A couple of months ago, when we learned Steve's sister was being forced to find new homes for her two cats because her living situataion was in flux, it made perfect sense to us to offer to take them for her on a "temporary" basis until she is able to find a new living situation in which she can be reunited with them. Fully understanding that temporary held the possibilty of forever, we could not imagine having to give up any of our pets, our hearts went out to her, and so, completely unsolicited, we told her we would be happy to add her "babies" to our family. We had minor reservations, of course, but they were trumped, one by one, by the feeling we were doing the right thing.
It was a win/win. She was relieved and we were heros.
Steve and Harper drove to New Jersey the last weekend in March, approximately four days after we made the offer to home the cats, to help his sister pack up her apartment. Ricky and Lucy, the two blackest black cats I have ever seen, came home with them and, just like that, we were a four cat (two dog) household. Peace and harmony abounds. That was seven weeks ago.
A brief, horribly incomplete synopsis:
Seven weeks ago: Ricky and Lucy spent most of the first week in the basement. In part because we were attempting to introduce them slowly into the family, but also because they were not enjoying the transition and found great places to hide down there. We found them every day and held them; they were friendly with us, but didn't trust us, and ran to rehide as soon as we put them down.
Six weeks ago: Ricky continued to hide in the basement, but Lucy would come upstairs and hide behind the couch. Our dogs completely ignored her. Our cats hissed when they saw her, but basically ignored her as well.
Five weeks ago: Both cats came upstairs in the evening after the girls went to bed and things had quieted. Much hissing ensued.
Four weeks ago: Ricky and Daisy have their first actual cat fight. This takes place at approximately two in the morning just outside the bedroom doors, and scares the ever loving shit out of the entire family. Ricky begins to sleep on Addison's bed. Lucy is slowly adjusting. Steve's sister visits and spends the entire weekend doting on the cats who stay in her room with her. I share my concerns with her and she admits that Ricky has always been a bit of an asshole (my word, not hers).
Three weeks ago: Ricky and Daisy are separated and we I spend ridiculous amounts of time exposing them to one another's bedding, crating them side by side, and every other tactic I read on the internet. Josie begins to wail randomly and constantly. I begin to share Josie's anxiety. Ricky begins to spray.
Two weeks ago: All cats are separated at night. Ricky escapes and attacks Daisy on my bed. Three times. I pretty much stop sleeping at night in anticipation of the moaning and hissing and fighting.
This week: Ricky continues to spray in the house and to attack Daisy. He has revved it up a notch and is now actively hunting her any time he is not segregated. We have concluded that we can't keep him.
That the cats would actually fight had not occurred to us. We knew they may not love one another immediately, but we assumed they would tolerate one another after a transition period. Hissing we can handle. If they wanted to hiss at one another every single time they come in contact for the rest of their lives, we could handle that, but fighting is a different story. It has become a safety issue, not only for the cats, but for our family. We can't take the chance that he will attack when one of our cats is on one of the girl's beds, or that one of the girls will attempt to break up a cat fight.
And then there is the spraying.
Steve has attempted to call his sister two nights in a row, but she hasn't been home. I've been researching no kill shelters here in CT, but ultimately she is going to have to make the call. The thing is he is actually a very sweet cat one on one, and I, truly, believe if he were in a one cat household he would make a great companion.
The entire situation breaks my heart. Steve feels horrible because he doesn't want to disappoint is sister. I feel horrible for him and for her and for the cat and for my kids because they are going to be disappointed...
Sometimes being a hero sucks.