Perhaps you thought your only child cat could use a friend. Or maybe you’ve bought groceries and toys for your current kitten and came home with adoption papers for a rescue cat you met while searching the hallways.
They hoped your cats would become quick friends, but they didn’t. And now you live from one catfight to the next.
Connected: How to introduce a new cat to your cat
“Having two cats who don’t get along creates 24/7 stress for both the pet owner and the affected pets,” said Shadi Ireifej, DVM DACVS, co-founder and chief medical officer of VetTriage.
Nobody benefits from it. But is it so bad that your cats have to permanently separate? Rehabilitating a cat or taking it to a shelter or rescue is a difficult task. But sometimes it’s best for you and both cats. Dr. Ireifej shared what steps to take before separating your cats, when to stop, and how to safely adopt a cat.
This is how you can help your cats get along
Before you take in a cat, you can try to help her make up. Dr. Ireifej suggests talking to your vet about putting one or both cats on Prozac or trying a pheromone plug-in to calm them down. Calmer cats are often friendlier cats.
You can also try reintroducing them. Put the cats in separate rooms and let them smell each other through a door. Give each one a blanket with each other’s scent. If that goes well for a week or more, Dr. Ireifej plans to bring out a cat in a large dog crate. That way they can see each other but don’t get into a fight. Give them high quality treats so that they combine good things with each other. Eventually, hopefully, you’ll be able to at least have them next to each other in the same room.
You can call in a behavior specialist to help you. Dr. Ireifej recommends asking your veterinarian for a recommendation.
If this is not possible and you have space to keep them permanently separated (e.g. one cat lives upstairs and another lives downstairs), this can be considered.
When it’s time for your cats to get a divorce
Despite your best efforts, some cat friendships just weren’t meant to be.
“As a veterinarian, my biggest fear is physical trauma,” says Dr. Ireifej. “If the cats are having physical fights and you go to the vet frequently or are concerned, you will come home and find something worse [it’s time to rehome one]. ”
How to house a cat
First you need to choose which cat will be directed to a new home.
“It’s up to the pet owner,” says Dr. Ireifej.
Dr. Ireifej suggests asking yourself the difficult question: Do I love another one? It sounds terrible, but Dr. Ireifej urges people to take care of themselves.
“It’s okay to say that you like one cat more than the other,” he says. “If there is one you like that you have more history with, that you have longer, this is the one you keep.”
If you’re looking to have a different cat, and a cat is more friendly to other pets, maybe this is your choice. You can also look at it from an adoptability perspective, especially if you have two cats with a large age difference between them.
“It will be a lot harder to settle down [an older cat]”Says Dr. Ireifej.” If the person is torn, look at them from the perspective of which cat is most likely to get a new home. “
You want to prepare your cat for the best chance of finding a new home. If you’ve adopted the cat from a rescue, that organization usually takes the cat back. You can also look for reputable rescue workers in your area.
“If there’s a way to find a local rescue organization that is actively trying to save them all, this is probably the place,” says Dr. Ireifej. “In this way it can be minimized that a cat is euthanized or stays in an enclosure for a long time.”
You can also ask if a trusted family member or friend is willing to take the cat with you.
Lose the parents guilt
Rehabilitation of a pet can feel like a personal failure. But if the situation has been dangerous and you’ve tried all you can, take a break.
“There are just so many reasons you can handle cats,” says Dr. Ireifejsays. “There’s no way to say, ‘Hey, we’re together. We have no choice. We will find out. ‘There is no way to have this intellectual conversation with your cat. “
Featured photo: Getty Images
Read Next: Do Cats Get Lonely Or Are They Well Without Other Cats?