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So my girls Joni and Willow are about about 10 months old and have always been together. When I was in my old place, I got 2 other little female rats, and after the initial transitioning period, everyone was happy and got along. However in August I moved to a new place, where I was able to take my cat, Salem with us.
Joni and Willow didn't care about Salem's presence because they were used to cats in their old home, but Luna and Penny were so petrified of her I re-homed them together because it wasn't kind to them to be always terrified like that.

Now Joni seems to be bullying Willow more. Willow even got a huge bite abscess from Joni, so I took her to my work, which is a vet clinic, to get it drained and get her on antibiotics.

My question is: Should I add in another female rat to restore the balance a bit more? The girls never fought like this prior to the new additions, and now they just seem a bit off.



2nd question: Salem the cat is generally afraid of Joni. When I have the rats out for close supervision, Salem and Willow don't mind each other but Joni will charge at Salem and scare her off. When Joni is in the cage, Salem often sits near her and whacks her paw against the cage (no claws) and Joni attempts to lunge back at her. I always call Salem off but it's like .... I'm not sure if they are almost having fun? I swore when they were doing it this morning I heard Joni bruxsing. No one ever uses claws or teeth, and I know the term is 'no blood, no foul'. Did anyone else have a rat/cat that acted this way?
 

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If I were a rat I'd rather have two cage mates than just one, I think getting a third would help their situation after everyone gets to know each other. Having three rats is also a good idea considering that if something happens to one, old age or otherwise, then the other wouldn't be left lonely. It gives you more time to grieve rather than getting another cage mate sooner than you're ready to.

It's possible that Joni and Salem are having fun. I had a rat called Luca who befriended two of my cats, she would run straight into their arms and they would wrestle. Many times she ended up pinned down on her back with big cat teeth around her faking a bite, but when I pulled her out of the situation she just wiggled from my hands and went right back. When they were done playing they would groom each other before snuggling up to nap. One of the cats hated trips to the vet, crying incessantly and soiling his carrier every time, but when Luca came along he sat calmly.

They never showed hostility to one another, but I stopped letting them interact when one cat killed a house mouse and the other started frequently going outside. As adorable and amazing as it was to see, it was irresponsible of me to let it happen in the first place. Perhaps one of the cats was a day away from accidentally hurting Luca, or maybe the hunting instinct inside them would have fired up and killed her. I'll never know, but I'm glad I cut it off before I found out.
 

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Bruxing can be done in intense stress an fear. It's called chattering.

I would get a bottle of pennies and train Salem to stay away for her peace of mind. This may help cage dynamics too. A new friend can restore balance if it is just personality clash which does happen.
 
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