It took 10 months for my cats to become friends and it was worth the wait!
One year ago, my cat, Bobby, passed away unexpectedly from a birth defect. She left behind her sister, Chara. Chara and Bobby were best friends. They hunted mice together all night and snuggled together on the couch all day. It broke my heart to see Chara so depressed after losing her sister. Her depression looked like peeing on the dog bed and barely going outside where she previously loved to frolic in our 3 acres of forest.
Shortly after Bobby passed, I started working at the Animal Adoption Center. To this day, I credit Bobby for alerting me the AAC was hiring for the Cat Care Specialist position. Right away, I started my search for Chara’s new best friend. After meeting about forty cats over three months, a playful and witchy black cat duo were transferred from Riverton – Monroe and Madison. While in quarantine (every cat spends 2 weeks in quarantine when they arrive at AAC to prevent the spread of illness), these two black cats were wild and inseparable. They flipped their litter box, they spilled their water bowl into their food bowl, and they shredded cardboard cat scratchers. They were a mess – constantly covered in soggy food and cat litter, which I gladly cleaned up day after day. Then, once clean and fed, they cuddled together in the back corner of their crate, intertwined in a way that made them look like one giant black cat with four green eyes.
When their quarantine time was up, I moved Monroe and Madison into Kitty City where they would cohabitat with twelve other cats while waiting for their forever homes. Kitty City was full of intense personalities at the time; a couple of senior cats who didn’t want younger cats to get too close; a giant orange tabby with food insecurity; a traumatized little boy who was found abandoned by an oil rig. Madison hid in a wicker basket, afraid to interact with the bigger boy cats. Monroe was fearless and roamed Kitty City like a queen. After only a few hours in Kitty City, Monroe was adopted by a wonderful family. She was outgoing and playful, which is exactly what catches potential adopters attention. I remember going home from work that night and telling my husband I felt sad this adorable sister duo was split up. I thought Madison might be Chara’s new best friend, but she’s shy and our house might be too busy for her. We also have 2 big dogs and an active neighborhood full of dogs, foxes and mountain lions. My husband suggested I sleep on it and see how I feel at work the next day, when I see Madison again. That night, I woke up in tears thinking about Madison feeling all alone in Kitty City even when she’s surrounded by cats and cat-obsessed volunteers.
The next day, when I got to Kitty City, Madison came out of her hidey hole and jumped into my lap. Surprisingly, the other cats gave her space to communicate with me. Her big green eyes made my heart melt and I knew I needed to take her home right away.
Unfortunately, Chara and Madison were not best friends like I hoped…I followed the suggested cat integration protocol creating a safe place for each cat, and introducing them to one another slowly. However, Chara refused to come inside the house and Madison blocked the cat door so Chara couldn’t come inside when she wanted to. A wise friend told me to wait it out and trust that one day, the two cats will cohabitat harmoniously.
After a few weeks, we allowed Madison to start going outside and she immediately chased Chara out of her hiding spots, claiming them as her own. Poor Chara! I gave Chara lots of treats, yummy wet food and I even created a cozy place for her to sleep outside safely. Anytime both cats were inside the house, it was a hiss fest. Even though both cats had safe places to hide, they preferred to be within each other’s eye sight and hiss at one another aggressively. It was time for pheromones. I put calm collars on both cats and plugged in Feliway diffusers, but nothing changed. The cats hated each other! It was discouraging, but I didn’t give up.
Well, 10 months later and they are friends! It started with one cat on either end of the couch. And then, one cat on either end of the bed. My husband and I rewarded them with treats and praise when they would be peacefully in the same room together. It was slow, but any decent interaction felt like progress. Now, they eat side by side and sit on the same chair. If you are in the position I was in the last 10 months, don’t give up! Wait it out. One day, (hopefully!) your cats will cohabitate harmoniously.