Tuesday, May 18, 2010

keepin the peace

my cats fight. when cleo came into our family, she was meant to be a playmate for fiona, who had been with us over a year. but their outgoing vs. timid personalities clashed, a common problem in multi-cat households. from the second they first saw each other, chaos ensued.

now, over six months later, the two are finally starting to become friends. what happened?  can it work for you? hit the jump if you want to find out how to coax reluctant kittehs into being friends...

the work starts before the cats meet for the first time. throwing them in a room together and letting them have at it is a recipe for disaster. a lengthy introductory process takes patience, but it will make a world of difference.

and in my 500 square foot apartment, feuding felines have no room to get away from each other. i brought home a cat tree (which cleo immediately claimed) to maximize the vertical space. a couple of shoe boxes were left out so fiona would also have a place to hide and feel secure.  personal space is huge.  this helped.

the girls also have their own food bowls in separate areas, preventing mealtime spats. we stocked up on interactive toys to engage the cats when they were ready. when separate, it's important give them equal attention and equal playtimes. at least we try and they seem to appreciate that.

training cats is all about positive reinforcement: if they do something you want them to do, immediate praise and treats will reinforce this. if you try to physically separate a cat battle, you might get scratched. i keep a squirt bottle handy for when the fur flies.

many feline behaviorists advocate the use of synthetic pheromones (read: purr-activators) for a number of problems, including a tense household. these are available in a diffuser such as feliway or in the calming collar. tapping into this pro-tip was the turning point in my multi-cat house - fiona stopped being so tense when cleo was around, and cleo stopped being overly aggressive toward fiona.

well, that's what worked for me.  how did you keep the peace?

1 comment:

sthielmann said...

When we were looking for a second cat as a companion for our adult female, we were told to get a male kitten. We kept him in one room for a couple of days. They got acquainted by sniffing and reaching under the door and were snuggling up to sleep together after three days of sharing the rest of the house. They still have an occasional tussle when he (age 8 mos) is too frisky for the more sedate older sister.