When I visited longtime petsitting clients Rudy, Jerry (pictured above) and Baron recently, things were different. Rudy was closed off in a room by himself. A few days earlier, Rudy and Jerry were involved in a nasty fight. They were still not on good terms when I visited. In a multi-cat household, what can lead to sudden fights, and how do we restore harmony between battling cats?
What Caused Trouble In This Multi-Cat Household?
Two factors that often cause fights in multi-cat households are territorial boundary violations and change in the established hierarchy. In the case of Rudy and Jerry, the situation was a bit different. Rudy was at the window and spotted a neighborhood cat (this can be upsetting to resident cats, seen as an intrusion on their territory). Becoming upset at seeing the other cat, Rudy began to run.
Jerry often sees Rudy’s running as a sign it’s time to play, so he took off after Rudy and tackled him. Rudy, feeling scared rather than playful, fought off Jerry. Afterward, Rudy did not welcome Jerry’s presence, hissing if Jerry got too close to him.
How Are They Now?
Once the relationship is changed between cats in a multi-cat household, often the only way to restore peace is to reintroduce the cats to each other. This involves treating the traumatized cat (in this case Rudy) as the “new cat.”
In this case, Rudy is shut away in a separate room, outfitted with food, water and litter box. Jerry and Baron are not allowed entry into the room. Rudy and Jerry have limited time to interact, always under supervision.
Their human guardians are using pheromones (in their case Feliway) to ease the cat’s anxiety. So far, it’s been helping calm Rudy, but Jerry is still quite undone by it all.
Rudy and Jerry’s relationship has improved slightly, but still needs work. As with any change for cats, it can take time to get the cats comfortable around each other again. There is no set timetable for how long this may take, so it’s important to be patient.
Will Rudy and Jerry be buddies again? Given time, I think they will be fine. Jerry sees his error and is doing all he can to get back into Rudy’s good graces. Rudy is beginning to trust Jerry again, gradually.