New cat boxes with resident cat when I’m preparing meals for them.

DebfromPhilly

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Hi all. Hoping to get some suggestions. Luckily/thankfully, my new adult cat and resident adult are now getting along in the same space.
The only time there seems to be a fight (not serious) now, is every time I’m preparing their meals. New cat is food obsessed (had to fight to get her share when she was a breeder), and anxious, so I’ve been mixing in calming supplement to every meal for new cat, and then mash her food into a slow feeder. This is the only reason feeding them takes time, and this is why she freaks out (meowing loudly at me & boxing with resident cat).

My gut says: start putting new cat in bathroom while I’m preparing the food. What do you all think?

Thanks so much!!
 

Tobermory

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When I adopted a three-year-old (Mocha) and introduced her into my two-cat household (Iris and Lily), she was really anxious at mealtime. She had been in a group setting and the other cats constantly pushed her away from her food. I did end up separating them and putting their bowls in three different rooms. Mocha got hers immediately in the kitchen, and Lily and Iris would follow me to the bedroom and bathroom for theirs. Iris ate slowly so I’d close the door so she could eat in peace. Over time, Mocha relaxed and it wasn’t necessary any more.

A lot of people have to feed their cats separately—or separate them while food is being prepared. It does reduce stress for everyone!
 

Astragal14

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I have a somewhat similar situation with my two cats, but first I'll pose the same question my vet asked me when I discussed the situation with her:

Why do you need to get involved?

This question really threw me for a loop! I kept trying to justify why I thought I had to fix the situation. My vet finally said, "This is between them. They're not hurting each other, what's wrong with letting them figure it out?"

I still intervene when I think things may get out of hand, but I am much more relaxed about letting them do their thing while I prepare their meals. And I realized they're not fighting, and they're good about letting each other know where their boundaries are.

The situation with my two cats is that one kitty is a VERY nervous eater and one kitty is a very social eater. I start preparing meals (which is a slow process) and Social Kitty then tries to literally smother Nervous Kitty with hugs, rubs and tons of love; at times, this led to stress barfing, fights and whatnot.

What helps us the most is to give Social Kitty a very tiny snack when I start making their meals, this is enough to make her feel calm and she's not as overly affectionate with nervous kitty (he gets a snack too if he sees her get one). Would it help your new cat to feel less anxious if she has a small snack before you prepare their meals?

We live in an urban neighborhood that can get pretty noisy at times. Two other things we do to help keep mealtimes calm is to play calming music (David Teie's Music for Cats) and also a Feliway diffuser about an hour before they eat.

I'd be worried about placing your new cat in the bathroom because she already has anxiety about mealtimes, and forcing her into a room all by herself could make her feel worse. Could you give her a small snack while she's in there, or even give her the entire meal?

Or is there a place where she could eat her meal in a higher spot than your other cat, like on a table with a placemat? She may feel more secure if she's in a spot where she can keep an eye on everyone else while she eats.
 

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I have a somewhat similar situation with my two cats, but first I'll pose the same question my vet asked me when I discussed the situation with her:

Why do you need to get involved?

This question really threw me for a loop! I kept trying to justify why I thought I had to fix the situation. My vet finally said, "This is between them. They're not hurting each other, what's wrong with letting them figure it out?"

I still intervene when I think things may get out of hand, but I am much more relaxed about letting them do their thing while I prepare their meals. And I realized they're not fighting, and they're good about letting each other know where their boundaries are.

The situation with my two cats is that one kitty is a VERY nervous eater and one kitty is a very social eater. I start preparing meals (which is a slow process) and Social Kitty then tries to literally smother Nervous Kitty with hugs, rubs and tons of love; at times, this led to stress barfing, fights and whatnot.

What helps us the most is to give Social Kitty a very tiny snack when I start making their meals, this is enough to make her feel calm and she's not as overly affectionate with nervous kitty (he gets a snack too if he sees her get one). Would it help your new cat to feel less anxious if she has a small snack before you prepare their meals?

We live in an urban neighborhood that can get pretty noisy at times. Two other things we do to help keep mealtimes calm is to play calming music (David Teie's Music for Cats) and also a Feliway diffuser about an hour before they eat.

I'd be worried about placing your new cat in the bathroom because she already has anxiety about mealtimes, and forcing her into a room all by herself could make her feel worse. Could you give her a small snack while she's in there, or even give her the entire meal?

Or is there a place where she could eat her meal in a higher spot than your other cat, like on a table with a placemat? She may feel more secure if she's in a spot where she can keep an eye on everyone else while she eats.
This is a really interesting idea your vet has, and in a lot of ways I agree. My two girls will occasionally get into a boxing match, no claws, no injuries, but it's just irritation. It's almost as though I am the keeper of the food and I am the resource to guard when food is involved....Lila especially will march back and forth around me and the counters. I don't even have to be preparing their food and she goes into march-mode and will slap Sarah if she comes near. (And Sarah will slap back, but it never escalates.) I usually shut everyone in the other room where they eat, or give them an "oh, knock it off" (they never listen :lol: ). If I feared escalation or the fights were anything but little irritated slap-spats, I'd separate before I ever began preparing food. (Serious cat fights are impossible to miss.)
D DebfromPhilly , how does your first cat react to being boxed at?
 
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DebfromPhilly

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D DebfromPhilly , how does your first cat react to being boxed at?
Hi iPappy, When new cat starts boxing during meal prep, resident cat just looks annoyed, but later every day, resident cat chases new cat, and bites at new cat's back, and she/new cat has a few scabs on her back, actually more every morning when I check. I'm not sure if it's play gone wrong or if he/resident is really trying to hurt her. His ears aren't back when he does this, but his tail is not up either. She/new cat looks downright scared and I break it up every time I catch it. Not sure if I should start with reintroductions or not. What do you think?
 
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DebfromPhilly

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I have a somewhat similar situation with my two cats, but first I'll pose the same question my vet asked me when I discussed the situation with her:

Why do you need to get involved?

This question really threw me for a loop! I kept trying to justify why I thought I had to fix the situation. My vet finally said, "This is between them. They're not hurting each other, what's wrong with letting them figure it out?"

I still intervene when I think things may get out of hand, but I am much more relaxed about letting them do their thing while I prepare their meals. And I realized they're not fighting, and they're good about letting each other know where their boundaries are.

The situation with my two cats is that one kitty is a VERY nervous eater and one kitty is a very social eater. I start preparing meals (which is a slow process) and Social Kitty then tries to literally smother Nervous Kitty with hugs, rubs and tons of love; at times, this led to stress barfing, fights and whatnot.

What helps us the most is to give Social Kitty a very tiny snack when I start making their meals, this is enough to make her feel calm and she's not as overly affectionate with nervous kitty (he gets a snack too if he sees her get one). Would it help your new cat to feel less anxious if she has a small snack before you prepare their meals?

We live in an urban neighborhood that can get pretty noisy at times. Two other things we do to help keep mealtimes calm is to play calming music (David Teie's Music for Cats) and also a Feliway diffuser about an hour before they eat.

I'd be worried about placing your new cat in the bathroom because she already has anxiety about mealtimes, and forcing her into a room all by herself could make her feel worse. Could you give her a small snack while she's in there, or even give her the entire meal?

Or is there a place where she could eat her meal in a higher spot than your other cat, like on a table with a placemat? She may feel more secure if she's in a spot where she can keep an eye on everyone else while she eats.
Hi Astragal14! Thanks so much for your reply! I really love what your vet said, and I've heard Jackson Galaxy say pretty much the same thing. JG says if there is no blood and no fur flying, that it is what it is, and this may just be their reality. So, I do appreciate that and try to remember when I hear the fights.

I also appreciate your suggestions about feeding her a snack right before preparing the meal. This did not work, she just screamed as soon as her snack was gone. I did not put her in a different space when preparing food, as you suggested it may cause her more stress, and I think you are correct. I'm trying a few different things recently: ***I've been preparing cat meals for both cats in my pantry/laundry room (just off the kitchen). This has reduced new, hungry cat's aggression toward me (screaming/yeowling) and resident cat (boxing) significantly! YAY!

Also: I have an automatic feeder coming, one for each of my cats, called CatMate C500, because it has space for ice packs for wet food. From what I've read, in the reviews for this feeder, the cats stop screaming at humans for food, when you get these. I'm a little concerned about my relationship building From the reviews on the product, reviewers agree that the begging stops when they start using auto-feeders. I haven't gotten it yet. It's scheduled for delivery today, so we will see if that helps.
 
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DebfromPhilly

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WHAT IS WORKING IS: ***I've been preparing cat meals for both cats in my pantry/laundry room (just off the kitchen). This has reduced new, hungry cat's aggression toward me (screaming/yeowling) and resident cat (boxing) significantly! YAY!
 
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DebfromPhilly

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Questions for all:
1) Regarding Automatic Feeders: will I screw up my relationship building with new cat if I start using an automatic feeder with both cats?
2) My resident cat chases new cat, and bites at new cat's back, and she/new cat has a few scabs on her back, actually, there are more small scabs (like teeth or claw scabs) every morning when I check. I'm not sure if it's play gone wrong or if he/resident is really trying to hurt her. His ears aren't back when he does this, but his tail is not up either. She/new cat looks downright scared and I break it up every time I catch it. BUT during most times of the day they get along, rub up against each other, seem to actually like each other. Also, right after resident cat chases and bites her/new cat's back, once I break it up, they walk past each other again like everything is fine and look at me like I'm crazy for worrying (at least in my mind that is the look), and I wonder if I should just allow it to happen like Astragal14's vet suggests.
Not sure if I should start with reintroductions or not. What do you all think?
 
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DebfromPhilly

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I should also mention that new cat lays down next to resident cat, and resident allows it, and I saw resident lick new cat's nose about a week ago.
 

Astragal14

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1) Regarding Automatic Feeders: will I screw up my relationship building with new cat if I start using an automatic feeder with both cats?
I don't think so. Reducing any stress can only help everyone in the long run. You can also create bonding moments with snacks, especially if it's an extra tasty one. And it's great you've found a better way to prepare their food!!

2) My resident cat chases new cat, and bites at new cat's back, and she/new cat has a few scabs on her back, actually, there are more small scabs (like teeth or claw scabs) every morning when I check. I'm not sure if it's play gone wrong or if he/resident is really trying to hurt her. His ears aren't back when he does this, but his tail is not up either. She/new cat looks downright scared and I break it up every time I catch it. BUT during most times of the day they get along, rub up against each other, seem to actually like each other. Also, right after resident cat chases and bites her/new cat's back, once I break it up, they walk past each other again like everything is fine and look at me like I'm crazy for worrying (at least in my mind that is the look), and I wonder if I should just allow it to happen like Astragal14's vet suggests.
I should also mention that new cat lays down next to resident cat, and resident allows it, and I saw resident lick new cat's nose about a week ago.
This sounds almost 100% like the interactions between my two cats with the exception of the scabs. Keep an eye on the scabs to see if they worsen or if the bites escalate in frequency or aggression level. Otherwise, this is exactly my two cats!

The good news is there are a few things you mentioned that show your cats really do like each other and have accepted each other into their family unit. I read somewhere how a cat will not groom another cat that it doesn't like - so the displays of affection, the rubbing, the licking are all signs that they care about each other. It's also important to remember that you will know *with certainty* if two cats are fighting or if they don't like each other - it's one of those things where if you have to ask then the answer is no.

My nervous eater is actually a very confident and bold boy outside of the kitchen. He scuffles with our other kitty in the exact same manner as your resident cat does with your new kitty (his favorite move is pinning down her neck, ugh). He does this for a few reasons. One is that his play style is much more rambunctious than hers and he usually wants to play longer. He will occasionally keep bothering her when she's indicated she's done with playtime and can get a little aggressive. I usually don't intervene in this situation. Two, he likes to display his dominance from time to time - he's definitely the alpha of the two. This is another situation where I usually don't intervene because his intent is to remind everyone he's in charge, not to hurt her. The third reason is where I intervene more often - he will sometimes pounce on her as an outlet for any negative feelings/stress or if he isn't feeling well. He still isn't trying to hurt her, but these interactions are more aggressive than the others. And it's a helpful reminder for me to figure out what is bothering him and how to fix it.

I'm not sure you need to reintroduce them right now. I would first look at ways to either reduce stress from the environment or reduce stressors for your resident cat. That might be Feliway, calming music, extra playtime or new toys, etc. And I've just accepted that being an alpha is part of my boy's personality and allow them to establish their own boundaries.

There are also a few articles on this site that may offer some solutions:

How To Fix An Unsuccessful Cat Introduction – TheCatSite Articles
Are My Cats Fighting Or Playing? – TheCatSite Articles
 
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DebfromPhilly

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I don't think so. Reducing any stress can only help everyone in the long run. You can also create bonding moments with snacks, especially if it's an extra tasty one. And it's great you've found a better way to prepare their food!!




This sounds almost 100% like the interactions between my two cats with the exception of the scabs. Keep an eye on the scabs to see if they worsen or if the bites escalate in frequency or aggression level. Otherwise, this is exactly my two cats!

The good news is there are a few things you mentioned that show your cats really do like each other and have accepted each other into their family unit. I read somewhere how a cat will not groom another cat that it doesn't like - so the displays of affection, the rubbing, the licking are all signs that they care about each other. It's also important to remember that you will know *with certainty* if two cats are fighting or if they don't like each other - it's one of those things where if you have to ask then the answer is no.

My nervous eater is actually a very confident and bold boy outside of the kitchen. He scuffles with our other kitty in the exact same manner as your resident cat does with your new kitty (his favorite move is pinning down her neck, ugh). He does this for a few reasons. One is that his play style is much more rambunctious than hers and he usually wants to play longer. He will occasionally keep bothering her when she's indicated she's done with playtime and can get a little aggressive. I usually don't intervene in this situation. Two, he likes to display his dominance from time to time - he's definitely the alpha of the two. This is another situation where I usually don't intervene because his intent is to remind everyone he's in charge, not to hurt her. The third reason is where I intervene more often - he will sometimes pounce on her as an outlet for any negative feelings/stress or if he isn't feeling well. He still isn't trying to hurt her, but these interactions are more aggressive than the others. And it's a helpful reminder for me to figure out what is bothering him and how to fix it.

I'm not sure you need to reintroduce them right now. I would first look at ways to either reduce stress from the environment or reduce stressors for your resident cat. That might be Feliway, calming music, extra playtime or new toys, etc. And I've just accepted that being an alpha is part of my boy's personality and allow them to establish their own boundaries.

There are also a few articles on this site that may offer some solutions:

How To Fix An Unsuccessful Cat Introduction – TheCatSite Articles
Are My Cats Fighting Or Playing? – TheCatSite Articles
A Astragal14
Oh! Thank you so much for all of these details and thoughts! It is very comforting to hear that your babies are similar. My gut says they are starting to adore each other (dream come true), so I will keep my feelers out on the scabs on her back, and hope things keep progressing nicely, as they have so far. She (new cat) doesn’t seem to care/be mad or fearful about it, so I’m going to assume it’s a dominance/alpha thing. Resident cat also has chronic upper respiratory issues from infection at a young age, so I’ll also keep my eye out for aggression that may be related to this or other stress. Also, funny thing is resident cat is 10.5 and new is 3.5 years old but they keep up with each other when it comes to playing. It’s perfect, as long as his bites get less harmful. It’s like he doesn’t realize his teeth are sharper than his claws (claws are trimmed regularly).
I’ve had 4 Feliway diffusers all over my home (1300 sqft) since about 1 month ago (got them 2 weeks after I got new cat). I also give both of them calming cat treats in the evening since that is when they are more awake and seem to be more stressed out (sleep all day). I tried a calming cat collars, but they made both of my cats sneeze uncontrollably, almost immediately. I put up an extra diffuser yesterday, and an area of my home that didn’t have the right kind of plug (which I fixed with a wall mounted, mini power strip to a properly exposed wall for a diffuser). Hopefully that will help some. I’ve also used calming cat music on and off. 2 aggressive back biting fights have broken our while I had David Tele music playing, so I’m not going to blame it on the music, but I’m also not going to put a lot of faith into his music being of assistance for my specific cats.

Exciting news: I also have 2-8 ft by 12inch shelves that arrived yesterday, and I have 20-15 inch by 12 inch shelves (cat steps), and plan to hire my handyman to install a cat climbing wall for them this coming week, if he’s available. I’ve already cut all of the carpet and have affixed the carpet to the shelves. Now I just need them on the wall. I’ve been waiting for 6 weeks for the 8 footers to arrive. I’m impatient so, it’s like Christmas morning over here. I’m assuming this will help my kitties to find more fun and peace together also.

Astragal14- Thank you so much for the links and all of your helpful thoughts, knowledge & past experiences! I truly appreciate your time and assistance!
 

Astragal14

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My gut says they are starting to adore each other (dream come true)
:loveeyes::loveeyes::loveeyes:

This is great!! Sorry to hear the music didn't work out, but it was worth a try. And the new shelves are going to be fantastic! That will be so much fun for them, I'm sure they will love them!
 
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