Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day 2

Melly is still not pleased about her confinement. As soon as she realized I was awake, she started mewling pitifully and doing something that sounded like she was throwing herself against the door – I’m not sure how else such a tiny creature could make such a loud bang. When I opened the door to go in, she tried valiantly to escape, but luckily was thwarted.

I dried out the bathtub and settled in with my laptop (the tub is only marginally more comfortable than the floor, but at least I can stretch out my legs). I did my usual morning internet routine and watched an episode of “Bones,” while Melly did her best to attack everything within sight. I’ve started a bit of training, since she’s made repeated attempts to attack my hands and fingers. I didn’t have my squirt bottle handy so I blew a quick blast of air at her head every time she attacked. It took a few blasts of air, but I think she got the idea.

Last night, Melly still hadn’t used the litter box, but I decided to wait it out and see if she’d used it by morning. Today I checked again: no dice. This was worrisome since she’d been eating and drinking healthily since her arrival, so when Melly peed on the bath mat while I was in the shower, I was mostly glad to see that her systems were functioning. And hey, I needed to wash the mat anyway.

Well, as it turns out, Melly had been eliminating all along…just not in the litter box. I relocated some of the poo into the litter box in hopes that Melly will actually use it, but Sue, I’m sorry: the kitty condo and the fleece pad were too far gone to save.

Scarlett is a bit edgy today. She and Melly had a hissing match through the door last night, but today Scarlett is mostly uninterested in Melly. Only when Melly’s mewling reaches fever pitch does Scarlett goes over to investigate, tail twitching madly. Poor Melly seems used to having a lot more attention, and Scarlett is used to ruling the roost, and the result is two fairly unhappy kitties. I find myself wondering if I did the right thing bringing Melly home… Scarlett and I really had a good thing going, and I wonder if I’ve screwed it up. But I keep reminding myself that the experts (that’s you all) say that this will work out in time. I really appreciate all of your support, encouragement, and advice!


sue said...

Oh dear.. I've sent you an email addressing the transition. Please go with your heart on this.

Scarlett is a gorgeous girl. I'm sure she wonders what the heck is going on.

Melly's elimination issues are new. Sounds like a bit of a trying time.

Please keep in touch.

Brian said...

I think you might need some Feliway. Ask Pitter Patter, they know her best, but it is a matter of patience I'm certain.

Annie said...

Hi there, I recently heard on a show on Cat Chat on Sirius radio about how cats relate to each other by smells, which is why sometimes when a cat comes home from the vet, cat #2 who stayed at home sometimes will hiss because she the scent of the first cat is now masked by unrecognizable smells of the vet. A quick solution cat and dog expert Traci Hotchner suggested that can also work for kitties that are also strangers is to put a drop of vanilla on each kitties' heads. When they smell it on each other, they will lick the others' head and therefore insert their own scent on the other, and then wah-la: the cats are now wearing each others' familiar scent. This method might be described in The Cat Bible. A quick blurb about this:

Good luck and I'm so happy that I'll be able to watch sweet Melly grow up after falling in love with her on pitted pats!

Natalie said...

Annie - Thanks for the tip about the vanilla. A couple of people have suggested similar scent-exchange ideas, so I've just put a bit of vanilla extract on both girls. Scarlett seems quite bewildered; Melly continues her bathroom escape attempts :)
Brian - thanks for the Feliway idea. I haven't found any evidence of elimination outside the litter box since I took away the kitty condo, but neither have I seen any evidence of elimination in it. So... we'll see.

Patti said...

I had an only cat for two years when I adopted a one year old. The resident cat was none too happy. I'm thinking it was a good two weeks before I felt comfortable leaving them together unsupervised. And it may have been upwards of a week before I even let them have supervised visits together. Until then, I kept one or the other in the guest room. Usually it was the new girl, but I would let her out to roam the house for a hour or so every day and put the resident cat in the guest room. Looking back, it may have been smart to do that so the resident cat could smell around and get used to the new cat's smell. I too wondered if I had made the right decision for the first several days, but the resident cat finally started calming down. The resident cat still isn't super friendly to the new girl, but she tolerates her. (And it's been 3 years!) They will sleep on the bed together, but always several lengths apart. Don't give up on sweet little Sally yet.

Tanya Sloan said...

Hi Natalie,
I do adoption counseling for a kitty shelter in Portland, and work with the families on transitioning to a multi-cat household from a one-cat household on a regular basis. Hopefully my suggestions below will help:

To help cats get used to each other, the scent-exchanging ideas above are great, but I don't think the kitties are ready to see each other face to face, much less lick each other. A good idea to create positive associations is to swap out their food bowls. Give Scarlett the bowl Melly has been eating kibble out of, and give Melly Scarlett's bowl. Food=good association. Another good idea is to feed the girls some yummy treats when they are smelling each other on different sides of the door. This is best done if you have another human help you, so that the treats are given at exactly the same time.
And, of course, the ye olde bedding trick. Give Melly something that Scarlett usually sleeps on and see how she reacts. She really liked Sue's kitties. Then make sure to give Scarlett lots of love when you come from the bathroom, and hold her to the clothes you cuddled with Melly in. That should help ease some tension. After a couple of days when Melly has given her scent to Scarlett's bedding, give it back to Scarlett.

Regarding improper elimination. It's either physical or behavioral. Take a look at Melly's belly - if her spay incision looks raised, wet, gooey, swollen, etc. - that probably means Melly has some pain, and pain can affect elimination. If it looks infected (red, swollen, wet), then that can affect both peeing and poopin, and she should go get checked out at a vet asap. Kitties hide their illness extremely well, it's part of their adaptation as predators - show weakness and you will get killed (or abandoned by your mom) - so it's important to pick up clues like improper peeing and even things like playing too rough and act on them.

If it's behavioral, then most likely it's either because she needs more active interaction or because she doesn't like her litterbox. If it's the former, instead of watching a movie with Melly, give her your full attention for fifteen-twenty minutes every hour that you're home. You can cuddle with her, play with her (not too rough since she's still healing from her spay), brush her, etc. - anything where she is the absolute center of your attention.
To resolve the litterbox issue, give her a second litterbox of a different shape and with different litter.
Always place litterboxes as far away from her food and water bowls as possible. Your trick of placing some of her poop in the litterbox is very good, too. Since Sue didn't have any trouble with improper behavior like that, I'm hopeful there is a fairly simple solution to it.

And, needless to say, give both of them a lot of love, so that they know you are not paying more attention to one cat than another. And Melly is probably going to totally disarm Scarlett, my guess is that she is craving the company of another kitty, but is just a little stressed and high strung because of a new unfamiliar environment.

Finally, the rough playing with hands. For a single kitten, it's tough to learn that claws hurt. They simply don't know. I would advise against the spray bottle on something like that. Instead, a good strategy is putting on multiple layers of socks so that she gets that wresting need out of her, but also doesn't feel like it's ok to play with your bare hands. I have a hand puppet that subs as a playmate when one of my kitties wants to play, and one is asleep. If she does scratch or bite too hard, do what other kittens would do and squeak. She'll learn.

Ok, sorry I'm so long winded. Please give a kiss to Melly for me. Preferably on one of her cute little cheeks :):):)

Natalie said...

Thanks for all the great advice, Tanya. I have been wearing the same sweatshirt yesterday and today to cuddle both kitties, so it should be pretty well saturated with both scents. Scarlett gave it a few cursory sniffs yesterday but doesn’t seem bothered by the foreign scent today. Yesterday, she finished the canned food that Melly left in her bowl, and only paused for a second to sniff before she dug in. For Melly’s part, she doesn’t seem fazed by Scarlett’s scent. Scarlett does have a favorite towel, so I’ll stick that in the bathroom for a while to pick up Melly’s scent.

As far as the improper elimination, it seems to be behavioral. I checked Melly out pretty thoroughly earlier today and she seems physically fine. I can’t tell whether she’s used the litter box since I took away her kitty condo earlier, but I searched for puddles and didn’t see any of those either. I’ll try your idea of another box with different litter next.

I do think she needs more attention, but I am not sure how to give that to her currently. I have been splitting my time between the bathroom with Melly and the rest of the apartment with Scarlett. I take movies and TV shows into the bathroom with me because Melly has a tendency to doze off for 20-30 minutes at a time while I’m holding her and I can’t sit fully clothed in a bathtub doing nothing for that long.  Once Melly’s no longer isolated in the bathroom, I am sure she’ll be happier. Do you think it’s ok to let her out for a while sometimes (while keeping Scarlett confined elsewhere)?

And regarding the wrestling: it’s funny you mentioned the socks, because I’ve been wearing a super-thick, super-fuzzy pair and letting Melly wrestle with my feet!

Again, thank you!

Chris said...

I wondered the same thing when I adopted Mayhem, after having Chaos for several years. It took a while of leaving Mayhem in the bathroom overnight and when I was not in the condo, but eventually Chaos decided she was ok. The first few weeks can be rough, though - hang in there!

gloria g. said...

There are always adjustments. We have four cats, and still have times of all claws ahead. But things will settle down. Just enjoy the journey. They bring so much love. I don't know what I would do without my girls!

Megan said...

Good luck with the transition! My resident cat was very unhappy when I got a kitten. I was worried that it wasn't going to work out. Even after they stopped hissing at each other, they didn't seem particularly happy to see each other. It was a year later when I finally saw evidence that they really like each other. One cat was staying at a friend's house for a couple of days, and they both spent the entire night crying for the other. I hope a similar thing happens with your kitties (although much quicker!)

Anonymous said...

I had exactly the same experience as Patti. It just takes some time. Hang in there!

Meg said...

Hang in there! I recently had to return a kitten to the SPCA because Elvis reacted so badly. He'd hiss and lunge at me, wouldn't go near the bedroom door. Any whiff of Priscilla and he'd flip out. He was almost paranoid. He'd freak out by any sound or shadow he didn't recognize. I thought I was doing him a favor by bringing him a new friend. His reaction was SO EXTREME. It was awful and heartbreaking. My point here being that it was so obvious he was miserable and there was no change in his behavior after several days that it was very apparent that it wasn't going to work. It sounds like you guys are going to be just fine. :)