March 28, 2014

State of the Union (i.e. How the Kitties Are Getting Along…)

So, I’ve had a lot of people asking how Mac and Charlie have been getting along since we brought Mac into the family in January. To answer the question, I would have to say that it’s been a bit of a bumpy road so far. At first I really worried about Charlie because even though we took the introduction really slow and tried to make her feel secure, she was still obviously in an extremely stressful state for weeks about the new housemate. She also just wasn’t being herself and we had a really hard time getting any affection (or even just a purr) out of her for a while. It just about broke my heart and I wondered if we had made a mistake in getting another cat, but I didn’t know what to do about it since we had already made the decision.

Thankfully it has gotten better since those first few weeks. She doesn’t exactly want to snuggle up to him (in fact she will get up and leave if he sits too close to her), but she is willing to let him be about two feet from her if he is acting cool and collected enough. She does hiss at him a lot and bops him on the head with her paw, but we also see them take turns chasing each other and doing other things where I think she is having at least a little bit of fun (although I don’t think she would admit that ). Anyways, my hope was that they would be instant best friends, or at least a mother/son type of bond since she’s older and he’s smaller, but the best we can do right now is a older annoyed sister vs. annoying little brother scenario. I don’t think it helps his case by always pouncing on her head while she’s napping. Charlie no likey.

I keep saying that this guy is both the sweetest and baddest kitty I know. He will do things he knows he shouldn’t (jump on counter, spill cat food containers, attack plants) over and over until you just start to lose your mind. Even though he doesn’t like it, he’s not afraid of the disciplinary spray bottle (he just braces himself for the spray) so we’ve started to up the water dosage from the faucet and put him in time out in another room instead. All this time you just want to kill him, but when he’s not being bad, he’s the sweetest snuggle bunny you’ll ever meet. Just so friendly and such a doll…
I love when they are in the same room together and both happy—I hope it happens more and more!We try and make sure to give Charlie some one-on-one time with us without Mac, and I think that helps a lot. She’s been acting more like herself lately and playing with her favorite toys again, so I think that’s a sign that she’s getting a little more used to him. I also started using cat calming pheromone plug-ins and sprays to try and get Charlie to relax and Mac to calm down, so maybe those will end up helping some.

Anyone else have tips for getting cats to get along?


P.S. I’ve been editing my photos lately with the A Beautiful Mess Photoshop actions and I LOVE them. Give them a try for yourself! 

18 thoughts on “State of the Union (i.e. How the Kitties Are Getting Along…)

  1. Alexa

    I am glad the transition is going better. I giggle a little that Charlie is a diva cat and didn’t want a brother she didn’t ask for. Animal personalities are the funniest. The same thing happened except in dog form for us. My little boston terrier lady, Pearl, did not care for her new little yorkie brother, Ted, at all for a long time. Our little diva would have loved him to be returned to sender. Thankfully nothing aggressive happened but you could almost see the disgust in her eyes. It did get a bit better where they would lay near each other but you could definitely equate it to a big sister just barely being able to stand her obnoxious little brother. Teddy got his karma after Pearl passed away and we adopted a little Chihuahua named Pedro who tries to hog all the affection and bones he can get his little paws on. Luckily Teddy is a happy-go-lucky little pup (maybe you could say a little dopey, ha) and doesn’t seem to notice too much. Watching animals interact is the funniest. Best of luck with your kitty children!

  2. Nancy

    About 3 years ago, we brought a big, fluffy puppy into our household. Big sis was not happy and wanted to go back to being an only child. Little brother was annoying and into everything. She was very mean to him and sometimes I was worried she was going to physically hurt him. Fast forward 3 years: they are absolutely best friends and couldn’t imagine being apart. Time is by far the best medicine and she will learn to love her annoying little brother. Overall, it sounds like you are doing everything right so just keep giving Charlie love and she will eventually come around.

  3. Sena Dees

    We just had a similar situation with my cat and new dogs. Rascal (cat) was super upset and fluffed out all the time, wouldn’t let us pet him and wouldn’t purr. But now its been several months and all of the pets have calmed down and started to tolerate each other enough to all sleep in the same room and not mind each others company. 🙂

  4. Shelby

    I had the exact same situation with my two cats when we got them. Xochi is the “younger brother” and he’s a bit of a jerk… totally misbehaves and just drives me crazy. BUT, he’s the sweetest cat, never hisses or scratches anyone EVER and is such a snuggle buddy. Maggie is an older cat, and rather sassy. She WILL and DOES frequently bat at people who are petting her and enjoys a snuggle or two, but only on HER terms. Unfortunately, since we got Xochi as a kitten, the age difference can be a bit tough for her, as he is always chasing and attacking her. She used to be the dominant one when he was little, but the roles have reversed. We make sure we give Maggie plenty of alone time in another room so she can feel comfortable and safe letting her guard down for a while. And we got a fantastic animal discipline product called the “scat mat” (omg, worst name ever) to keep them off the dining room table, counter tops and we lay it in front of our bedroom door so they can’t push the door open at night.

  5. Staci

    Your house is perfection! And the cats are cute too 😉
    If Charlie is becoming immune to the spray bottle try putting a slice of lemon in with the water. Cats HATE the smell of citrus.
    I went out and bought the pheromones too with a new cat. But what I realized was that they just need lots of individual attention and time to adjust!

  6. Erin Hemmelgarn

    Can you give us a top knot tutorial! You seem to be the ABM girl with the most “real person” hair and your top knots always look so effortless and perfect. Thanks!

  7. Cris

    Your kitties are so pretty. I love Charlie’s grey tone and Mac’s boy face! My sister had a similar situation with hers. Margot, the cat, lived alone with her for about an year when she adopted John Snow, who was just a baby with a broken tail. She got so sick that my sis would have to bring her to the vet almost every week and waisted lot of money on medicine. It turns out Margot were super super jealous. John, in other hand, always tried to snuggle with her. We are one year later and now they love each other. Margot gives him baths, sleeps together and when the nigh comes they chase and play with each other for hours.
    Your kitties will be ok, you will love their new relationship. 🙂

  8. Lisa

    Not to be a kitty know it all, but here’s a little suggestion for cat training (or “training”) based on what I learned working with animal behaviorists and volunteering at an animal shelter: When it comes to the spray bottle, the trick is for them to not see it coming otherwise they learn too quickly that it’s coming from their caretaker and they can prepare and brace themselves for it. The trouble with this is that they might associate you with something unpleasant and then they learn that they’re only going to get spritzed when you’re around so they feel free to make themselves at home on the dining room table when you’re out. If you can be very sneaky, that’s the way to go (otherwise a trick for getting kitties to stay off the table or the counter is to put a little double sided tape there or cutting a strip of those little plastic mats with the bumps – the ones you might use for rolling chairs in an office -facing up on the counter. Neither is harmful, but they just don’t like the feeling and eventually the give up the sleeping on the counter in the sun ghost.).

  9. Tori C

    I have 3 cats and a dog (cats came first). Each new pet was such a hard and emotional transition! I feel like it took a month after each one until I felt confident that we hadn’t made a horrible decision, plus a couple more months until I felt like the new pet was a member of the family. I remember crying and worrying so much about Mojo (our first cat) and worrying that he didn’t understand or want the new friend. But! Time heals all wounds, even when it seem impossible.

  10. Angie

    Everything you mentioned is how it was when I introduced my kitten Ivy to my older cat Lily. At first Lily refused to be around Ivy. Then there were paw swipes and batting. This went on for months. One problem is that Ivy was SO playful and jumped on Lily – the age difference does matter. Amazingly Lily didn’t fight back at first, but eventually she let Ivy have it. Ivy is older and has settled down a little bit.

    Now they can actually sit side by side on their window seat together – for a few minutes. They will sleep on the bed together as long as I am in the middle! So hang in there – it will get better. I am hoping that my two will someday snuggle up together, but that hasn’t happened yet. They have been together 8 months so cat acceptance takes time.

  11. Catarina

    Your cats are so cute! I’m a cat person myself and my boyfriend and I also have two.
    Our first cat (a female) was about 1 year old when we brought a new kitten home. She hated him! She got all sorts of evil and we couldn’t trust her with the little one alone, so we introduced him to her for a few minutes everyday for two weeks, although we never left them alone.

    After two weeks, she started to tolerate him and even play with him a little. Now- two years latter, they are inseparable! 🙂

  12. Holly

    I had a similar situation with my cats. We’d had Bitties (female) for several years already, and when we brought home a new little brother Laredo one day, Bitties freaked out. She couldn’t stand this new cat — wouldn’t get near him, and hissed every single time she saw him. We were afraid they would never get along.
    Slowly, Bitties started to warm up to him, they began to play fight, and eventually got along. Several months into it, they were best friends, always hanging out together, and Bitties even seemed to become like a mother to Laredo. She would groom him and would whip him into shape when he was being a brat. Too cute.
    It sounds like your cats are on the right track, and will probably become BFFs like mine! Good luck 🙂

  13. Jessi

    I wanted to comment on the cat pheromones plug-ins. My fiance and I recently moved from a house with our two cats and two dogs, where they were able to roam a bit outside, to an apartment with just the kitties (the dogs are staying at the in-laws house until we buy a house). Originally it was just me and my cats, and bringing my fiance’s dogs into the picture was very stressful for them. I didn’t realize that they never warmed up to the dogs until about a month into the move. More on that in a second…

    After we moved the cats would FREAK OUT all the time. I was really stressed about their well being, and as a last resort I bought the plug-ins (they’re expensive!). Within 24 hours I noticed a huge difference, and a month later when the plug-in ran out, the cats were stressed again. I think they’re adjusting now because the plug-in is out for a second time and no one has had a breakdown.

    But when the dogs were gone and the cats were settled in, they started watching TV… Both of them will sit on the floor right in front of the TV like children and stare up at the screen, with their heads turning to follow movement. It’s ridiculously adorable, but I hadn’t realized until they started doing this just how uncomfortable they had been with the dogs.

    I hope your kitties warm up to each other, and hopefully the plug-ins will work well for you!!

  14. Adrienne

    Oh my goodness! That sounds EXACTLY like our situation a few months ago. We got a new kitten named Abe who seems to be very similar in personality to your little Mac. He is devilish but also so adorable and sweet. And he does the same thing with the spray bottle! He just squints his eyes and doesn’t even care about getting sprayed! I think the best thing is just to give it time. Our older kitty (Liam) didn’t like Abe at all at first… probably because Abe jumps on Liam’s head while napping, too. But now they really are good friends! They still get in little spats daily, but every night Liam jumps up on the chair with Abe and grooms him by licking his entire body. It really is sweet to watch! I hope your babies get to that point soon!

  15. Ashley Ann

    I say just give it more time. We had a Russian Blue for a couple years before I got my calico kitten. The kitten wanted to be best friends forever with our adult cat, and she would have none of it. It definitely took several months, but they have been best friends forever for years now. They still fight occasionally, but they are snuggle buddies and the older cat grooms the younger cat every day. There was a horrible case of mistaken identity in which a big fight happened late last year, and they were enemies again for a month or two. My younger cat looked like a slob when she wasn’t letting the older one clean her!

    If your cat is starting to let the new one sit closer and closer, I’d say you’re making excellent progress!

  16. L Mc

    So funny you should post this. I have a similar situation, male & female cats, now both about 1 1/2 yr old, brother. & sister I rescued. The girl ‘ Jade ‘ is smaller & more timid & gentle than the male ‘ Jasper ‘. It’s all about, who’s the boss & more dominant, like, I run the show and am more important. Lol That would be the always ready to play male ‘ Jasper ‘, it’s taken time, I read many articles. I too use the water sprayer method, you have to just keep spraying until he gives, lol, he needs to know ‘ your the boss-dominant ‘ one, both cats on equal playing field ! Lol it’s taken many months, yet now my female ‘ Jade ‘ is not as timid & has built up her confidence a bit around the bouncy boy. They get on much better now, be patient and consistent ! Your kitty’s are lovely, best of luck, here is hoping it will just keep getting better ! Btw-love your blog & IG Page


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