Siblings, sister sudden hissing/growling towards brother. Advice please.

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ashleyberner
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Siblings, sister sudden hissing/growling towards brother. Advice please.

Post by ashleyberner » Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:35 am

It's been one week today that I was woken up by my only two cats who were clearly have a huge disagreement. She was growling, hissing at him from underneath my bed while he was stalking her. I broke it up, and thought that would be the end of it. As siblings, my two have played and wrestled quite often without incident... my boy has played too rough and gotten too hyper at times, and I've had to step in or put him in time out... but they always move on. This did not happen. She would hiss and growl at the mere sight of him the rest of the day. But by the evening, things seemed to calm down. I thought that was it. I slept downstairs to keep an eye on them, because they tend to be active during the night. Everything was okay. Until that afternoon, the same thing... and they ended up in my bedroom with her under the bed and him stalking her.

I called the vet for advice. He said it could be redirected aggression, something I'd never heard of until now. He suggested Feliway wipes and had some samples. I've been using them, but I do not feel they make one bit of difference. It's been a holiday weekend since, so I was unable to inquire about any further options from my vet. My girl continued to be hostile towards her brother even if he was just walking by. I called every one I could think of for advice. Vets, behaviorists. Some had similar advice, some didn't. Most said to keep them separated for a couple of days. So I did, switching them out once a day. My girl spent the night with me in my bedroom, because she is usually the one to sleep with me more than him anyways.

The next day... they both kept acting like they were looking for the other, so I let them sniff through a crack in the door. It went well. They both seemed calm, so I let them out supervised. We played, had some treats for good behavior, and they both snuggled with me. A cat behaviorist said that when one starts something, they get a time out to diffuse the situation. So that is what I've been doing since. I keep my girl with me in my bedroom in the evenings, and then supervise them during the day. Yesterday went really well, today started a bit rough... but the evening was much calmer. But time outs do seem to give them a chance to cool down. Going upstairs is going to be a hurdle... for some reason she does not approve of him being up there when she is. Makes her nervous. But being on the lower level of the house during the day/early evening supervised is much better.

I'm hoping someone else has been through this and can offer some hope, advice, encouragement. It would be so appreciated. These two are my babies, and I just want them to be happy and calm. There are long moments where they relax, play, and sleep in the same room... which gives me hope that a reconciliation is coming... it just may take a while for her to trust him again, and for him to know to give her space.

UPDATE: When I see the boy attempting to "start something" even though I suspect he only wants to play. I raise my voice at him to stop, back off. And twice tonight he has. When I do that, my girl doesn't panic or run. She sees that he's listening to me. It seems whenever he gets the least bit playful, she hisses at him.

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Crewella
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Re: Siblings, sister sudden hissing/growling towards brother. Advice please.

Post by Crewella » Mon Jan 04, 2016 4:10 am

It sounds to me as though you're doing exactly the right things. My boy Daz likes to chase my older girl, which she does not appreciate, so I do keep an eye on them and try to diffuse the situation. You may find it sorts itself out, or you may find you have to go on like this indefinitely. How old are they?

The Cat Chat advice page might help:

http://www.catchat.org/cat_aggression.html

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Re: Siblings, sister sudden hissing/growling towards brother. Advice please.

Post by lmills75 » Mon Jan 04, 2016 1:43 pm

Hi
I had a similar situation a few years ago with my two cats. They're sisters and have always been together since birth (as far as I'm aware) and one day, for no apparent reason, they fell out in a big way.
It went a similar way as your two - one was too scared to come downstairs and if she attempted to, the other would attack her. That was the only time in the seven years they've been with me that one of them has messed outside of the litter tray - she was literally too scared to venture downstairs to use it.
Following advice on here and other sites, I separated them which wasn't easy as my house is pretty tiny. The attacker was kept in the lounge with one litter tray and the other one had upstairs with another litter tray. Each day, I'd give them treats (which they'd always come running for) - as far apart as my arms would stretch and would slowly start to bring them together, until after a few days, they would take their treats nose to nose and then they were fine. I also made sure to stroke one and then stroke the other straight after so kind of swapping their scents.
Witnessing subsequent behaviour, I could see that when a cat came into the garden that Molly didn't like the look of, she would go a bit crazy and then attack Bella. This was before I had a catflap so thankfully, incidents are few and far between now and have never been so severe.
I sympathise completely because it was such a horrible time and I genuinely thought I'd have to rehome one of the cats as I couldn't see how things would resolve. But after about a week, harmony was restored.
Good luck!
Lisa

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Re: Siblings, sister sudden hissing/growling towards brother. Advice please.

Post by ashleyberner » Mon Jan 04, 2016 7:49 pm

They are two years old, will be three in April.

Thank you for your advice, I really appreciate it. It is a really difficult situation.

I actually let my boy in with me last night... and he hopped on the bed with us and went to sleep for about three hours. Then he wanted out, he likes to patrol in the early mornings. But there wasn't a problem, both relaxed and slept.... I didn't really, but they did! When I got up today, my girl actually woke me up because she didn't want to be shut up in my bedroom anymore... and her meowing alerted my boy outside being concerned, so I bravely opened the door, and she went her way and he went his. No problems. Now they're being "normal" relaxing in their spots in the house watching out the window. I hope today continues to be a good day.

Can I ask when you felt comfortable leaving them unsupervised lmills75? I feel like I should keep doing what I'm doing, keeping them separated at night... but when did you know and trust them?

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Re: Siblings, sister sudden hissing/growling towards brother. Advice please.

Post by lmills75 » Tue Jan 05, 2016 9:53 am

I think things will gradually go back to normal.
From memory, it was over a week but not more than 2, before I left them unsupervised. I waited until I'd spent most of the weekend at home to monitor them (ears pinned back at night in case of any commotion) and when that passed without incident, I felt happy to leave them when I went to work.
It sounds like you're doing everything right and signs are positive. Once you've had a few nights like the one you describe below, I think you'll be back on safe ground.
Good luck!

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Re: Siblings, sister sudden hissing/growling towards brother. Advice please.

Post by ashleyberner » Tue Jan 05, 2016 7:33 pm

Thank you for responding. It doesn't seem like redirected aggression to me. It's almost like my girl is just not taking any thing from her brother anymore... anytime he gets a playful look in his eye, she hisses. Sometimes he listens, sometimes he doesn't. Been doing time outs. Some behaviorists say they work, some say they don't. I don't know, I'm just doing my best. When my boy gets rowdy and runs through the house (normal for him) sometimes he will try to get his sister to play (she doesn't want to) and he will tackle her. I never see him hurt her, it's just not something she approves of. I don't want it to get worse... so I'm not sure what to do. I'm questioning myself today.

Thank you for advice... I really appreciate it.

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Re: Siblings, sister sudden hissing/growling towards brother. Advice please.

Post by ashleyberner » Thu Jan 07, 2016 4:05 am

After taking necessary steps... things have improved slowly... there hasn't been a big blow up in a week, there has been some slight tension, which I've dealt with. I also plugged in a Feliway diffuser today. I am still so fearful something will happen again... for those of you who know more about this and have experienced it... when should I feel hopeful I am in the clear and on the way towards peace all of the time? Thanks.

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Re: Siblings, sister sudden hissing/growling towards brother. Advice please.

Post by ashleyberner » Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:16 pm

I did catch my girl hiding under the bed today. Not sure why, because I've been listening all day for any issues. Maybe he had a look in his eyes or something... but she came out. Then she went back... now I have her out again. It's not a struggle to get her out with some treaties.

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Re: Siblings, sister sudden hissing/growling towards brother. Advice please.

Post by ashleyberner » Fri Jan 15, 2016 10:27 pm

Now for the past several days, I haven't had any major incidents like the beginning. Just some occasional tension that usually peaks in the mornings and then sometimes in the evenings. He might chase her, and then she will give a stern meow, growl, or hiss to let him know she is not having it. He is listening more and more, and the more he does - the more confident she gets. But sometimes he does chase her, she darts underneath my bed... but she comes out rather quickly now, so they are bouncing back from their arguments quicker. She even initiated play with him last night... so clearly she isn't as terrified of him as before.

I'm wondering if this is just how it's going to be... or if the situation is still resolving itself... or what? It is so strange to see them snuggle and then argue. Does something just shift and happen when they're 2-3 years old? Will it stop?

Other than that, they are normal with each other. They snuggle in my bed together, bathe each other, eat together. So clearly it has improved... I just want to make sure things don't get heated like they did during that first incident. A little tension here and there doesn't bother me as long as things don't escalate.

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Re: Siblings, sister sudden hissing/growling towards brother. Advice please.

Post by lilynmitz » Sat Jan 16, 2016 5:48 pm

It sounds to me like they've sorted out their differences pretty well. Give it time, I'm sure they'll settle down again.

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