How do I help current cats accept rescue cat?

(10 Posts)
thecatsm0ther Wed 29-Apr-15 08:54:52

I've taken in a rescue cat that had been in rescue for a year and desperately needed a home. I already had two cats aged 6 and 2.

I thought I had planned well. I kept the new cat in dd's bedroom with litter tray, food and water, cat bed and toys for the first few days, then gradually let her find her way around upstairs, then downstairs and meeting the other cats, thinking she would be timid and need time to adjust.

No, she's not timid! She's very bolshy and chases and hisses at my other cats, they are scared. We've had her three weeks now.

I realise I've introduced them too quickly, so today have gone back to the beginning, she is in dd's room with her food etc. Of course she wants to come out and play and wander around.

I want to make it work, I don't want to send her back to the rescue if it can be helped, as she obviously loves having the freedom to wander around. Of course, equally I don't want my other cats to be unhappy. I have even thought about whether it's possible to keep her upstairs and them downstairs, but no, it's not possible in the long run, I want her to be able to go outside. I just started letting her out in the garden with me this weekend and she loved it, rolling on the grass and patio!

So ... any ideas,any experience? I'd be really grateful for any tips.

givemushypeasachance Wed 29-Apr-15 09:48:48

Is there some way to temporarily set things up so that they can see each other but not get to each other? Maybe borrowing something like a dog crate so you can keep the new girl in it downstairs for periods of time allowing everyone to see and smell each other but preventing fights? Before my own cats I had gerbils which are territorial wee beasties, and when you first try to introduce two you set up a "split cage" with wire mesh across so they can see and more importantly smell each other, but they can't fight. Then each day you swap them from one side to the other until their scents mingle and they show interest in each other but not aggression, sleep next to each other by the mesh and so on, and that's the best chance of them getting on.

I know cats are different but most advice seems to be about gradual introductions e.g. feeding them on opposite sides of the same door, so the same sort of approach might have a beneficial effect. I've also heard that swapping scents by stroking one cat with a cloth especially round the cheeks and other scenting areas and then using the same cloth to stroke the other cat(s) can help.

thecatsm0ther Wed 29-Apr-15 09:52:34

Thanks smile That's not a bad idea. Although I know she wouldn't be happy to be in a cage! grin I don't know if I know anyone with a cage though ...

I'll try stroking them and swapping scents too.

I forgot to mention, she is a feisty little madam, very affectionate one moment, then decides she doesn't want stroking at all, thank you very much.

thecatneuterer Wed 29-Apr-15 11:17:43

I use a dog crate for my introductions to. They cost around £70 from Pets at Home. They are also useful if you ever need to put a cat on cage-rest following an operation or injury.

However, three weeks is no time at all. Unless you are very, very unlucky with particular temperaments then things will settle down. In a couple of months they should have reached a truce. In six months they could well be the best of friends.

thecatsm0ther Wed 29-Apr-15 11:54:15

Thanks Thecatneuterer smile I'm being too impatient. Dh said it's early days too.

I'm just worried, because my tom cats are scared of her. One hides a lot of the time and the other is a bit bolder, but he is covered in little scratches, where she's had a go at him, he isn't standing up to her.

So a dog cage is the way to go? For how long? Would she only be in it for a few hours a day and the rest of the time upstairs alone? or in it all day? It's also a bit of a problem that she doesn't like being picked up, she bites, hisses and scratches. Not sure how I'll put her in there at the moment ..

thecatneuterer Wed 29-Apr-15 12:01:53

I'm not sure. As it's already been three weeks I think you may have passed your window of opportunity for a dog crate being useful. I normally keep them in the crate for two to three weeks, in a busy (cat-wise) part of the house so all the cats can meet and sniff each other without feeling too threatened.

In your case I think I would just persevere. It really will get better.

thecatsm0ther Wed 29-Apr-15 13:23:03

Thanks. Anything else I can do to make it easier? Will it help to separate them for part of the day, so the tom cats have a bit of peace, or better to just let them get on with it?
She is absolutely fine with our dog (unless the dog jumps around right in front of her when it's dinner time), it's just the cats she had taken a dislike to.

I really don't want to have to return her. At the moment all is peaceful, they're all sleeping in different places. It's when they start wandering around that the problems start!

booksshoescats Wed 29-Apr-15 13:34:17

I'm sure you've done this already, but when we had a difficult time with our two (one had had an overnight stay at the vet and smelled 'wrong' when he came back, so his sister took against him. Then we had a baby!) I contacted their breeder to see if she had any suggestions and we used Feliway plug-ins (had previously only used the spray) and a natural stress remedy for them both. This really did the trick and we haven't looked back. Pills were from Animed and called Zylkene. Your rescue cat's dominant behaviour might reduce a bit if she's less stressed, which 'm guessing is probably partly what's causing the aggression. Apparently, though, it's important to treat all the cats even if it's only one of them that is of concern.

thecatsm0ther Wed 29-Apr-15 14:27:38

Thank you booksshoescats, I've ordered those for next day delivery, hopefully they will help.

I don't know if the stress is what is making her aggressive. When she came into the rescue apparently she was lovely, she had a littler of one wek old kittens. They were rehomed. Eventually she went to a new home where they had small children, aged 3 and 5 I believe. She was crabby there too and they brought her back to the rescue. I want to believe that something is causing this behaviour and she can be a lovely cat. She is neutered - the rescue thought that might help, but obviously not.

thecatsm0ther Tue 05-May-15 18:32:26

Things are not improving and I don't know if I should be giving up for my boy cats' sake. Rescue cat is still attacking them every chance she gets and they are very scared of her, one boy in particular. When would you expect the Feliway to start having an effect, because I've noticed no difference at all yet?

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