Catfight

In a previous post I promised to tell you more about my two cats who recently have begun fighting.  Mimi, my black cat, is about 5 years old.  I’ve had her for 3 years.  Steggie, my black & white cow cat, is 1 1/2 and I got him a year ago when he was a kitten of about 4 months old.  The two had been getting along fine until around the beginning of October (about 2 months ago).

Mimi had been spending more and more time outside over the summer, using the dog door to get in and out of the house.  I never really wanted her to be an outdoor cat, but the fancy dog door that I have (which is supposed to lock down when not in use and then open with a small radio-frequency fob that the dogs wear on their collars when the dogs approach the door) has been kind of on the fritz.  I had left the door in the “open” mode, to allow the dogs to go in and out while I was at work, but Mimi took it upon herself to go in and out as well.

Steggie, who has always had a somewhat odd gait, has never tried to go through the dog door and prefers to stay inside.  In fact, this was a huge ordeal when I was adopting him from Best Friends, as they were trying to figure out if he had an orthopedic issue or a neurologic issue which was impeding his gait.  They attempted to find something wrong with him for a couple of weeks, everyday with me visiting the shelter to see the kitten, and I think they finally got sick of me and let me take him home.  They never did find anything wrong with him.  My vet checked him out and we both agree that it’s pretty cute the way he walks sort of sideways with his hind end.

So, Steggie has never gone outside for more than 5-10 minutes, and Mimi was spending more and more time outside.  I came home from work one evening and couldn’t find her.  I was calling and calling her from the back yard and finally heard her getting into a horrible fight with another cat in the alley behind my house.  She scrambled over the fence and came into the house with nicks and scratches and looked a bit shaken up and I decided then and there that I was going to keep her inside.

The problem was, with all the time she was spending outside, she was getting more and more aggressive towards Steggie.  He would be sleeping peacefully, curled up on the couch and she would walk past him and swat him on the head and growl at him.  She did this every time she passed him.  At first he didn’t fight back, but eventually he decided to start defending himself and would put his paws up above his head (in an attempt to make himself look bigger?) and he looked like a little prize fighter when he did it.

Deciding to keep Mimi inside was not without challenges.  She was fighting, and also decided to start peeing on the carpet in the bedroom and pooping on the carpet in the basement.  Ugh.  I was devastated.  My babies were fighting and destroying the house and I just wanted them to get along.

I messaged a friend of mine in Iowa (whom I met on the West Highland Way in Scotland in 2012).  She has close to a dozen cats and they all seem to get along pretty well.  I’m so glad I contacted her, because she replied, “Oh, my mom is having the same problem with her two cats!  She got a pheromone diffuser and I think things have gotten better.”

Pheromone diffuser?  Apparently this thing emits pheromones which are similar to mama-kitty comforting her kittens.  And there are pheromone collars, too.  There’s another pheromone diffuser which stops cats from peeing inside and “marking.”  What the hell, I thought.  It’s worth a shot.  I ordered about $100 worth of the shit on Amazon and went to the pet store and got the collars.  I also stocked up on Nature’s Miracle enzyme solution and “Urine off” solution, a black light, and started putting the Bissell carpet steamer to very good use.  The last thing I got was a ScatMat which is a small battery-powered mat which, when contacted sets off a small static electrical charge.  Let me tell you, that thing is no joke (I tested it on myself).  Ouch!

So at this point, I’m what… $300 invested in my cats “getting along” and thinking, “They’d better start f-ing getting along!”

The first couple of days with the ScatMat and the pheromone collar on Mimi were marginally better.  Both of the cats “tried out” the ScatMat only once… and have not returned to that corner of the bedroom where they were peeing on the carpet.

The pheromone diffusers arrived in 2 days via Amazon Prime, and I could see some minimal progress over the next couple of weeks.  I remained hopeful, despite getting mixed reviews from friends of mine.

Now, here we are 1 month into the process.  I now have pheromone collars on both cats and the diffusers are emitting glorious invisible clouds of soothing essence.  Yes, you guessed right:  the cats are getting along again (thank God!).  They can actually sit next to each other for several minutes without fighting.  For a while there I was looking at Mimi telling her that she’d better start getting along with her little brother because if she didn’t…  “Don’t make me choose between you!”

So at this point, I feel like the crazy pet-lady, to be sure.  Two Golden Retrievers and two cats in the house… for a while there our little furtopia was quite stressful but we are on the mend.  The dogs are pretty cute about the whole thing.  When the cats go racing and chasing each other through the house (more in play now than fight-club style) the dogs either look up with drowsy wonder in their expressions like, “Who’s making all the ruckus?” or they don’t react to it at all.

So to recap:  Pheromone diffusers and collars for fighting cats are totally worth the investment, but give the things at least 2 weeks if not a month to start having a positive affect.  Also worth mentioning:  I separated the food dishes and water sources by several feet so that kitties can have peace while eating and decreased competition.  I now scoop the cat litter boxes at least every other day (if not daily) whereas before I was doing this only 2 x per week.  (No more cats pooping on the carpet, yay!)  I also got a third cat box with a different kind of litter, and the cats seem to prefer that one (previously was using Blue Buffalo walnut shell litter, and now I’m back to clay Nature’s Miracle litter).  I still have the walnut litter (because I bought a bunch on sale a month or so ago) and will use that up until it’s gone, but I may not purchase it again.

This story brings me anxiety just writing about it.  But things are definitely getting better:  I caught the cats licking each others’ heads the other day when I got home from work.  Kitty-love!  #peaceXOXO

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