I contacted Mary for help with two cats that didn’t get along.
The problem started after adding a second cat to a one-cat home and making mistakes in the initial introduction. The new cat became incredibly aggressive toward the old cat, and we ending up having to permanently divide the house in half with double-stacked baby gates to keep them apart. We had to switch them back and forth to opposite sides of the gates in order to let each of them have time with people. To keep the cats happy, we did this every four to six hours, whenever one would start fussing and crying—even through the night—for more than two years! It was inconvenient, stressful, and meant sacrificing sleep nearly every night.
Before the in-house consultation, Mary sent me an extensive form to fill out about the cats’ behavior and history. I appreciated that she was clearly concerned with understanding the full context of the situation. Mary then came to our house to meet the cats and explain her strategy to repair their relationship. She gave us specific instructions on what to immediately change at home, how to conduct training sessions, and how to defuse aggressive behavior like stalking and staring. She made recommendations of calming supplements and other equipment to help with training. She also helped us understand and be aware of the cats’ body language. This was the most surprising thing for us: we realized that the cat we thought was purely aggressive was also acting defensively, and the cat we thought was purely fearful was also acting a bit aggressively! It helped us understand their kitty perspective a lot better. After the consultation, she sent me a summary of our appointment and a written plan detailing the strategy she suggested for us.
We also realized we were trying to cater to these crazy cats way too much, and all it accomplished was increasing our stress levels! Mary encouraged us to take back control of the house and the cats’ relationship. We removed the baby gate that very day (what a relief!) and separated them in rooms instead. We starting strictly controlling their interactions with each other by conducting regular training sessions according to Mary’s plan. Very, very gradually over time, we have noticed a huge decrease in fear and aggression.
The cats are currently able to sit calmly or even nap in the same room with us, just six to ten feet apart. (This probably doesn’t look that impressive, but after living through the horrible fights they used to get into, seeing them calmly ignore each other at this distance is almost unbelievable.) We’re four months into the process and it’s still ongoing, with regular training sessions, as we work toward being able to leave them together unsupervised. Considering we used to have one cat violently slamming against a closed door to try to get to the other, and high-speed chases around the house that ended with drawn blood, this is incredible progress that we once thought could never be possible. It has taken a LOT of patience and consistent, frequent training, but I can confidently say that Mary’s methods work. I would recommend her to anyone having issues of aggression between cats. And, from my own experience, I would recommend not waiting too long; get a strategy that works early on, and save yourself (and your cats!) a lot of stress.
Sky K. from Columbia, MD
Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist
Elite Fear Free Certified Professional
Montgomery County, MD
The HPB newsletter is a periodic update on what's going on with HPB, class updates, the world of animal behavior, and more.Register for Newsletter