Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Worried Wednesday

Oh Crap! The Lady has a squirt bottle!


From the OTW

Blogger mommies and Daddies, I need some help.

The little guy above, "Trapper" (we're not sure if we're keeping the name or not yet) is the New Guy around here. Maybe. We're trying him out to see if he, Jack and Persephone will get along. And it's not going so great. Not horrible either, really. But apparently I've been super lucky so far with introducing kitties, because it was never this difficult before.

Most of the cats I've introduced Jack to were roommate's cats, and therefore had their own humans. Whisper was the first who was 'mine' and he wanted nothing to do with Jack, or me for that matter at first, so other than a little hissing, no trouble with him. Jack and he just ignored each other. Persephone was a teeny bit hissy with Jack, but only after Whisper had hissed at her a few times. After that, she and Jack just circled each other warily, but curiously for a few days before each decided that the other was ok, and about a week after she came she was even letting Jack groom her ears (for about 3 nanoseconds before bunny-kicking his head, mind you, but no fighting). Squeak, Jack didn't hiss at at all. I think he had thought she was new toy. He'd never had a kitten before.

Trapper.. not so much with the easy introduction. It went fine at first. Jack just looked at him in the carrier, and when he snuck in with the Big One after Trapper was let out in his isolation room they meeped at each other curiously, sniffed butts and then ignored each other. In fact, the whole introduction went so well at that point, I decided to let Trapper out for a supervised wander. Persephone was hissy, but she hisses at the door across the hall too, because there's a cat living there, so I didn't expect her to be happy. Frankly, she'll get over it. Her memory is kinda short, anyway. She'll already let him near if treats or catnip is involved, so long as the treats keep coming. She doesn't even hiss at him EVERY time he comes near anymore.

Trapper and Jack ignored each other right up until Trapper decided to follow Jack around behind the sofa, and cornered him. I didn't get there fast enough and there was a god-awful caterwauling and Jack ran and hid in a closet. I discovered later a nasty, but not serious scratch inside Jack's ear, so I'm not surprised Jack wasn't too keen on Trapper after that.

The thing is, Jack has never been one to hold a grudge, or to take a dislike to any cat. He's friendly to every cat I've brought in the house, or a roommate has. Strays, friends' kitties I'm sitting, kitties he meets in the halls, or out in the yard. Every cat he's ever met. Even the hissy, unfriendly ones. Even the ones who have scratched him.

Except Trapper. He's still hissing at him if he comes near. He hisses at Persephone frequently, as well. He's grumpy with me, twitchy and stressed and acting 'old'. He was fine last week, racing around like his butt was on fire and wrestling Persephone, this week he's acting like a 20 yr old arthritic cat who can't even jump up on a low couch. There are no injuries on him but his ear that I can see or feel, (and he could be milking it for sympathy-he does that sometimes, he knows he'll get more loving then, the little con artist).

He wants nothing to do with Trapper, and has shown NO curiosity about him at all after that first sniff in Trapper's room. Won't go near him, even to sniff. Those of you who have followed Jack's blog for a while will recognize how badly out of character that is for Jack. This despite me giving Jack LOTS of extra attention, and making a point of always putting Trapper down if I'm holding him and Jack comes up looking like he wants my lap or shoulder (Jack's always been a bit possessive of me). It doesn't appear to be a submissive thing. Jack will hiss, but he doesn't run away or behave submissively when Trapper comes too close.

I have to admit to extreme reservations about keeping Trapper, considering how badly Jack is taking his presence. Thing is, we'd really like to keep him. The Big One is already most of the way in love with him, and I really like him too. He's a total flirt, a lap/shoulder/oh-I-don't-care-just-hold-me-cat, and he's really really REALLY sweet though possibly even more talkative that Persephone. He's a bit bitey, but I can train him out of that, as well as out of being grabby with my 'strings' when I'm working.

Trapper's 2-4 years, and was neutered only when he was brought in last month to the shelter. No spraying, no 'tom' behaviour other than yowling at the window in the middle of the night to go out, though some cat has peed in the bathroom that doesn't have the litterboxes twice now-though I'm pretty sure the second time at least was NOT Trapper, as I'm pretty sure I know approximately when it happened and Trapper was with me the whole time. I've seen him use the boxes in his room and in their normal location several times, too.

He's not hissy or swatty with either Persephone or Jack at ALL. I don't believe I've heard him hiss even once. He's just big, and muscular, and he doesn't back down when either of them hiss at him, and sometimes initiates staring contests, or follows them around. He hasn't gotten into any fights with them, except the one, even when provoked. And I now suspect Jack may have started that one, probably from being startled. I don't think he knew Trapper was behind him. He also will sometimes be the one to look away when there's a stare off.

Now we've only had Trapper since Friday, and the shelter has given us until this Friday to decide if we're keeping him. We'd have to adopt him at that point, but if we changed our minds and decided we had to bring him back after then, they'd be ok with that. But I'm afraid to bring him back to the shelter. They keep kitties for quite a while compared to city shelters, but he'd already been there a month, and and they were surprised he hadn't been adopted. They do have some trouble adopting out larger cats, though his being black isn't a problem up here, and kittens are surprisingly even harder for them to find homes for.

Truthfully, in my selfish human way, part of me would like to think he really likes US and wants to stay here, but the truth is, he's friendly with everyone apparently, according to the shelter people. And I do think he might be happier as an indoor/outdoor kitty, which I suspect is what he was before (he was caught in a trap near my place, and has the calloused paws of a outdoor cat, but has clearly been very well socialized), and which he can't be here, since we live on the 3rd floor. We can't even leave him unsupervised on the balcony, as he's already found his way onto the railing and was reaching for the drainpipe when I caught him and pried him off the railing. But he definitely shouldn't be an outdoor only cat, because he's WAY too affectionate and wanting of attention to be happy being an ignored barn cat, which is one of the most likely things to happen around here with big ex-toms, if they find homes.

On the other hand, he'll probably get over not being allowed outside, sooner or later. And it's not a no-kill shelter and I know sending him back may result in him being put down eventually if he doesn't find another home. This is definitely a Good Cat, and I can't bear the thought that he may not find a home.

I guess what I really want is any advice anyone can give me as to how I might get Jack to accept him. I don't mind if he and Jack never become buddies, Jack and Whisper weren't either. But Jack has been my baby since the day he was born, and he's already been fading a bit this year, getting skinnier, shedding more, playing less. If he's going continue to be stressed out by Trapper's presence I'm worried it might make him ill.

And if we can't make this work, I'd at least like someone to tell me I'm not betraying Trapper by bringing him back to the shelter. Just the thought of doing so is breaking my heart. But the thought of losing Jack (or even just 'losing' the Jack I know) from stress is breaking it even more. Sadly, my husband is no help. He only agreed to bring Trapper home to make me happy, and he's the one who's fallen in love with him.

~the OTW


LZ said...

Hmm...tough situation indeed! We won't pretend to be experts on this but it sounds a bit like our horse so we'll share that experience if it helps at all.

Snap is the BOSS mare. She's in charge of her herd and has been for 4 years. Last spring a new filly came in to the field and tried to be over her. Snap has outlasted countless new horses (its a revolving herd with young horses in training). This one horse got the upper hoof. Snap became extremely weird and depressed. So much that the barn lady took her temperature because she was so out of norm.

Anyhow, within a few days Snap decided to take her place back and has been happy ever since. I guess we see the parallel because Jack was probably a little shocked with the altercation. It probably was just an odd situation that shook his confidence. I'd say keep giving it time and making him top cat like you have been.

But if it doesn't work out that's OK too!


Tybalt said...

Oh goodness. That sounds like a horrible situation, and I can see how it is stressing you out even more than it is Jack.

I think Kaze gave good advice.


Gemini and Ichiro said...

Rescue remedy and feliway might assist the boys in getting a long. Also making sure each has his own territory and then introducing them to more neutral territory. I think Kaze, Latte and Chase are correct in the concept that you have a cat who is used to being the boss and this other cat is challenging his authority.


Abby is top cat. She came into a three cat household. Boo,Ping and Jinx have been together their entire lives. Ping and Jinx are littermates,Boo is younger. They are happy with each other. Abby was not happy to come into a house with three other cats. It took 3 months before I could have her out and mingle with the other 3. She hated them. It took time, lots of time and a wide berth. Abby has bonded to me and she resents any other cat coming close to me and she will fight them off of me. I credit each of them being mellow with things working out because Abby will fuss at them and paw at them over me. It's just something we have to work with. I love each of my kitties and I am especially bonded to Abby -- we picked each other -- I bend over backward to keep the peace and try to make each of the kitties happy. You've got a situation because you don't have the time to see how things are going to work out. I am a firm believer that the kitties do work it out amongst themselves and as long as they don't hurt each other, they can hiss and paw and chase one another to their hearts content. I hope things work out for Jack and Trapper. I truly do...

(Abby's Mom)

Turkey Cats said...

We're not experts either. We brought Batman, Reggie and Rita home from a shelter. Then nine months later brought Riley and Abby (after they had been returned by a lady who did not take good care of them). They were all still one and they were from the same litter.

One thing that brought them together after all of the hissing and pawing was trying to play with toys together. That seemed to socialize them a little easier. Now they are all good buddies.

When we bring our four to my mom's house her cats hiss at ours. They are six years old. One thing that settles them down is my mom will give them treats in front of our cats. Granted, we are only there for a week or less, but is seems to lessen the tension in the house. We also keep their food and litter completely separate and ours stay in the bedroom with us during the night and if we leave the house while my parent's cats roam the house.

Good luck with your adventure. It might take a little while. Batman is like Jack. He's jealous of any other cat getting my attention and always needs extra cuddling. It could be just a shock to his world and it may take him a while to adjust.

The Island Cats said...

We're going through the same thing right now. I think I could write a book about cat intros. Email me privately if you want some more info. But basically, it can take a long time for the two to become comfortable with each other...longer than just a few days. The key is to introduce them slowly. Introduce them one sense at a time. Keep them separated with no visual contact and let them get use to each others' smells first. Take an old sock, put it on your hand and pet one cat and then go and pet the other. Or rub a towel on one then the other. Once they seem okay with that, then give them visual contact. But do not let them be able to have physical contact. Feed them together. Give them treats together. Play with them together. They need to learn that being together is a positive experience. Once they seem okay with seeing each other, you can next let them have physical contact. But make sure each cat has a safe haven to run to if they want to get away. Each of these steps could take days or weeks. It really depends. But they can learn to live with each other.

Feliway (use the diffusers) and rescue remedy can help with the intro process too.

Hope that helps.

Daisy said...

I hope everything will work out because Trapper sounds like a very sweet kitty.

The Furry Kids said...

(((hugs))) and purrs to all of you. We are no help at all with introductions because we're littermates and the first kitties that Mama has ever lived with. But we do ditto the feliway and rescue remedy suggestions. Mama has used both of those before for all of us and they do work.

Mr. Hendrix said...

ooo that is tough. are there any "animal communicators" in your area? we have one here that is a Reiki Master and she has been a big help with my personality quarks.

As for getting used to being inside, he totally will. Remember, I was a feral kitty and from the minute I set paw in this house I've not gone out. I got used to it in a matter of 2 months.

We're with the suggestions on Rescue Remedy and Feliway. It has only been a few days. Perhaps Jack just needs some time. Maybe keep Trapper in his own room for a while?

Ikaika said...

Dear OTW Mommy Person,

We can relate to this situation! When I moved into my home over 3 years ago, my sister Tanith took an immediate dislike (more like hate) to me and hissed and growled and screamed at me. My mom tried everything -- Rescue Remedy, Feliway, treats, isolation ... nothing worked. And the more Tanith hissed and growled at me, the more I bothered her. Well, things haven't improved much over the years. The only place we peacefully coexsist is on the Beans' bed. Our mom and dad have accepted this as a fact of life: some kitties just don't get along with each other. They just try to give us all equal time and equal treats. So far, no one's gotten hurt, and mom and dad pretty much let us work things out on our own.

I hope things work out for your family because Trapper sounds like a sweet kitty. Just love on Jack a lot and keep reminding him he's numero uno.

Your friend 'Kaika

Parker said...

I think that everyone gave great advice. It takes a long time for some kitties. As a matter of fact the four of us only tolerate one another.
Mommy loves us all, but never all at once, our rules, not hers...

Max said...

It took a LONG time for me to get over Buddah being here. I think I was growling at him a year later...but now we co-exist.

As long as no one is hurting anyone, time will probably be your best ally.

Ivan from WMD said...

Wow, I feel for you. It may just be too early to know, though. Olivia reacted badly when Caroline came; William reacted very badly when Russell came. (In fact, I was extremely concerned, because, like Jack, William is my little boy.) Now the girls tolerate each other and Russell and William are best buds. I'd just keep an eye on Jack and see if he develops any health issues, and keep loving on him a lot.

(Our other vet [who saw Russell first] recommended Feliway, but I decided not to try it, so I don't know if it works or not. You might want to think about trying it, though.)

~William's mom.

Zippy, Sadie, Speedy and M'Gee said...

Sadie and Zippy will probably never be friends, but they will tolerate each other now. Zippy has always been the queen and I think she feared Sadie would take that away. We did luck out when we brought Speedy into the mix as he is the great peacemaker. But even when he is not there they will tolerate each other and that took years. We agree with others, as long as they aren't hurting each other...and Jack should always be first, first in your affection, first to get treats...

Us4 Cats said...

We have been in that situation before but the good news is that everyone eventually got used to one another and now they are cuddle buds. We have fours cats. Soemtimes out of the blue one will decide to follow, chase and stalk another; but then it stops and they are best friends. it can be scary when they fight but sometimes the fighting is just playing , in thier world.
it can take a cat some time to really pick up and accept the scent of another cat, but it will happen.

one suggeston that worked for us: rub your hands all over one cat and really get their scent on ya good then go to the other cat and rub your hands all of him. You are essentially placing the scent of one cat onto the other and eventualy they will accept this other scent. Or you can take a dry washcloth and do this same thing. Keep doing it many time a day until you notice they accept eachother quicker without having to fight first (a new scent will freak out any kitty).

hang in there and give em lots a lovs!!!!

Anonymous said...

I've got quite a lot of personality issues going on in my house too. It seems Grr hates all girl cats that aren't her sister Midnight. Every adult or kitten girl cat she's met has been The Enemy, and deserving of attack. Cocoa is jealous and territorial and adores me, so he's another problem. We've had to work through many issues and it takes lots of time. Max was an indoor/outdoor cat for 2 years, then an outdoor almost exclusively for 6 more years. Now he's indoor 100% and has no problem with it. He never wants to see the outdoors again. I do have something to say about kitty depression though. Grr loves my daughter Kelly...only. Kelly went to Europe for 3 weeks. While she was gone, Grr did almost nothing. She stared out the window most of the day, or slept. She didn't eat much and didn't play at all, nor did she chase Riley. All her grryness seemed to be gone, and she was just a boring lump of sad kitty. Near the end of the 3 weeks, she was finally starting to come out of it. She even gave a couple little half-hearted attempts to chase and pounce Riley, plus she came to me for petting once. I think if Kelly had never come back, Grr would have adjusted eventually. Of course, Kelly did come back and Grr went right back to being Grr. I'm not sure what I'm saying exactly, except give them all more time. I think it sounds like it will work out. It may take a month or so, but I think Jack will adjust and be back to normal.

Victor Tabbycat said...

No advice, but I had the same feelings about Bonnie and Victor, and still wonder if bringing him home shortened her life. Did I betray her? Did she act older and fade faster? If I had it to do over, I'd do it again, but I don't know if hubby would. She was HIS cat, while Victor bonded to me. Like glue.
So, I offer moral support. I understand how torn you are feeling.
~ Tabbymom Jen