by Soni
(London, UK)

Hi Doc,

We have a lovely 2 year old cat, Gigi & we've had her since she was 6 weeks old. Runt of a litter of 7, she was kept in a tiny cage with her sibling, mum, food bowls & litter tray.

She was so pleased to have a home of her own that she didn't once cry for mum & took to us & the house instantaneously.

She is the most intelligent, loyal & even- tempered cat I've ever had - a remarkable thing about her is that she hardly ever meows!

Since day 1 she would follow me everywhere & though she isn't a lap cat, she would always sit as close to me as possible.

She was spayed last year.

In April of this year, we adopted two, 8-week-old, twin boys - Oscar & Peanut. Gigi did not take to them at all even though we followed all the steps that are suggested by you & other vets.

We thought she would eventually come around to the idea of the new additions but the situation kept getting worse by the day.

They're all outdoor cats (& moggies). Gigi started staying out later & longer & wouldn't go anywhere near the kittens. If she was in the same room as them, she'd sit as far away as possible, watch them intently & growl & hiss occasionally.

Initially the kittens were least concerned with her & were more than content with each other. After a while, Oscar started chasing Gigi away if ever he saw her around & would eat her food, etc.

In mid-July, whilst the kittens were playing outside, someone stole Oscar. We searched for him for months but were unsuccessful in finding him. It's left all of us heart-broken, especially Peanut who would disappear for long stretches - we presume he goes looking for Oscar.

We had him neutered a couple of months ago & he doesn't wander so far now, but he does have the worst sense of direction in the entirety of all catdom & we're often called by neighbours who find him in their garages or kitchens etc.

Is it possible that he is still 'looking for Oscar' or has a bad case of wanderlust?

Gigi's 'visits' home dwindled & now she doesn't come in the house at all. We see her once every fortnight or so; she's usually in the neighbourhood & does occasionally come to the back garden & eat food we leave for her but she won't let me get anywhere near her. She growls, hisses & if I manage to pick her up, she scratches me.

A couple of times over the last couple of months I've managed to pick her up & get her in my room & kept her there for about 24 hours - fed her, stroked her, when she let me, & showered her with treats & soothing words.

In the night she even came under the covers, purred & cuddled with me (like she used to) but the minute I let her out of my room, she violently darts out of the house (sometimes taking the cat flap with her) & she goes back to being hostile.

Overall, she seems to be healthy & clean. Is it possible she's being looked after by another family? She has a collar but our numbers aren't on it, so we have no idea where she goes.

The other significant change that's happened over the summer is that her two best friends (neighbourhood cats, both male) are not here any more. The three used to hang out in our garden all day. She was a real homebody & didn't venture very far.

One of the cats probably died, he was very obese & fairly old & the other one moved away. Could this be another contributing factor? She must be awfully lonely.

A neighbour informed me today that both Gigi & Peanut are often to be found in her garden & they seem to sniff each other & to quote her - 'I think they're interested in each other.' I thought this could be promising, since I've never seen them display any interest in each other.

I love them both very very dearly & have often sat on the road or pavements crying & apologising to Gigi & begging her to forgive me & let me look after her again. It's proving to be a very cold winter in London & I'm worried sick about Gigi being out on her own with no place to go - is there anything at all I can do to get my baby back home?

Now that Peanut's a bit older - he too is a very friendly, affectionate cat - & Oscar is no longer with us, is there any chance my two babies can get along & live with each?



Dear Soni,

I can tell that you are in pain, blaming yourself for Gigi becoming distant, blaming yourself for getting the new kittens and driving her away. Try to stop blaming yourself. Cats have individual personalities and when allowed to go outdoors, especially if not neutered, will make their own decisions.

If I were in your shoes, I can tell you what I would do. I would get both cats into my home and not let them out during the winter. I would then know that they were warm and cared for. It would also give them time to get better acquainted with each other. It sounds like they have begun a nice relationship outdoors if they are sniffing each other in the garden and not fighting.

I do not believe that either of them is still mourning over past kitty friends or still looking for them. Cats outdoors tend to roam, even if they are neutered.

If you are going to continue to leave them outdoors, perhaps you could put your address and phone number on their collars and therefore be able to communicate with other people if indeed they are sometimes living elsewhere. That may give you peace of mind.

Thank you for writing and for caring so much about cats.

Best to you,
Dr. Neely

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