multicat household woes

This is a place to gain some understanding of cat behavior and to assist people in training their cats and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other cat owners and lovers...not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!


Miss Mimsy- Borogoves- Porpington
Purred: Mon May 21, '12 10:51am PST 
We have four cats, currently.
MiMi is the alpha at about 8 years old.
Tessa is our second, she's about 6.
Zeke is the third, he's about 5.
And Pru is the baby, she's about 3.

We had the first three for several years without too many problems. Tessa is very passive aggressive and can be destructive, but the other two put up with her okay.

Pru was the mama of a litter of foster kittens we had two summers ago. She and her kittens were separated from the resident cats, and when we decided to keep her, we kept her separate for several additional months. Slowly we let her out into the rest of the house.

Pru set up her territory in our dining room and (unfortunately) countertops, the other cats seemed to accept that pretty well, we thought. Then we realized that Tessa was hiding all day and not eating because she was afraid of Pru. Tessa got very sick with a liver infection because of her starving herself and so Tessa now lives in the back room except for supervised play time, so we can make sure she has food and litter at all times.

We just realized that Pru has been using our loft as a litterbox for a LONG time. (It's more of a wide ledge, we don't go up there). We added another litterbox in response to this, in her territory. The other cats are still aggressive towards her, especially if we give her ANY attention at all. Literally if you pet Pru, MiMi or Zeke will appear within seconds and a confrontation will begin. Sometimes Pru feels very threatened by this and lashes out and my husband and I have ended up bleeding.

We are starting to feel like there will just never be harmony in this household. We hate that Pru has to live on our dining room table (Which is a problem for us, too) and the others allow her limited access to human interaction and apparently the litterbox. We hate to do it but at this point, it doesn't feel like she has any quality of life with us and we are considering rehoming her. We think she would absolutely LOVE to be someone's only cat or even part of a pair where she could get more attention.
I am terrified of trying to find her a good home, I read things about animals being sold to labs and cried.
We are having a baby in August and I just don't want to continue to deal with all this aggression and stress between the cats, as well as unsanitary elimination habits. We have five litterboxes now and I have no idea how to deal with that when my child becomes mobile.
We have contacted the organization we fostered with where she came from, but I'm scared they are going to think we're just dumping her (We would NEVER send her to a shelter or even another foster home) and won't help us.
I regret ever trying to add a 4th cat to our home, i didn't realize that it could be so problematic. We already have one cat with elimination and behavior issues (Tessa) and I feel like that is enough to manage. Tessa basically has to live isolated because of her fear of Pru, as well.
I don't know what I am looking for here, advice on coping or rehoming. Even if we do find her a new home, we are in for a wait, I assume, until we can find a good, safe home for her.

Edited by author Mon May 21, '12 10:54am PST


Natalie the- Natcat,- Forever

Show some- respect,- youngster!
Purred: Mon May 21, '12 6:59pm PST 
We have 6 and there have been days. We also live in a very small space-a small 1 bedroom apartment. Our Natalie HATES other cats, and she had our Smokie got into it, so while she has learned to tolerate Ruffy (he doesn't bother her), and she doesn't like our kitten who's 10 months, she deals with them when they come into her space, which is the bedroom. That means that she doesn't go out into the living room, except if she is in our arms.

I don't know how big your space is...but there are a couple things I am going to suggest that both have and haven't worked for us.

1) Feliway diffuser does seem to work sometimes to calm things down.

2) My vet suggested COMPOSURE. It can be given as treats or in a liquid that mixes with food. It contains colustrum, and my vet says it works well for many cats. It didn't work with us simply because we couldn't find a way to get Smokie or Natalie to take it.

3) Rescue remedy patted onto the cats neck or ears. This does work and seems to calm them down.

4)I've heard the calming collars work well. There are some on the IBD.net website. They are herbal and some cat folks swear by them. You can also hang a door hanging thing with the herbs on the door in the room.

Can you seperate them for a bit? We have resigned ourselves that til we move Natalie is going to live separately in the bedroom. It's lonely for her sometimes when we aren't here, but it's the best we can do. We wouldn't rehome her even if we could, nor Smokie. Neither is prime 'adoption material'. (Natlies up there in age and Smokie has health issues and is FIV+)

Obviously, your cat that's being picked on needs a safe space of her own. This happened several years ago with a very submissive cat I had that was doing much the same thing. the guy who did cat behavior at the time at Animal Medical Center advised me to give him a space all his own the others wouldn't much want to access. I gave him a small space in a bathroom with his own box there, as well as food and water dishes. He would often lay there over the heater in the floor in the winter. He gradually...after a couple years, worked up the courage to stand up to his 'sisters' and was ok.

If the rescue you took her from is a no kill, why not call them and speak with them about the issue? Of course you don't want to return her, you want her to be happy and healthy and there is no reason to think that won't happen. Many rescues have a clause that states if you can't keep the cat, you return them there. If you did not get her frm the rescue...what you could do is speak with different rescues about your situation. They may have suggestions, and if you need to place her, you'll be letting them know.

Pleae don't beat yourself up. Multi cat households are like having larger families....some kids are always at each other all the time, and you just have to find a way to deal with it. Beleive me, we understand...

hugs from the 2 leggeds, purrs from the cats