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Separation might keep the fur from flying
Dear Dr. Spiegel, We have four Birman cats: One male and two females, all seven years old, and their nine year old mother. Now we have adopted two female Birmans who are four and five years old and one Persian who is thirteen years old. The four get along fine with each other and the three get along fine amongst themselves. Now we have a problem. One of the two seven year old females just looks at either one of the adopted cats and screams like she has been hit with something. One time the screamer and the adopted Persian got in an actual fight. We have each group separated now unless we can watch them. What can be done to calm the screamer down? Can they live together peacefully? Please answer! Sincerely, H. A., Wilmington
Dear H.A., If I may paraphrase your letter: We have a father-less pride of small felids (small domesticated lion/tiger - like animals). We have, all at once, brought in a second troop of cats into the picture. Or should I say into the home, or territory, of the established Birman troop. Now 2 groups of cats must share the playgrounds, hunting and feeding grounds, waste-lands, and comfort/pleasure zones which belonged to one happy family. Now we have a problem. How right you are. And if you really want what's best for these cats you should undo the problem before it gets worse. There are in depth and highly customized treatments which could help to reintroduce these cats to one another; however, to an untrained eye that usually will not notice the subtle cues and communications that cats send each other - I would strongly recommend that you find alternate housing for the new troop. For now, keep the two troops isolated from one another. Save yourself and them the trauma of a troop war, which may just be fought by the most assertive/anxious troop members. An established troop (cats which know and like each other) is even easier to care for than a single cat that could be an attention monger/seeker. It requires increased expense for feeding and veterinary care; but you are amply rewarded by getting to view the intra- specific social interactions of these creatures in the comfort of your own home. It is to no one's advantage to keep this new group in your home. If you persist, what may have started out as an uninformed (less than wise) move would now be purely selfish. So, H.A., if you want to find another home for the new troop, and if any readers are interested in adopting, write or fax me.