This is for all of you out there with more than one cat and for whom it does not always run smoothly.
I lost my two most senior kitties a few months ago (Suds and DiMarno). It wasn’t long after the second loss that I brought Pipes into our family. I knew there would be an adjustment period, and there was. Evers was initially horrified of Pipes. But as I reported in a post not long ago, Evers soon accepted Pipes and they have become friends.
There is a new issue, however. We brought my mother-in-law’s cat (Sammi) here a year ago when MIL could no longer care for her. Sammi has never liked other cats. It took her a very long time to adjust to living here. She did eventually integrate, and all was well. Enter Pipes. Pipes is young and full of energy. He’s the youngest of our cat family. He never (on purpose) antagonizes the other cats. He does like to play chase, however, and I know this has a lot to do with his age. Evers will now play chase with him. Jazzy and Analeigh will play for a minute but they quickly tire of this and swat him away. Amelia is disgusted by Pipes and wants nothing to do with him. All of these relationships are acceptable. But a couple of months ago, Pipes saw Sammi slinking through a room and he went straight at her. He assumed he could chase her like he does the others. She screamed as if a giant predator had discovered her and was now attempting to end her life. The scream was so scary that every animal in the room startled. The craziest thing about the entire incident is that Pipes never touched her. He didn’t chase her down and pin her. He didn’t leap onto her or bite her or scratch her. He chased her, and she lost her mind.
Now if that had been it, this would be no big deal, right? But that scream . . . After the initial fright, I believe this intrigued Pipes to an outrageous degree. He bunched up and watched Sammi. As she slinked out of the room, he followed. He kept his distance, but oh was he curious! From the other room, I suddenly heard the blood-curdling scream again. I jumped up and sure enough. Pipes had decided on another chase, and Sammi had given him exactly what he was looking for. I didn’t know it then, but a new pattern had just been established.
We now have a Sammi cat who is terrified of Pipes. A Pipes cat who is drawn to the chase because of the extreme reaction it brings. And four other cats who watch the whole thing in amazement. Sammi has now extended her fear of Pipes to include Analeigh as well. Ana has, from the moment Sammi arrived, rubbed on all of the furniture whenever Sammi enters a room. Ana rubs on everything and slowly moves closer and closer to Sammi. Sammi has tolerated this in the past. When Ana would finally get a little too close, Sammi would hiss and move farther away. And that was that. But now when Analeigh approaches Sammi with her furniture-rubbing dance, Ana draws forth the same scream from Sammi that Pipes elicits. Sammi is now horrified of both Pipes and Analeigh. And recently, the whole thing became much more worrisome when Sammi started spending long parts of the day under our bed. Had she stopped going to the food dish? the water bowl? the litter box?
Sammi has some Siamese in there somewhere. My daughters tell me this is part of the problem. Whereas another cat might vocalize to express his or her disapproval, the Siamese often screams bloody murder. My guess is that Sammi’s vocalization is dramatically overdone because of her being Siamese. None of our cats, including Pipes, has ever touched Sammi. But with her now hiding for parts of every day, I worried that I would need to find a way to forever separate Sammi from the other cats.
I think we might have a protocol in place now that works all around. Sammi gets the upstairs bathroom during the day. She has her own food, water, and litter box. In the late afternoon, I go up and get her and bring her downstairs. She gets to be with us as we move around the house all evening. She sits in Husband’s lap when he’s in his recliner. The rest of the time she sits on a bench in the family room. Sometimes she jumps down and slinks out of the room. Sometimes she spots Pipes or Analeigh (curled up not even looking at her) and screams her lungs out. Most of the time, they don’t even look up. Sometimes, Pipes jumps down to chase. At night, Sammi sleeps in bed with us part of the night and under the bed the rest of the night. This will work for now. Until the dynamics change again.
See you tomorrow.