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My beautiful, loving Zorro has turned out to be a bully. Well, not exactly. It’s not as cut and dry as that. Let me explain.

I have six cats. Here they are listed beginning with most recent to enter the household:

  • Zorro — Probably a purebred Ragdoll who showed up quasiferal in our garage last winter. We trapped him this spring, moved, and integrated him into the household. However, as I think you will see, the integration is still ongoing!
  • Norton — Easygoing and the youngest of the bunch. Norton is a short-haired male orange tabby and he gets along with everyone. Even though he was orphaned at an estimated three weeks, Norton was well-socialized by his foster mom.
  • Jamie Bluebell — Jamie (dilute calico) is the only female in the household. She’s probably about two years old now. She seems afraid of Zorro, but less and less so. I’ll talk more on that in a moment.
  • Kieran — Sweet Turkish Van cat who’s generally pretty quiet. Sometimes he acts afraid of Zorro as well. He’s probably about 10 years old, as are the next two cats.
  • Chester — Sweet male orange tabby who pretty much gets along with all. He’s not afraid of Zorro, but ignores him.
  • Rama — Black cat who came to me with some insecurity and trust issues. He is not afraid of Zorro, and they will often take a smack at each other. This never turns into anything serious.

All cats are spayed and neutered.

 

When you have multiple cats, the interactions and the evolving relationships are forever fascinating. I’m happy to say that Zorro and Norton have really become buddies. They will wrestle and playfight for minutes on end, and I’m happy that they’ve got each other to channel their energy into. They seem to really enjoy it. It never turns aggressive.

A neat benefit of this relationship is that Rama has finally learned to play/wrestle. Apparently, the example of Norton and Zorro playing was compelling enough for Rama to try it himself. (This is a big deal, as Rama is normally a very serious, somewhat crabby cat.) Rama has been increasingly play fighting with Norton, and it is not getting aggressive. It’s really cute to watch. Rama needs the levity and the exercise. Norton is so easygoing that he’ll play with anyone.

 

The relationships I am trying to work on are these:

  • Jamie Bluebell and Zorro
  • Kieran and Zorro

Jamie, who was always pretty spunky, has decided that she’s afraid of Zorro. She spends most of her time in my office and will not come out into the rest of the living space. Zorro often hangs out in the office, too. He does not necessarily threaten her, but she keeps an eye on him. I’m worried about stress levels for her. She seems fine, but I know how cats can hide things and how stress can have repercussions. I have wondered whether I should let Zorro into the office at all, but I like the others to be able to come and go.

I have noticed less and less cowering on her part, and more swatting back. Zorro doesn’t jump her, either. But she’s still on guard when he’s close by. Zorro was neutered in March — perhaps the hormones are still subsiding?

 

Kieran is not crazy about Zorro, either, but Kieran will at least hang out in the main common area of the living space. Jamie will venture out, but if she sees Zorro there, she heads right back to the office. I also remember a time when Kieran and Norton were more full of themselves, shortly after being integrated into this multicat household. It subsided, and I am hoping it will for Zorro, as well.

I don’t want Jamie Bluebell’s world to get too small, so here’s what I’m trying:

  • I have Feliway diffusers in the office and in the main living area. These go fast, however! I could use some more for other rooms.
  • Sometimes, at night, I will shut the office door, and put Jamie and Kieran in the office for company. They like each other. It has occurred to me, though, that it might be good to put Zorro in the office over night, and let Jamie get used to being in the rest of the space again.
  • Sometimes, at night, I just let everyone be out. I’ve never awoken to screaming fights and I’ve never seen hair all over the place. I just worry about stress level for Jamie Bluebell.
  • I will sometimes put Zorro in a carrier for a few hours. He actually seems to love it, and rolls around and shows off, chattering happily. I probably need to do this more often. We’ve been quite busy caring (hospice) for the dog. Sometimes things get a little nuts.
  • I have a litter box in the office for Jamie. I have five other litter boxes in the basement.
  • Jamie always eats in the office with the door shut.
  • I’m trying to give everyone lots of attention. It certainly would be easy for Zorro to hog all the attention. He loves it and he’s very communicative and good at getting attention. I need to remember that all the cats need love in their own ways.

I really think this will eventually work out. I already see progress. I just want Jamie to eventually get to the point where she’s comfortable having the run of the house again. For Zorro, I think it’s more like a game. She comes out, and he sometimes chases her. But she reacts with fear, which may egg him on.

So, dear readers, I am sure many of you have encountered this. Do you have any suggestions? Anything to help me would be appreciated!

More by Catherine Holm:

About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of The Great Purr (cat fantasy novel out June 1), the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.

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