My partner and I own two cats - Freddie who is 5 and Holly who is just about to turn 1.
Both cats are rescue cats, but have vast personality differences.
Freddie is very calm, rarely plays, but is happy to sunbathe all day. Holly is a typical young cat finding joy out of most little things and is therefore very playful.
We adopted Freddie about 8 months ago and Holly about three months ago.
We introduced both of them to each other following the step by step guides we found online - everything seemed to be working out. There was a bit of hissing and batting around the head, but oddly enough it was Holly (the new cat) who was displaying this behaviour.
After a while everything settled down and they seemed to tolerate each other and even occasionally playing and chasing each other.
About two weeks ago we had to unfortunately take both the cats to a cattery for about ten days - since they have come home Freddie's behaviour has completely deteriorated. Out of no where his aggression toward Holly has completely escalated. He will do a low deep growl if she even wanders anywhere near him, he'll really aggressively bat her around the head several times (I even think he damaged her eye once because she was squinty for days). Normally we would tell him and her off, because she tended to push the limits and enter his personal space fairly abruptly, however, he seems to almost seek her out and sit and sulk in parts of our house where he know she needs to walk past him, therefore enabling him to easily attack her as and when he pleases. She is very submissive and will roll over in front of him to demonstrate she's not a threat, but nothing she does seems to make him feel any less angry towards her - it almost seems to make him more aggressive and it breaks our hearts because we love them both so much, but the harmony has completely disappeared.
Does any one please have any advice? Can we expect things to get better? Is it because they're both recovering from the stress of being in a cattery? We are currently using Feliway, which we used to use when we were initially introducing - we refilled it last night so are desperately hoping it will diffuse the situation.
Additionally, if the situation does not improve is it the right thing to do to give one or both of them up? This is something we both sincerely want to avoid, especially considering they have both had a really shakey (shaky) start to their lives.
Any constructive advice would be hugely appreciated - I realise this is a fairly common problem, but the rate at which the aggression is escalating is extremely concerning for all involved.
I would certainly give it some more time and if necessary keep them separated for awhile, I really think Freddie is still just stressed out abt the recent stay at the cattery and reacting to the scent she probably still carries on her from there.....you could even try giving her a gentle bath to see if that would help? Im not in favor of bathing cats b/c of the natural oils in their coats but for a reason such as this it maybe worth a try...use a pet shampoo not a human one.
the feliway works sometimes for some cats but not always reliable, good you are giving it a chance tho.
another product is called BACH's RESCUE REMEDY...its a homeopathic product used to calm kitties for Vet trips or car rides. most Vet clinic's or good pet supply stores have this.
like I said if all else fails, keep them separated until Freddie calms down than reintroduce slowly...good luck, let us know how it goes ok.
Thank you so much for your response, I will definately try the Rescue remedy (I have used the human one before for nervous flying).
Would you recommond reintroduction? The only thing that worries me about this is that he is very calm when she's not around and is very loving and happy. He seems to be relaxed as a whole when Holly is not around - it is something about her that makes him go wild (in a bad way!) so we both struggle to see how separation would benefit him - especially as he peacocks around the house because it is "his" - we are concerned this would reinforce this image in his head.
Is it possible that jealously is an issue? We put Holly away at night in her own room just because we are not around to manage the anger issue - he takes this opportunity to bolt upstairs to our bedroom and come for cuddles (he never did this before) and he makes a point of wrapping his tail around our legs a lot more and when we pet him he is very forthright with pushing his head into our hands and seems really ecstatic - if jealousy is the case, is there a way to manage this?
I will also try the shampoo if it is her scent that bothers him - a very good idea.
We have a similar situation that started apparently out of no where. We have Bob, appr 3 yr old male and Butters appr 5 yr male; both neutered. With no precipitating event that we could see, Bob became extremely aggressive towards Butters-the same thing-the crouched staring, growling, attacking-to the point where we'd put him in the bathroom as he's the bigger stronger cat. What I found to be best is for you yourself to remain calm and use a calm tone of voice, get one of those water bottles that has the squirt option to drink out of and when the activity gets out of hand spary the water near them, soon they'll associate the crackly noise of the bottle w/the water and separate themselves. I don't like to actually splash them. The water seems to act as a distraction to break the staring cycle and they split up and they don't associate you w/additional upset behavior. This took a bit of time and patience but we've had only minimal recurrences and no actual injuries. We never did figure out what started the whole thing!! Bob is extremely good natured and Butters tends to mind his own business and they're both fixed, no one went to the vet..but all ok now! Good luck to you, I know how upsetting this is-I had the same thoughts as you-would I have to give one of my beloved boys up, how could I? I'm sure with patience this situation can be repaired.
Thank you for your advice - we were initially angry, but he does respond much better to calmer tones when we say "Oh dear, that's not nice" instead of "FREDDIE"....however, the water technique (which we have tried) has seemed to escalate the situation...he can be a very grumpy boy when he wants to be and it's almost as if he associates the water with Holly and not with the fighting.
We keep the hope that it will get better and thank you for your support =)
welcome back spirit, nice to see you posting and hear that things are improving with your boys -)
Charlie...does the rescue remedy work for fear of flying?????? I could sure use some myself if it does..
I believe the separation time would be just more for Holly's protection and to give Freddie a time to 'forget' and get over his anxiety over the separation from you. keep trying to bring them back together with supervision slowly after Holly's bath and the RR.
this must have been very traumatic time for him to be away from you and has made him a more anxious cat, and also more needy of your love and reassurance that you 'are his' and won't leave him again...
also don't rule out health issues..could Freddie be suffering from a UTI/crystals??? and thus in some pain? if he is hurting this too would bring about some aggression. UTI's or crystals can well develop especially in a male cat after STRESS. also when being in a strange place like a cattery for awhile he probably wouldn't have been eat/DRINKING as much as he normal does....
just wouldn't hurt to get a urinalysis done on him just 'in case'
good luck, keep us updated♥
Rescue remedy is slightly hit and miss...I went on one holiday when I was younger and needed to take about 6 flights in total to get there and back...so either it worked a bit, or I just became hardened to it a bit more - worth a try though! (the mouth spray is better than the drops)
This is really good advice - thank you. I never considered that his increase in neediness is most likely related to the feelings of abandonment that he must have felt. It can only be a good thing to seperate them until he relaxes and realises we're not leaving him again.
This actually makes a lot of sense because we went out quite late last Saturday night, which is something we rarely do and his aggression towards Holly went sky high.
Also, When we had only him he used to become very jumpy when we had boxes/suitcases out...I think maybe he got left a lot before he was with us.
Fortunately he seems to still be eating and is very hard to catch drinking at the best of times (he's fairly secretive about it) but if his behaviour continues we will take him to the vet.
Thank you for your advice and I will let you know the outcome =)
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