An opinionated feline in Edmonton, Canada who lived with a retired cat behaviourist, Greyce provided behavioral advice to cats in need until her death in July 2014. Because her entries are useful even today, the blog remains posted.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Aggression Between Cats: Update on Ziggy & Pearl

Dear Greyce,

We have tried two of your suggestions already.

First, Herself now intervenes within the first 30 seconds of my staring and Pearl and hey . . . I think I'm getting it now. I understand that she is NOT pleased when I do that. I really want to keep doing it, but I'm trying to behave. So I only stared at Pearl twice last night which is a record. Because in the last couple of months I average five or more times a night.

Second, Herself is spending longer periods of individual time with Pearl, as you also suggested. I'm not happy about that, but Pearl certainly is. And she seems a little less stressed.

So it seems like we've started the road back to a more peaceable kingdom - like we used to have.

How We Used To Be
 Now I have a question for you. You suggested a cat apartment (wire dog crate) for Pearl. How about me?

Themselves were wondering if we could have one each. That way, we could be in the same general vicinity at times, without Pearl stressing out. It would also make it easier to switch us between the bedroom and living room, without having to catch us first.

And also, do we have to stay in the cages all day and all night?

Let me know your thoughts,


Dear Ziggy,

How proud I am of you and Pearl and the progress you have already made. Congratulations!

I'm also delighted that you have raised the question of two cat apartments, rather than one. It's a great idea.

I'm often reluctant to go that route because human account managers usually complain that it is too expensive. And for some households it can be. But for others I find it difficult to understand the concern when the purrsons have just returned from a cruise or are enjoying their newly-purchased home entertainment centre.

So yes, by all means purchase two apartments.

You will be faced with a variety of choices, so you will need to have a good idea of what will best serve you and choose wisely - even if it takes an extra shopping trip or some Net surfing just to get the lay of the land.

I've already outlined what you should look for, but just let me re-cap and add a few thoughts:

For this purpose, the wire cage is better than the hard plastic shell carrier-type because it allows for more options in seeing out (from being completely covered over with a blanket to having a 360 degree view of the place).

You need a stable model that has a floor. Some don't because they are designed for dogs to use outside and the ground is the floor. But that is NOT for you.

Obviously you'll need to make sure it's big enough to house your furnishings (as I'd mentioned before). That's why I suggest a medium or (even better) a large dog crate. HOWEVER, make sure to choose a size that will fit through your doors, since your apartment may be moved from room to room. AND you might even consider one with wheels (just make sure to lock them in place when you finally settle on a spot for the time); wheels make transporting you from room to room even easier. (But make sure your folks don't get a kitty playpen instead - which is much taller and one wheels - suitable for kittens but not adult cats and much less stable).

And think about a two (or more) door version IF you think this might work better for your petsitters (as I explained before. Otherwise, why bother?

Oh yes, make sure the litter box and food and water dishes are suited to the crate apartment. DON'T use your usual ones because we'll need to keep them in their regular places, for now. Otherwise, too much change in where everything is located will stress both of you out.

Now after you have purchased and set up the apartments, I suggest the following:

Ziggy, place your apartment in the bedroom with the door open. Have your folks entice you to explore it. If catnip will do the trick, spread some on the crate floor. If Da Bird is made to fly near it to get you to enter, so be it.

Pearl, place your apartment in the living room (out of Ziggy's sight line when he is wandering the bedroom if at all possible); also with the door open. Same routine as Ziggy.

Give yourselves a day or two to get used to the apartments and the fact that they exist. If you enter, fine and dandy. If not, have your folks try to entice you in. But don't have them close the door just yet.

At the present time, you don't have access to the bedroom Pearl, so I'm not concerned that you might enter or explore Ziggy's apartment. However,I know Ziggy enters the living room. Please shut the door to your apartment BEFORE he comes in (and without you in it - unless you really want to be there). That way he won't explore your private space.

Ziggy, DON'T bring you apartment into the living room just yet. Don't move Pearl's into the bedroom. Just keep things the way they have been, with the only new thing being the apartments themselves.

When you have both accepted their presence and the novelty has started to wear off, get in touch again and I'll give you the next step.

I'm going to change my advice about moving your food bowls closer because it will not be necessary if you each have an apartment. We can do the eating routine in a different way. So you can just ignore my eating-together advice from the previous blog entry, for now.

You asked if you have to stay in the apartments all the time. No, you do not!  We will use them as a means to get each of you into your respective, time-share zones (a bit later on, once you get used to the apartments themselves). And we will use them to enable you both to be in the very same area in a very safe way - and thus relieve Pearl of her worry and relieve your folks of the need to watch both of you each and every minute.

But for now, I just want you to get the apartments set up and get used to the idea of having them around.
Feel free to explore your own apartment.

The next step is - on an individual cat basis - to have you enter the apartment and have the door closed for a very short time while being distracted by a toy, or catnip or human attention or a lovely treat snack just to distract you enough that you can do this. When both of you have reached this milestone, we will be ready to deal with the issue of switching you to different spaces in your crates and of keeping you both crated together in the same space for specific time periods.

Don't forget, slow steps pay off in the long run!

Good luck!