Another family stressor is that my two cats hate each other and cannot live side by side. This nonsense has been going on for a month.
These two cats were adopted on the same day and they were friends then which was the reason that I chose the two of them. The crazy cat ladies (an affectionate nickname) who rescued these feral kittens from the streets of Bridgeport forced us to adopt two cats saying it was cruel to have a cat alone in a home as they get lonely. The cats have been best friends since then, and it's been seven years. The female is submissive and the male is strongly attached to me. The male considers the master bedroom his territory and once in a while he would run her out of the room by chasing but that was the worst. They ate from the same food bowls (both refused to eat from separate dishes) and they used the same litter boxes. The more boxes I added, the two would each go use each of them.
On day two of male cat with cystitis going outside I let female cat outside also. She didn't really like it and didn't want to go out when offered. On day three she was sitting on the windowsill indoors when the male cat walked by outside. She started fighting by throwing her body against the window. My husband let the male cat in and a big cat fight ensued, with sounds that are the stuff of nightmares. Although the female cat started the fight the male cat was dominating the fight. There were no injuries.
This was a weekend so I read what to do from vets on the Internet. To keep them safe I separated them, putting the female in my son's bedroom and bathroom and the game room. She was happy there. For days I tried gentle re-introduction to no avail. She fights with him.
I followed up by taking the female cat to the vet and she explained that the female cat sees the male as an intruder. She is trying to protect her territory. The vet recommended (expensive) Feliway pheromone, so I forked the cash over for that.
Keeping the door shut upstairs is messing up our heating and air conditioning system. The balance is off. Not only do those two south facing walled rooms get hot, the air conditioning cannot keep up. Then the other upstairs rooms are freezing cold.
The male cat misses the female.
This has been going on for about a month now.
The best progress that happened in the last week was that if the male is sleeping the female will go into the room and sometimes will leave him alone. The male is still not the one starting the fights.
I have been trying all kinds of processes and procedures such as rubbing a blanket with the male cat's scent and placing it near the female.
In the daytime I am leaving the doors open to the rooms and letting them intermingle. The male is outside half the time anyway so he is not a threat to her. She misses us so now she is freely walking to the other upstairs rooms to be with me or my kids but she is ever-wary that the male will enter the room at which point she growls and spits.
Cats can feel stress in a family and they can react negatively. We have had a rough fall and maybe this is just one more problem caused by that stress.
If this does not resolve I will have to find a family to adopt our female cat, a family who does not own a cat or a dog presently. I really do not want to do that but this living with closed doors and trapping a cat into rooms is getting ridiculous.
We are trying very hard to reduce stress in our lives in general, trust me.