We will be going back to a one cat family today…

…and I am absolutely heartbroken about it, but I don’t see any alternative. Beanie’s been with us just shy of two months and her integration into the family started off fairly promising. We kept her and Melvin separated for the first week or so before letting her out to explore. Melvin wasn’t happy about the new family member, but he kept himself mostly to growling and hissing whenever she entered the room which she pretty much ignored.

Then Melvin figured out that Beanie was declawed and unable to defend herself and that’s when he became drunken redneck kitty. In the weeks to follow he would casually walk over to her and start beating the shit out of her without warning and for no apparent reason. It got to the point where she wouldn’t come downstairs to the main level at all, then she wouldn’t come out of Courtney’s room, then our room, and then out from under our bed. We started putting her in the spare bedroom with her own litter and food when we went to bed so that she wouldn’t have to worry about being attacked in the middle of the night by Melvin.

When I go upstairs, if it’s been awhile since Melvin was up there, she’ll come out from under our bed and jump up on it to be petted for a bit, but if she thinks she can hear Melvin coming she’s back under that bed in a heartbeat and no amount of coaxing can get her back out. Last night Melvin must have been upstairs just prior to us going to bed because she wouldn’t come out when I called her. When I attempted to pick her up she freaked and tore into my hand with some pretty vicious bites. The wounds weren’t all that deep, but it’s the first time she’s drawn blood on me and it drove home the point that she is absolutely terrified of Melvin. Which isn’t fair to her in the least.

I can’t say for sure, but I think she’s lost weight because the only time I can recall seeing her eat is when I put her in the spare room at night. When she’s not in the spare room she spends 90% of her time hiding under our bed and she still gets jumped by Melvin at least once a day. We had thought Melvin would eventually get used to her because we just came out of an environment last August in which he had to share the house with multiple cats, but he seems hell bent on making sure Beanie has access to as little of his territory as possible. So I’ll be packing her up after work today and taking her back to the shelter we got her from. Pretty much everyone we know already has pets and she really needs a home that doesn’t already have one. She’s an absolute sweetheart and giving her up is the last thing I want to do, but I’m just sick with worry about her at this point. Of course taking her back to the shelter isn’t an ideal solution because it’s possible she may not get adopted again due to her age so that has me worried as well.

I didn’t sleep well last night at all. I had thought I was doing a good thing for Beanie by bringing her home and it seems I just made things worse for her. I am not looking forward to the end of the work day.

30 thoughts on “We will be going back to a one cat family today…

  1. That situation sounds terrible. I don’t have much experience with cats, but I’m not sure what choice you have. Sad indeed.

  2. This situation you have with Melvin and Beanie is not good, and there are a few things you should do before you take her back to the shelter:

    One:  When these attacks occurred…did you two do anything to stop the attacks?  We have a female calico and a male tabby cat that get into tussles all the time and she is fully armed.  Behavior like that should be REDIRECTED by a squirt bottle full of water or a soda can filled with pennies to ‘scare’ Melvin off Beanie.  Look at http://www.catsinternational.org for information on how to deal with these cat behavior problems.

    Now, this rediirection has to be done BEFORE any attacks happen, if you see Melvin crouched, in ‘hunt’ mode and his tail is flicking wildly, that is the time to squirt him.  Being proactive before the fights start will take some doing but once he gets hit in the puss a few times with a squirt bottle will tell him that this behavior is not acceptable. 

    Two:  Its a very extreme effort, but get Melvin declawed.  It may be an expensive proposition, but it would also keep the peace in the house.  His aggressive play also may be a sign that he needs to go to the vet also to see if he has any health problems.

    Three:  Learn T-Touch…its worked on both of our cats to get to be more submissive and less aggressive…its a form of massage for animals that builds trust.  Our calico had trust issues with her being picked up and cuddled for a long period of time and once we started to do this on her shes been more willing to be held and petted.

    And also, are you giving play time to both cats?  It may be a jealously issue too.  Being that he is the dominant cat means that the focus is being shifted to Beanie and he feels threatned.  Spend some play time with him, and make sure that he is really tuckered out when you’re done so he’s not going after her.

    Les, I hope my advice helps…

  3. We’ve been policing Melvin as best we can, which has gotten a bit easier since Beanie started staying upstairs full time, but he just waits for us to turn our backs and he’s off to bust her chops. When we spot him heading for the stairs we redirect him, but he doesn’t give much warning. Doesn’t crouch, doesn’t flick his tail. Just walks over as though he didn’t even know she was there and then beats the shit out of her.

    One thing I will not do is get Melvin declawed. The only reason Beanie is declawed is because someone else did that to her prior to our adopting her. It’s not something I would ever inflict on a cat myself. Especially considering that Melvin will probably be an indoor/outdoor cat once we finally purchase a house.

    Beanie generally doesn’t have a problem with being touched or picked up. As I said in the main entry, she comes out from under the bed when called so long as Melvin hasn’t been by recently and hops up to be petted. I don’t think it’s an issue of trust between her and the humans. She just lives in fear of Melvin and was frightened when I tried to pick her up.

    Considering that Beanie spends 90% of her time hiding under our bed, Melvin gets the brunt of our attention. He certainly tries to dominate my attention when I’m home. I already spend less time with Beanie than Melvin simply due to the fact that she’s hiding most of the time. If I spent any less time I’d never see her at all.

  4. Agreed, declawing is right out. Tho instead of taking it back to the shelter, perhaps you could look into local nursing homes. If you’ve spent the money to make sure the kitty is updated on shots and such … or if the shelter has … all you’ll need is that paperwork. Several of our local homes have cats in residence and they are declawed so as much as I disagree with the process it’ll be a good selling point.

  5. I am sorry to hear that!  While I agree with some of the other suggestions, I think it may be getting to late if it seems she is even too scared to eat.  Why put the poor thing through that just for your own gain?  What you can do though is make a point to go upstairs often JUST to pay attention to Beanie…and shut the door so Melvin can’t get in there so she knows it is a safe environment.  When Melvin attacks her, make sure he knows that it was wrong to do so and immediately pet Beanie afterward.

    My ILs have a cat that was terrorized by the other cat and the 2 big dogs in the house.  She also stayed in the laundry room and you rarely saw her at all until I moved in.  They thought it was funny when the dogs and the other cat would chase her…so it took me a long time to convince her to come out and let me pet her.  She wouldn’t even let anyone touch her for a while…I had to really work with her and reprimand the dogs and other cat.  She eventually started coming out more and more when she knew she could be safe with me (I would hunt the others down if they attacked her and made it know it wasn’t acceptable…so she knew I meant business and would keep her safe).  I was there for 3 years and it took a lot of that time to help her (they had the cat for a lot longer than that though…years of this crap).  They always made a comment on how she always came out to meet me but no one else when I explained to them what I had to do to get that way.  I would go out of my way to find her and pet her and she only clawed at me once in the beginning…

    You could probably make it work…but it would take a hell of a lot of work, time, and energy…only you can decide if you guys are ready for it.

    I do NOT agree with de-clawing at all.  Ever.  It is a cruel and inhumane procedure and amounts to taking part of their finger off and not all vets make sure the cats are properly sedated when they do it.  Not to mention many don’t surgically take the claw off, they clip them off with big claw clippers.  If it wounds get infected they can lose the use of their paws all together.  If a cat is mean enough to attack people and injure them, then they need to be put down…not de-clawed…so to me there is absolutely no reason for it.

  6. I have had my share of both cats and dogs. Sending the cat back is likely to end in an episode of euthanasia.

    Here is a suggestion. Get a shock collar. I know they sound bad. But it is used as a last resort. I finally had to use one on my 6 month old dog to correct bad behavior. I tried it on to see what it was like. It’s not so bad. I could wear it all day. I have had to use it 3 times on Rufus.

    Here is the catch…Shock Collars have usually 5 settings. They also have a ( Tone Only ). You tone the animal before the electric current.

    They catch on real quick that the tone is a warning !

    I can almost guarantee this will solve the behavior problem.

    Cost about $25 to $40 at Wal-Mart.

  7. Les, is Melvin neutered?

    If not, then the asscociated reduction of serum testosterone might help alot

  8. Also, I’m sorry that you have to bear what is essentially an ethical burden, being that you have empathy for Beanie..

      I want to point out that “returns” are often the first to be euthanized; I’m *not* trying to make you feel guilty.. Look man, I’ve been through very similar situations with animals and its heartbreaking to make the decisions..

    I know you will do the right thing, and you will do it with thought and reason, ands compassion

  9. Sounds like Melvin is a spoiled bully. The only thing a bully understands is the law of the jungle “might makes right”.

    I don’t know if the “alpha dog” mentality works with cats. But it sounds like he thinks he’s alpha, and his “bigs” aren’t willing to do what it takes to correct that error.

    Every time he uses force, he needs to met with greater force. He will soon learn there is a cause and effect relationship between his behavior and punishment.

    Maybe you can have claws surgically reattached to Beanie? Maybe even adamantium claws, that will teach Melvin.  cheese

    This is why I don’t have pets. They can bring out the beast in me. raspberry

  10. Ugh. This reminds me of when I had to take one of our sweet and lovable cats to the shelter because he was peeing on our bed. Other than that unbearable habit, he was the perfect cat. He also got regularly attacked by our two other cats. I was balling when I was at the APA signing the paperwork. The good news was that one of my boyfriend’s patients, who lives out in the country, adopted him the next day. He lives in a heated barn now, with two other cats that he gets along well with.

  11. Melvin is indeed neutered and Beanie is spayed. I do try to be a responsible pet owner and I am worried about the possibility of her being euthanized as that’s the last thing I want to have happen.

    It’s been on my mind all day and I’m beginning to have second thoughts, but I don’t know if I can break Melvin of his habit. One suggestion I’ve gotten was to shut Melvin into the spare bedroom on alternating days to get him used to Beanie’s scent being everywhere, but I’m worried Beanie will be too scared to go downstairs to use the other litterbox if she needs to. Or eat for that matter.

    The shock collar seems a tad extreme. I thought they only made those for dogs?

  12. Maybe confining Melvin for a while so Beanie can have a look around the house can make things better.  Its something my roommate did when he had two cats that didn’t get along, he put one in his bedroom and the other cat got the run of the apartment for 12 hours and when he got home, the cats got ‘rotated’.  Eventually they were allowed to be out together and they finally got along well enough that he did not have to do that any longer. 

    Its just a thought though.

  13. It’s rather common for clawed cats to pick on declawed cats.

    I actually had a similar problem with my two cats.  There was a stray that came by my place every once in a while and Cricket wouldn’t hiss or growl much, but somehow got it into her head that my other cat, Jaxom was responsible for it and beat the crap out of him as soon as the stray was gone.  I wouldn’t always see the stray so for a long time I couldn’t figure out what was triggering the fights.  Jaxom is a pretty laid back (now I think the word I’d use is fatass) animal and never fought back.

    I fixed the problem by separating the two cats and letting them mingle only when they were supervised.  Start with gradually increasing the time they have together and correct any bad behavior you see.  That will at least get them to the point where Melvin knows that you don’t like it and will give Beanie a little confidence in her own space.  Melvin’s only doing what he’s doing because he can.  I know from personal experience that cat-punches (no claws) can be painful.  Melvin probably isn’t using his own claws anyway.  If Beanie stood up for herself, Melvin will get the idea.

    Beanie’s the invader and both the cats need to get used to the idea that the house is Beanie’s too.  If you let the cats mingle while Melvin was still hissing, then that was probably a mistake, so start over.  It would help if you could separate them so they can still see each other but not get to each other.  Then they can get used to each other and not freak out.  Maybe by then Melvin will forget Beanie has no claws smile

  14. The Shock collar is far from being a Taser. We keep a lot of expensive electronics on our Truck. Rufus was chewing lines and cords. I tried scolding, even spanked him with a news paper ( Sound ). The collar has been used 3 times and the tone has been used maybe 10. That was over a year ago. Now I just show him the collar and he will alter his behavior.

    I have seen collars designed for cats. I know they seem cruel. But they reach the level of consciousness that animals understand. Animals can learn final predicted outcome of certain behaviors. They can alter that behavior based on negative outcome. I would bet the cat only has to be exposed to a low current once while being toned. After that just tone only. Cats are pretty smart.
    I do stress..Tone First then apply current.

    Another idea is to switch beds with the cats. Make them sleep in each others bed every other day. It may help them to get use to the scent of each other. The Psychobiology of smell and pain stimulus is everything to an animal.

  15. As you know I have 4 cats two girls, two boys all fixed and all have claws.  And even though they have been all together a least five years we had our share of battles.  I think the alternating them every 12 hours works. Or some other schedules.  I agree Melvin has a bug up his ass and poor Beanie is suffering.
    My other suggestion is make Beanie Anne’s cat and Melvin your cat.  Meaning More time out with Anne for Beanie and Melvin in room.  Then when you are there switch. Kiya and Cali spend more time with me and when David is here Baby and Meeya stay with David.
    And not to make you feel bad, but shelter is pretty much what everybody says.  Worse comes to worse advertise for a new home for her on your blog.  My blog and everybody elses.  Ask all SEB readers to help!  She sounds sweet and would make somebody feel blessed to have her.

  16. 4 cats, two girls and two boys – all fixed?  All eight of them? wink

    Les: If you really feel the need to give the cat away, take it to a reputable rescue, not any old shelter.  Ask around about how much luck they’ve had in placing de-clawed cats.  If you’re worried about them putting her down, offer to help them find a new home and keep Beanie yourself until you do.  There are options.

  17. I had a declawed (front only) cat when i was a kid.  He beat the tar of the clawed cats that would try to roll him (he was an outdoor cat).

    He actually separated the skin from the back of his attacker’s ear once.

    Ya don’t mess with Snowball.  I miss that cat.  And he was always cool with any new kittens we brought into the family.  The definition of a cool cat.

    As you your situation, it’s going to take a long time of keeping them seperated, but if you can manage until they stop hissing toward each other you may end up better off.  (and the swapping beds thing is a good idea.)

  18. I feel your pain, worrying about kitties.  What to do?

    At least trim Melvin’s claws.  Cut off the sharp tip but not into the meat of the claw.  Might help.

  19. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on this both here and through other channels and I would like to say how much I appreciate it. I’ve had eight hours at work to mull it over as well and I’ve decide I’m going to try a bit longer to get the cats to work things out. I really don’t want to give up Beanie and I certainly don’t want her to end up euthanized. She’s a good cat and I just want her to have a decent home. Hopefully I can get things to a point where it’s with us.

    Funny how emotional one gets over things like this. I nearly fell asleep at work because I didn’t sleep for shit last night.

  20. I have a potentially similar problem. We have a cat that after a move took a couple years to get used to our new home. She’s an outdoor/garage cat and only comes into the house supervised for short periods of time lately.

    My kids want a dog real bad! Hmmm… We have a “dog run” section next to our house, but the cat’s only access to her safe haven, the garage, is through that section. I have no idea what we’re going to need to do. I don’t want my cat to revert back to her scared ways and hide in the garage all the time if we get a dog.

  21. Brooks:  It will depend a lot on what kind of a dog you get, and whether it is primarily an indoor or outdoor (kennel) dog.  I’ve dealt with introducing both kinds into a house with cats.  If you get a puppy, then it isn’t substantially different than getting a second cat.  They will both need some supervised time to get used to each other.  If the dog has it’s own place outside, then your job is already half done.  You can use the house as neutral territory.  If the dog stays indoors, take it slow and catch things as they happen (as opposed to maybe later)  Your cat is an outdoor cat, so start by giving the dog his or her own space away from where the cat comes in.

    If you get a puppy, your cat may actually be a great help in raising it.  My three (at the time) cats were invaluable.  There was a brief (but memorable in the wrong way) attempt to get a german shepherd puppy to use the litter box.  I don’t recommend it, however.  Some things are better left alone smile

    As with all things, take the time to do it right.  Has your cat had any experience with dogs?  Can you get a dog from a rescue (the dogs history is known and probably documented) or from a pet store or the pound (They don’t usually have a clue)  Also, most rescues will allow you to take the dog back if things don’t work out.  The only thing about rescues is that there is an application process and you can be turned down.

  22. Les- you have to be a ‘bigger cat’- do your best feline Don Corilone impression- make Melvin understand there are consquences for “messin’ wid da family”.

    It is carrot and stick-
    Bad- Punish
    Good- Treat.

    You can not reason with them, so scare is really the only thing they understand. Yes- I know it sounds cruel, but I’m not talking hurt. Melvin needs to know who is boss.

    My Mums cats absolutely DO NOT go upstairs, because of my Dad, but they still do all those cat tricks to him to be freinds (“Are we cool, man, Cool? We Cool? We’re Cool OK.” to quote Brian Griffin).

  23. Les, I have no particular words of wisdom to solve the problem here, but only nebulous supportive thoughts, etc., to share.  I’ve been in various analogous shoes, and know how difficult these issues and decisions are.

  24. Glad to hear you are going to try to hang on.  You have a lot of love to give and it may work out.  Look at my group 4 cats, a dog and a bird and most of the time there is harmony!  Good Luck!

  25. Poor Kitteh, I hope someone nice like you, that is looking for an only Kitteh, adopts her since she sounds like keeper.

    Also, very sorry to hear that you even have to go though with this.

  26. BD, for the moment she’s staying with us and we’re going to redouble are efforts at getting them to integrate.

    This morning, for example, we opted to try one of the tactics suggested wherein we let her out of the spare bedroom that we’ve been putting her in at night and put Melvin in said room. He is not used to being confined to one room and I’m sure he’ll be quite vocal about it, but he has food, water, and a litter box therein. More importantly, because Beanie spends all night in there, her scent will be all over the place.

    When I get home this afternoon I’ll let him out and probably put her back in. We’ll repeat this for a few days and see what happens.

  27. I’ve been in various analogous shoes,

    I’ve only got digital shoes- they are either on the correct foot, or they are not.

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

  28. It’s a bit of a standoff at the moment. We’ve been swapping them in and out of the spare bedroom to try and get each of them used to the other’s scent.

    Melvin definitely seems a bit more mellow, though when they’re both out of the spare room—mostly during the evenings when I’m home—he will try to go upstairs to see what she’s doing, but he doesn’t seem to be attacking her at this point. I’ve happened upon him sleeping on our bed while Beanie was underneath it without them coming into a conflict.

    That said, Beanie is still terrified of Melvin and will dash under our bed the moment she thinks he’s coming up the stairs. We put her in the spare bedroom when we go to bed to keep her safe from Melvin and she’s even getting to the point where last night when I came upstairs she trotted off to the spare bedroom when I called instead of forcing me to pick her up. She spends almost all her time either in the spare bedroom or under my bed, even when Melvin is locked up in the spare room.

    Melvin hates being shut off in the spare room alone and is quite clingy and needy when he’s finally let out. Beanie doesn’t seem to care where she is so long as she can stay hidden from Melvin. In fact two days this week she refused to come out of the spare bedroom in the morning so Melvin got a reprieve. Same thing happened today, she stayed in the spare room so Melvin got to stay out.

    That’s as far as it’s improved and it’s not looking like it’s going to get much better anytime soon.

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