Fighting after house move

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Julz
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Fighting after house move

Post by Julz » Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:07 pm

Hi

I'm at a bit of a loss really so hope someone can help (or reassure).

We have 3 moggies. Cas and Flo are 14 year old brothers. They've always lived together, we've had them 5 years now. We have Mags who is 3 1/2, we've had her since she was 6 weeks and Flo dotes on her (he used to carry her in his mouth - people thought he was her mother!). Cas didn't like her at first, but has got used to her and they groom each other, nap together etc.

Cas has always been the top cat. Flo is a bit of a daft cat. Cas is a hunter, he taught Flo to open doors in our old house and they slept curled up together every night (Mags wasn't allowed as she's a fidget).

We moved house 3 weeks ago. They seemed to settle quickly (we moved 1 year ago as well and they settled quick then and also when they came to live with us). Within a few days they were both crying to be out. They'd be out 24/7 only coming home for food if they were allowed. I waited, made sure they were used to the house and planned to keep them in for at least 2 weeks. After a week Flo escaped, but he simply had a mooch around the garden and came back in. So after a couple more days (cats were getting thoroughly miserable) I let the two boys out. Mags is more of a homebody and the weather was rotten at the time so she was happen to stay in anyway.

The week before we moved Cas was on medication for a poorly leg. His elbow was swollen but there was no obvious sign of injury. The vet said it could have been an injury or it could be something like arthritis. So he had an antibiotic and painkiller for one week and it cleared up. Even now he's not limping or anything.

Now down to the point of my post. For the past 2 days Flo and Cas have been fighting. Not like the playful fights they always have occasionally - proper full on hissing, biting and flying for each other. Cas is quiet, not going out so much, isn't sleeping next to Flo as he's adopted a new spot under the heater.

Yesterday another cat came to our window. Flo hissed at it, Cas hissed at it and Flo turned on Cas. Today they were all out in the garden and another cat jumped at Mags - both boys hissed to defend her, then again Flo turned on Cas.

I just don't understand it. When we moved last year they were a team, like they'd always been. I had to look out for other cats because I was worried about the pair of them bullying other cats!

Neither of them have gone for Mags in any way (even though Cas used to dislike her). It's just between the two of them. Flo used to be a fat cat, we had terrible trouble with an old lady feeding him (he's a cat who'll eat and eat until he's sick and then eat some more), but with a good diet and lots of play we've got him to a healthy weight and he's more sprightly.

Could it just be that we've moved and they are re-establishing themselves as well as with other cats (even though we had 2 1/2 peaceful weeks)? Or has Flo suddenly decided he wants to be top cat? I'm worried sick it's because there is something badly wrong with Cas and Flo can sense it.

I have an appointment for the vet on Friday, but I don't really know who to take! Flo because he's attacking his brother or Cas because our top cat has turned into a victim? (I'm planning on taking Cas as I'm worried about the leg being something to do with it).

Any advice would be massively appreciated. Julz

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Lyn from Australia
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Re: Fighting after house move

Post by Lyn from Australia » Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:53 pm

This is similar to a situation I heard about on the TV show "My Cat from Hell". I'd say that Flo has interpreted this particular hiss as being at himself, rather than the outdoor cat, and he's no longer seeing Cas as Cas, but as some strange cat who's in his house. When this type of thing happened on the TV show the two cats (who had been best friends for a few years as well), they pretty much had to be reintroduced to each other. In the show an inside door was replaced with a screen door, the bottom half of which was covered up, so the cats could see each other from a fair distance, but could only smell and hear each other close up. The cats were fed on opposite sides of the gate, but close to it, for a period of time - after one attempt which failed - the covering over the bottom half of the gate was removed and they were fed on each side of the gate being able to see each other for a while, and after a time they both approached the gate with curiosity, not aggression, and viola!! They were friends again. If this type of thing sounds extreme in your situation, I think that it's possible that they need to at least be separated for a while, because certainly something has been triggered between them by the situation with the outdoor cat and there could be an element of re-directed aggression as well - for example, sometimes if I have Gypsy on my lap and I have to take put her down when I'm trying to work, she gets cranky, but instead of lashing out at me she lashes out at the first cat who she sees when she hits the ground!! You could try Feliway etc, but I don't put a great deal of faith in them personally - for the price they should be guaranteed to work, but they rarely do. I think the spray is more likely to have some sort of effect.
Best of luck with this, whatever you come up with. I think it's a bit of a worry that you are going to be introducing another cat while things are fraught between your oldies, but then again, it might just be the answer!

Julz
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Re: Fighting after house move

Post by Julz » Wed Mar 26, 2014 3:21 pm

Thanks for that.

I had thought about separating them, but they pine for each other through doors. Awkward sods!

It's just weird because it's not constant. For example the three cats are currently sharing a window ledge where it's sunny. Absolutely fine, no issues. 10 minutes ago the boys both had a staring competition through the fence with the neighbour's puppy - sat side by side touching the whole time.

There's just these flare ups (and a lack of grooming - which they always did. Flo is greedy when it comes to that and would butt his head against Cas in a hint) that are so violent. They were fed as normal this morning - three bowls in a row and as normal Flo ate all the jelly then swapped bowls so Cas could eat the meaty bit as they always do when they think we're not watching.

I'm not introducing a new cat though, sorry if I didn't make sense. Mags has been with us since she was tiny, so over 3 years. The cat in the garden and at the window are just cats who live local who must have been used to being in the garden before we moved in.

I think I'm going to have a water gun handy for this other cat who comes to the window. He seems to be the trigger. From the looks I've got at him I don't think he's done (my three all are) so he could be the problem.

I'm going to read up on redirected aggression as well. In both cases the other cat wasn't 'available' for want of a better word. The one at the window was outside and the one in the garden ran off at the first hiss so perhaps Flo is taking the anger at them out on Cas because he couldn't get to them?

Thanks again x

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Lyn from Australia
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Re: Fighting after house move

Post by Lyn from Australia » Wed Mar 26, 2014 3:31 pm

It's me that's sorry! I must have had a senior moment, thinking of another post I'd read. Yes, discouraging the outdoor cat is sure to help - especially if he or she is not neutered and/or spraying out there.

Julz
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Re: Fighting after house move

Post by Julz » Wed Mar 26, 2014 4:32 pm

Thank you!

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Jacks
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Re: Fighting after house move

Post by Jacks » Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:51 pm

Dear Julz,

Sorry to hear you're having trouble with your little family - I would agree with Lyn that it's likely the proximity of new cats and the territorial issues that are going on (after all your guys are the new kids on the block but they don't see it that way) are leading to some redirected aggression, although it's positive that it's not happening ALL the time and they do have peaceful moments. Do encourage them to have treats together (sharing) and play together and it could well pass in time as they resolve their territorial disputes.

However it strikes me that there is likely to be a connection between Caz's injury and the fact that he is the 'victim' in the aggression. Cats are funny creatures and because the status quo has changed outside it may be that for a period the status quo was uncertain inside as well, and there are some dominance issues. Cats are happiest when they know where they stand, I believe, so a dominant cat is happy being dominant but a non-dominant cat will get used to the security of their role unless the dynamic shifts for some reason - then there may be challenges.

I would definitely get a vet check to make sure that Caz doesn't have some residual infection that is causing him to smell funny and 'non-Caz' like, but I wouldn't panic at the moment unless it escalates - then you may have to separate them and try some 'rebonding'.

Julz
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Re: Fighting after house move

Post by Julz » Mon Mar 31, 2014 3:59 pm

Thanks for all your help.

The situation seems to have resolved itself. Flo got into a fight with another cat who came into our garden. I heard the commotion and opened the door to let Flo in, at which point Cas shot out and immediately went and helped chase off the other cat.

They trotted indoors and once Flo calmed down he curled up to Cas, who groomed his sore bits (a couple of scratches that I've cleaned). Since then there has been no other aggression between them and they are back to being side-by-side quite a lot. I wouldn't say they were as pally as before, but I think this is mostly due to the fact that Cas loves the spot by the heater whereas Flo prefers the cold tiled floor of the kitchen.

It seems a third party intervention sparked the 'hey you that's my brother!' in them.

Thanks again for all the help x

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Re: Fighting after house move

Post by lilynmitz » Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:27 pm

Cats are funny creatures aren't they. It's amazing how they've teamed up again against a common foe. My two would never snuggle up together except when in boarding kennels, when they seemed to find comfort from each other's company when the chips were down. I hope your two are soon back to their old selves again, and the visitor has realised he's outnumbered!

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