Things are not going well. According to the experts, we have been doing everything right, but things are not going well.
We took Lady for booster shots this morning. The Vet’s assistant told me her mother introduced a feral cat to a genuinely mean tom and by the end of six weeks they were cuddling like the stunt doubles on my home page. Tomorrow marks the end of week five, and we’ve still got haters in the house.
We have tried keeping them separate; we have tried putting them together. We have tried supervising interactions; we have tried walking away. We have rubbed them down with towels, swapped towels, and rubbed them again until they hate every towel in the house and Terry and I are the only ones getting used to their smell. We have given them treats together then used treats to lure them as far apart as possible–all while pumping sixty-dollar kitty pheromones through the house.
As Trouble gets more comfortable here, he has become more territorial. He spends a large part of his day rolling around like a kitten in catnip to mark every inch of the house with saliva–and he is constantly on guard. Lady can’t even come into the house without him giving chasing.
Soon, they’ll be sharing a room at Catnip Hill, where all the cats in all the pictures are happy and above average. We’ve never boarded before, but with Lady’s penchant for shredding and Trouble’s reputation for peeing, we don’t have much choice.
Our first instinct was to drop them off without a word about their behavior and drive fast enough to outrun our cellphone reception, but we decided the kitty hotel deserved a heads-up.
On the phone, the owner told me that she’s been at this for ten years and has only separated cats three times. She assured me she was well-equipped to help Lady and Trouble get along and that we would not get called back from vacation. She also gave us advice to step back and let them sort things out, “They’re just cats being cats.”
Listening to her calm, confident voice, I wanted to believe all would be well.
For one glorious week, we embraced her advice. We didn’t follow cats around the house or jump up from dinner when we heard growling. Most importantly, I got to tell Terry he was right all along, which made him very happy.
Then, a week ago, the annoying swats and growls turned into an all-out, rolling, caterwauling, giant-ball-of-fur fight three whole feet from the kitty pheromones! (Pfft!) and just like that, Trouble is locked in his room again unless Lady is out chasing bunnies.
In eight days they will be in a 5×6 room together for an entire week. We can’t imagine what it will be like, but we are hoping the Catnip Hill cat-whisperers can negotiate a lasting peace.
Meanwhile, Lady is free to inhabit as many bags and boxes as she likes untroubled..