About a year and a half ago, my husband and I adopted Haru (a 12 year old female) and Meri (a 1.5 year old male). They weren't a bonded pair, but they did seem to get along well enough in the shelter where they shared a room so we thought they'd be fine. Shortly after bringing them home, it was clear that they weren't a perfect match. Meri was sweet but spunky and Haru didn't have time for his nonsense. Desperate, I watched all the videos and read all the books. We started to see some progress in the first month or so, but the cats still had to be separated except for short, tightly-supervised interactions. We lived in a tiny apartment and I was due to relocate out of Georgia shortly, so my husband would soon be solely responsible for them for a few months before everyone moved to be together again. The status quo wasn't going to work. I found Fundamentally Feline online, and set up an appointment for Ingrid to meet us.
Ingrid was great. Meri and Haru both responded so well to her. She was both no nonsense and kind, encouraging and refining what we were doing that was working and redirecting what wasn't. (When I write that, it makes me realize that training cat owners isn't that different from training cats!) She gave us concrete advice as well as moral support. We learned to better read the cats' cues and how to respond to them, as well as some tricks for setting up the physical environment to encourage success. The follow-up consultation period that Ingrid offers was quite useful, and she was prompt with replies to help us refine what we were doing.
It was slow at the start, but Meri and Haru kept getting better at being together and they haven't stopped yet. I nearly cried with happiness the first time I found them sitting on our bed together. As I write this, they're fast snuggled up together fast asleep at my feet. A huge takeaway was the tremendous importance of play for both cats. (This is a good spot to mention that Ingrid's toy recommendations were spot-on. She knows her wand toys!) Meri's energy peaks at predictable times of day, and vigorous play sessions are a regular part of our lives. Haru had to learn how to play and we had to learn which toys she likes, but now she fancies herself a fearsome hunter and it's been great for her general self confidence. She is so much less reactive to Meri's shenanigans, which have themselves diminished as he's learned to respect her boundaries and also been provided with many, more appropriate, outlets for his boundless energy. They take naps, watch the world from our balcony, and play together. Their new trick is grooming each other! They're the cutest feline odd couple.
It was a lot of work getting these two mismatched cats to find peace together. All four of us worked really hard. Ingrid helped us also work smart. I couldn't imagine not having either one of these little guys, and Ingrid was pivotal on setting us down this path. We now live in Washington, D.C., but I know that if I need cat behavioral advice again down the line I won't hesitate to give Ingrid a call.
Julia da Silva
Washington D.C. (formerly Atlanta)