PDA

View Full Version : Fighting Cats - New behavior


D. Kirkpatrick
April 26th 06, 03:24 PM
Cross posted:
rec.pets.cats, rec.pets.cats.health+behav, rec.pets.cats.misc, alt.cats

---------

We have 3 cats. A mother about 8 years-plus and 2 siblings aged 5
years-plus. All have been spayed. The mother was a street rescue
(after the litter) and has outdoor privileges. The sibs are strictly
indoor.

For the most part the mother raised a nice litter. After 4 were
weaned 2 were given away. A 3rd was supposed to go but didn't, so we
kept 2. Life was generally beautiful these last 5-years plus.

Mother cat would occasionally put the sibs in their place. Other than
that its been a peaceful existance. It's a small city apartment but
again, all has been well.

In the last 2 years the mother has ceased going out as much as she
used to. She's gotten used to the indoor life, or better stated,
re-used. She had been owned by a neighbor that abandoned her so after
the litter happened under the porch we took her in ourselves. She
tends to stay in most of the winter now and only ventures outdoors
when the weather is suitable - read warm and fair. As a part of that
increased indoor life we had to get her a separate litter box but the
feeding station which auto-fills has been shared with no hassles to
date.

This past week something changed.

The recessive sibling that has always been submissive to the mother
has taken to attacking her randomly. It starts with a hissing and the
fur fuzzing out and then goes into a full chase with all kinds of
howling and screaming. It's pretty dramatic. We have intervened each
time so far. It seems to happen 1-2 times a day and has been a
regular event since last Saturday. Its now Wednesday. We're puzzled
as to what might have brought this on suddenly.

Now the second sibling is picking up this behavior to some extent
whereas before she was pretty indifferent and independent.

We cannot separate the mother cat from the others all the time due to
space limitations.

I suspect that this is a dominance drama unfolding where the mother is
getting older and the sibs are exerting their dominance but the fights
that we are seeing have a look and feel of someone getting seriously
hurt.

The mother, which had previously been dominant and rather secure in
that, is now cowering and as soon as one of the sibs sees her they
attack.

Right now the mother is locked up in the bedroom but we cannot give
her food and a litter box in there (long story). We are concerned
that she is now not eating right and limiting litter box (her own)
usage.

It seems the newly aggressive sibling only attacks when she sees the
mother cat. If they don't see each other life is beautiful.
Otherwise the sib goes right into that stalking low-profile hunting
walk as if she were chasing a mouse or bird on the ground.

I'm wondering if I should let nature run its course to allow the sibs
to determine who will be dominant or if I will have to find a new home
for the newly aggressive one so as to protect the aging mother. Its a
choice we'd rather not have to make of course.

The sister sibs don't fight at all. They still play-fight or chase
each other on occasion but nothing like what we are seeing with the
mother cat.

Mother has a separate litter box and now a second feeding station of
her own at a respectable distance from the auto-feeder.

Suggestions welcome. What we know about cats is what we have learned
these last 5-plus years of direct observation.

Aside from this behavior change, all three seem normal, are
affectionate, feed and poop regularly. No exibitions of any illness.

Thanks in advance.

D.

David G Fisher
April 27th 06, 05:03 AM
This could just be a phase that passes soon and is forgotten by everyone.

You could try putting the agressive cat in the room alone instead of the
mother when it misbehaves, but I doubt that will change things much.

I'd have a water bottle handy so anytime the cat becomes aggressive, it
immediately gets a squirt.

Dave


"D. Kirkpatrick" > wrote in message
...
> Cross posted:
> rec.pets.cats, rec.pets.cats.health+behav, rec.pets.cats.misc, alt.cats
>
> ---------
>
> We have 3 cats. A mother about 8 years-plus and 2 siblings aged 5
> years-plus. All have been spayed. The mother was a street rescue
> (after the litter) and has outdoor privileges. The sibs are strictly
> indoor.
>
> For the most part the mother raised a nice litter. After 4 were
> weaned 2 were given away. A 3rd was supposed to go but didn't, so we
> kept 2. Life was generally beautiful these last 5-years plus.
>
> Mother cat would occasionally put the sibs in their place. Other than
> that its been a peaceful existance. It's a small city apartment but
> again, all has been well.
>
> In the last 2 years the mother has ceased going out as much as she
> used to. She's gotten used to the indoor life, or better stated,
> re-used. She had been owned by a neighbor that abandoned her so after
> the litter happened under the porch we took her in ourselves. She
> tends to stay in most of the winter now and only ventures outdoors
> when the weather is suitable - read warm and fair. As a part of that
> increased indoor life we had to get her a separate litter box but the
> feeding station which auto-fills has been shared with no hassles to
> date.
>
> This past week something changed.
>
> The recessive sibling that has always been submissive to the mother
> has taken to attacking her randomly. It starts with a hissing and the
> fur fuzzing out and then goes into a full chase with all kinds of
> howling and screaming. It's pretty dramatic. We have intervened each
> time so far. It seems to happen 1-2 times a day and has been a
> regular event since last Saturday. Its now Wednesday. We're puzzled
> as to what might have brought this on suddenly.
>
> Now the second sibling is picking up this behavior to some extent
> whereas before she was pretty indifferent and independent.
>
> We cannot separate the mother cat from the others all the time due to
> space limitations.
>
> I suspect that this is a dominance drama unfolding where the mother is
> getting older and the sibs are exerting their dominance but the fights
> that we are seeing have a look and feel of someone getting seriously
> hurt.
>
> The mother, which had previously been dominant and rather secure in
> that, is now cowering and as soon as one of the sibs sees her they
> attack.
>
> Right now the mother is locked up in the bedroom but we cannot give
> her food and a litter box in there (long story). We are concerned
> that she is now not eating right and limiting litter box (her own)
> usage.
>
> It seems the newly aggressive sibling only attacks when she sees the
> mother cat. If they don't see each other life is beautiful.
> Otherwise the sib goes right into that stalking low-profile hunting
> walk as if she were chasing a mouse or bird on the ground.
>
> I'm wondering if I should let nature run its course to allow the sibs
> to determine who will be dominant or if I will have to find a new home
> for the newly aggressive one so as to protect the aging mother. Its a
> choice we'd rather not have to make of course.
>
> The sister sibs don't fight at all. They still play-fight or chase
> each other on occasion but nothing like what we are seeing with the
> mother cat.
>
> Mother has a separate litter box and now a second feeding station of
> her own at a respectable distance from the auto-feeder.
>
> Suggestions welcome. What we know about cats is what we have learned
> these last 5-plus years of direct observation.
>
> Aside from this behavior change, all three seem normal, are
> affectionate, feed and poop regularly. No exibitions of any illness.
>
> Thanks in advance.
>
> D.

Ajanta
April 27th 06, 05:32 AM
D. Kirkpatrick > wrote:

: ...

Let me clarify that I don't have experience let alone expertise in such
situations. However, it seems to me that the aggressive one, when she
misbehaves, should be the one to be told to cut it out, with water
bottle if necessary, and isolated for a few hours.

D. Kirkpatrick
April 27th 06, 04:04 PM
In article >,
"David G Fisher" > wrote:

> I'd have a water bottle handy so anytime the cat becomes aggressive, it
> immediately gets a squirt.



Ah yes! The old "cat gun". Had one of those years ago but we were
able ot set it aside.

That was my wife's idea the other night.

Linda Terrell
April 30th 06, 07:20 AM
>
> Aside from this behavior change, all three seem normal, are
> affectionate, feed and poop regularly. No exibitions of any illness.
>
> Thanks in advance.
>
> D.

cats don't have dominance issues -- they are not a pack animal. They
have territorial issues. Too many cats not enough territory.

How many liter boxes are there. You should have 3-4 at least.

Cats don't "settle" things, they keep fighting and harassing

Do you have enough UP space? Cat trees etc?

LT

D. Kirkpatrick
April 30th 06, 04:42 PM
In article >,
Linda Terrell > wrote:

> How many liter boxes are there. You should have 3-4 at least.


2. Sharing one has never been an issue for the sib sisters.


>
> Cats don't "settle" things, they keep fighting and harassing
>
> Do you have enough UP space? Cat trees etc?


Small apartment. The "high ground" is the back ledge of the couch
where the mother cat has taken up shop and is only leaving there with
us coaxing her and being present. Its becoming a feeding issue now
because she is really spooked.

She *will* go outside for us but retreats to the couch ledge when
indoors.

Toni
April 30th 06, 05:11 PM
"D. Kirkpatrick" > wrote in message
...
> In article >,
> Linda Terrell > wrote:


>
>> How many liter boxes are there. You should have 3-4 at least.
>
>
> 2. Sharing one has never been an issue for the sib sisters.


It's an issue now.
The siblings are in full fledged adulthood now and need their own separate
spaces. The standard for a happy multi cat home is one box per cat, plus
one. So my three cats have four litter boxes.
Lack of privacy, a box in a high traffic area, litter box guarding- these
are all major stresses in a cats life. You are wanting to eliminate all
stress, so something as simple as providing enough litter boxes is crucial.


>>
>> Do you have enough UP space? Cat trees etc?
>
>
> Small apartment. The "high ground" is the back ledge of the couch
> where the mother cat has taken up shop and is only leaving there with
> us coaxing her and being present. Its becoming a feeding issue now
> because she is really spooked.


You really need vertical spaces.
Ever look inside a cattery that houses multiple cats in smallish areas? They
are chocked full of cat trees with multiple platforms of varying heights.
I can appreciate the space issue- but vertical platforms needn't have very
much of a footprint at all and are very necessary to a cats nature of the
higher the better.
Any stress is exacerbated by lack of territory and since you are out of
square footage vertical space is your only alternative. Fortunately for you
it is one that cats prefer.

Also an additional feeding station could be very beneficial to your
situation. Food availability is one of the determining factors when cats
assess how many can comfortably coexist within a small territory.

And because it can't be stated often enough- the very first step when you
run into behavioral issues is a complete medical checkup. Cats are very
affected by the scent of one another and a brewing medical issue can affect
a cats scent enough to alarm other cats. The ill cat smells odd and
unfamiliar, and unfamiliar cats are perceived as a threat and very often
attacked.

Toni