If you’re wondering which cat to put in the sanctuary room and which cat to let have the run of the rest of the house, here’s how I typically make the decision. If one cat is clearly displaying ongoing offensive aggression then that’s the cat I usually put in the sanctuary room. That way, the cat who is being so overt in her aggressive display isn’t able to think that she ran the other cat off and is the mighty victor. However, if the cat who is the “victim” is too stressed or nervous about having the run the house then putting him in the sanctuary room may give him more security. You have to make the decision based on the dynamics between the cats and also the individual personalities. The most important aspect of this is that the cats get separated.
During the Time the Cats are Separated
The separation is mainly to allow the cats to relax again and also to prevent further injury or aggressive displays. It’s important though that this time of separation not be viewed as a prison sentence. Play with each cat, spend time with the cat in the sanctuary room and make this experience as enjoyable as possible.
Feline Behavior Modification Through Mealtime
Just as with a new cat introduction, the main purpose of the reintroduction is to give the cats a reason to like each other. That means it’s the behavior modification you do when the cats are once again exposed to each other that makes the difference. You can’t just separate the cats for an extended period of time and then open the door expecting them to have forgotten that they have been arch enemies for the last four years. They’ll need to see that good things happen when they’re in the presence of each other, and later, within sight of each other. If you do this gradually enough and allow each cat to stay within their comfort zones, your chances of keeping their aggression from boiling over again will be greatly increased. During the exposure time you’ll use a very valuable behavior modification tool: food. Remember the old adage that said the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach? Well, that really applies when you’re talking about cats! Food can help accelerate the acceptance process.