Should we rehome? (long)

tx_kat

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Here's a brief history of the problem.

We have 5 cats: Angel & Demon (littermates) are 4.5 years old, Gidget is 4 years old, and Casper & Abby (littermates) and 2.5 years old. All are former ferals from our backyard whom we rescued as kittens while TNRing all the neighborhood cats. Yes, all at spayed/neutered.

The problem is two-fold. First, Gidget doesn't always like Casper and Abby. It's almost as if she's scared of them because sometimes when she sees them or they come near her, she hisses (sometimes low growls) and runs away - moreso withAbby than with Casper. She's fine with Angel and Demon.

Second, she is still marking - especially along the outside walls of the dining room. This has gone on for 1.5 years. It got a little better with diet changes, increased play time, and home modifications (Feliway, more litter boxes that we scoop every day, blocking windows so she can't see the feral cats, moving the feral feeding station to the back of the yard, etc.). Putting Gidget on Clomipramine helped a lot, but I don't want to drug her like that for the rest of her life.

I know that the more cats in the house, the more likely there is to be behavior issues, but I cannot live in a home that smells like cats urine! I don't feel comfortable inviting others to our home - it just smells "dirty". Not to mention all the furniture and curtains that have been ruined by being soaked with urine. And, we're not 100% sure that only Gidget is responsible for the smell/peeing/marking.

We will be putting Gidget back on medication and isolating her for a month or two, until the medication can reach its therapeutic range and do its job. We will also be doing a deep, thorough cleaning of the dining room, where she does most of her marking.

I think two other things need to happen while Gidget is isolated: 1) keep the ferals out of the backyard completely, and 2) rehome one or more of the cats. But whom do we rehome? Angel and Demon are not an option because they've been here the longest. Gidget is an option, but only if I could be sure she would go to a home with no other animals or kids (we don't know anyone like that). I would hate to see her go since she's my favorite, but I just want her to be happy. Casper and Abby are options, but I've grown seriously attached to Casper - almost as much as Gidget. Abby was supposed to be rehomed after we socialized her, but she had bowel issues when she was a kitten (that are now cleared up) and I didn't feel right rehoming a sickly kitten. My husband doesn't want to rehome any of the cats and doesn't think that there is problem.


Ideas? Suggestions?
 
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p3 and the king

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OK, so you're considering rehoming one because another has issues with spraying... Possibly?  Um OK... I don't think it will help anything.

Getting rid of ferals is going to be difficult.   I mean, you can enclose your yard and spray or put all the "natural" deterants around and they will still find a way in... Because it's part of their territory.  So, really the only thing to do is call animal control and even then, you are sentencing them to death.

And if Gidget is the sprayer, rehoming her would mean you are causing stress and her spraying could get worse... If the people are not understanding, she could be tossed out, put to sleep, or turned over to a shelter.  All of these cats are not good options for other homes.  If they truly were ferals converted, it makes it that much more difficult.  Ferals tend to bond very strongly with their rescuers.  Chances are, they will not accept another person.

As for the spraying, that was how she said "this is my space" when she was outside, old habits die hard.  The medicine may be required for some time if it's the only thing that helps.  I suggest watching Jackson Galaxy videos on this issue.  And trying a reintroduction with the two she has issues with.  I know this isn't much help or what you want to hear, but sometimes when dealing with issues it is not as simple as "lets just rehome them."  First of all, it is very difficult to find a good, responsible, knowing home for kittens let alone grown cats and possibly with issues.  Shelters are overrun and they have 3 days at most now.  More than 95% of animals brought in are put down.  I doubt any one here will offer to take them or have a solution for you.  It's basically a suckfest no matter which direction you turn unless you get proactive and try to deal with the problem and work with her.  It will take a lot of work.  But, seeing as how you made the decision to save these kitties, it will be something you want to try.  Jackson Galaxy has tons of videos on all your issues.  Best of luck.
 

p3 and the king

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I am not saying you are a bad person. What I was trying to convey is that it is extremely difficult to rehome social and loving cats that are older. It's even difficult to rehome kittens sometimes.  Many of the no kill shelters will not take in cats that have problems.  Many are not taking in at all because they are focused more on trying to save them from euthanization when brought into animal control or a kill shelter.  People think, oh I'll just drop them off and it'll be fine.  No, it won't.  I work at a no kill adoption center.  You have no idea how overrun it is and how hard it is to find homes for all of them.  We are full 99% of the time, over full the rest.  That was what I was trying to convey.

It is not wrong to want a nice home.  Unfortunately, it comes at a price. The cats were already brought in.  If you can find them a home that would take them, great.  But chances are, you will not.  And you have to be careful of people wanting them for unpleasantness (bait animals, mutilation, etc... These people are out there and they troll Craigslist and other sites looking for free animals).

I am just conveying the facts and letting you know the reality of what's out there and the situation.  I am sorry this is so upsetting.  I agree with you.  Your husband is not seeing the reality of the situation.  I would suggest talking with a behavior specialist ( a vet is not a behavior specialist) for your spraying kitty and a therapist for your husband.
 

shadowsrescue

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As mentioned by @P3 and The King getting rid of one or two may not solve your problem.  The marking that is happening is territory marking.  The cats are trying to have their own piece of territory.  Jackson Galaxy has awesome shows and videos on territorial marking.  Some of his suggestions are:  putting litter boxes wherever marking is occurring.  Even if it means having 10 litter boxes to start with.  Have them everywhere.  Also since someone is spraying you need to catch the cat or cats in action.  I know this can be hard.  Jackson Galaxy talks about cats having "elevator butt".  It's when they pee as though they are spraying.  To solve this issue, go buy large rubbermaid containers and cut a hole for them to go in.  You can do a google images search on rubbermaid litter boxes. Here is a link to some of the problems Jackson Galaxy has dealt with http://jacksongalaxy.com/category/spraying-problems/.

Also have the suspected cat or cats been to the vet to rule out UTI or other health issue>

Thirdly, the cats need vertical space so that they each have places to get away from each other. Jackson Galaxy refers to it as Catification.  http://jacksongalaxy.com/category/catification/climbing-perching/  It can be done with cat trees, shelving or many ideas from the link.

It also sounds like some reintroductions might need to happen between some of the cats.  Reintroductions can take time as well as patience.  They are a slow process.  If you rush the steps you will not see success.  The links I will provide are for new cat to cat introductions, but the exact same principals work for cat to cat reintroductions.  I would start by separating the problem cats and starting reintroductions.  http://www.thecatsite.com/a/introducing-cats-to-cats

http://www.catbehaviorassociates.com/a-simple-little-trick-to-use-during-new-cat-introductions/

http://jacksongalaxy.com/2010/10/01/cat-to-cat-introductions/

Here is a video to help as well


Your home sounds very stressful and it must be very difficult without any help.  Yet rehoming ferals will not be an easy task.  It would be very stressful and difficult on the cat (s).  They may also never find a home. 

I have found that Feliway plug ins and sprays really help the cats.  You need them in each room where the cats hang out.  I also like to use Composure liquid max.  It is a calming supplement that you can place in the wet food.  It can be doubled during times of stress and given 2x a day.  I have a territorial aggressive feral who I brought into the house last year.  He was a mess.  He and my resident cat had all kinds of problems.  I was at my wits end.  Composure was a live save.
 

artem

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I would certainly try the behavioral suggestions first, as it would be ideal if you could just fix the problem. If you can't though, do you have a safe freestanding structure like a garage or storage shed you could make kitty friendly ? It's not ideal but it's better than leaving the cats at a kill shelter. Maybe also separate the ones that don't get along , leaving a few cats in the house. It 's not a great solution and may not work but it could be a good last resort
 
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tx_kat

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The marking that is happening is territory marking.  The cats are trying to have their own piece of territory.  Jackson Galaxy has awesome shows and videos on territorial marking.  Some of his suggestions are:  putting litter boxes wherever marking is occurring.  Even if it means having 10 litter boxes to start with.  Have them everywhere. 
We have 11 boxes - all uncovered - throughout the house. However, it is not practical to have litter boxes lining the entire walls of the dining room (25 ft, 15 ft, 15 ft) when there are already THREE litter boxes in that room alone.


Also since someone is spraying you need to catch the cat or cats in action.  I know this can be hard. 
That's really hard to do when I'm in school or at work 10-12 hours/day, 6 days/week. Not working and not going to school is NOT an option in this economy. And we have seen Gidget back up to a wall, lift her tail and mark. She looked right at me when she did it, but I was 20 feet away. Saying her name firmly to try to "scare" her enough not to do it was ineffective, and it's hard to do anything else while preparing raw chicken.


Jackson Galaxy talks about cats having "elevator butt".  It's when they pee as though they are spraying.  To solve this issue, go buy large rubbermaid containers and cut a hole for them to go in.  You can do a google images search on rubbermaid litter boxes.
This is all they've ever had. Like I mentioned before, I've seen everything JG has to offer, watched every episode, read the website, etc.


Also have the suspected cat or cats been to the vet to rule out UTI or other health issue>
To quote one of the vets the first time her urine and xrays were clear, "If the problem isn't between her legs, it's between her ears." That's when she got the Clomipramine.


Thirdly, the cats need vertical space so that they each have places to get away from each other. Jackson Galaxy refers to it as Catification. 
You would think the huge cat tree in the master bedroom, the cat tree in the dining room, and the huge cat tree plus elevated walkway that encircles the living room (with multiple ways up and down) would be enough "catification".


It also sounds like some reintroductions might need to happen between some of the cats.  Reintroductions can take time as well as patience.  They are a slow process.  If you rush the steps you will not see success.
This is the only thing we haven't done, and it was suggested by the vet we saw yesterday, not by the cat behaviorist we had come to our home in February. We used the links to introduce Gidget to Angel and Demon, and later Casper and Abby to the rest of the house. This all started - the marking and the really bad attitude toward Casper and Abby - after we took in a wounded feral kitten for two months (he was always isolated from the others).


I have found that Feliway plug ins and sprays really help the cats.  You need them in each room where the cats hang out. 
We have them in every room the cats have access to: kitchen, living room, dining room, front room, master bedroom ... ever since we brought Angel and Demon inside.


I also like to use Composure liquid max.  It is a calming supplement that you can place in the wet food.  It can be doubled during times of stress and given 2x a day.  I have a territorial aggressive feral who I brought into the house last year.  He was a mess.  He and my resident cat had all kinds of problems.  I was at my wits end.  Composure was a live saver.
If the medication prescribed by the very doesn't work, I'll look into that ... but I doubt we'll use it because my husband doesn't believe in "holistic medicine". Heck he didn't even want Gidget to have any kind of medication, and I had to threaten to leave him right there in the vet's office.


Your home sounds very stressful and it must be very difficult without any help.  Yet rehoming ferals will not be an easy task.  It would be very stressful and difficult on the cat (s).  They may also never find a home. 
To be honest, I'm at the end of my rope. If there isn't peace and good smells by the end of the year (which will be two years since this started), someone will be rehomed. I can't take this much longer!

And are they really still "ferals" if they've been with us since they were 6 weeks (Casper & Abby) to 2 months (Angel, Demon, Gidget)? I mean, Casper jumped in my friend's purse wanting to go with her....
 
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tx_kat

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I would certainly try the behavioral suggestions first, as it would be ideal if you could just fix the problem. If you can't though, do you have a safe freestanding structure like a garage or storage shed you could make kitty friendly ? It's not ideal but it's better than leaving the cats at a kill shelter. Maybe also separate the ones that don't get along , leaving a few cats in the house. It 's not a great solution and may not work but it could be a good last resort
I wish we had something like a free standing building to make a "cat house", because I would have already tried that. Please believe me when I say that the idea of rehoming IS a last resort. I mean, how many people do you know in real life (not here on this forum) who would even keep a cat after it pees/marks in your favorite chair, ruins the living room carpet, sprays YOU (yes, she sprayed me right after I spent 10 minutes petting her), and destroys thousands of dollars of furniture and curtains? We have spent lots of money taking her to the vet multiple times for extensive testing, buying cleaning products to take away the smell (Zero Odor is my favorite), having a cat behaviorist come to our home to help. I even replaced the living room carpet with a tile floor - all by myself.

I'm tired and worn down both mentally and physically by all of this, and our bank account is running so low that we can't afford to replace the furniture she has ruined.
 
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tx_kat

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I would suggest talking with a behavior specialist ( a vet is not a behavior specialist) for your spraying kitty and a therapist for your husband.
1) We had a reputable cat behaviorist come to our home.
2) My husband refuses to admit he has a problem, and therefore thinks he does not need therapy (for his hoarding).
 

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Well if you have tried everything then what about an intervention by family and friends for your husband. Maybe if he is confronted by multiple people he will start to realize that he has a problem.
 

p3 and the king

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And maybe if he knows you are about to leave over this problem, it could help convince him to get help and a reality check.  We're sorry we are unable to help you more but if you can't/won't get around him, I don't see as how much will change.  Sometimes letting something go on for too long is the problem itself.  An intervention with a therapists that specializes in hoarding issues present can help a lot.  He'll be angry and confrontational, and it won't be pretty... But, hearing the truth is sometimes what is needed.
 
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