Monday, January 30, 2012

new challenge

Oliver is the sweetest cat. We had a sunny day recently, so I spent quite a bit of time with him outside on the back porch.

He adores affection, he soaks it up with great gusto. When I walk in the yard, he runs over to me, expecting to be picked up. If I don't stop and love on him, he tries to herd me to him by darting in front of my feet so I have to stop or change directions. Being held, hanging out in my lap, nose bops, head butts... and then there are the never ending purrs... He loves it all. He's still a bit on edge and can be spooked by a loud noise in the yard, but I'm guessing that's just part of life for an outdoor cat, always watching out that they don't get eaten by some predator.

No question that Oliver has really worked his way into my heart, I love him dearly. 

Taking care of all the outside kitties has really given me opportunities to be challenged in difficult areas of my life. I have experienced personal growth and feel once again that I am facing a new opportunity to grow.

Each day that goes my Oliver gets less and less content being an outside kitty, he so much wants to come inside and experience the 24 hours comforts of inside living. When I come in the back door, he tries to rush the door. I have had to cover up my upstairs windows because he climbs up on the roof, parks outside the second story windows and watches us while crying. This drives Buddy insane and he becomes violent trying to tear through the window.

I wish I could invite Oliver inside to join the clan of inside kitties, however, Buddy seems to be sworn enemies with Oliver. It seems even the slightest thought of Oliver gets Buddy going all out. The other problem is the emerging whiz-wars. Oliver likes to mark his space with a little dab of spray. Buddy now follows suit.

Oliver keeps trying to find new ways to get inside. His latest stunt involves high jumping onto the small window ledge of the first floor window. He parks there and watches us through the window while crying loudly. He prefers to do this at night. Again, Buddy goes ballistic trying to get at the intruder kitty. Anyone near Buddy gets the brunt of his redirected rage.

Theo visiting with Oliver through the window.

Something needs to change. When summer comes, I'll need to open the windows and with the current situation, that won't work. I'm not inclined to board up my windows nor put heavy bars on them. I've read somewhere that Prozac can help a kitty not get so worked up when they see foreign cats in their yard. Maybe it might reduce aggression toward meeting a new cat. I'm not overly fond of the idea of drugging Buddy with psychotropic meds.

What? We're just visiting. I just learned there's a new hot tabby in town...

Another option is to try to find Oliver a forever home, and I'm wondering if this is the next challenge I must face. I've always marveled at people who can foster cats - to attach to them and then be able to let go. I tend to get over attached and then never want to let go. 

I've started the conversation with my rescue connection, Nancy, about possibly finding Oliver a forever home. She thinks it could happen, so now I must truly consider what it will take for me to give him up. In my mind I think this would be the best option, for him to find a forever home where he can be the only cat and rule the house. He also needs a lot of human attention, and having five cats already, I barely have enough time to give each one the love, play and attention they desire. Even though my head knows this is probably best for everyone, my heart bucks at the idea as giving him up, kind of feels like giving up a piece of my heart. 

Oliver's positive relationship with his family also gives me reason to pause when considering relocating him. He really enjoys hanging out and playing with his family and his family seems to enjoy him. I'm sure they would manage without him and he could settle into a new human family just fine but I still think about such things.

I still have some time to figure something out. If anyone has any ideas of how to help Buddy and Oliver become friends, I would love to hear them.


  1. Patience! We have introduced many cat personalities into our home.It takes time, patience,and a little bit of help from pharmaceuticals! (For the cat not the human). One feral male cat was placed on a 10 day course of valium to calm him down on arrival.All newbies are placed in their own room for at least two weeks. Then we place the newbie in another room and let the oldies explore the newbie's room. We keep doing this over two weeks,then allow the newbie short supervised visits into the main house. We keep a plant spray bottle to hand.ANY signs of agression and the agressor gets squirted.
    You can use Feliway spray or plug in atomizers in the is a natural product that comforts cats in a new /strange mimics the scent of a mother suckling her kittens. We have one cat who pees when stressed, we have discovered (after years of discussing his behaviour with our lovely vet)tht he is normal cat behaviour rules do not apply. He has "clomicalm" to help him cope with his world. It is available from the vets but is not like valium or other hard core drugs. Right now Buddy sees Oliver as an outsider,until you try Oliver inside you can't assume it will never work. It may take weeks or months but it's worth a try.
    Jane x

    1. Thanks for the great ideas.

      We have done a similar process when introducing each new cat to the household and it has been very successful for us. In our tiny house, we only have two rooms that can be shut off, from the rest of the house, and they are the two bed rooms. Since the cats sleep with us in our bed, that leaves the office/junk room. I fear putting Oliver in that room as I can imagine him wanting to mark it up with his lovely pee. I suppose I can try hosing it down with Feliway spray and then giving it a go and see how he does in there.

  2. The feliway plug in would be a good start. It doesn't cause "overnight" change, but it did help me out in a rough patch with my own kitties that get upset with "visiting" outdoor kitties!

    1. We've been using several Feliway plug-ins around the house now for several months. I also use the Feliway spray on the back enclosed porch, because they all share the back porch. I often visit with Oliver back there and he smells around, rubs against everything and tries his hardest to find a place to spray. I hose down the back porch with the Feliway spray when I let Buddy and the others out there. Not sure it is doing all that much.

    2. One thing we do at the cat shelter where I work is to have the "new kitty" in a large dog crate during the intro period into a new cat room. It keeps new kitty and incumbent kitties segregated but open to smell and "conversation". Some kitties can integrate in days...some in a couple weeks. Its something to consider.....

  3. We haven't tried the feliway but have heard good things. Also, we had a thought - maybe try Buddy on a harness and take him outside to meet Oliver on "neutral" ground. It can be so hard - we had Chiclet the momma cat for about 10 months and it was harder for her to let her leave than we thought - but it helped that mom got to meet her new family. You have to consider what is best for EVERYONE! And if that means not giving up Oliver, then you will make it work.

    1. I have thought of that, putting Buddy on a harness and taking him outside. Buddy is a stubborn senior who is used to getting his way and puts up quite the grumpy fight when things don't go as he thinks they should. I haven't tried a harness on him yet, but I'm guessing he will flip out. It's worth a try, Theo and Nahum have done well with the harness, Willow did too for a while.

      If I was to adopt Oliver out, I'm imaging that it would help me a lot or meet his new family and to stay in contact with them, to know he is being treated like royalty!

  4. I do recommend the book Cat vs Cat. Lots of great advice for getting cats in a multiple cat house to get along.

    Territory is key. Buddy is afraid he is going to lose his territory and resources, so make sure they are available at all times. Give extra food and love. Praise him for being upset at the intruder - because that is what he should be doing, but then qualify that by asking him to consider accepting the newcomer because he needs you both. Then qualify it by asking him to not be quite so vocal. etc.

    making more house isn't an option, but giving the cat access to more space actually is. Vertical space is important, so shelves on the wall, climbing trees or towers, etc. Put boxes or perches by the windows so Buddy can be up higher then Oliver - and thus in the world of cat more powerful and of higher status.

    Feliway, yes, rescue remedy a little more direct, Bach's flower essences (what RR is made of) are a little more of a direct bullet if you can find one that seems to address how Buddy is feeling a little more exactly. These are just nudges in helping the cat feel a little more relaxed, they don't (usually) produce an immediate cause and effect. might also help.. (use code consciouscat for 10% off)

    an animal communicator might help you a little more directly. Talking to a cat is not like talking to a human, but it might help with some insight of what helps to make Buddy feel more comfortable and confident

  5. There is so much good advice. I can see how hard to adopt Olive out would be for you. He is truly a sweetheart and deserves to become an indoor cat. I'm sending good wishes that all this works out.

    1. Totally agree Linda! Oliver sounds like a loveable mush! ....and he is making his wishes clear....let me in! :)

  6. There is not much more I can add - so many good comments here. I have had many experiences in this - things usually work out - in time, with patience, and tolerance (re. the pee thing - I SO understand). Mr Poole after almost 2 years, still gives Tristan “attitude” – and sometimes prevents him from coming into the house. Then – as I leave for work in the morning, or in the middle of the night, there they are on the bed – bum-to-bum :)
    Best wishes.

  7. Oh we are hoping things work out best for you and for Oliver.
    What a sweetie.

  8. Oh I so understand your love for Oliver and he loves you too. I am so sorry about the antagonism going on and the marking. But that's the least of the thing..the worse for you is your love for Oliver and trying to decide what's best for HIM. I SO hope it goes well and thank goodness you have such good advice. Oliver acts with you the way Katie did with me when she met me at the Vet office and home. She could not stay out of my arms.

  9. As a first time fosterer I have yet to give up my guest, but I am assuming it is going to be hard. I would recommend Feliway like the others, they use it alot at the adoption centre where I volunteer.

  10. I put Skootch on the cat version of [tuna-flavored] Prozac, and it solved his inappropriate marking problems (which he only developed later in life). Fellaway never seemed to do anything for him. Lots of good suggestions above. I think Connie had a lot of good suggestions. It seems a shame to send Oliver away, since he has obviously bonded with you, and you to him.I hope you can work Oliver into your family!


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