All entries for Friday 11 April 2008

April 11, 2008

Second cat syndrome

I’ve taken this week off to help my new cat settle in. This is her


However, she wasn’t the one who needed settling, it was Sina (the first one).


They’re OK now, they’re asleep together on the sofa next to me while I write this, but I made quite a few mistakes in getting them together, recorded here in case anyone else has to do it.

1) I didn’t read up on it on the internet before I started. I just assumed that there wouldn’t be a problem. There’s a lot of advice out there, like give each cat a separate room to start with, introduce them to each other gradually, be patient.

2) I underestimated how stressed the older cat would be. She’s big, the other one’s small, what could be the problem? Actually she’s stopped grooming, crapping and, for a while, eating. Thanks to some liquid paraffin, number two is taken care of (in both senses). So she’s getting back to normal. It’s easy to mistake fear for agression (same’s true of humans though). All that hissing and growling is actually a fear response. The worst thing to do is tell them off, it just adds to the fear.

3) I overestimated how stressed the younger cat would be. She’s about a tenth the size of the other one, but half way through a fight she’d get distracted by a shoelace or her tail. I was worried she’d grow up paranoid or something, but by day four everythng’s OK anyway. And she’s learnt to get her punches in if she needs to. (Yes weirdly, both my cats don’t claw, on the whole, they box).

4) I stepped in too soon when fights happened. After a couple of days I let the hissing and boxing go on for a bit longer. I thought it might get it out of their systems more quickly. I think it did. I also stopped separating them so much. They need to be apart for some of the time, but getting stuck into each other more often helped, I think.

5) I picked one up during a fight. Sina’s a very peaceful cat, normally. However, deep down there’s a feral cat inside, which came out when I picked her up. I have the scars on my hands to prove it. Get a towel (a big one) to drop on them when you think it’s got out of hand.

6) I stopped doing anything else to keep an eye on them. I think part of the problem was that I just sat and watched them when they were together to stop them if anything happened, which meant each other was the only thing they had to focus on. They actually calmed down more when Sarah (my housemate) was looking after them. She kept on doing her usual stuff and that was probably more of a distraction for them.

7) Don’t panic. These two have gone from attacking each other on sight to sleeping next to each other peaceably within five days. It’s not as bad as it seems and will be worth it in the long run.

April 2008

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