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We've got a 7-month old calico cat named Milù, who is very active, mischievous and loves to play - with toys or with us. She loves playing hide-and-seek, stalking on us, attacking our hands and feet, chasing us and being chased by us and doing her high jumps when playing with her da Bird toys.

Milù is not a very cuddly cat but she's sweet in her own way. She loves following us around, squatting on the floor to trip us and meows if she doesn't see us. She's a purring machine at night and loves to knead and cuddle with us while we sleep.

I work from home and as you would know, cat + work at home = disaster. My cat simply wouldn't let me work, intentionally or even unintentionally. She's a very active cat and needs constant attention and play. She usually brings me her toys as if telling me "let's play" and I just don't have the heart to tell her no. Sometimes, when I ignore her, she lightly bites my legs and hands to show she's upset with me. Other times, she would stare at me for so long and God only knows what she's thinking. I just melt and give in. I tried locking myself in the room so I could concentrate on my work but she meows at the door or stays and waits there for me even for hours.

So I convinced my husband to get another cat for our calico so she won't feel alone when I work. Many people say two cats are better than one and I got encouraged by this. After all, when we went on a vacation with our cat, I saw her very much interested with other cats and dogs visiting us at our rented apartment at a farm. We thought she wouldn't be hostile to other cats.

So I called a local shelter and I told them I need an active and playful cat for my calico. They told me they have this 4-month old and already spayed female tabby cat who is a purring machine and loves playing. They also said she had lived at some point with older cats in the streets. She looked like a perfect match to Milù and we decided to get her and named her Violetta.

Violetta is the sweetest cat I've ever met. She purrs loudly to everyone, loves sitting and kneading your lap, and she will do this for hours at any time of the day. She's also full of energy. She never gets tired playing with toys. She's got some flaws too, though. She's not good at cleaning herself, always has claws out for everything (so it hurts when she kneads, so I trimmed her nails) and she complains a lot even over small things. She's also so eager and has a me first attitude.

We did the usual cat introduction ritual for a week - separate rooms, gradual introduction of scents, site swapping, cats eating behind a door, etc. Everything went quite well. Initially, there were some hisses from my resident cat but then she started to feel more comfortable each day. When there were no more hissing and they could eat their meals together, we decided to completely open the house for them. I was so happy to see them sleep almost close to each other and when they started to play. However, this is where the problem starts.

When finally, Milù felt comfortable around Violetta, she gradually went back to her real self - she started zooming around the house again, something she didn't do on the first few days Violetta was introduced to her. And she started playing with Violetta, and she seemed so eager to having her as a playmate. At first, she was a bit of a bully to Violetta, probably to establish dominance over her, and Violetta was fine with this. Then she started chasing Violetta around, something Violetta didn't like at first and she would whine. Then probably Violetta understood that Milù didn't want to hurt her and they started chasing each other around - i.e. literally running around, Milù runs after Violetta then vice versa. Until here, everything was fine. But Milù doesn't want to just run around, she wants a real cat play, - i.e. more physical - swatting, wrestling, biting, etc. And I think this is just normal? But Violetta doesn't want any contact at all, and whenever Milù swats at her or even lightly touches her tail, Violetta would whine and sometimes screams as if she is being murdered.

We tried telling Milù to be more gentle with Violetta, and she did this. When she corners Violetta, she turns around and leaves Violetta alone. But as soon as she has her back on Violetta, Violetta would jump and chase her, and the play begins again, Milù becomes a bit physical, then Violetta whines, and so on. This went on for a while and we thought Violetta would then figure out how to confront Milù.

When they're not playing though, they behave really well. Milù has stopped hissing completely and has accepted Violetta in her home.

However, during playtime, Violetta's whining became worse, then she started growling, then hissing, and I think this frustrated Milù. All she wanted was to play with Violetta. I observed her during their play, and she doesn't seem to have her claws out. I can even see her restraining herself but Violetta continues with her whining. Every time Milù corners her, Violetta would lie on her back in defensive mode and whines and growls at Milù. But if there's aggression on Milù's part, I don't understand why Violetta would come running back at Milù for more play once Milù has turned her back on her.

Two days ago though, somehow things went out of hand. During these plays, Milù, strangely, didn't back down as usual and continued swatting at Violetta. Violetta was screaming and growling, Milù pounced and wouldn't listen to me. My 8-year old daughter was crying and yelling at Milù while she watches the scene inches away from her feet. It was surreal! I had to sprinkle water on Milù to separate the cats. And we put them in separate rooms the whole day.

When my husband came back from work, we tried to put the two cats together again. Everything looked fine. The cats were acting as if nothing happened. Then they started playing! And everything went upside down. They ended up in a serious fight with fur flying around. Milù didn't look worked up, but Violetta was so mad.

So we tried concentrating on Violetta and have made some observations. When we're playing alone with Violetta with a toy, she's so pumped up with adrenaline and even has more energy than Milù does. However, she seems to know how to play with toys only. Other than that, she's unresponsive or doesn't know what to do in other kinds of games. Laser dot - no response, playing with hands - no response, stalking - uninterested, hide and seek - uninterested, us surprising her - no response, she just looks at us, chasing with us - no response.

But these are the things Milù loves doing! And now I'm at a loss! I don't know much about Violetta but it seems she grew up completely isolated from other cats that she doesn't know how to interact with them, and every move another cat makes is a threat for her. So I think this is why she suddenly assumes a defensive stance when Milù plays with her. And somehow, Violetta's unpredictability has frustrated Milù.

Now my situation is this: I've got two cats who both need attention, one is in the living room, the other in the bedroom. I can't work because Milù is with me and wants attention, while I hear Violetta meowing at the door in the living room. And it's driving me crazy. Now that Violetta has known the whole house, she isn't fine with being confined again in a room and is constantly meowing.

I'm seriously considering re-homing Violetta. First, because I don't know how to deal with her situation. Milù is my first cat and I have her for only 6 months so my experience in cat is very limited. Violetta needs to know how to be a cat, but only a cat could teach her how to do that. And honestly, I'm not sure if I'd like to sit and wait 'till she learns from Milù. What if they end up hurting each other seriously? I've got an 8-year old daughter and it breaks my heart seeing her cry and yell whenever the two cats fight. What if they end up hurting my daughter in one of those fights?

I really think Violetta is a perfect cat in a household with no other animals in it. I wish they had told me more about Violetta's upbringing before they gave it to me.

Any advice or thoughts would be much appreciated.

  • You say Violetta had contact with older cats while living as a stray; do you know if she had contact with younger ones? Sometimes a singleton kitten can have misunderstandings on appropriate play (I've just adopted one who had a lot of issues until the foster tossed her into a pen with a litter of four), which could play a part in finding an optimal solution for you. – Allison C Oct 31 '18 at 14:48
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    To get more answers, you may wish to summarise the problem in a few sentences. Whilst there is a lot of detail here, a summary would help people who won't read all of what you've written. – Henders Nov 26 '18 at 17:39
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To me it sounds like Milu is bullying Violetta. Even if your perception is that Milu is only playing, that is not Violetta's view. She has given Milu the cat-language for "leave me alone" in the form of yowling and hissing, and yet Milu persisted. A bully type of cat may even be encouraged to be a bully when they see the victim showing signs that they are intimidated.

After a fight, keep your cats separated for a day or two, and then very cautiously attempt a re-introduction. If the cats still seem aggressive, then re-separate them, and very slowly re-introduce them, in the same fashion as you did when they were first introduced. Repeat this whenever they get into a fight. I would also recommend keeping the cats in separate rooms when they will be unsupervised, unless you manage to get to a point where you are confident they are no longer fighting. Make sure these rooms have everything they need to be comfortable.

Think back to those times that Milu and Violetta got into a spat. Was there any specific trigger, or reason why they would end up confronting each other? For instance, they could have been trying to access food or water at the same time. If the answer is yes, then you can think of solutions to try to minimize anything in the house that may be causing the fights. For instance, if it is the food and water, start placing additional bowls in different locations, so that they don't have to go to the same place to get them.

I would also suggest playing more with Milu, so she will hopefully be too tired to play with Violetta. Also, if you observe the two with each other, try to get them to go away from each other, so that they will not get into fights in the first place.

Lastly, I would try contacting the shelter to get any advice on your situation, and also an animal behaviorist. Perhaps by actually observing your pets, they will have a better idea of what is causing the fighting and how to stop it.

You are correct though that some cats are simply incompatible. However, I would not consider rehoming until you have at least tried these things.

On an unrelated note, the shelter likely did not inform you of Violetta's behavior with other cats because they did not really know. It is often the case that they do not know very much about their animals' history.

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