, then the next night they'd switch. we hoped that in sharing the same litter boxes, tut would again adjust to another cat- but no. once even when mom and dad were home for supervised time, tut jumped in the (covered) litter box and attacked ref inside!
we took it back a step and tried mixing their litter with them both separately.
they tried giving treats as a reward for behaving. tut's fav is bonito flakes! when he has them, he gets a little insane though, kind of like a crack fiend...he was very alter and edgy so mom and dad didn't trust his energy and they gave up on that fearing he'd guard them and be worse with her than before...
the only thing that worked was separation.
ref got to a point where she preferred the bedroom and wouldn't come out even if tut was in the laundry room. she just wanted to hide under the bed or be in the dark room all the time...mom would bring her out for furry mommy time (dude, it's so weird, when mom gets out a blanket, ref starts suckling on it and kneading on mom because she was orphaned too early in life) but even then sometimes she seemed uncomfortable when she tried to relax after a furry mommy session.
the other night mom and dad left ref out (not on purpose but she stayed sleeping on the couch instead of running to the bedroom with mom)- and when they opened the bedroom door in the morning, ref strolled in!
there had been no major ordeal in the night, so they started to have hope again that maybe she and tut could be friends...and dad had the idea to put a screen door on their bedroom because baby gates had not been enough.
so today we went on a field trip to lowes to get supplies so dad and meaty could install it. be sure to read meaty's post about the diy part...but we all have our fingers crossed that maybe after a YEAR of this separation, we can have felines who are friends again!
if you have cats that are not getting along, mom has a lot of advice- just ask us (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
although this time it was a very complex situation, most of the tricks and tips she offers really do work. most people don't know them and don't even try before giving up their cats- but mom and dad knew that just wasn't an option...
mom and dad really do love us and they put up with so much crap...not everyone can or will though and surrender their animals. this is especially true for cats, because people just don't understand them- and fail to realize how often their issues are actually medically related.
the golden rule of cat guardianship is: if your cat changes their behavior, especially starts inappropriate elimination, the first stop should be the vet.
your cat isn't mad at you- but they are upset about something...thousands of cats are surrendered every day for this- and they don't make it out of the shelter in most cases.
you must keep trying for your pets! they need you to keep trying...