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A Tale of Two Bullies

WitchyWoman

Admin
Staff member
#1
Multiple cat households can present a number of problems. I hope by sharing my experience others who have the same issue may glean some ideas to help their individual situation.

A Tale of Two Bullies

Once upon a time, four Savannah cats shared a home in a mystical country called Vodka Land. One of the cats was a misfit. He was so submissive that two of the other cats bullied him and made him very unhappy. All the cats got along well when they were young but only one of the SVs stayed The Misfit’s friend for life.

The first bully started picking on The Misfit when The Misfit reached full maturity. That bully would stalk The Misfit, stare at him, chase him, and challenge him almost every day. The Misfit spent his life hiding under furniture and trying not to attract attention. Bully #1 was put on Prozac and given behavioral modification training for territorial aggression issues. After a year on Prozac and with training, he stopped bullying The Misfit every day although there were temporary set backs from time to time. The Misfit was put on Prozac during the same time in an effort to help him be less defensive and build confidence.

Bully #2 went from cuddling, playing with, and grooming The Misfit to hunting him when Bully #2 was close to full maturity. He learned the bully behavior from watching Bully #1. One day Bully #2 went after The Misfit and hurt him bad, made him bleed, and scared him so much The Misfit stayed on top of the cabinets in the laundry room for an entire day – eyes dilated, panting, panicked and stressed to the max.

Human momma was at wits end. The Misfit had endured 3 years of stress from Bully #1 and a few months from Bully #2. Momma was desperate and reached out to The Misfit’s breeder to find him a new home. There was a big problem though. The Misfit did not like humans too much and would endure, rather than enjoy, human affection. The momma was worried she would never find someone who would accept and love a very large, hostile 6-year-old cat.

In the meantime, Momma had to keep The Misfit safe so she enclosed a playroom that was previously built for the cats. Momma didn’t think The Misfit would be happy spending his life in one room and her heart was breaking at the thought that she might not ever be able to provide him a happy life.

Two weeks in the safe room totally changed The Misfit. He has access to his room and an enclosed patio in the morning and his room and the house in the afternoon. His one cat friend spends time with him when the two bullies are locked away in another room. The Misfit rarely growls at Momma now and seems to enjoy affection rather than endure it. He accepts pets and kisses, plays with his humans and his toys and loves to wrestle with his one SV friend. Momma is relieved that The Misfit is content with the arrangement and that he will be able to stay in his home.

Momma hesitated for too long at keeping The Misfit separated from the bullies. She thought living in a separate space and switching out who went where would not provide a stable enough environment for The Misfit and that his stress level would not be alleviated by such an arrangement. The Momma was very wrong. The Misfit showed resilience and showed that he understood that Momma put him in a room where he would be safe and where he could relax and let his personality shine through.

The home went from a war zone to a peaceful paradise where all can live happily ever after.
 

Brigitte Cowell

Moderator
Staff member
#3
I love it... I love that having his quiet safe time has allowed him to settle and blossom like that. So the two bullies are shut up in the afternoon then? I think it great that you have found a routine that works for your household so that Mr Misfit has not had to leave home <3
 

WitchyWoman

Admin
Staff member
#5
Things for folks to keep in mind when adding cats to the household is that they may not all get along all the time or even some of the time. Kittens and very young adults generally do great together, but if their individual personalities don't add up to a cohesive whole, trouble can develop as the newest cat/s mature. Anyone who wants a multiple cat household should be prepared to make changes to the living environment to accommodate problems if they arise. Some of those accommodations may inconvenience the entire household -- humans and cats alike -- and it's important to give thought to what it would mean for a household prior to adding more cats.

It's also vitally important to ask your breeder about personality and behavior of previous litters of the parents and the parents of a new cat. I found out from The Misfits breeder just yesterday that his mom and sisters all have the same sensitive traits -- take offense easily, somewhat shy, very submissive. When I spoke with her prior to getting The Misfit, I don't recall those traits being mentioned. There is no guarantee that a kitten from the same litter will inherit the same traits as siblings and parents, but it's still something to keep in mind when choosing a kitten. Behaviors and traits can change as a cat ages and matures and a breeder can't make guarantees, only an assessment of what past litters have produced. The rest is a leap of faith on both the breeder's and buyer's part.
 

Renee

Savannah Super Cat
#6
This is a great read Witchy, thanks. I'm glad you didn't have to rehome your Misfit :)

The wall steps in the safe room are really cool, where did you get those from?
 

Patti

Admin
Staff member
#9
In my experience, most cats are quite content to live in one (peaceful) room, and are more interested in vertical space than acreage. I'm very glad you were able to find a peaceful solution to the bickering and bullying where everyone can be happy!