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Reintroduction Update - One Month Separation

Discussion in 'Cat Behavior' started by blumarine916, May 9, 2019.

  1. blumarine916

    blumarine916 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    Nov 29, 2018
    Hi. I posted a thread about a month ago about a stray intruding my home when I was at work. Both my cats Meffy and Meimey were terrified and have been separated ever since.

    It’s been more than a month now. The progress is going back and forth and nowhere it seems. Sometimes I can feed them together with the safe room door open. They see each other but still eat under my watchful eye. Just when things are getting calm (after that one moment when Meffy licked Meimey’s face, I let Meimey out. Meffy would ignore her at first then attack all a sudden. This has happened 3 times with 2 weeks apart What I noticed was during the earlier attacks, Meimey would growl and hiss back and they get into a noisy brawl. Lately, it has happened again (2 days ago) but Meimey seems to have become more timid. She doesn’t fight back and only cowers in a corner.

    I don’t know if this is a good sign because in the earlier brawls I have to separate them. The one which happened 2 days ago, Meffy managed to cleverly escape the enclosure I put her in and sought out Meimey who was relaxing at the balcony. I was awoken from my nap to the sound of angry screaming/growling but it only lasted 3 seconds. When I saw them, Meimey was loafed in corner while Meffy just stared at her with her tail swishing. I threw a pillow to distract and pull her away.

    Does this mean they are working it out with smaller fight? Meimey won’t come near the door if Meffy is there. She’ll even stop playing in the enclosure if Meffy stared at her from outside. I’m worried this long separation is affecting her self esteem, making her more fearful than she already is.
     

  2. Danglos

    Danglos TCS Member Young Cat

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    Jan 3, 2019
    Do you have any new territory for the cats? Possibly a cat tree or shelves, top of furniture or boxes and blankets to create hideaways. It could be they want to have areas to escape each other and it might take months for them to peacefully co-exist. You need to create new territory so they can take ownership of these and not covered in each others scents.
     

  3. Mamanyt1953

    Mamanyt1953 Rules my home with an iron paw Staff Member Forum Helper

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    Oct 16, 2015
    Havelock, North Carolina
    Oh, boy. You really do have a case of redirected aggression going on, don't you? I know it's making you a little crazy, and no wonder. These three articles may contain some information that helps:

    Re-directed Aggression In Cats

    What to do? Basically, you've gotten a start. You re-introduce them as if they were strangers to each other.

    How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide
    How To Fix An Unsuccessful Cat Introduction

    The two of these combined may get you past the "stuck" point.

    As for Meimey's self-esteem, one of the best builders of cat esteem is a GOOD wand toy. Hekitty likes Da Bird. Allowing her to successfully "hunt, catch, kill" prey will help build up her self-esteem better than anything I can think of. Try to get in at least two good play sessions per day with her. Really get into it. BE THAT BIRD! Swoop and soar, and flutter...but at the end of the day, Meimey MUST catch and kill that bird!

    Keep us posted, we'll be trying to think of more tips and tricks for you to try.
     

  4. blumarine916

    blumarine916 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    Nov 29, 2018
    @Danglos : I have earlier planned to buy a cat tree for them but since the incident, I’ve put that on hold until they are okay again. Besides, if I bought it I know Meffy would claim it first since she’s always in the living room. Meimey’s hideaway is her safe room.

    It’s hard to keep this separation because my bf and I have keep remembering to shut the doors. There are instances when we forget due to habit then Meffy would run out to bully Meimey again.

    My question is, for cats like Meffy do they constantly bully the timid one every chance they get? Will she ever leave Meimey alone? Meimey doesn’t even try to get near Meffy. She always kept her distance but it is Meffy who would go look for her to start a fight. Meimey would be hanging out with me in the kitchen but if Meffy comes, she’d chase her out. It’s like after the incident, she wants to be the only cat in the house.

    Once I have shut Meimey in her room, then Meffy would casually stretch out in front of the tv with us like nothing happened.
     
    Mamanyt1953 purraised this.

  5. blumarine916

    blumarine916 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    Nov 29, 2018
    Update Day 51

    Not much progress from last week. Meffy has been in the same u predictable okay/not okay mood when Meimey is involved. I had 2 days off this week so I was able to spend more time at home. It wasn’t fun when both cats wanted my attention but can’t be around one another. Since Meffy didn’t show much reaction aside from staring and slow tail movements, Meimey bravely walked out of her room to go sit at her favorite spot under the dining table. I prevented Meffy from going towards her by distracting her with a toy. It didn’t last long though. The moment I turned my attention to she went towards Meimey’s spot and some hissing/growling started. I called out loudly and Meffy ran off, looking guilty. Meimey continued to sit where she was but she looked nervous already. After about 10 minutes, she went back to her safe room.

    It’s been 2 days since and Meimey seems reluctant to come out even if I left the door open. She would ensure my bedroom door was shut (because Meffy would be kept there) before she slowly came out. She also managed to climb up my 8ft tall closet and slept up there all day.

    Should I keep encouraging Meimey to come out? How do I encourage Meffy to accept her friend? She seemed like she doesn’t allow Meimey to step out of the room. Since there is no screen, I have to keep the door closed if I’m not able to watch them because I’m worried Meffy would lunged in to attack Meimey. She sometimes tries to get inside when the door is left ajar.
     


  6. blumarine916

    blumarine916 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    Nov 29, 2018

  7. cheeseburger

    cheeseburger TCS Member Young Cat

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    May 7, 2018
    Have you tried some time with them exposed to each other but not directly able to reach one another? Like through a crack in the door blocked with two doorstops or a baby gate? Or do you have an enclosure that Meimey is comfortable in (like a cage, kennel or tent) that you can bring into Meffy's space to get Meffy used to the idea of her being there?
     
    blumarine916 and danteshuman purraised this.

  8. blumarine916

    blumarine916 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    Nov 29, 2018
    Yes I have exposed them to each other. Each time I enter the safe room to feed Meimey, Meffy would follow me and just stare from outside. I leave the door open for them to see each other. I also bought an enclosure and tried using it. Meimey was enjoying herself until Meffy appeared and just sat there staring at her with swishing tail. This made Meimey very nervous until she just cowered in the corner of the enclosure. I thought this stressed her out so I stopped doing this.
    Do you think I should keep doing this?
     

  9. cheeseburger

    cheeseburger TCS Member Young Cat

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    May 7, 2018
    The way I see it, these are two cats that lived happily together for years prior to a single traumatic incident. When they get together, anxiety is high for them in different ways because they are reminders of that traumatic event. One of your cats goes into flight mode and the other into fight.

    You have to give both of them the opportunity for the adrenaline to pass from their system and to get bored with each other again. They both have to see each other calm and sleeping and chill to realize that neither of them are a threat to each other so that they can remember that they are friends.

    It sounds like you've been doing reintroduction for two months? With scent swapping and door feeding? I think you have to bite the bullet and allow them to spend some time figuring things out again. If your scared cat hides, she hides. Let her hide for a few hours, your other cat growl until he gets bored, falls asleep, and then she comes out to see him sleeping.

    There might be a few scraps, but it doesn't sound like they've hurt each other to date. I think it's time to try to let your cats work it out.
     
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  10. blumarine916

    blumarine916 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    Nov 29, 2018
    Yes you are right! They’ve been ok with other for 6 years until that ugly day.

    I can actually feed them with the door open but under my supervision because Meffy likes to launch sudden attacks. I’m totally okay if she only growls or hisses. It’s when she chases Meimey until under the bed in the safe room which I’m worried about. I won’t be able to reach in to separate them.

    I’ve read that some people use a harness to control the aggressive cat. Does that work?
     
    Mamanyt1953 purraised this.

  11. Hellenww

    Hellenww TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    Mar 5, 2018
    South Jersey, USA
    Meffy has done a great job of reclaiming your home from the inavasion. Now it's time to work on Meimey.

    It's wonderful that they are eating in sight of each other. Keep that up.

    If you do the enclosure put Meffy in it so Meimey has the run of the house.

    Put Meffy in Meimeys safe room (not another room) and let Meimey run free. Do it during the day or early evening and let Meffy yell no matter how much hurts your heart. One of you can spend time in the room with Meffy if it helps. Meimey needs be able to rub her scent around the house and safely search every corner with out worrying about Meffy. The idea is to get Meimey confident everywhere.

    Have you tried the cone/collar on Meffy yet? It might help put them on more even footing.
     
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  12. Mamanyt1953

    Mamanyt1953 Rules my home with an iron paw Staff Member Forum Helper

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    Havelock, North Carolina
    Yes, site-swapping is essential, so that BOTH cats scents are all over the house, equally.

    And confidence-building play for your poor shy baby...a good wand toy, so that she can hunt/catch/kill her prey, at LEAST twice a day, will help build her confidence.
     

  13. blumarine916

    blumarine916 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    Nov 29, 2018
    @Hellenww Meimey gets the house after we all go to bed and a few other times if we put Meffy in a room so she’s got her scent everywhere. I keep wanting to use the cone but I also hoping that she will improve without the cone. Looks like it really has to be done somehow.

    Lately I keep Meimey’s door open more often to give her some air since I don’t have a screen and the room can get a little warm. But sometimes Meffy would go in there to bother her. Then both will hiss and growl. Sometimes if she sees Meimey’s litter box she would also pee in it.

    Here’s a summary of what I’ve been doing
    1) Equal playtime with wand/bird toy
    2) Site/scent swapping
    3) Eating with view of each other

    I also notice Meffy is eating a lot less since this separation. She would usually eat all her wet food and leave the kibbles for later. But now she only nibbles a few bites of the wet and some kibbles later on. When I get home, the wet food is already bad and there are leftover kibbles. Sometimes they are hardly touched at all. If I put the bowl inside my room at night where she sleeps she would eat them all :\ Kitty anxiety?
     

  14. Mamanyt1953

    Mamanyt1953 Rules my home with an iron paw Staff Member Forum Helper

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    Oct 16, 2015
    Havelock, North Carolina
    Try thrift shops for a couple of mesh-type baby gates. You can stack them in the doorway so that no one can jump over.
     

  15. blumarine916

    blumarine916 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    Nov 29, 2018
    Update again

    Yesterday after work, I opened Meimey’s room door to let her out. Meffy stared but Meimey ran to the kitchen since it’s meal time. Then when Meffy came, Meimey froze and just stood there as Meffy sniffed and licked her face. She did a tiny bit of grooming on Meimey’s fur. I thought they were okay so I just continued preparing their food.

    That must have spooked Meimey so she ran back to her room, probably weirded out by Meffy’s sudden affection. I let them eat dinner near each other at the safe room with the door open. No issues there. Meffy ate then minded her own business while Meimey just stayed in her room. About an hour later, Meffy came to check the room and scared Meimey again. Some hissing followed but I was quick to knock loudly on the door to break it up. Meffy came out looking guilty. I scolded her for being mean. She did it again later so I decided to just shut the door.

    Today again I opened Meimey’s room when I came home, greeted her and gave her cuddles. I didn’t know Meffy followed me. She sniffed Meimey again then hissed but still used the scratching post anyway. They ate separately because Meimey looked nervous. Then once again when I was in the kitchen, Meffy came to check the room and went under the bed to sniffed at Meimey. I came in time to hear some hissing/growling and knocked again to break it up. Meffy as usual, came out with her guilty face.

    I do see a tiny bit of improvement. No outward attacks like before but what does this mean? Is this the way cats learn to accept one another by this hissing/growling?
    I still won’t leave them alone though.
     
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  16. Hellenww

    Hellenww TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    Mar 5, 2018
    South Jersey, USA
    This is wonderful to hear! :bunnydance: It sounds like Meffy is finally accepting her again. I'm so glad your hard work is paying off.

    Yes, hissing/growling is communicating. If it's non-stop for 30 min I'd close the door for 30 min then re-open. I agreee with you they are not ready to be left alone. If the hissing lessens to occassionally by your next day off, I'd leave all doors open the night before and plan to sleep lightly so you can hear anything concerning.
     
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  17. blumarine916

    blumarine916 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    Nov 29, 2018
    I hope so. I thought Meffy was getting senile at first with her strange behaviour. One minute she was licking and friendly then gets all aggressive the next. But I’m glad for that little bit of improvement.
     
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  18. Mamanyt1953

    Mamanyt1953 Rules my home with an iron paw Staff Member Forum Helper

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    Havelock, North Carolina
    Baby steps. And hissing and growling are VERY common. After all, sometimes a cat's gotta say what a cat's gotta say!
     
    Kflowers purraised this.

  19. blumarine916

    blumarine916 Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    Nov 29, 2018
    It looks like I need to slow down again. Meffy is creeping into the safe room to bother Meimey every now and then (usually when I’m busy or occupied). This will cause some angry hissing/growling and it seems to stress Meimey out that now she doesn’t want to leave the room at all. She won’t even chase a toy if it’s outside of the room.

    Back to the closed door again.
     
    Mamanyt1953 purraised this.

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