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Multiple cat people - if 2 cats don't get on, is it diluted by the presence of other cats?

(16 Posts)
Izlet Fri 07-Aug-15 12:53:21

I have 2 cats, an older girl cat who used to live harmoniously with my old boy who died last year, plus a boy cat from a rescue we got earlier this year. Girl cat disliked boy cat from the off, but I put that down to unfamiliarity and boy cat's health problems, which have now been resolved.

The problem is, since boy cat was cured he has been an utter bully to girl cat. He was rescued from a backyard breeder where he was the stud and that possibly has influenced his view of females shock. Girl cat has now effectively been relegated to one room and is not allowed on any furniture if boy cat is there. She does have some safe space as boy cat is too dim to work the cat flap so she just escapes outside. I've tried various techniques as suggested by cat behaviourists on the Internet and some have worked for a while, only for boy cat to revert to form and take a swipe at girl cat and it all starts again.

My question is this - if i get a second female (a bossy one), will that take some of the heat off girl cat and provide her with someone to hide behind against boy cat, or do I risk worsening the situation and girl cat will find herself with 2 rivals instead of an ally?

At present rehoming is not an option, hence me wanting to find a solution that would alleviate the stress for my girl cat. I see other people with about 15 cats all curled up together and wonder how they manage to not have any warring factions among them. Mind you, with my old cat it was all love and cuddles between them so I would never have imagined the situation I have now.

cozietoesie Fri 07-Aug-15 14:26:36

As far as I can tell, it's a bit like throwing everything up in the air and seeing where it lands. smile There wll be a new hierarchy and new alliances formed but how that would work out - I don't know.

Myabe TCN or one of the other posters with serious multi-cats can give you a moe informed view. There may, however, be a big difference between having 4 and 14 - I would have thought that with eg serious muti-catness, it would dilute - but that's not really what you're talking about is it? You also have to consider the views of the incoming cat - not so pleasant landing in a new home and having to navigate a difficult situation in addition to the normal stresses of novelty.

Izlet Fri 07-Aug-15 14:33:23

Haha yes I did wonder if the tipping point would be 10 cats or more. Hopefully not as my house is not big! Prospective new addition is a bossy madam apparently, but just what might be needed to knock bully boy in his place. Or maybe not. Existing girl cat was fairly territorial, or so I thought, but it turns out she is all mouth and no trousers!

SacredHeart Fri 07-Aug-15 14:34:05

Personally as you've said he's a potential rescue stud I wouldn't risk it. Stud cat behaviour is completely different to the cute fluff balls we see in neutered boys - dominance, marking and obviously mating (which is very rough for cats) and I'm not sure that adding a bossy female will not exacerbate his behaviour.

Not sure what advice to give as most ex stud homes are very carefully considered due to this risk.

haggisaggis Fri 07-Aug-15 14:37:51

I always wonder at these pictures of happy cats all curled up together! Have never managed it. Current 2 are getting better - we had rescue for over a year when we brought in Maine coon kitten. Kitten has always terrorised the rescue boy - and is now much bigger than him! However it is very slowly (1 year later..) getting better. ds works at the cat rescue at the weekends and wanted to bring another cat home but I have said no way! Personally I think a 3rd cat would just make things worse.

SacredHeart Fri 07-Aug-15 14:46:00

I have three and they are very happy together but I spent over 2 months introducing them very slowly when a lot of people spend a weekend, week tops.

Now they have days when one is grumpy and grumbles at the others but they sleep together everyday.

Izlet Fri 07-Aug-15 14:49:10

Interesting what you say sacred, when we got him from the rescue he was seen as the most docile of all the studs and less posturing than the other males. With hindsight this was probably due to him being in pain so he was subdued.

One of the other studs from his group was placed in a multi cat household and initially manifested the same behaviour (of course rescue told me this afterwards). In his case his new owner managed it with fluoxetine, with positive results. I'm a bit loath to go down this route as he has had a lot of drugs in his life, plus my vet wasn't keen as I would need to give it to both cats apparently and girl cat is getting on a bit. The other owner has since adopted other cats so bully cat is now outnumbered and peace has been restored.

SacredHeart Fri 07-Aug-15 14:54:30

There's no right or wrong, especially if you have an understanding rescue who are willing to take back the addition of it doesn't work (which some rescues are, some aren't, some say they will then welch if called on).

It's a gamble with three cats happiness - the best scenario is you improve 3 lives the worst is you make three cats (and yourself) more miserable... It's is a tough decision.

Lurkedforever1 Fri 07-Aug-15 15:03:43

I'm not sure there is a definite yes or no answer. I've seen a Tom (which yours is regardless of its reproductive organs iyswim) become even more territorial and agressive with its subordinates when it's been displaced by a more dominant cat, likewise I've seen them give it up and become reasonably friendly. I've also seen previously dominant males become very stressed when knocked off their perch. I think because they are essentially loners rather than herd animals, there's no definitive norm for pecking order disputes.
I do only have 2, and never had more than 2 in the past either, but have a lifetime experience of colonies of semi or full feral farm cats so I'm going off that as well as my own pairs, so if someone experienced with domestic groups says the opposite I won't disagree.

Izlet Fri 07-Aug-15 16:06:29

Yes, that's why he could only be placed with females. With other toms he got stressed (your second scenario). I expect he would be considered halfway between a semi feral farm cat and a domestic cat as he grew up in a cage with minimal human interaction. In all other ways he's a lovely cat, playful and cuddly (with me anyway) and he follows me around everywhere. Going to the loo is no longer an individual activity!

I guess I'll need to try it out. Bossy female is in rescue right now. If only we could introduce them all beforehand, they could chat between them and girl cat could give me her verdict. It would be so much easier!

RoosterCogburn Fri 07-Aug-15 18:10:04

I think it's always a bit of a gamble. All my cats are from rescue barring one who was a stray who turned up - whenever we adopt a new cat we ask for one who gets on with others but there is no guarantee.

We have 5 (the most we have ever had at once is nine) and one boy doesn't get on with one girl but all the others do.
Some love each other and sleep curled up together, some tolerate one another.
Our newest addition is a very young cat - for some reason I assumed our two female cats would let on well with her - they aren't interested and mainly ignore her but the two boys adore her.

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 07-Aug-15 20:43:27

One possible outcome is that the two alpha cats hate each other and never stop fighting.

Our cat has fought on an almost daily basis with the other alpha cat in the street for two years.

Neither will give up.

Izlet Fri 07-Aug-15 21:57:46

That's another thing I worry about, although I would hope that bully boy might rein it in a bit once he encounters proper defiance from a female. Or maybe the mere presence of another female might be enough to de stress girl cat as she won't be the focus of bully boy's attention anymore?

Aargh why are cats so difficult to predict?

Fluffycloudland77 Sat 08-Aug-15 09:25:11

Well it makes it more interesting doesn't it?. Plus it stops us all having 43 cats each.

code Sat 08-Aug-15 16:10:56

Personally I'd stop at what you have. Introducing a 3rd into an already stressy atmosphere is unlikely to help and might result in the older girl voting with her feet. Cats are not pack animals so that type of hierarchy won't exist. I'd concentrate on allowing them both to co-exist as peacefully as possible. Give your girl places to escape from him and feel safe, maybe give her some zylkene (don't give it to him as it increases confidence). You could maybe think about a visit from a behaviourist who can give you tips to help.

Izlet Mon 10-Aug-15 09:31:22

I have a behaviourist booked in for September. She knows one of my cats from before, so would just be coming here for a few hours to see the interaction between the two. It was her who suggested getting a third cat, oddly enough, although she did say she'd need to see them together to properly assess the situation.

Bully boy has been behaving himself lately as I'm re-trying a technique that seemed to work before (but I couldn't keep up as away a lot for work at the time). Girl cat has begun to regain confidence, but that has also meant that it's her doing the lashing out now! Sigh. In the light of that zylkene may not be the answer. Perhaps we should all try some Valium instead grin.

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