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Old 28 May 2014, 04:09 PM
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Ariadne Ariadne is offline
 
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Hello Kitty Introducing an anxious cat (and 3 others) to a new home

I know there are a lot of cat people here, so I'm hoping some of you can help me. We are moving to Colorado at the end of June, which means moving four cats. This shouldn't be a problem for three of them, but we have one with anxiety issues. She does not like the other cats at all and expresses the stress they cause her by urinating on pretty much anything soft that she can get to (typically laundry, towels, or even papers left out within her reach). We have had her on Prozac, which pretty much took care of the issue, but created a new one: she hated taking the medicine and hid from us, and eventually began spitting or vomiting it out. So now we just deal with it, avoid leaving anything on the floor, and try to give her her own space and lots of love.

So here is my question: when we move to our new home, should we give her run of the house first and let the other three cats out of whatever room we are keeping them in after she has become comfortable with the place (and possibly chosen her preferred spaces)? Or should we do the opposite: keep her confined for the first several days and let the other cats roam the house, which would mean she would be entering their territory? Or is there some other solution that I am missing? I want this transition to go as smoothly as possible for everyone, obviously, but especially for her.
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  #2  
Old 28 May 2014, 05:23 PM
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Horse Chestnut Horse Chestnut is offline
 
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It's usually recommended that the more anxious cat be introduced into the new home first. But unfortunately it sounds like she does not care to be around other cats, so when you bring the others to their new home she may revert to her old habits. If the Prozac helped the problem, is there any way you could secret the pill into a favorite food? Best of luck. I've had to deal with an anxious cat in a multi-cat family. It can be a rough road.
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Old 28 May 2014, 05:35 PM
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Gutter Monkey Gutter Monkey is offline
 
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There's a cat behaviourist called Jackson Galaxy who does a reality TV show called 'My Cat From Hell' about helping owners with 'troubled' cats, he's always looking for more cases so if you were willing to go on TV he might be willing to pay you a few visits.

Otherwise just watching a season or two of his show might give you a bunch of tips for helping your anxious cat develop better coping mechanisms. Installing cat shelves so the cat can get up into a high 'safe' position might help. Frequent playtime (physical games like chasing a piece of string) certainly helped my anxious cat become more comfortable in her skin and feel less anxious. Adding a few more litter boxes might help if you don't already have several spread around the house so the anxious cat doesn't feel forced to enter the other cats' territory.
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Old 28 May 2014, 05:49 PM
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Aimee Evilpixie Aimee Evilpixie is offline
 
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Hello Kitty

In the new house, is there going to be a way to make a space where Anxious Cat can be isolated in general? It seems like that would be easier on her.
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  #5  
Old 28 May 2014, 05:57 PM
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Ariadne Ariadne is offline
 
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Aimee, she has her own room now and we intend to do a similar setup in the new house--we feed her separately and she has her own litter box since she won't go into the basement where we keep the others. She has learned how to open the door to her room and will come out when she's ready. However, once the door is open the other cats go in, finish her food, and use her litter box.

Horse Chestnut, I am considering getting some more Prozac for her to help ease the transition. The problem with giving her a pill is that she only eats dry cat food--no wet food or treats to hide the pills. She won't even eat tuna. We special-ordered Prozac in liquid form, but she hated it just as much. She drooled it out when we gave it to her and wouldn't eat her food if we added it.

Gutter Monkey, I will check out "My Cat From Hell"...that might give us some good ideas! I like the idea of more playtime for her--this is something we'll be able to do more easily once we move, since right now the house is a mess of boxes and there isn't much room for playing. We have also thought about cat shelves. We are moving from a two-story house with a basement to a single story house, so the space will be a bit different. Right now the anxious cat stays upstairs exclusively while the other cats use both floors and the basement, so this will be a change for them. I think high shelves would be a good means of giving them all a bit more space.
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Old 28 May 2014, 06:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ariadne View Post
Gutter Monkey, I will check out "My Cat From Hell"...that might give us some good ideas!
It's genuinely amazing how different some of the cats are by the end of the episode. It also highlights how miserable they were before the treatment and how much happier they are when they're brought past their psychological hurdles and can live comfortably in their surroundings.
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  #7  
Old 28 May 2014, 06:49 PM
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TallGeekyGirl TallGeekyGirl is offline
 
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Hello Kitty

The first few seasons of "My Cat from Hell" are on Netflix, if you have it.
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Old 29 May 2014, 02:05 AM
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Horse Chestnut Horse Chestnut is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ariadne View Post
Horse Chestnut, I am considering getting some more Prozac for her to help ease the transition. The problem with giving her a pill is that she only eats dry cat food--no wet food or treats to hide the pills. She won't even eat tuna. We special-ordered Prozac in liquid form, but she hated it just as much. She drooled it out when we gave it to her and wouldn't eat her food if we added it.
(Sigh) Dry food junkies, what are ya gonna do? I've had luck with meat baby foods, the ones that are pure meat paste, with no seasonings. Perhaps that would cover the taste of the liquid meds. High shelves sounds like a good solution for giving her space, and makes a very definitive decorating statement!
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  #9  
Old 29 May 2014, 04:27 AM
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Ariadne Ariadne is offline
 
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She's so difficult! Baby food might be a good option. I'm willing to try pretty much anything to make life easier for her.

I don't have Netflix, but "My Cat from Hell" is on Amazon Prime for a small fee. I'll check out a couple episodes when I get a chance.
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Old 29 May 2014, 04:35 AM
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erwins erwins is online now
 
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Often anxious cats do better being confined at first. Extensive new spaces can cause more anxiety. Establishing a safe familiar place from which she can venture out is best. What about confining both her and the others at first, and then letting everyone start exploring the neutral territory at about the same time?

ETA: I think My Cat from Hell will help.
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Old 29 May 2014, 04:57 AM
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Cat shelves can look really cool. Here's a whole Pinterest page on them. Unsurprisingly, Ikea makes a set.
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  #12  
Old 29 May 2014, 03:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erwins View Post
Often anxious cats do better being confined at first. Extensive new spaces can cause more anxiety. Establishing a safe familiar place from which she can venture out is best. What about confining both her and the others at first, and then letting everyone start exploring the neutral territory at about the same time?.
That one sounds good to me. You might at first let them into the neutral space at different times -- let the anxious cat have a chance first if she's willing to explore, then shut her into her own space and let the others out for a while, and so on alternating them for a few days before you let them all out at once.

The anxious cat may come out more slowly than the others; give her time, and make sure she can always retreat to her original space.

The original space, for all of them, should have smaller places to hide -- under beds, inside boxes, or whatever. Food and cat pans should be easily accessible from the hidden spot. -- Make sure there are no hiding spaces a cat could get stuck in where you couldn't get it out if you had to; but don't pull any of them out of a hiding space if it isn't necessary.

ETA: just in case you haven't thought of it: take some unwashed bedding, cushions, or whatever from each cat's favorite sleeping place if possible, and/or some of your own dirty clothes, and put them where the cats can find and sleep on the familiar smell in the new strange place.
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  #13  
Old 29 May 2014, 03:26 PM
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Ariadne Ariadne is offline
 
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Thanks, everyone! I can definitely confine everybody in various rooms for a while. I think one of the cats will have no problem at all adjusting, anxious cat will have a difficult time, and the other two will fall somewhere in between. We can let them explore as they feel comfortable and sort of play it by ear from there. And I'll make sure to have some familiar blankets for them.

I am very excited about the cat shelves--I think we can do something really cool that the cats will love.
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  #14  
Old 29 May 2014, 04:13 PM
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thorny locust thorny locust is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ariadne View Post
I can definitely confine everybody in various rooms for a while.
I would put all the cats who do get along well, or even get along passably, in the same room -- it will probably reassure them to have the others there.

And I also suspect the cat shelves will go over really well.

-- let us know how it turns out!
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  #15  
Old 29 May 2014, 04:21 PM
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erwins erwins is online now
 
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I concur with thorny locust--keep the ones that get along together. And alternating exploration of the neutral territory is good as long as anxious cat goes first, so her scent get laid down first, after yours.
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  #16  
Old 29 May 2014, 04:50 PM
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Ariadne Ariadne is offline
 
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Cool--I will make sure to let our anxious girl check out the house first. It won't be a problem at all to keep the other three together, as they get along beautifully. I am even considering putting two of them in the same large carrier for the long drive to Colorado, but I'll have to do some test runs to make sure it will work out.
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  #17  
Old 30 May 2014, 01:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ariadne View Post
I am even considering putting two of them in the same large carrier for the long drive to Colorado, but I'll have to do some test runs to make sure it will work out.
That might well be a good idea -- my two siblings are calmer en route to the vet if in one carrier -- but I'd bring an extra carrier just in case you need to separate them en route on such a long ride.
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