As some readers may be aware, I recently brought home a new cat, because she was cute and adorable and seduced me with her wily ways, as cats like to do. And I was a little nervous about settling her in, because Loki is a very sensitive soul and he’s also very large and used to getting his way. There’s a reason they’re terrified of him at the vet’s office.
Why Can’t We Just Be Friends?
It turns out that Loki the resident cat and Leila the new cat don’t like each other. Despite reading numerous guides that use important-sounding acronyms like NC (new cat) and EC (existing cat) on how to integrate a cat successfully into the house, and implementing an assortment of recommendations...EC and NC are still fighting.
And when I say “fighting,” I do not mean “posturing and hissing,” I mean “Loki and Leila both have deep scratch marks on their faces right now.” So yeah. Not getting along.
OK, I’ll revise. Loki and Leila get along fine, as long as Leila isn’t moving. Once she does, all bets are off. I have never had this much trouble bringing in a new cat and all my friends aren’t helping by saying things like “Oh...she’s a girl? Yeah, girl cats are bitches. Good luck with that!” or “Well, you know, it took us about six months to integrate Jaxx, and now they only fight viciously about three times a month! But the vet usually sutures for free if it’s a mild wound.”
Leila’s favorite location in the house has become on the counter next to the fridge, because she knows Loki can’t reach her there. It also means the available counter space in my house has decreased by 50 percent and houseguests ask me why her food and water are on top of the fridge, waiting for her to push them over so unsuspecting people making freezer raids get doused in water or cat chow.
Luckily she doesn't mind when I do dishes.
Loki’s favorite location is, of course, directly under the counter.
Several readers on my original post suggested using Feliway® and related products. I kind of nodded and said “Yeah yeah, sure, whatever. I don’t need no stinkin’ drugs.” Once it looked like NC and EC weren’t going to get with the program and become happy little cat buddies, I poked around a little bit and found a lot more recommendations for Feliway®, which claims to release “an innovative, odorless vapor which mimics the feline facial pheromone that identifies the room as safe and familiar for your cat.”
Now, I am kind of skeptical of products like this, and my late-night Internet reading didn’t really do a lot to help. But I was also really, really tired of having fights constantly break out, Loki moaning when I locked him out of Leila’s area and then sneaking in and trying to beat her up, Leila crawling behind the fridge and growling so loud I thought there was something wrong with it, and friends observing my battle-scarred extremities and asking me if there was something I needed to talk about.
I finally broke down and ordered a box last Friday, and spent the following days on tenterhooks waiting for its arrival. It came, of course, while I was calling into this week’s editorial meeting, where listeners had already been listening to an assortment of barnyard noises from my end of the line1 and now I was shouting at the postman to “Just leave it by the door.”
As soon as the meeting was over, I was off the phone like a shot to unwrap the package and jam that sucker into a wall outlet -- after much consultation on the subject, I’d determined that the diffuser, which steadily pumps out a fog of pheromones intended to drug my cats into submission, was the way to go. Almost immediately, Loki expressed a profound distaste for the device, actually hissing at it at one point before turning his frustration to me and savagely attacking the remaining unscratched portion of my right leg.
Someone took that Nancy Reagan “Just say no” campaign a little too seriously, if you ask me.
Is This Actually Going To Work?
Depending on which dubious online review site you read, the answer is “Yes, totally! Within minutes, my cats were snuggling together and baking cupcakes” or “No, it won’t.” So far it’s succeeded in making Loki give the diffuser a four foot radius at all times. Leila doesn’t seem to have much of an opinion on the situation either way, other than waiting for me to chase Loki out of the kitchen so she can jump from the counter, scuttle furtively across the floor and use her litterbox2 to the sound of his increasingly tragic moaning from the other side of the door.
I’m personally rather doubtful, because I think a lot of complex things go into feline behavior, and I doubt this alone is going to solve the problem, although it would be awesome if it did. The next stop is bringing on the heavy drugs, though, and I don’t know if I’m ready to pump Loki full of Prozac® just yet. On the plus side, unlike me, he has insurance, so at least it would be paid for.
So I guess the answer is: Stay tuned for details.
1. Probably the first and only editorial meeting where the phrase “Sorry about the noise, it’s the neighbor’s guard goose” has been uttered. Return
2. For reasons of sanitation and wanting to have some sort of limits, I refuse to install her litterbox on top of the kitchen counter. Return