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Cher
Cher, Cat Behavior-expert
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 20953
Experience:  40+ years Cat Behavior Consultant; Vol. Vet Asst.
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I adopted a 3rd cat 10 months ago and very slowly introduced

Customer Question

I adopted a 3rd cat 10 months ago and very slowly introduced her to my two other adult cats (all femaies). Initially, the original 2 females just stayed in my bedroom and refused to venture out into the livingroom and other areas of the house where they used to spend time. I've consulted with my vet and other knowledgeable cat people and have tried everything from pheromones, to sharing a group scent and even medication but my two original cats will not allow this other adult female to become a part of their tight click.
After 10 months with little progress, I took the new cat into my bedroom and placed my original 2 back in the livingroom with plenty of food, water, toys and scratching posts. Despite this, they continue to growl at the third cat (who is not aggressive at all) but who often appears to make eye contact and hold it too long for their liking. The sound of the growling is very disturbing and I have run out of ideas.
Each cat, on her own, is friendly and affectionate with me and is physically healthy. I simply cannot think of any other interventions. Now, all cats spend time in the livingroom but when I give them each a treat of a small amount of wet food, the original two cats appear fearful to even get on the floor while the other cat is around.
I am desperate to resolve this issue as i have committed to providing a safe and comfortable environment for each of my cats. The sound of the growling is like nails on a chalkboard to me and I feel like I am letting my feline friends down.
Can you suggest any other things that I can do? While there is no bloodshed, it breaks my heart to see my original 2 cats not allow the 3rd to be a part of the group and it hurts me that they appear to be afraid of the 3rd cat who is not at all aggressive but does appear to maintain eye contact too long for their comfort.
I would be gratetful for your help. My email is***@******.***.
Thank you,
Zan
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Cat Behavior
Expert:  Cher replied 7 months ago.
Hello, Zan and welcome. I'm so sorry to hear that your new addition is not being accepted by your two older cats. So far, you seem to have done many good things towards this result. I want to make sure you have exchanged scents in the way I recommend: take a very slightly dampened cloth or paper towel and pet one cat (the newbie), then one of your older cats, then pet the new cat, again. Repeat this with your other older cat and do this consistently throughout the day. In addition, take an old t-shirt of yours and pet all the cats with it; this will deposit your comforting, familiar scent on all the cats and may help the older ones feel more comfortable and less threatened. If the pheromones you've used are Feliway (not Comfort Zone) plug in diffusers, and they haven't done much, you can also use Feliway spray (lightly spray the area where they will be together, but allow to dry, completely, before allowing them access--about 30 minutes) and/or a pheromone collar which allows them to always smell the comforting pheromones. Here is more information: http://www.petsmart.com/cat/stress-anxiety-relief/sentry-good-behavior-lavender-chamomile-cat-calming-collar-zid36-13558/cat-36-catid-200050--------This is another calming pheromone collar made by a different company: http://www.entirelypets.com/naturecalmcat.html------You can also try one of two over the counter calming remedies, if you haven't, yet: Rescue Remedy for Pets and Composure treats. Only try one, do not give both simultaneously.Try to play with all the cats with some interactive toys, for example, the feather wand (fishing pole toy), and offer them cat-healthy treats when they play nicely, as a reward. You want them to associate the pleasurable activity of eating, with each other, so you know when they're together, good things happen. Note: don't leave the feather wand alone with them, as pieces may be chewed off--only use this when you are supervising play. If the younger cat is maintaining eye contact too long and you think this is like a 'challenge' to the older cats, there's not much you can do about it; she's doing what's instinctive to her. Have you seen Jackson Galaxy's article on introducing new cats? http://jacksongalaxy.com/2010/10/01/cat-to-cat-introductions/ and, here is another good one: http://www.catbehaviorassociates.com/how-to-introduce-a-second-cat/-------I don't know what medication you tried (prescription?), but Clomicalm seems to work well in these situations: http://www.petplace.com/article/drug-library/library/prescription/clomipramine-clomicalm----------Try to enrich their environment with some new toys and a tall kitty condo or cat tree (or 2, if you have the room) and this might help keep them busy: http://www.pawswhiskersandclaws.com/pwc%20foraging.pdfhttp://www.zootoo.com/pet-product/cat-toys/funkitty-twist-n-treathttp://www.batarat.com/http://www.catdvd.com/http://www.shopfatcat.com/Cat-Toys_c_7.htmlhttp://www.amazon.com/FroliCat-BOLT-Interactive-Laser-Pet/dp/B0021L8W6K-------- I completely understand your frustration and wanting to make your feline household stress-free and cohesive, but sometimes, certain cats will just not get along, sometimes, they barely 'tolerate' each other (without fighting) and believe it or not, eventually, they might become friends! The arrangement you have now, sounds like it's keeping the peace, so keep this up until you can make a little more progress with getting them together. As you know, this is a gradual process and it takes a lot of time and patience; I know you've already invested a lot of time and one day, they might surprise you and start getting along. Just remember, keep praising and rewarding them with treats--if the older cats won't go on the floor near the new cat, even when treats are offered, just try making a longer distance between them, with the treats at each end of the room. I hope things begin to improve, very soon for you and your kitties! Please be so kind as to rate my answer with positive feedback; that is the only way I receive credit for my assistance. Thank you very much!Providing a positive rating will not end our conversation, should you need me for any follow-up. Simply click 'Reply' for clarification or additional information, if needed, and I will be glad to continue.Warmest regards,Cher PS: if you reply and don't hear right back from me, your patience will be greatly appreciated, as the site is experiencing some technical difficulties in this, and some other categories and it's sometimes difficult for me to access the question. Please be assured, you are not being ignored, if you reply and don't get response within a reasonable amount of time. Thank you so much for your understanding!
Customer: replied 7 months ago.

I appreciate your response but have tried literally everything that you mentioned before I wrote in for assistance. With the suggestion of my vet, I even used fluoxetine (Prozac) on the younger of the 2 cats who seemed more distressed than the other one.

Expert:  Cher replied 7 months ago.
Hi again, Zan and thanks for your reply with additional information. I had a feeling Prozac was tried before, and that's why I didn't recommend it and suggested Clomicalm and the other OTC oral calming remedies, plus the Feliway products. I think at this point, if you've tried everything possible, you're going to have to either continue to keep them separated most of the time, or allow them to exist together and eventually, they'll get used to each other. As long as there's no physical fighting/bloodshed, growling and hissing are normal in this case and it just means, 'stay away, this is MY territory!' I wouldn't suggest leaving them alone when you're not home, to supervise, though. I hope things will work out and please keep me posted and ask any further questions you may have. If I think of anything else, I'll let you know. Warmest wishes,Cher